Echo Chamber

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Echo Chamber – a sound installation and photography exhibition inspired by Conscientious Objectors of WW1 in London

Echo Chamber was held at The Light, Friends House, Euston, London between 18 August – 2 September 2016.

Echo Chamber was a sound installation and photography exhibition exploring the stories of conscientious objectors and the legacy they leave us with today. 2016 marks the centenary of the recognition of conscientious objection to military service in law.

Stroud-based artist, Fiona Meadley, coordinated the Echo Chamber and together with Dominic Thomas has created the sound installation. Photographer Ruth Davey from Look Again coordinated the photographic element of the project.

Echo Chamber was commissioned by Quakers in Britain and Quaker Arts Network, and funded by the Arts Council England.

On 15 May 2014 a special ceremony was held at Tavistock Square. In front of the only memorial ever erected to international conscientious objectors, over 60 families of First Wold War COs came to share their stories. As each name was read, the relatives showed their photograph and shared a little of what they knew. There were those who survived the experience, going on to serve as teachers, doctors, journalists, shop keepers, printers, politicians, city counsellors. But there were also those who were broken by it.It was a hugely moving occasion – probably the first time these remarkable people had been publically remembered. At the time, being a CO carried a social stigma. Whilst some were supported by their families, many were cut off.

After the war, COs found it difficult to find employment, especially those with prison records. Many were reluctant to talk about their experience. Some of the relatives who came had been unaware of the history of conscientious objection in their families, until invited to take part.

We contacted potential project participants who had come to the ceremony, and others though Quakers, the Peace Pledge Union, Pax Christi and other networks. We invited them to have a photograph of themselves taken by a volunteer, holding a portrait of their relative. The result is an act of remembrance involving three people. The process of taking the photograph offers both photographer and subject the opportunity to engage in a deeper discernment. What can a photograph say? What remains unsaid? What would it mean to be a conscientious objector today?

Who gets remembered depends on who does the remembering. In the case of COs, their stories are particularly fragmentary. For every person whose story is shared here, how many more are there whom have left no trace?

Echo Chamber stories

Loveday Shewell with a photo of her grandfather Wilfred Shewell

Wilfred Shewell volunteered to work with the Friends War Victims Relief Committee in France in 1914. They provided housing, agricultural implements and seeds, clothing and furniture to civilians affected by the war. He returned to live in England at the end of the war. Both his sons, Michael and Richard, were conscientious objectors during World War II and joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU).

Michael worked in the Hadfield Spears mobile units, which provided basic healthcare to civilians in the rural communities in Syria and Lebanon. Richard was in a group of FAU men attached to the medical section of a division of the French army at the front line. He was with them when this division was the first of the allied troops to enter Paris in August 1944.

Loveday Shewell, his granddaughter, Michael’s daughter, is an independent arts management consultant working with visual arts organisations and artists groups, and also in the wider charity sector. She is a member of Brentford & Isleworth Quaker Meeting and a trustee of Quaker Social Action.

Note: photo by Fiona Meadley

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Antony Penrose with a photo of his father Roland Penrose

Roland Penrose’s family were Quakers and he and his older brothers Alexander and Lionel were conscientious objectors. His brothers served as medical stewards in the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) trains in France and Belgium. Roland joined the FAU at 18 as an ambulance driver in northern Italy. The war ended within a few days of his arrival, but he continued to work with the FAU attending to the wounded, caring for displaced civilians and trying to contain outbreaks of typhus. After the war he became a surrealist artist, biographer and curator.

Antony Penrose founded the Lee Miller Archives and The Penrose Collection, which he runs with his daughter Ami at Farley Farm House in Sussex. These are dedicated to furthering the understanding of his parents’ work. His father was a Quaker and his mother, Lee Miller, the American photographer, was educated in a Quaker school. They ensured that Antony grew up knowing the value of non-violent protest, and of the power of art to effect change. He writes, lectures, curates exhibitions and on occasion sculpts surrealist objects.

Note: Photo by Tony Tree. Anthony is sitting in front of his father’s desk.

