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I know very little about this subject I admit. But reading these posts makes me wonder if anyone can say how the Germans handled the situation in WW1? Were they more "enlightened" in dealing with it? Thanks for any replies.

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Magnumbellum

The short answer is "No". A more meaningful answer needs to be longer.

In 1914 Britain was virtually unique in Europe in having no tradition of universal military conscription, in the sense that all males reaching maturity, regardless of whether the state was currently at war, would be liable to compulsory military training for a period, and than remain on the reserve until middle age, ready to be called out if and when required. This practice had begun with the French levee en masse in 1793, then spread to Prussia, and slowly across the whole of Europe, from Portugal to Russia and from Scandinavia to Italy and Greece. Details varied between states as to the precise age for initial enlistment, the length of compulsory training and initial service and the age at which liability on the reserve ended, but the principle was the same everywhere.

It is usually suggested that Britain stood alone because of reliance on the Navy as the main means of defence; it may well, however, also be that a stronger tradition of civil liberty and independence of thought inhibited the spread of the conscription principle - "the badge of the slave", as Keir Hardie, first leader of the Labour Party called it - to Britain. Meanwhile, because conscription was so firmly established in Europe, there was no significant opposition, and certainly there was no legal provision for conscientious objection; occasionally a few Mennonites were quietly and unofficially allowed to do some alternative work, but that was all.

So, come 1914, Germany, along with the other continental belligerents, "mobilised", meaning the state called out troops already enlisted and trained, and thereby long committed to military service. This did not necessarily mean that the war was universally accepted within the state, and we know, in fact, that it was not, as witness Karl Liebknecht, socialist member of the German parliament, voting against finance for the war, and German women crossing the frontier into the neutral Netherlands to attend the International Congress of Women at The Hague, April 1915, when women from belligerent states on both sides as well as from neutrals joined in calling for immediate mediation to stop the slaughter.

It is not known whether any individual German, or Austrian, soldier refused to fight in the Great War, or what happened if one did, but it is certainly well documented that in WW2 more than 250 German or Austrian men were shot or beheaded for refusing to fight. One Austrian, Franz Jaegerstaetter, is being processed for Roman Catholic sainthood.

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Clear Bell

Re-read Sexton's correspondence with the college about working on a farm , he had asked 9 May 1917 for his work, mainly stained glass work, to be sent home to his father in Bingley, In the letter of 20 May he mentions that he is hoping to be there "in a fortnight'd time." So this all sounds fairly above board to me.

About four CO in one picture. I googled "Dyce Work Camp" today and under "images' tab immediately spotted another - different - photo of four COs! it was used in a Mirror article on objectors. Will compare likenesses and try and work things out from there!

Fat finger - I meant to type 9 May 1916.

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Magnumbellum

Are you absolutely certain that the 9 May letter was 1916, not 1917, yet was wriiten from exactly the same place as the 20 May 1917 letter. If this is the case then the story becomes curiouser and curiouser, to quote Alice. May 1916 was when Sexton was military custody and awaiting court-martial. Before I try to delve further into this mystery, can you please check again the dates of both letters, and precisely from where each was written. Precise dates and places are crucial when tracking a CO.

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Clear Bell

Are you absolutely certain that the 9 May letter was 1916, not 1917, yet was wriiten from exactly the same place as the 20 May 1917 letter. If this is the case then the story becomes curiouser and curiouser, to quote Alice. May 1916 was when Sexton was military custody and awaiting court-martial. Before I try to delve further into this mystery, can you please check again the dates of both letters, and precisely from where each was written. Precise dates and places are crucial when tracking a CO.

Sorry, apologies, just looked at the official stamp and yes, as first thought, both letters were 1917.

First letter to the Registrar, requesting his property be sent to his father in Bingley is dated 9 May 1917. Address oven is The Rookery, Crosby Garret, Kirby Stephen, Westmoreland.

Second letter sent to the Registrar acknowledging receipt pf a registered package containing each and keys and mentioning working on the farm is dated 20 May 1917.

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Magnumbellum

Thanks for the clarification about the date, which now makes sense chronologically, although Sexton's actual status within the law of military service remains ambiguous for the period autumn 1916 to November 1917.

I am puzzled by the phrase "package containing each" - each of what?

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Clear Bell

Thanks for the clarification about the date, which now makes sense chronologically, although Sexton's actual status within the law of military service remains ambiguous for the period autumn 1916 to November 1917.

