Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Conscientious objector

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

view all


  • Henry H. Miller (1892 - 1981)
    Miller.- Henry H., son of Henry B. and Sarah (Schrock) Miller, was born in Holmes Co., Ohio, Apr. 10, 1892; died at Pleasant View Home, Kalona, Iowa, May 21, 1981; aged 89 y. On Aug. 16, 1925, he was m...
  • Norman Bartlett Pearse (1887 - 1975)
  • John Melvin "Pop Pop" Thomas (1922 - d.)
    Minister of the Gospel. Father to seven children.Worked in forestry as a consciencious objecter to WW II, in "C.P.S." in Luray Va., then transferred to Exeter, Rhode Island, to work at a "colony" for m...
  • Stephen Harsh, Civil War (Conscientious objector) (1828 - 1906)
    Stephen served in the Civil War as a private under J. H. Shafer, Co., D, Unit 173 Mil 26 Mil, WV. He enrolled on 29 Sept 1864 in Grafton, WV. Length of service: 6 days. Remarks: Refused to take arms fo...
  • Source:
    Christian Landes (1710 - 1782)
    According to Lancaster Mennonite Vital Records, he was born 9/2/1710 and died Feb 5, 1782. This was based on research by Strickler Genealogy p239, 276, MRJ (journal) XI, 4, p. 40, and DKL Landis data p...

Conscientious objector

Time to honour the brave who would not fight

Historically, many conscientious objectors have been executed, imprisoned, or otherwise penalized when their beliefs led to actions conflicting with their society's legal system or government. The legal definition and status of conscientious objection has varied over the years and from nation to nation. Religious beliefs were a starting point in many nations for legally granting conscientious objector status.

An early recognition of conscientious objection was granted by William the Silent to the Dutch Mennonites in 1575. They could refuse military service in exchange for a monetary payment.

Formal legislation to exempt objectors from fighting was first granted in mid-18th century Britain following problems with attempting to force Quakers into military service. In 1757, when the first attempt was made to establish a professional national military reserve, a clause in the Militia Ballot Act allowed Quakers exemption from military service.

In the United States, conscientious objection was permitted from the country's founding, although regulation was left to individual states prior to the introduction of conscription.


Repeal the Act

Fellow citizens:

Conscription is now law in this country of free traditions. Our hard-won liberties have been violated. Conscription means the desecration of principles that we have long held dear; it involves the subordination of civil liberties to military dictation; it imperils the freedom of individual conscience and establishes in our midst that militarism which menaces all social graces and divides the peoples of all nations.

We re-affirm our determined resistance to all that is established by the Act.

We cannot assist in warfare. War, which to us is wrong. War, which the peoples do not seek, will only be made impossible when men, who so believe, remain steadfast to their convictions. Conscience, it is true, has been recognised in the Act, but it has been placed at the mercy of tribunals. We are prepared to answer for our faith before any tribunal, but we cannot accept any exemption that would compel those who hate war to kill by proxy or set them to tasks which would help in the furtherance of war.

We strongly condemn the monstrous assumption by Parliament that a man is deemed to be bound by an oath that he has never taken and forced under an authority he will never acknowledge to perform acts which outrage his deepest convictions.

It is true that the present act applies only to a small section of the community, but a great tradition has been sacrificed. Already there is a clamour for an extension of the act. Admit the principle, and who can stay the march of militarism?

Repeal the Act. That is your only safeguard.

If this be not done, militarism will fasten its iron grip upon our national life and institutions. There will be imposed upon us the very system which statesmen affirm that they set out to overthrow.

What shall it profit the nation if it shall win the war and lose its own soul?

The No-Conscription Fellowship was an organisation made up by members of the Socialist Independent Labour Party and the Quakers. The men who signed the above leaflet were Clifford Allen, Edward Grubb, A Fenner Brockway, W J Chamberlain, W H Ayles, Morgan Jones, A Barratt Brown, John Fletcher, C H Norman and Rev. Leyton Richards. All charged under the Defence of the Realm Act. They were all fined; those who decided not to pay the fine were sent to prison.

Child conscription

"A number of cases gained considerable publicity including Victor Yeo, the son of a miner from Broken Hill, who was imprisoned a second time and subjected to a diet of dry bread and water for 7 days, John and William Size from South Australia, who were each sentenced to 20 days detention in Fort Largs, Albert Francis (Frank) Giles also of Broken Hill, and Harry Flintoff of Victoria, who was given a second sentence of 20 days. Thomas Roberts’s sentence of 21 days in the Queenscliff Fort, including a full week in solitary confinement, in a windowless cell, occurred soon after the publicity surrounding Harry Flintoff’s case, and aroused a great deal of attention, being the subject of questions in parliament and assurances of support for the abolition of solitary confinement8.These conscientious objectors, some just 15 or 16 at the time of their imprisonment, assuredly exhibited considerable courage."


Brutalities inflicted on young Australians who resisted conscription in previous history anti-Conscription struggles in our country are but a reflectlonof the repression which militarisation of our youth brings in its train.

John and William Size, of Oakbank (S.A.), were two of 5,732 young: Australians imprisoned for resisting compulsory military training. Their diet was dry bread (three slices a day) and dirty water. When they refused to drill, the master gunner shouted: "Put the grips on them! Get them by the scruff of the neck! Drag then around! Put your knee into them and break their backs!"

This incident, and many others, are related in Jauncey's book, "The Story of Conscription in Australia." However, the repression of the lads and the workers, religious groups, pacifists and others who fought in their defence, failed to destroy the anti-conscription movement which, in World War I, was successful in defeating the "yes" advocates in two referendums.

To-day the "No Conscription" Leagues in the different States point out that the repressive measures contained in Mettries'
National Service Bill offer unlimited powers for prosecution of antagonists of the Bill. The Bill is labelled "A Bill for an Act to provide for national service in the defence force, and for other purposes."

As pointed out by Senator Don Cameron, of Victoria, a former Postmaster-General, "for other purposes" could include Government use of military trainees or conscripts as strikebreakers, acting as a guard for strikebreakers, "enforcing military control of the civilian population," industrial conscription, and a drive to a new world war.

Demand a referendum on conscription!

The Maritime Worker (Melbourne, Vic. : 1938 - 1954) Sat 28 Apr 1951 Page 7 REPRESSION AND CONSCRIPTION


Poem by Bruce “Utah” Phillips