Catherine Marshall was instrumental in the struggle for women’s suffrage and then devoted herself to the cause of the conscientious objectors in WW1.
When the young men in charge of the No-Conscription Fellowship were arrested for failing to report for military service, she and Bertrand Russell pretty much took over the running of the organisation. She was indefatigable, meticulous, and highly inventive at circumventing the probing and prying of government and the military.
In Balliol College, Oxford, I came across this portrait of Herbert Henry Asquith – with strange lighting effects – a former scholar here, who later as Prime Minister, was the man who took us into the First World War.
Then, in 1916, he introduced the bill which ushered in military conscription, but who was also willing to wave through that bill’s controversial conscience clause, thereby giving some hope to the 16,500+ young men whose consciences would not permit them to take up arms.
This is Fenner Brockway, founder of the No-Conscription Fellowship, a crucial organisation supporting COs during WW1, and which constantly challenged and harried the government and the military for fair treatment of COs during the war. Continue reading →