Harold Wild’s Diary – 1916
1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 Letter 1974
Spec. Ord. Friends Mtg after mtg. over 150 (men of mil. age mostly) against Conscription.
100 – 150 men of mil.age at our “Mens Meeting” pledged against Conscr.
[wrote] letters to Prime Minister, P.K.Glazebrook, & F.o.R. re “I will not serve”.
Left my bike at Mtg House Shed during Mtg. Night: Travelled to & from mtg on Car [Tram car](first journey by Car on a Sunday).
Inst. Top Floor packed after 25 delegates had gone to No-Comp[ulsory] Comm[unity] “Alternative Service” dismissed. [Meaning not quite clear].
Our German class met tonight after a month’s Xmas interruption. I come to the conclusion now that instead of doing as I had started – revising all my matric. subjects with the hope of restarting definite study again at the end of March I must face Conscription. The Government Bill is apparently going to swim through the House & I must be true to my conscience. I am determined to be imprisoned or shot before I will take up Munition Work or Mine Sweeping or any work distinctily Military under the Military Authorities. Meantime I study, German, French, Latin History & Literature.
Big Anti-Conscription Demons. in Stevenson Sqr. 2.30. RB Outhwaite & others. 6.30.Mount St. Meeting House packed. Conscience & Compulsion
JW Graham & Leyton Richards.
Lesser Mtg House Mount St. Filled.
NCF Milton Hall (large hall)
FoR. Milton Hall. (Business Mtg.)
Conference of 600 men of Mil. Age at Milton Hall. Conscientious objectors. JH Hudson, JW Graham, Shirley, Seed, Benson. Haycock, Redfern, Elcock, Herford, Leyton Richards, Fenner Brockway, EP Ware [?] Bruce Glasier, RJ Davies etc.
NCF Milton Hall
Cycled to Rusholme Wes. Guild. Mrs Galtry gave a paper on Padrie Elliott, I one on R.Bull. Heard Library & picture palaces were emptying. Electricity cut off.
NCF Milton hall.
Special Group Mtg. NCF Longsight
NCF Milton Hall.
At Men’s Mtg spoke to a bright young man whose father is interned in England as a German, while a brother is interned in Germany as an Englishman.
Local NCF. Haycock & a Russian Jew with a fine reasoned conscience were present.
Presented my claim for exemption at Town hall.
Received notice under Military Service Act calling me up from Reserve to present myself at Town Hall, 13.3.16.
Mount Street, Isabella Fordon “What does Life mean to us”
FoR. Dalton Hall, “What we most need.”
Onward Hall, NCF, Cliff Allen.
Nt[Night] Mount St. W. Loftus Hare: Christianity & the World.
Bike to NCF group at Longsight.
Milton Hall, FoR: Chair: Miss TH. Potts – Dr Stanley H Mellor: “Some Social Implications of the FoR”. – Discussion. Darbyshire, Seed, Richards & Dalby.
WG Adult School. Spoke on Spirituality of Christianity. Hence to Longsight – special joint group mtg NCF.
Well attended Branch Mtg NCF
Visit to Stretford Tribunal. Stewart H. [?]
First NCF Group Mtg at Mrs Watts.
Hyde Th[eatre] Royal. Fenner Brockway, Marg. Ashton, JH Hudson. Big mtg. No opposition. Resln. re Consc., Free Press & Speech & for Terms of Peace.
With 4 other members Longsight NCF distrib. “Peace Terms Debate” in Longsight.
British Empire Union (late anti-G.U.) [?]. Houldsworth Hall. Sir G. Makhill. Well advertised but a small mtg. Miserable atmosphere of old men’s hate.
Longsight I.L.P. [Independent Labour Party]. Rev. F. Wood on “Stop the War” (for Scott Duckers)
Recd. Notice to appeal at M/c Tribunal.
Alex Pk Mtg.: A.Neave Brayshaw, BA LLB at 169 Withington Road, Lecture “A Friends Mtg.”
11.o’clock Alex. Pk. Mtg.
4.o’clock Alex. Pk. AN Brayshaw Geo. Fox’s Disc [?] & its Consequences.
6.30. Adult Sch. address on Muhammadanism [sic].
8.00-10.30pm NCF Longsight.
Appeared before local tribunal. “Not suff[icient]. gr[ounds]. for granting exemption.” Then NCF.
