#whitefeather diaries

Don't mention typhoid

19 October, 2015 - 10:34 -- ElizabethP

In early 1915 the army tightened up censorship rules for letters home from the front. Laurence's letters from the Friends Ambulance Unit show both amusement and frustration with the new regulations. The authorities did not want the public to know the extent of the typhoid outbreak at the front – so banned the word from being mentioned.

Not killing people at present

19 October, 2015 - 10:26 -- ElizabethP

Hilda's letters from France contain almost no reference to the reactions she received as a female doctor, despite this being unusual at the time. At a time when most people had never travelled in a car, Hilda further challenged gender roles by regularly driving one. Here's one letter from May 1915, sent to her friend Edith in London.

British and German women meet to talk peace

19 October, 2015 - 10:21 -- ElizabethP

While John was becoming active in anti-war campaigns in Oxford, around Britain and across Europe the peace movement was growing. In 1915 anti-war women's groups from belligerent and neutral countries met in the Netherlands (which was neutral).

The International Congress of Women was held in The Hague from 28 April to 1 May 1915. Women from over 150 organisations in eleven countries attended.

Surreptitious pacifist

19 October, 2015 - 10:15 -- ElizabethP

For 19-year-old John Hoare, Oxford University was less lonely than boarding school – but only just. He was still struggling to find others who shared his views. The threat of conscription was round the corner and criticism of the war was suppressed. John discovered help in the form of the No-Conscription Fellowship and amongst Quakers (also known as Friends). He later looked back on this discovery. 

An army chaplain changes his mind

19 October, 2015 - 10:07 -- ElizabethP

Bert was one of many Christians to be shocked and angry about the willingness of most church leaders to back the war.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy was an Anglican army chaplain on the front line from 1915. Initially a supporter of the war, he became increasingly anti-war as the war progressed. He describes a key moment in his change of heart, when he was 33.

Convicted on the evidence of spies

16 October, 2015 - 13:17 -- ElizabethP

Howard was right to be worried about police spies in 1915. Two years later a group of anti-war campaigners were convicted of plotting to kill the Prime Minister in what most historians regard as an unfair trial. Alice Wheeldon and her family were convicted on evidence supplied by Alex Gordon and Herbert Booth, spies employed by the Ministry of Munitions who posed as peace activists.

Police spies

16 October, 2015 - 13:11 -- ElizabethP

While Laurence was growing more sympathetic to the armed forces, bank clerk Howard Marten was campaigning fervently against the war. Faced with the possibility of conscription, he was one of thousands of people to join the No-Conscription Fellowship (NCF). He later talked about the people he found in the group–including those not from the peace movement, but from the police.

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