A Strike of Jailed Conscientious Objectors in Wandsworth Prison, 1918-19
In the centenary of World War One, lip service is being paid to the fact that several thousand mostly young men refused to fight. However, accounts like this one, of how they were treated, are unlikely to be given anything like the airing that the orthodox script of ‘national unity’, ‘a war for democracy’, ‘the spirit of sacrifice’ will receive.
Of 16,000 or more men who refused to be conscripted to serve in the slaughter, and claimed Conscientious Objector status, at least 6000 were court-martialled and jailed.
But for many imprisonment was far from the end of the story. In prisons and work camps, many were beaten, tortured and starved. And they fought back: through hunger strikes, refusal to work, underground newspapers, and agitation.
This pamphlet, an excerpt from the biography of anarchist war resister Guy Aldred, details just one episode from this long hidden history. The humour and stubbornness of their rebel spirit shines through the years.
past tense World War 1 Series, no 2
Black and White