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Jill Gibbon with a photo of her grandfather, John (Bert) Brocklesby

Bert Brocklesby was a conscientious objector in the First World War. He refused both combatant and non-combatant duties, and was imprisoned in Richmond Castle with fifteen other absolutists. The Richmond Sixteen were taken to France as ‘soldiers’ where the army planned to court-martial and shoot them for refusing to fight. By means of coded postcards, the COs managed to alert the No-Conscription Fellowship, and the issue was raised in Parliament. Their death sentences were commuted to ten years penal servitude. After the war, Bert devoted his life to peace, working with the Friends Emergency & War Victims Relief Committee in Austria and Russia. He went on the Aldermaston marches against nuclear weapons, and four months before he died, held a solitary vigil against nuclear weapons on Hiroshima Day 1962.

Jill Gibbon never met her grandfather, but the story of his conscientious objection has accompanied her throughout her life, and had a huge influence on her peace activism.

Note: photo by Ruth Davey (www.look-again.org) at International Conscientious Objectors Day in Tavistock Square, 15 May 2016.

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Siw Wood with a photo of her uncle Walter Leslie Roberts. Also, her daughter, Gwynneth Young, and grandson, Jonathan Young, with a photo of Siw’s father, Alfred Llewelyn Roberts

Walter Leslie Roberts appeared before Stockport magistrates in May 1916 to claim exemption under the Military Service Act. He was refused, fined £40 and sent to Wormwood Scrubs. He was moved to Dyce Camp in Aberdeenshire where conditions were so awful many of the men fell ill. Walter developed pneumonia and died on 8 September 1916. In Walter’s obituary, Fenner Brockway described him as “the first of our members to meet his death in a fight against militarism”.

Llewellyn also claimed exemption and appeared before the tribunal four times. Following Walter’s death and the subsequent outcry, he was in his own words, “quietly forgotten about”. After the war Llewellyn wanted to train as an architect like his brother, but instead worked as an interior designer. He married a doctor and their daughter Siw was born in 1934. Siw Wood studied at Manchester College of Art. She now lives in North West Wales where she is an active member of the community and of the Society of Friends.

Note: photo by Ruth Davey (www.look-again.org) at International Conscientious Objectors Day in Tavistock Square, 15 May 2016.

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David Pratt with a photo of his father-in-law George Barker Jeffery

At the outset of World War I, neither George Jeffery nor his wife Elizabeth were Quakers, but joined as a result of George’s decision to become a conscientious objector. Elizabeth’s two brothers had volunteered for the army and had been killed in action early in the war. George went to prison in 1916. He spent most of his time in Wakefield, as a cobbler at the Home Office Work Centre. He continued to use manual skills as a hobby throughout his life. He made the cupboard in this photograph.

George was employed by London University all his working life, becoming Astor Professor of Pure Mathematics at University College. He corresponded with Albert Einstein and co-published the definitive English translation of papers on Relativity by Einstein. He served as Vice-President of the Royal Society from 1938 to 1940.

David Pratt married George’s eldest daughter Janet in 1953. David later became a Quaker.

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Liz Thorpe with a photo of her grandfather Joseph William Poole

Joseph William Poole was court-martialled for refusing to fight and sentenced to hard labour in a prison at Leicester and later Wakefield. A strong athletic man, he was greatly altered physically by his experiences in prison, and wrote in a letter home of “going through the mill a bit” in prison.

After the war he ran a smallholding and kept pigs, chickens and bees, and produced seed for sale.

Liz Thorpe lives with her husband in her grandfather’s old house, where they garden, look after their grandchildren and hold events for charity. Liz describes her grandfather as a strong and positive man, and a great influence on her life for his moral strength and love of gardening.

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Keith Carton with a photo of his grandfather Peter Carton

Peter Carton was born in Salford of Irish parents. Both he and his father found work with Dunlop in Birmingham making parts for airships. Despite some of his brothers joining the army (one was killed in the trenches) Peter had strong moral, political and anti-militaristic grounds for his conscientious objection. He refused call-up and was arrested and fined for refusing to wear a uniform. Twice court-martialled, he spent time in Winson Green, Wormwood Scrubs, Wakefield and Dartmoor prisons. Peter committed suicide in 1930.

Keith Carton never knew his grandfather. His family rarely talked about what Peter did and Keith was too young to care. Now Keith is older he is proud of Peter and hopes this exhibition gives him and thousands of other conscientious objectors a voice. Keith is a retired civil servant.

