Richmond WW1 Diary 10 May 1916

Image of poppy

Conscientious Objectors sent to France

In May 1916 the British government took dramatic action to try and break the conscientious objectors movement. Some 50 men were transported to France, 35 of them under the threat of a death sentence. On arrival the men were put on duty in Non Combatant Corps. On 10 May 1916, 17 conscientious objectors took a stand and refused to be coerced into being soldiers. Forced to join parade, when orders were given for the company to march, the 17 COs stood their ground and refused to move.

Norman Cullis Woodcock, of 52 Forest Road, Kew, was one of the ‘Harwich Frenchmen’ sent to France. Under enormous pressure, military field punishments, torture and starvation Norman gave up objection and agreed to drill. He served in France from 1916 to 1919.

In 1921, the ‘No More War Movement’ replaced the No Conscription Fellowship that many COs had been part of. In 1926, a few years after the first Remembrance services, No More War began campaigning for the Poppy Movement to disassociate itself from war. The campaign was not successful and in 1933 the first alternative white poppy  was placed in remembrance of the men whose lives had been sacrificed during the war.

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