I am puzzled by the phrase "package containing each" - each of what?

Transcription ettor. Should read "watch & keys".

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Magnumbellum

Thanks for the clarification about the contents of the package sent by the RCA to Sexton's parents' home, at his request, in May 1917.

Watch and keys seem strangely personal items to have been left at the college (possibly in a locker) rather than held on his person or at his lodgings. I imagine the watch to be a traditional gentleman's pocket watch, often worn on a chain across the waistcoat of a suit. I am tempted to speculate that, at college, Sexton varied between dressing formally in a suit for giving lectures and casually for studio work. Possibly he was arrested at the College, and Sexton felt it safer to leave the watch and keys behind. Arrest of a "defaulting" CO at a place like the College was not unusual.

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Clear Bell

Thanks for the clarification about the contents of the package sent by the RCA to Sexton's parents' home, at his request, in May 1917.

Watch and keys seem strangely personal items to have been left at the college (possibly in a locker) rather than held on his person or at his lodgings. I imagine the watch to be a traditional gentleman's pocket watch, often worn on a chain across the waistcoat of a suit. I am tempted to speculate that, at college, Sexton varied between dressing formally in a suit for giving lectures and casually for studio work. Possibly he was arrested at the College, and Sexton felt it safer to leave the watch and keys behind. Arrest of a "defaulting" CO at a place like the College was not unusual.

I am not sure where Sexton was arrested (probably on 15 May 1916), but I am aware of a note from the Registrar in David Evans's file (another CO) that he and Whaite (mentioned by me a while back) were spoken to in anticipation of their being arrested and told that their attendance at the college must cease "today" - the date is a little difficult to decipher but might be 9 June 1916. Not completely sure of this. But clearly they didn't want this happening at the college from at least that time.

Sexton was a student so I doubt he did any lecturing - but we're talking art school so looking interesting - watches, waistcoats, who knows what else - was/is pretty much a requirement. There is a great picture of Charles Sargent Jagger (he of Royal Artillery Memorial fame) with a group of other RCA students and a life model from the turn of the century in Anne Compton's book on him if you want to see what I mean.There's a face in that picture that looks like a younger version of one of a group of Dartmoor COs in another book on them (not the Goodall). But maybe I am imagining a likeness - difficult to know for sure. Yes

I am not sure where Sexton was arrested (probably on 15 May 1916), but I am aware of a note from the Registrar in David Evans's file (another CO) that he and Whaite (mentioned by me a while back) were spoken to in anticipation of their being arrested and told that their attendance at the college must cease "today" - the date is a little difficult to decipher but might be 9 June 1916. Not completely sure of this. But clearly they didn't want this happening at the college from at least that time.

Sexton was a student so I doubt he did any lecturing - but we're talking art school so looking interesting - watches, waistcoats, who knows what else - was/is pretty much a requirement. There is a great picture of Charles Sargent Jagger (he of Royal Artillery Memorial fame) with a group of other RCA students and a life model from the turn of the century in Anne Compton's book on him if you want to see what I mean.There's a face in that picture that looks like a younger version of one of a group of Dartmoor COs in another book on them (not the Goodall). But maybe I am imagining a likeness - difficult to know for sure. Yes

Am very tired - so the ending on "Yes" of my last posting, is just my subconscious typing.

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Magnumbellum

I am not sure where Sexton was arrested (probably on 15 May 1916), but I am aware of a note from the Registrar in David Evans's file (another CO) that he and Whaite (mentioned by me a while back) were spoken to in anticipation of their being arrested and told that their attendance at the college must cease "today" - the date is a little difficult to decipher but might be 9 June 1916. Not completely sure of this. But clearly they didn't want this happening at the college from at least that time.

This is very interesting at two different levels.

One, it is virtually implied confirmation that Sexton and-or another student was arrested at the College, an incident which the College did not which to see repeated, probably more because of its disruptive aspect than because the College was not supportive, which they seem to have been towards Sexton, at least.

Two, the precaution seems to have been entirely unnecessary in the case of Whaite, who had been allowed exemption by his Military Service Tribunal conditional upon his joining the Friends' Ambulance Unit, which he did in June 1916, presumably not long after the putative date of the warning by the College, so the question of arrest never actually arose.