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Margaret Baker with a photo of her father Horace Mence

In 1916, the year conscription was introduced, Horace Mence aged 29, chose to become a conscientious objector (CO). Taken under military escort to army barracks, he refused to obey an order (probably to put on uniform). He was court-martialled and sentenced to two years hard labour, to be served in Lewes prison, Sussex. The sentence was later commuted and he served his remaining time at a camp near Newhaven, where COs worked on road building. He became a Quaker. After the war he worked as a reader with J.M. Dent who published the Everyman Editions.

Margaret Baker attended a progressive school run by Quakers where COs grew vegetables, which fed the school during World War II. She married Philip Baker who was also a CO. She taught art and crafts in secondary school and in retirement illustrates books, writes stories and works with the local interfaith group. She is a member of Welwyn Garden City Quaker meeting.

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Janet Arthur with a photo of her father Walter Russell Brain

Walter Russell Brain was reading history at Oxford in 1914 when the war broke out. He got involved in relief work when thousands of Belgian refugees arrived in England. A year later he joined the Friends Ambulance Unit and was sent to work as an orderly in the X-ray department of a hospital in York. He was later transferred to London where he met his future wife who was working in the same department. After the war Russell decided to change career from law to medicine and finally became the president of the Royal College of Physicians. His cousin, Francis Brain, joined the army and was killed just before the end of the war.

Janet Arthur worked as an occupational therapist in an asylum. In old age, she is studying for a doctorate in history, and so reversed the interests of her father, whom she greatly admired.

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Deborah Holttum with a photo of her father Richard Eric Holttum

Richard Eric Holttum joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) in 1916 interrupting his botanical studies at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He served as a cook and a steward in the Section Sanitaire Anglaise 19 in Flanders, the Somme, Marne and Champagne. Together with others in the unit, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, for courage and dedication in the transport and care of the wounded.

After the war he completed his degree and became Director of the Botanic Gardens in Singapore. Later he was appointed the first Professor of Botany at the new University of Singapore. His younger brother, Harold, also joined the FAU in 1916 and was involved with farm work in England.

Deborah Holttum, retired, is a member of the Blue Tulips Textile Art Group, and lives in west London. She is a member of Brentford & Isleworth Quaker Meeting where her father, living in Kew after his retirement, was also a member.

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Carol Shaw with a photo of her father Robinson Percy Foulds and his Certificate of Service

Robinson Percy Foulds joined the Society of Friends after four years at Ackworth School. He went on to take a degree in chemistry at Manchester University. He joined the Friends Ambulance Unit in 1916 and worked first at the Star and Garter hospital in Richmond and then in France at Dunkirk. After the war he worked as a chemist and textile technologist at Tootal Broadhurst Lee in Manchester, and was one of the earliest members of the firm’s research department.

Too old to be called up in World War II he was involved, with his wife Elfrida, in setting up and running the school at Yealand Manor, for Friends’ children evacuated from Manchester and Liverpool. Many conscientious objectors were employed in both teaching and working on the land at the school.

Carol and her daughter, Cressida Miles, are members of Ealing Quaker Meeting.

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Roger Sturge with a photo of his father Paul Sturge

Paul Sturge was born into a long-established Bristol Quaker family. In 1915 he volunteered to serve in the Friends Ambulance Unit and drove ambulances near Ypres for about a year before the Military Service Act in 1916 brought him home to a tribunal. Like a number of his friends, he declined to return to a unit he felt was becoming too engaged with the military. He was given exemption on condition of working for the Friends Emergency Committee. The Committee sought to alleviate the plight of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians living in Britain; many were interned in prison camps and their families left destitute. After the war he became General Secretary of the Friends Service Council.

Roger Sturge was called up for military service very near the end of conscription in Britain in the late 1950s. His father, Paul, attended and spoke in Roger’s support at the tribunal where he was granted conditional exemption.

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Hazel Thompson with a photo of her grandfather Edmund Graham Burtt

Edmund Graham Burtt went to Sidcot School (a Quaker school in Somerset) and then joined the family beekeeping business in Gloucester. He registered as a conscientious objector, as did his brother Howard, and served in France with the Friends War Victims Relief Committee. After the war ended he stayed in France to help the locals set up bee colonies. When he came home, he continued working in Burtt’s beekeeping company, as did his son Michael, who registered as a conscientious objector during World War II.

Hazel Thompson is Edmund’s youngest granddaughter now living in Pembrokeshire. Once a teacher of English as a Foreign Language she now works with children with learning difficulties.

