Conscientious objectors

Conscientious objectors were taken to a military tribunal. In 1916 approximately 14,000 conscientious objectors appeared before tribunals. These tribunals were like military courts and they listened to objectors’ reasons for their refusal to accept conscription. These reasons were usually rejected.

Around 7,000 conscientious objectors agreed to perform non-combat duties, often as stretcher-bearers in the front line. However, more than 1500 pacifists refused all military service. These ‘absolutists’ refused to do any work whatsoever that helped Britain’s war effort.

Across the UK, 5,970 conscientious objectors were court martialled and sent to prison. When the war ended, many conscientious objectors returned to civilian life to find that their return wasn’t welcomed by their families, and employers refused to offer them jobs.