In the case of Evans there might have been a theoretical question of arrest, but his CO application, as I have already mentioned, took an entirely unprecedented course, in that, after he had been allowed only exemption from combatant military service, meaning that he would be called up to the Non-Combatant Corps, he wrote to the War Office, who apparently told him that his call-up would be suspended if he immediately joined the FAU, which he did in June 1916, more or less at the same time as Whaite, so he was never arrested. There is no other known case of the War Office apparently voluntarily relinquishing a man assigned to the Army by a Tribunal.

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Clear Bell

This is very interesting at two different levels.

One, it is virtually implied confirmation that Sexton and-or another student was arrested at the College, an incident which the College did not which to see repeated, probably more because of its disruptive aspect than because the College was not supportive, which they seem to have been towards Sexton, at least.

Two, the precaution seems to have been entirely unnecessary in the case of Whaite, who had been allowed exemption by his Military Service Tribunal conditional upon his joining the Friends' Ambulance Unit, which he did in June 1916, presumably not long after the putative date of the warning by the College, so the question of arrest never actually arose.

In the case of Evans there might have been a theoretical question of arrest, but his CO application, as I have already mentioned, took an entirely unprecedented course, in that, after he had been allowed only exemption from combatant military service, meaning that he would be called up to the Non-Combatant Corps, he wrote to the War Office, who apparently told him that his call-up would be suspended if he immediately joined the FAU, which he did in June 1916, more or less at the same time as Whaite, so he was never arrested. There is no other known case of the War Office apparently voluntarily relinquishing a man assigned to the Army by a Tribunal.

Am still looking into these records. At the moment I get the impression that the college had - at least at one point - a "chillier" attitude towards Demaine than Sexton - but this could, of course, be due to reasons completely unrelated to his being a CO.

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Magnumbellum

Am still looking into these records. At the moment I get the impression that the college had - at least at one point - a "chillier" attitude towards Demaine than Sexton - but this could, of course, be due to reasons completely unrelated to his being a CO.

Yes, there is a danger in attempting to read too much into a few notes here and there. If there was a significant difference between Demaine and Sexton, it was that Demaine went through several cycles of disobedience, court-martial and imprisonment, whereas Sexton had the strange interlude between autumn 1916 and autumn 1917, in which he obtained work on a farm but without any explanation of how he was able to take such work.

In further reflection on that conundrum, it seems possible that it was related to a note in the Central Tribunal account of their hearing concerning a report to be sent to the War Office. It may be that this unusual correspondence caused Sexton's case to be put "on hold", leaving him free to take up voluntary farm work. It is an oddity in parallel with David Evans' correspondence with the \War Office which apparently enabled him to be diverted from imminent call-up for the NCC to joining the FAU..

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Clear Bell

Yes, there is a danger in attempting to read too much into a few notes here and there. If there was a significant difference between Demaine and Sexton, it was that Demaine went through several cycles of disobedience, court-martial and imprisonment, whereas Sexton had the strange interlude between autumn 1916 and autumn 1917, in which he obtained work on a farm but without any explanation of how he was able to take such work.

In further reflection on that conundrum, it seems possible that it was related to a note in the Central Tribunal account of their hearing concerning a report to be sent to the War Office. It may be that this unusual correspondence caused Sexton's case to be put "on hold", leaving him free to take up voluntary farm work. It is an oddity in parallel with David Evans' correspondence with the \War Office which apparently enabled him to be diverted from imminent call-up for the NCC to joining the FAU..

This business of reports/correspondence - well, any involvement with the War Office over this pair of students - is very intriguing. Have you managed to locate any documents that might be what's referred to?

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Magnumbellum

This business of reports/correspondence - well, any involvement with the War Office over this pair of students - is very intriguing. Have you managed to locate any documents that might be what's referred to?

There are no original documents identified so far.

In the case of David Evans, the source is a brief reference in the Friends' Wartime Statistics Committee that he had been "released" for work with the FAU, with no explanation of the mechanics by which this happened. Since he had never been formally "handed over" to the Army, it must be assumed that his name was withdrawn from those listed for arrest by the civil police as having not responded to the notice for reporting for training. It is further presumed that this process must have been initiated by Evans, probably with a letter, but whether the letter survives, together with any rationale for the WO acceding to such an unusual request is not known. Since there is no other such case recorded, there is no obvious file where such a letter might theoretically lie buried. What we do know is that he was allowed by his Tribunal only exemption from combatant military service, and this was confirmed by the Appeal Tribunal; this would ordinarily have led to his being sent a notice to report to the Non-Combatant Corps, with arrest in the event of failure to comply, yet we know also that he ended up in the Friends' Ambulance Unit, and the only link is the brief reference that he had been "released" by the War Office.