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Lucy Baruch with a photo of her father John Rickman

After John Rickman qualified as a doctor in 1916, he was pressured to join the Royal Army Medical Corps. Coming from a long line of Quakers he could not, for conscience sake, join the military. After tribunals he opted to work for the Friends War Victims Relief Committee. He was sent to an area in Russia, Buzuluk in Samara Province, affected by famine. As all the Russian doctors had been called up to the Front, he was the only doctor for an area the size of Surrey with a population of about 50,000 people.

He became a psychiatrist and during World War II treated soldiers with ‘shell shock’. This time he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps because in uniform his voice would carry more weight. There was also the feeling that of the two evils, war was somehow the lesser evil than the threat of Nazism.

Lucy Baruch listened to her father’s stories of the civil war, the Red Army, the White Army and the Czech Army as a child listened to Alice in Wonderland. She had no idea then that her father was different to any other.

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Margaret Burtt with a photo of her uncle John Leyland

After leaving Ackworth (a Quaker school) John Leyland worked in the family grocery business in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire. He registered as a conscientious objector in 1916 and did alternative service in France (either with the Friends Ambulance Unit or Friends War Victims Relief Committee). After the war he returned to the grocery business. Both his sons were conscientious objectors during World War II (WWII). One served in China and the other was allowed to continue teaching.

Margaret Burtt also went to Ackworth school. During WWII she served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. She married Michael Burtt, who was a conscientious objector, as was his father. Both worked in the family bee keeping business.

Note: photo by Ruth Davey (www.look-again.org) taken during project workshop at Painswick Meeting House

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Gordon Moodie with a photo of his father in law, George Barker Jeffery

George Barker Jeffery, a conscientious objector (CO) in World War I, served time in Wakefield prison for his refusal to join the military. After the war, George became professor of mathematics at University College London and later director of the London Institute of Education. As well as a mathematician, George was a skilful cabinet-maker. When Gordon applied to be a CO, George spoke on his behalf at the hearing, and was supportive of his future son in law despite his having nothing to his name apart from a medical degree!

Gordon Moodie married George’s daughter Barbara in 1949 and became a Quaker. They both qualified as doctors in 1948, the year the NHS was founded. In 1954 they moved to Worksop where Gordon was a GP. Barbara founded the town’s Family Planning Clinic in the 1960s. Barbara died in 2004.

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Joan Sheppard with a photo of her father Leonard Crisp

Leaving school at 16, Leonard Crisp was attracted to journalism and became a youthful follower of Keir Hardie’s socialism. He was a reporter in Reading when conscripted in 1916 and took the absolutist position, refusing any form of wartime service. By 1919 he had served four sentences and more than two years in prison. Once this was known he lost a job on a Cardiff paper and, penniless, walked home to Reading. In 1920 he married and eventually found work in Newcastle. He won respect in Woolwich where he worked for many years editing the Kentish Independent and served on Woolwich Council for Social Service.

Joan Sheppard trained to be a teacher. She moved from teaching to social work in her 50s and, after official retirement, she has held a number of key roles in the voluntary sector. She married Stanley Sheppard and has three children.

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Elizabeth Allen with a photo of her grandfather John Searson

As a young man John Searson became active in the Independent Labour Party in Glasgow. In 1916 he registered as a conscientious objector on political and moral grounds. The military service tribunal exempted him from service on condition he shovel coal in a power station. Following his conscience and bearing witness changed his life. He lost his job as a librarian; the local community treated him like a coward; the family shunned him. He carried on witnessing against war for the rest of his life. His son and daughter registered as conscientious objectors during World War II.

Elizabeth Allen’s first understanding of peace and the need for justice came from her grandfather. She is a Quaker and has worked for peace through the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Alternatives to Violence Project.

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Simon Colbeck with a photo of his great aunt Catherine Marshall

Catherine Marshall was a lifelong campaigner for women and peace. She was Parliamentary Secretary of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies but resigned in 1915 over the pro-war policy followed by its leader. Her organisational and lobbying skills and contacts with leading politicians were a vital contribution for campaigning on behalf of conscientious objectors. From April 1916 she became a key figure in the No-Conscription Fellowship. Many of its male leaders were imprisoned, and she became National Secretary, working closely with Bertrand Russell and Clifford Allen.

