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Remembered Today:

The Plymouth Brethren


Uncle George
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I have been pondering the position of the Plymouth Brethren during the war. My great grandmother Ada Moore (1871-1962) was unquestionably a member - my father remembers this about her. Her husband, my great grandfather David Moore (1868-1917), would seem to also have been (the attached newspaper report of his 1917 funeral tells us that the service was conducted by the Plymouth Brethren).

 

From what I can gather Plymouth Brethren were not Conscientious Objectors, but insisted upon non-combat roles. Yet David and Ada had two sons who served in the Royal Artillery in the First war - the attached alludes to this. Both sons were living at home at the start of the war, and indeed one of them saw pre-war service with the Territorial Force. 

 

I suppose the answer could be that the parents were members of the Brethren, but the sons were not. But this seems to me to be rather unsatisfactory. I’d be grateful for any help with this.

 

 

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Wasn't Wingate's father a convert to Plymouth Brethren beliefs and continued his military career?

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Just an observation on the topic. Some years ago and sadly have lost/forgotten the details I came across a headstone without a cross. Knowing that relatives could request that no cross was inscribed I investigated the background. After all a headstone without a cross is pretty rare. I discovered that the person  in the grave was a member of the Plymouth Brethren who do not accept any such symbols.

 

When I get a chance I will delve into some dusty box files to see if I can find the details.  

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13 hours ago, rolt968 said:

Wasn't Wingate's father a convert to Plymouth Brethren beliefs and continued his military career?

 

7 hours ago, keithfazzani said:

Just an observation on the topic. Some years ago and sadly have lost/forgotten the details I came across a headstone without a cross. Knowing that relatives could request that no cross was inscribed I investigated the background. After all a headstone without a cross is pretty rare. I discovered that the person  in the grave was a member of the Plymouth Brethren who do not accept any such symbols.

 

When I get a chance I will delve into some dusty box files to see if I can find the details.  

 

Thanks rolt. I see that Wiki tells us, “Wingate was born into a military family ... His father had become a committed member of the Plymouth Brethren early in his army career in India, and he married the oldest daughter of a family who were also Plymouth Brethren ... His father retired from the army two years after Wingate was born.” 

 

I have a biographical sketch of him by one John W Gordon, who reveals, “Wingate was fourth-generation military; his father, maternal grandfather, and great-grandfather all having served as officers in the British or the Indian service.” So there does not appear to have been a conflict between membership of the Brethren and service.

 

And thank you Keith. That’s interesting. It would be great if you do get the chance to find further details.

Edited by Uncle George
correcting auto-correct
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32 minutes ago, Heid the Ba said:

There was at least one VC among the Brethren, William Coltman, a stretcher bearer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Coltman

 

 

Thanks - an incredible record of bravery and selflessness. This fits the picture I had of the Brethren - that they served, but in strictly non-combatant roles. Which is why I was confused about David and Ada Moore’s two sons in the Royal Artillery. (A third son served, in his case in the RAMC.)

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wenhave had a few houses looked at by Plymouth Bretheren when selling, probably walls covered with limited edition aviation prints and a cat dragging a pigeon n through the cat flap probably reasons for not selling to them. military and bloodshed.

 

would a RA driver be a non combat role?

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I can only quote Brethren (not Plymouth Brethren, as they told me they are not from Plymouth) in Northern Ireland. The Great War was part of "the world". Theologically they had to be separate, but individual conscience could dictate a position. One was KIA in Burma 1943.

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It should not be assumed that objections to military service, in the non-combatant sense,   were wholly based on the bearing of  arms and/or the taking of life. Even amongst the various religions and sects there were a variety of views, indeed amongst them there were men who chose to take up arms. There were all sorts of sects such as Muggletonians, and Dependant Coklers, a tiny minority for sure,  whose objections were based on literal biblicism, sectarian withdrawal or apocalyptical expectations. I should also  mention Quakers who were deemed to have been pacifists in WW1. In fact only 750 Quakers became registered conscientious objectors in WW.1 I would also add that there were political objections to the war, particularly amongst socialists, but even then there were those amongst them  who believed that the war was worth fighting. 

 

The subject is not as clear cut as is often made made out, and with respect, is something worth exploring.

 

TR

 

 

 

Edited by Terry_Reeves
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I am reminded that Fabian Ware was born into the Plymouth Brethren, described by David Crane in his ‘Empires of the Dead’ (2013) as, “Victorian England’s most combative, divisive and embattled Calvinist sect.”

 

Crane tells us that Ware “had been imbued with both the autocracy and the idealism of the Brethren, and his whole life was, in one shape or another, an attempt to resolve the tensions between his own unbending individualism and the communitarian dream.”

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13 hours ago, Terry_Reeves said:

 

The subject is not as clear cut as is often made made out, and with respect, is something worth exploring.

 

 

It is indeed. There’s an interesting discussion on the Forum here:

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/3907-conscientious-objectors/

 

Thanks again to Terry and to everyone who contributed.

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17 hours ago, chaz said:

 

would a RA driver be a non combat role?

 

Sorry chaz I meant to respond to this yesterday - that’s a very good point. How is ‘non combat’ defined? One of the brothers, George, was a driver - I remember him telling me his horse was called Bollocky Bill. I’m not sure of the other brother’s role, but I do know that his son served in the Guards during the Second war.

 

 As Terry mentioned upthread, the subject is not clear cut.

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William Coltman, mentioned upthread, wasn't RAMC but in the North Staffs so would simply appear as a private in the regiment.

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