In the case of James Sexton, there is a note in the minutes of the Central Tribunal, hearing his case on 16 August 1916, that they intended to send a special report to the War Office, which was possibly related to his having told that Tribunal that he would refuse civilian work even under civilian control. There was no indication of exactly what would be in the report, and no indication whether any reply was ever received. What we do know is that after release from prison, probably around September/October 1916, he was left alone by the Army until November 1917, and it seems possible that his being left alone had something to do with that special report; it could be that such a report, for which there is no other comparable example, lay unattended until someone realised that Sexton ought to be called back in. As in the case of Evans, there is no obvious place where such a report might lie, and nothing has so far been found.

Two of life's imponderable mysteries - is it a coincidence that they both relate to RCA students?

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Clear Bell

There are no original documents identified so far.

In the case of David Evans, the source is a brief reference in the Friends' Wartime Statistics Committee that he had been "released" for work with the FAU, with no explanation of the mechanics by which this happened. Since he had never been formally "handed over" to the Army, it must be assumed that his name was withdrawn from those listed for arrest by the civil police as having not responded to the notice for reporting for training. It is further presumed that this process must have been initiated by Evans, probably with a letter, but whether the letter survives, together with any rationale for the WO acceding to such an unusual request is not known. Since there is no other such case recorded, there is no obvious file where such a letter might theoretically lie buried. What we do know is that he was allowed by his Tribunal only exemption from combatant military service, and this was confirmed by the Appeal Tribunal; this would ordinarily have led to his being sent a notice to report to the Non-Combatant Corps, with arrest in the event of failure to comply, yet we know also that he ended up in the Friends' Ambulance Unit, and the only link is the brief reference that he had been "released" by the War Office.

In the case of James Sexton, there is a note in the minutes of the Central Tribunal, hearing his case on 16 August 1916, that they intended to send a special report to the War Office, which was possibly related to his having told that Tribunal that he would refuse civilian work even under civilian control. There was no indication of exactly what would be in the report, and no indication whether any reply was ever received. What we do know is that after release from prison, probably around September/October 1916, he was left alone by the Army until November 1917, and it seems possible that his being left alone had something to do with that special report; it could be that such a report, for which there is no other comparable example, lay unattended until someone realised that Sexton ought to be called back in. As in the case of Evans, there is no obvious place where such a report might lie, and nothing has so far been found.

Two of life's imponderable mysteries - is it a coincidence that they both relate to RCA students?

Yes, indeed. I will try over the next few weeks to go through my notes and see if I can find anything that might show why this would be - I don't know how well connected either of them were (even if they were friends).

At the moment I am trying to work out who knew each other. Sexton and Demaine (and Thomson) might have been the first group of RCA students who refused call-up. But I don't know how familiar they were to each other (although the college intake was very small). Sexton definitely refers to Demaine in his correspondence with the college - would be interesting to know if they were doing the same element of study required by the RCA which would mean they are bound to have chatted and so on. Meanwhile as you know, Evans and Whaite are mentioned together in Evans's file so may be there was a friendship there. No idea about Noble or Bicknell being connected to any of the others - seems unlikely to me.

I don't know of any lists for the equivalent of student union activities which might indicate friendships - although there are a couple of student magazines from the period I have gone through, none of the CO names crop up .

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Magnumbellum

At the moment I am trying to work out who knew each other. Sexton and Demaine (and Thomson) might have been the first group of RCA students who refused call-up. But I don't know how familiar they were to each other (although the college intake was very small). Sexton definitely refers to Demaine in his correspondence with the college - would be interesting to know if they were doing the same element of study required by the RCA which would mean they are bound to have chatted and so on. Meanwhile as you know, Evans and Whaite are mentioned together in Evans's file so may be there was a friendship there. No idea about Noble or Bicknell being connected to any of the others - seems unlikely to me.

I don't know of any lists for the equivalent of student union activities which might indicate friendships - although there are a couple of student magazines from the period I have gone through, none of the CO names crop up .

As to who knew each other:

Sexton and Demaine clearly did, because they shared lodgings at 23 Paulton Square, Chelsea. (Perhaps I should comment that traditional student lodging in those days was each student having a bed-sit, but breakfast certainly and evening meal probably provided by the landlady in a communal dining room, so students would get to know each other more than by just passing on the stairs.)

