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Conscientious Objectors

David Seymour

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I have come across these two books but would be grateful if someone could point me at any other useful tomes:

Ellsworth-Jones, Will., We will not fight : the untold story of the First World War's conscientious objectors

Goodall, Felicity, Question Of Conscience : Conscientious Objection In The Two World Wars

Many thanks for any help you can give.

With best wishes,


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Take a look at:

Rae, John, 'Conscience & Politics. The British Government and the Conscientious Objector to Military Service 1916-1919' , Oxford University Press (London) 1970.



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Conscience and Politics by John Rae: Oxford University Press, 1970. You will not find a more balanced and thoughtful book on the subject. Sadly, Dr Rae, a former head of Westminster School, died last year. His family have left a tribute to him on U Tube.

Terry Reeves

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Two that come to mind include this online New Zealand book:

We will not cease.

And secondly, I am not saying I particularly like this book but it is useful. The information on the publisher’s website is:

Comrades in Conscience

The story of an English community's opposition to the Great War

by Cyril Pearce

Francis Boutle Publishers

ISBN 1 903427 06 1

Paperback 369 pages

Price per copy including postage: UK £15 Worldwide: £18

The book Comrades in Conscience is a groundbreaking study of opposition to the First World War in one locality – Huddersfield – where a unique consensus of Nonconformist Liberals and a vigorous labour and socialist movement earned it the reputation of being 'a hotbed of pacifism'. Using local sources, including the weekly socialist newspaper The Worker, the records of anti-conscription organisations, as well as the testimonies of conscientious objectors themselves, Cyril Pearce portrays a community largely unenthusiastic about the war and tolerant of those who resisted it, and goes on to question widely-held assumptions about the popularity of the First World War.

The author Cyril Pearce was born in Huddersfield and has lived and worked in Yorkshire for most of his life. He is a lecturer at the University of Leeds and lives with his wife Heather in Golcar.


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A Canadian doctoral student will have her PhD. published by the University of British Columbia Press (UBC PRESS) in 2009 on Canadain "conchies."


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  • 1 year later...

There are also:

David Boulton: Objection Overruled, Macgibbon & Kee, 1967

Peace Pledge Union: Refusing to Kill, 2006

The latter is obtainable from the Peace Pledge Union website: www.ppu.org.uk

The website also has much information on COs, including FAQs on researching British COs

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A recently published book:

Telling Tales About Men, by Lois S. Bibbings

Conceptions of Conscientious Objectors to Military Service During the First World War

Manchester University Press

first published 2009

Link to previous thread about this book

The BBC iPlayer link still works, as does the one to the Amazon page, where there is a description of the book's contents under Product Description.



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Peace with Honour, by A A Milne, is not, and was not intended to be, an historical account of conscientious objectors. It was a trenchant argument for pacifism, and appeared on the Peace Pledge Union's recommended reading list. In 1940 Milne renounced pacifism and wrote a pamphlet, War with Honour, as a direct riposte to his earlier book.

If one is looking for inter-war historical accounts of British conscientious objection, there are:

John W Graham: Conscription and Conscience, Allen & Unwin, 1922 (There was a reprint, c 1970)

Julian Bell (ed): We Did Not Fight, 1935

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