FoR Onward Hall, Hor[?] Con.Obs. “Message of Good Fri to the Pacifist.” – Leyton Richards.
Good Friday. [He cycled via Doncaster to relatives in Swinefleet near Goule for an overnight stay with them.]
5.0pm Witnessed a few Tribunal cases, also the next day.
Recd. Notice to appear at Appeals Trib. 3/4 hr in Appeal Tribunal.
NCF Div al. Mtg., 3 men gave experience under Military. Leyton Richards, RC Wallhead., JHHudson, AFB. etc.[?]
K.Trummel to tea to distrib. lit[erature].
Mersey Sq., Stockport. ILP. First mtg of series. JH Hudson on Conscription. No opposition. 3 names for ILP.
After waiting one and a half hours I was heard at Judge Mellor’s Court of the Appeal Tribunal in the Town Hall at 3.30. As requested on the “grounds of appeal” my original written claim to the local tribunal was read. When my opportunity to speak came along I said I desired to read a letter which I sent to the RO [Recruiting Office] on receiving notice to report. I had read only two or three lines when Judge Mellor tried to stop me, saying – oh yes, we all agree with that, we don’t believe in war. We are anxious as you are etc. I insisted on going on & got two or three words more but Mellor again broke in. He said they had not time to spend listening to what applicants might have to say. I protested that as this was of supreme importance to me – a matter perhaps for life or even to death I ought to be granted my rights.
They asked me what I should be willing to do in being exempted from fighting. I said I should persuade everybody I could that a peace by negotiation was immediately desirable – (the last 2 or 3 words I could not utter through the Chairman interrupting rather impatiently). I was asked what I was prepared to do for my country & I said I should distribute peace literature as I had already been doing. I was saying that in offering me non-combatant duties the tribunal were recognising my conscience & accepting my word in one respect & yet though I told them definitely I could not accept it, they took no notice of my sincere word in regard to non-combatant work, when again the Chairman prevented me from finishing my sentence.
In leaving my chair I protested to the Chairman that non-combatant work was of no use to me they might as well order me to combatant service. He replied something about the cocksureness of boys of 20.
Night: Stockport ILP, Mersey Sqr. FGLloyd & AW Haycock.
Mr Crook called me to his office. I said I was now an absentee. Option of resigning or being dismissed. I resigned and left at noon.
Night: FoR, Th.W.Wilson – “The Last Weapon.”
NCF S & SE Groups Social, WEA.
Mount St: Conscience & War. JH Barlow and JW Graham.
Tribunal for a few minutes [I think he was observing other people’s tribunals].
Received Non-Comb. Certificate.
Open-air Peace Mtg., Lake Ent[rance]., Belle Vue.
Cycled to Stafford [to visit someone called Harrison; I think their son must have been a pacifist victim- possibly in prison].
Took Mr Greenhough to Tribunals.
Judge Mellor re-tried Pellham cases. I went with Mrs Watts to report on them & after tea with her wrote report.
Evening – Visit to Mrs Davidson re her Cons.Obj. Son.
Anti Consc. Social Milton Hall. Huge gathering. JH Hudson, EPWake, RJDavies,Miss Marshall, RCWallhead, AHB etc.
Photo of S M/c Group taken at Dalton Hall.
Night – NCF Open – air Peace Meeting, Whitworth Pk. Gates.
Muriel Wallhead. Chair: Rev. J [P?] Wood.
The police arrived and took partics.
Tonight received Army Form W3236 calling me up for service to report at Town Hall to-morrow 9.00am.
8.15 Left home on bike – to Blackpool, returned 10.20pm. [NB. He had ignored the command to report at the Town Hall.]
Friends & relatives joined us (NCF) at Onward Hall in an enthusiastic gathering. Hall packed. AFB, Cliff Allen, Counc. Marg. Ashton,Dr Vipont Brown & Haycock. A collection of over £15. [My father’s last take-home wage had been 19 shillings].
My first visit to a police station. About 30 NCF.ers went to Minshull St. where Chapman & Brooks were fined and handed to Military.
NCF. Thorough debate on Alt. Service. AHB & P.Redfern.
Called at NCF Offices & found a Police Raid in progress. Detained and searched. Supt. Lewis on making certain we were deserters asked if we would walk with him to Town Hall. We went. (Harrop, Garner, Hunter, Birchall & myself). At Town Hall a warrant taken out against us. Night in Town Hall cell.