Demaine possibly knew Thomson, in that they both came from Keighley, West Riding, Yorkshire.

Thomson would have known Evans, because they were both Quakers and would have attended the same Meeting in London.

I certainly concur with the suggestion that Evans and Whaite were friends. Whaite's religious inclination has not been noted anywhere, but he is most likely to have been a Quaker, as he volunteered for the FAU at a time when it began to be closed to non-Quakers because too many were volunteering. I think it also likely that Evans may have cited Whaite's case in his special pleading to the War Office, and they joined FAU more or less simultaneously in June 1916.

With regard to "student union activities" at RCA, I am not sure whether student unions actually existed in those days, or at any rate in anything resembling their more recent form, Moreover, with young men volunteering or being conscripted, student activities were likely to have been at a low ebb. The student magazine may throw some light.

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Rose1

I am researching H. Clarence Whaite and was interested to learn that he first enrolled with the RCA. All the information I have relates to his time at the Slade.

He was working at the epileptic colony at Chalfont St. Peter c. 1917.

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Magnumbellum

I am researching H. Clarence Whaite and was interested to learn that he first enrolled with the RCA. All the information I have relates to his time at the Slade.

He was working at the epileptic colony at Chalfont St. Peter c. 1917.

As I read this latest remark about Clarence Whaite, you seem to be suggesting that it has come as new information to you that he was at the RCA, whereas in posts 42 and 47 above you specifically mentioned him as one of the RCA group of students you have been studying.

Thank you for the information that c 1917 he was working at an epileptic colony at Chalfont St Peter. This very strongly indicates that he must have been exempted by a Military Service Tribunal from military service, conditional upon doing Work of National Importance, the colony work being accepted as fulfilling that condition.

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Rose1

Dear Magnumbellum, I am a new member to this site - I think you must be referring to Clear Bell. I am rather hoping Clear Bell will respond with advice regarding the files held at the RCA. I have found your postings very useful.

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Magnumbellum

Sorry, I was careless in not realising that a new person had entered the discussion, and I mistook you for Clear Bell, who has been working on files held by the RCA.

Have you dates for when Whaite was at the Slade and anything else about him that has not already been mentioned on this thread?

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Clear Bell

I think it came as a bit of surprise to the RCA Registrar that he had gone to the Slade when they may have been expecting him to return. He wrote to them about this on "14th 10th 1919." The letter has been marked by an administrator in red writing and with a stamp as, I presume, received on 16.10.19.

He mentions that he had called upon the Principal "the day after the opening of the session" (the Autumn 1919 session) and explained why he was not coming back. So obviously communication at management level (and the Board of Education) wasn't good. He writes it was due to the terms of his scholarship which did not permit him "to take up the full diploma course.." He also states he had apparently been studying at the Slade from the session before. Think this may refer either to the previous summer term or perhaps even further back. The letter is addressed from "Hatherley", Chalfont St GIles, Bucks. Sounds like he stayed in the general area where he had been working during the war?

In 1915 he gives on his admission documents his home address as "11 Brompton Grove, Cheetham, Manchester" - but he was lodging at a boarding house "17 Redcliffe Road, Fulham Road,S. Kensington, SW". This document mentions that his previous occupation before joining the RCA was " Litho. Artists [sic]" and that he wants to be an illustrator when he leaves.

Hope this is useful for your research.

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Rose1

Very many thanks, both to Magnumbellum and Clear Bell. This is the first site I have contributed to and am not sure of the etiquette (should I reply to people individually?)

The dates for Clarence are: 1895-1978. At the moment, the only dates I have for the Slade are that he studied there in the early '20s. As I mentioned I was surprised to hear he had spent some time at the RCA, as I assumed he had gone straight to the Slade from Manchester. There is an entry for him in David Buckman's Dictionary of Artists in Britain since 1945, the 2006 edition, which I am waiting for my local library to acquire for reference.

Clear Bell, did you find your information in the student files at the RCA?

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Rose1

It appears the reason Clarence did not return to the RCA after WW1, but enrolled at the Slade instead, was due to the fees being higher at the former and his National Scholarship would not cover the fees for the course he hoped to follow.

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Magnumbellum

Thanks for the explanation, which makes sense. Student fees could be a problem a century ago, as they are today.

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