Local paper unimpressed by those seeking exemption
Following the first batch of Conscientious Objectors to appear before the Shipley Military Tribunal, the Shipley Times & Express pub-lished this editorial on 24 March 1916.‘A large batch of “conscientious objectors” appeared before the Shipley Tribunal on Wednesday evening and they brought a good many sympathisers with them.It was evident to the careful listener that most of them had been trained for the occasion but even with their statements cut and dried they by no means made a creditable show.AppealOne man objected to everything and really did not know what he wanted. Even when the Tribunal granted what he asked for, he observed “I
shall appeal against your decision.”With one or two exceptions, these men of conscience had the same tale to tell and their atti-tude was well summed up by the Military Representative who said they were prepared to remain in England, enjoying all the comforts and privileges they could get, while others were making great sacrifices to maintain those price-less possessions.One man who, singularly enough, is in the Army Pay Office, actually declared that “there is no work in England today that is not either directly or indirectly connected with the war.” Still this same per-son objected to being connected
with the mil-itary machine!The truth is that he is ready to render ser-vices to the nation provided that he remains in perfect safety in England, has a good bed, regular meals and receives good wages. What a sensitive conscience and what a patriotic spirit!After sitting through the whole business we could not help thinking that here had been much “conscien-tious humbug.”Men who are determined to escape military service can soon discover that they have extraordinarily sens-itive consciences.
Those who have a desire to pre-serve their own skins and spend their lives in comfort and ease need to be constantly reminded that oth-ers are pouring out their life’s blood for their country, which is not without its conscientious cowards.Poor thingsWe have heard some of these latter profess to be so gentle that they “couldn’t kill a fly.” Poor things! The wonder is they grew up.Wives whose husbands have fought for their country in this supreme crisis in our history and fathers and mothers whose sons are nobly doing their duty in the battle line, will read the paltry excuses of many “conscientious objectors” with feelings of indignation and disgust.