Sat 24 June
Left Town Hall in Black Maria. Charged as absentees at Minshull St. & handed over to Military Escort of 3 soldiers. Tremendous cheering on London Rd. Station. [Piccadilly]
Taken to Ashton Barracks Guard Room. Harrop & Hunter taken to Bury. Joined by a wounded soldier.
Sunday 25 June
Soldier left & two others entered.
Left GR [Guard Room] for Med. Exam. 2 Doctors passed me but taken before Major & rejected. Left Ashton at noon.
[Right – the diary entry about his arrest – click for a larger version]
Spoke at Men’s Mtg.
[I was] Asked to take Harrop’s place [at work]. [I was] offered his wage (35/-) I declined but Mr Wilson insisted NCF wd. not allow engagement at less. I wd. be able to give more to NCF. I decided to accept & give 7/- per week maintenance [presumably to his mother].
Evening: Spoke from platform NCF after a day at NCF Office.
At nt. Meeting Dr Brown prayed & spoke, Prin. Graham spoke & I spoke.
Ctee at Office.
I read minutes of last weeks Gen. Mtg, & took down minutes of tonight’s Mtg.
At Office with Ballot papers etc.
At Office with GP tickets & Ballot Papers.
Last night Lloyd [?] visited Coun RJ Davies to try to influence him to offer me a situation. I recd. a note from Lloyd asking me to visit Davies at 10am to-day. This I did. Davies wd. let me know definitely in writing if I was engaged. To-day was my last, as arranged, at the Office of the NCF. At night August 1916
I missed most of the mtg as I was one of the Ballot scrutineers.
Rose at 7.10. Left home at 8.50 with message for JA Harrop thro’ RJLo[?].
Then cycled to Lloyd & finally left Heaton Moor at 9.45.
[He then describes a journey to Colwyn Bay, where his mother & two sisters were on holiday. He arrived at 9.45pm.]
10.am left C. Bay. Arrived at Kinmel Park Camp, Abergele at 11.00am. Got a permit to visit A.Whipp & H.Davies [CO’s. Arnold Whipp later married Harold’s sister, my Aunt Miriam] for half an hour ‘in presence of a guard.’ The Guard, however, was not present all the time & told me before I left that had he known what the army was 9 months ago when he joined, he wouldn’t have been in khaki to-day. I was in for an hour. On Friday the resisters are allowed to remain outside the hut on the grass & I was soon seen and recognised by the two I had asked to see.
Skellern also came running up to me & shook hands very heartily. I could not have recollected the faces of Davies or Skellern but they both knew me. [With my father being very lame he was easily recognised and remembered]. I also spoke with another CO for some tme. I recognised GW Taylor a few yards away. Dr Hudson, the IBSA [?] man was also pointed out to me. They had in the Guard Room a copy of CD Morel’s “Truth & the War”
I left Kinmel at 12.0 & kept to the Coast road & the Dee side of Chester, arriving home about 9.45.
“The Freedom Festival” & Garden Party was held in Dalton Hall. Run by NCF. 600 2d tax [?] tickets were soon cleared at the gates
Evening meeting was transferred from Dalton Hall to Milton Hall.
[There were several speakers] but Bertrand Russell was THE speaker. Dr Vipont Brown gave concluding remarks.
The Hall was packed everywhere, & scores were standing.
Commenced work at the (State Insurance Section) Amalgamated Union of Cooperative Employees. Wages 24/- + 3/6 War Bonus.
At the NCF mtg it was announced that the police, led by Supt. Lewis had this afternoon returned everything they had taken in the raid. Harrop handed me my goods [two booklets & some “End the War” leaflets.]
[He learned from the Labour Exchange that there was a slightly better paid job which would be reserved for him at Daniel Adamsons at Dukinfield. He went for an interview on 24 August but discovered that the firm’s work was almost entirely involved in manufacturing shells.]
I therefore said I would not accept the situation.
Had three or four teeth drawn, deciding to have a new upper set.
Had my remaining upper teeth drawn (5).
Walked round West Point, [S. Manchester] viewing for some time the torchlight spectacle of the Military Tattoo at Fallowfield.
Went to observe some war pictures [films?] at Free Trade Hall: “Independence of Belgium” & “Defence of Verdun”
Went to Ref. Library, & secured from M/c Guardian a list of casualties since July 12. This I shall keep up.