Simon Colbeck’s grandfather, Eddie Colbeck, was a cousin of Catherine and they grew up together (both their fathers were housemasters at Harrow). Eddie went on to become a career army officer serving in Mesopotamia in World War I.

Simon never met Catherine but she inspired his interest in the history of war resistance and its relevance today. Simon Colbeck is a Quaker and a semi-retired social worker and teacher.

Note: photo of Catherine Marshall from a biography by Jo Vellacott.

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Laurie Naumann with a photo of his grandfather Ludwig Naumann

Ludwig Naumann was born and lived in London. His parents were German. He was a member of a Pentecostal church and a pacifist. He was called up late in 1916 and failed in his appeal against conscription. He was sentenced to over a year of hard labour, most of which was served in Dartmoor where he was breaking stone and building the ‘road to nowhere’. Had he anglicised his name, it was said, his sentence might have been lighter. He refused on principle saying that even if he did that, he would still be exactly the same person with identical views and values. After the war he resumed the directorship of his essential oils business and continued to be active in the peace movement. His son, John Naumann, served a six month sentence as a conscientious objector in World War II.

Laurie Naumann was brought up as a Friend and continues to be actively involved with Quakers and peace related issues.

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Shirley Victoria Hodgson with a photo of his father Lionel Sharples Penrose

Lionel Sharples Penrose served in the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) during World War I, starting at the age of 19. After the war he became professor of human genetics at University College London, and carried out pioneering work on the genetics of mental retardation. He was a medical geneticist, mathematician and chess theorist. He remained largely pacifist throughout his life, considering war as a disease of humanity (his ideas are set out in his essay called “The origins of crowd behaviour”) and set up the Medical Association for the Prevention of War with a few other doctors at the end of World War II. He was very much opposed to the prevailing eugenics views held by many in the 1940s. His brother Roland also served in the FAU and later became a surrealist artist and critic.

Lionel had four children: Shirley, Oliver, Roger and Jonathan. Roger and Oliver are professors of applied mathematics and Jonathan was British chess champion for many years. His daughter Shirley Victoria Hodgson is Professor of Cancer Genetics at St George’s, University of London.

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Sam Walton with a photo of his great grandfather Harold Mortimore

Harold Mortimore was training to be a doctor when World War I broke out. He joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) as a conscientious objector (CO). Traumatised by the experience, he never talked about it afterwards. An FAU lorry carrying his best friend was blown up right in front of him. After the war, not being able to afford to resume medical training, Harold worked packing cameras, later going into sales.

Harold’s two brothers joined the armed forces: Leonard’s plane was shot down over France and Cyril was killed on active service in the Dardanelles. His two step-uncles (the Bransbys) were also COs, their health badly affected by working in the mines. Some time after the war, Harold left Quakers. However it was partly because of Harold that his grandson Keith considered becoming a Quaker.

Sam Walton, Keith’s son, works as Peace and Disarmament Programme Manager at Friends House where he campaigns against militarism and the arms trade, as damaging today as 100 years ago.

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Chris Lawson with a photo of his father Bernard Lawson

Bernard Lawson was running a polish making business when World War I started. With the support of his Congregational Minister he registered as a conscientious objector (CO). After two tribunals he was allowed to join the Friends Ambulance Unit. He served as an orderly on Ambulance Train 11 in France. After the war he joined Quaker relief workers in Vienna and then was on the staff of the Friends Service Council in London. In 1956, he and his wife went to Vienna again to be Secretaries of the Quaker Centre, arriving just in time to help with the Hungarian refugee crisis.

Chris Lawson joined the Friends Ambulance Unit International Service as a CO for his national service in 1956 and worked in a hospital in England and with refugees in Austria. He went on to teach in Malawi and then was a tutor at Woodbrooke, the Quaker adult education centre in Birmingham. He is now a member of Minehead Quaker Meeting.

Note: the photo shows Chris’s father’s 1917 map of northern France.

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Susan Hartshorne with photos of her father Cedric Vipont Brown and uncle Ralph Vipont Brown

Cedric Vipont Brown, was in the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) for the whole of World War I. After the war he became a doctor. He was also a cellist and was elected President of the Manchester Beethoven Orchestra in 1953.

His brother, Ralph Vipont Brown, joined the Friends War Victims Relief Committee. He continued working with them after registering as a conscientious objector (CO). In March 1919 he was in Calais, organising the import of fresh transport for the service, when he died in the flu epidemic. He was buried in the military cemetery at Les Barraques, a strange resting place for a CO.

