Reasons for Application.


1914-1917 circa


Reasons for Application.


1914-1917 circa


document explaining C.O. stance


reasoning behind stance for WWI British C.O.


Great Britain


Brockway, A. Fenner


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.








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I am a Socialist, and my socialism is based on a belief in the sacredness of human life and the unity of all human lives. If this belief is to find expression in modern civilisation, the social order must be reconstructed in order (1) to encourage what is best in human life instead of degrading it, and (11) to express the principles of co-operation instead of that of competition. War is the antithesis of Socialism. It destroys a human life and denies the unity of humanity. To participate in war would be to outrage my conscientious and most deeply held convictions. I cannot do it.


1. I object to combatant service because I believe human life to be sacred and because I know it would be wrong for me, holding this belief, to take human life.

2. I object to non-combatant service because it assists the taking of life and the prosecution of war, which I believe to be wrong.

3. I object to the use of arms in any and every dispute. However just the cause, I do not believe the method of war to be justified.

4. I am not prepared to join any branch of military service even if it be engaged in saving human life. The primary purpose od [sic] such services is to assist the prosecution of the war.

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5. (a) I have been an active anti-militarist for seven years. When war was threatened I publicly declared my intention not to participate in it, but the full implications of my anti-militarist principles have only been impressed upon me by the war itself.

5. (b) I am not prepared to bring forward written evidence. Many men whose conscientious convictions are undoubted will be unable to supply evidence from persons of standing, and I should consider I might prejudice their claims were I to submit documentary evidence.

6. I am not a member of any religious body.

7. (a) (1) I am a member of the Independent Labour Party, whose annual conference (Easter 1916) adopted a resolution expressing the opinion that Socialist Parties should decline to support all wars. (11) I am a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship.

7. (b) (1) I 1908. (11) In November, 1914.

8. I must respectfully decline to answer this question. It is not for me to assert any sacrifices I may have made, particularly when I am so conscious of the supreme sacrifice made by thousands of men who do not hold my views. I recognise that mine has been an easy course and can only hope that were I called upon to prove the reality of my principles I would do so with equal readiness.

9. (a) I am not prepared to undertake any form of "national service" as a condition of exemption from the provisions of the Military Service Act. To do so would be to

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bargain with a thing which I believe to be utterly wrong. To consent to do one thing in order to be excused from doing another, is to acquiesce in the second thing and become a party to it. I cannot acquiesce in, or become a party to, war.

9. (b) --------

9. (c) I have done all I could ever since the outbreak of war to urge the people to take the first opportunity of securing peace. At the same time I have tried to popularise principles, the acceptance of which I believe to be essential to a permanent peace. I have taken part in agitations to stop the exploitation of the people by monopolists who have taken advantage of the national crisis to increase the prices of the necessities of life. I have worked to secure juster allowances for the dependents of soldiers and increased pensions for disabled soldiers and for the dependents of the killed. I have striven to secure an advance in the pensions of the old aged to meet the increased cost of living.

9. (d) I hope there is no sacrifice I would not be prepared to make to assist in bringing peace nearer and in re-establishing goodwill between the nations. I believe such work to be the best service I can render to my nation and humanity.

10. (a) See answer to 9 (a).

10. (b) I believe the first duty of a citizen is to be loyal to

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his conscience. Only as the members of a State live according to the truth they see can a State really advance.


Brockway, A. Fenner, “Reasons for Application.,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed January 19, 2022,

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