NCF mtg. Special reference to our late comrade Roberts. Pimlott, Brooks, Plant & another released from gaol addressed us.
Milton Hall. Mtg called to discuss formation of new ILP branch. Stormy opposition from Central ILP.
Onward Hall. Mr Attlee of Poplar on “Reconciliation & Revolution.”
Went to Belle Vue with Bertie [young brother]. Firework display (“Fighting in France & Flanders.”) was very poor. Uncle let us on the stands.
Hon. Bertrand Russell gave a fine direct address on “The Meaning of Brotherhood.”
The Onward hall was packed to hear Bertrand Russell give the first lecture of a series of 6 arranged with the NCF on “The World as it can be made.” Tonight he spoke of “Political Ideals.” Prof. CH Herford was in the chair. I was told 5 detectives were present. I recognised one.
FT [Free Trade] HALL UKA Annual Mtg.
I greeted a pacifist statement of Revd.Jas. Barr with a hearty “hear, hear.”
Captain Wilson referred to our determination to secure victory & cynically said “Do we want a peace by negotiation?” I cried “Yes” with a loud voice. All eyes turned to me. There was some cheering when the Captain said the soldiers did not but nothing of the vehemence I had expected. The Bp. of Lincoln coming on later spoke very cautiously.
NCF Divisional Rally. Milton Hall packed. Bertrand Russell unable to be present. Harrop was present, & so also was Hunter with whom I had a few words.
Central Hall, Stockport. “Peace Negotiations” Mtg. Chair: Dr Vipont Brown.
Bertrand Russell’s 2nd lecture “Capitalism & the Wages System.”
ILP mtg in Milton Hall. I joined as a member.
Bertrand Russell’s third lecture. Princ. Graham, announced as chairman, at the close of the mtg. that a body of police & military had entered the hall to examine the papers of all men of military age. A large number of young men were detained at first, but on going through again only 5 were kept: Webster, V. Wilson, Hunter, Porter & Challiner. We had a rousing procession to the Town Hall, cheering & singing the Red Flag very heartily.
Queens Picture Palace, Longsight where I saw the “Battle of the Somme” film. How after seeing such a picture anyone can desire victory before peace amazes me.
Plant spent the evening with me.
Arnold Whipp, on furlough from Warwick Settlement called at our house.
Bertrand Russell’s 4th lecture.
Bertrand Russell’s 5th lecture.
Sixth & last lecture of Bertrand Russell: Education & Prejudice.
Myles Mallison [Miles Malleson] read his powerful play “Black ‘Ell” at the NCF mtg. No wonder the authorities are suppressing it.
Princ. Graham at NCF mtg:- “The League to enforce Peace.”
Paid visit to Rusholme (Guild). My visit coincided with the return home on furlough of W.Tysoe. I expected to find him a militarist, but on shaking hands with him he said a cutting of my doings had been sent to him & he didn’t blame me. He thought if he’d known what he was to go through he’d have shot himself. He wished he were a C.O.
UDC Trevelyan hoped to speak on “How to secure a people’s peace” at Milton Hall,but knowledge of the mtg got to unsympathetic press quarters & the Milton Hall was refused. [There follows an account of attempts to re-convene the meeting at various cafes. Eventually about 20 people gathered at the ILP Rooms, Gorton.]
In spite of severe fog many NCFers turned out to distribute Peace literature on M/c Streets. Many thousands must have been distributed. We had the police on our tracks trying to catch us on technical offences. One comrade was questioned & had his leaflets taken off him. A policeman & an inspector timed me as I stood at Portland St. Corner distributing. I “moved on” after about 5 minutes.
County Forum for first time. Rev Francis Wood opened discussion on the tap root of militarism. Incidentally he publicly renounced Christianity as having no distinctive teaching on war. Three or four spoke against what he had said but the 200 or so present quite assented to his case.
Went to guild “At Home”. Mr Royle at tea with us but an indescibable barrier between us prevented any real conversation. Not so however with Mrs Greaves, Victor’s mother. One soldier son missing, doubtless dead, and the other killed yet she bears it bravely & could tell me she advised all who could to keep out of it. She longed for peace. [The widowed daughter-in-law of Mrs Greaves became a life-long friend of my mother’s].
NCF “Reunion” Gathering. Men from Warwick & Wakefield present. “Black ‘Ell” played. Sam Singer said he had written his name under mine in Ashton Guard Room.