Susan Hartshorne, a member of Manchester Meeting and now York Meeting, was a magistrate for 34 years. She was a Joseph Rowntree Foundation Trustee and wrote a biography of her Aunt Elfrida Vipont Brown who was head of a Quaker Evacuation School and a children’s writer.

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Ernest Rodker with a painting of his grandfather John Rodker

John Rodker started as a post office clerk, joining the young socialists before becoming a writer, poet, translator and publisher. He was one of the ‘Whitechapel Boys’ that included the conscientious objectors Mark Gertler and Stephen Winsten. Rodker refused to cooperate with the authorities, twice going on the run before he was imprisoned at Wormwood Scrubs and Wandsworth prison and later at the Princetown Work Centre, Dartmoor. After the war he worked with and published the early writings of Ezra Pound and TS Elliot, and the drawings of Wyndham Lewis among others. His last big project was publishing the complete works of Sigmund Freud in English.

Ernest Rodker was born in Odessa, Ukraine, to parents who were touring actors. Evacuated to America during World War II, he returned to England to attend a Quaker school. He objected to military service and has been arrested numerous times for protesting on behalf of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He has also been involved in the campaign to free Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, and in community politics. He works as a self-employed cabinet-maker.

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Donald Saunders with a photo of his father William Henry Saunders

When William Henry Saunders’s claim as a conscientious objector (CO) was rejected in 1916, he was arrested as an absentee and served hard labour sentences until 1919. His fiancée supported him throughout and suffered much indignity as a result. After release, he married her, but job prospects were difficult. He was able to earn a living as a pianist and eventually started a successful musical instrument shop. They raised two sons.

Both Donald and his brother became COs in World War II. Donald worked in the Friends Relief Service. After the war he qualified as an optician, and later established his own practice, now being run by his son.

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John Smithson with a photo of his father Michael Smithson

Michael Smithson joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) in 1915 at the age of 17. He initially drove an ambulance on the front line in France. He later served on a hospital train and then on the ‘Western Australia’, a hospital ship. After the war, he sent his children to a school run by two Quaker women in a village near Jordans in Buckinghamshire (near where he had trained with the FAU). Michael died aged 46.

John Smithson trained as an agricultural engineer and spent 25 years overseas (in Uganda, Australia, Thailand, South Korea and Iraq). By coincidence, he discovered that his wife’s uncle had served with his father on a hospital train in France. John is a Quaker and now attends Jordans Local Meeting, where he first went as a child.

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Margaret Sheldrick with a photo of her father Noel Taylor

Noel Taylor was born in Middlesbrough in 1899. He was educated at the Friends School Great Ayton where he was inspired by older scholars to volunteer for the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) once he turned 17. He served in France in 1918. His letters and journal describe the continuous bombardment which left him with lifelong partial deafness. He later became a chartered accountant and worked for a Quaker firm of builders and civil engineers in Gloucester where he was an active member of Gloucester Meeting until his death in 1971.

He and his wife Dorothy had two daughters. Margaret married a Nigerian gynaecologist and lived in Nigeria for many years before settling in Cheltenham. There she is a member of Cheltenham Quaker Meeting where she has served as Overseer, Elder, Trustee and Funeral Friend. Her sister Anne lived in Zambia with her husband for some years. She then lived in Cheltenham and was an Elder of Cheltenham Meeting when she died.

Note: photo by Ruth Davey (www.look-again.org) taken during project workshop at Painswick Meeting House

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Ruth Pedder with a photo of her grandfather Harry Cottrell

Harry Cottrell joined the Friends War Victim Relief Committee in 1916. He was then 30, married with 2 young children. His father-in-law, a military man, refused to speak to him because he thought this behaviour was cowardly. They were later reconciled. Harry worked in Bristol for a firm of importers with Quaker connections and was able to return to that employment after the war. Both Harry’s brothers were conscientious objectors. Harry built homes for refugees in Dole in the Jura area of France and made several long lasting friendships from that time.

Ruth Pedder was very close to her grandfather, and learnt from him the importance of nurturing and maintaining friendships. At 12, she visited Paris to stay with one of Harry’s French friends from Dole. This connection lasted throughout their lives. Ruth went on to become a teacher of French and Spanish and is a Quaker.