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Going Over The Top: Conscientious

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
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This is a topic that gets unjustifiably reduced down to people getting white feathers thrown at them. Very useful to see more of the actual surrounding discussions and debates.
 

David Flin

Real people take priority over imaginary people
This is a topic that gets unjustifiably reduced down to people getting white feathers thrown at them. Very useful to see more of the actual surrounding discussions and debates.
Curiously, this morning I came across a letter from WH Riddell, a CO describing his experiences.

"In Feb 1916, I applied for exemption from military service on religious grounds ... I found work market gardening at Evesham, and left London in July 1916.

"One morning, I was crossing the Avon Bridge at Evesham to go to work. Here I was challenged by a young woman, who promptly decided to put a white feather in my lapel. Of course, I did not agree with her, neither would I accept her gift, whereupon she decided to throw me off the bridge into the river, which is about fifteen feet deep at this point. This developed into an awkward struggle with me on the losing side.

"Of course, I prayed as never before, for I was getting desperate when unnoticed by me, two dogs began a dogfight, whereupon the girl left me.

"I went onto a farm at Wickamford after three months so never met her again, I am glad to say."
 

SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
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I'm going to continue to chip in with my now standard response of 'Great article! Here's a random fact about New Zealand or Australia!'

This time, I'm putting the blame on the use of a picture of the Wanganui barracks.




That's a (romanticised) painting of Archibald Baxter, New Zealand's most famous conscientious objector enduring 'Field Punishment No. 1' for his refusal to engage in any support for the war effort whatsoever.

New Zealand treated absolutists even worse than the UK did, possibly because there was an internal security dimension, at least in the minds of the authorities. Some fifteen percent of conscientious objectors were either Irish Nationalists or Maori, chiefly from the Waikato, who refused to serve in an imperialist war. Incidentally, that led to raids on Maori settlements in 1918 in the hopes of forcibly impressing Waikato soldiers.

Baxter suffered more than any other- he refused to be a stretcher bearer or ambulance driver, but any idea that this was cowardice doesn't survive contact with the facts. He was beaten, starved, subjected to the Field Punishment (which, however it was meant to work in theory, was as practiced on New Zealand objectors nicknamed 'Crucifixion',) and was finally diagnosed and discharged as insane, much to his displeasure. There's a story that at one point he and some other objectors were tied up on top of a trench, though I think that may be a myth.

He was still a leading pacifist in the sixties. Very brave man.
 
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