Transcript

No-Conscription Fellowship
Catalogue reference: HO 45 10801/307402/57


(stamp)
HOME OFFICE
REG. DEPT
25 MAY 1916
SHALL BRITONS
BE CONSCRIPTS?
FELLOW-CITIZENS,
     The time has come to appeal to all those who value our traditional British freedom.
     A determined resistance must be made to the sinister endeavour to impose upon the people, under some such formula as "compulsory attestation for single men," the evils inherent in Conscription.
     National service must not be degraded to national slavery. Freedom of conscience must not be sacrificed to military necessity, nor British liberty to political expediency. Men's deepest religious and moral convictions must not be swept aside.
WE ARE CONFIDENT THIS DANGER CAN YET BE AVERTED.
     We appeal to the servants of Christ and to lovers of religious freedom. Is religious persecution once again to stain the life of our country?
    We appeal to our fellow-workers in factory, workshop and mine to maintain the right of every man to decide for himself the issue of life and death.
     We appeal to those who rejoice in the liberty of conscience, that tolerance of though and action, which make them honour the name of their country.
THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS TO MAINTAIN INTACT THE LIBERTIES OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE.
     If you fail to do this, we - men of military age - must and will resist alone, whatever the consequences.
     We believe in human brotherhood, in the sanctity of human life and personality. We will not kill. While the soul of Britain lives our witness cannot be in vain.
     Signed on behalf of the No-Conscription Fellowship
  CLIFFORD ALLEN, Chairman.
  EDWARD GRUBB, Hon. Treasurer.
  A. FENNER BROCKWAY, Hon. Secretary.
  J. J. CHAMBERLAIN, Hon. Organiser.
  W. H. AYLES Committee.
  A. BARRATT BROWN
  JOHN P. FLETCHER
  MORGAN JONES
  C. H. NORMAN
  LEYTON RICHARDS (Rev.)

 

Printed by the VICTORIA HOUSE PRINTING Co., Ltd., Tudor Street, London, E.C.





This letter might be sent to the H.[ome] O[ffice]? Thanks. RC

[To] The Rt. Hon. [Right Honourable] The Lord Robert Cecil etc. etc. etc. K.C., M.P.,

Confidential.

No. 13 Westholm Green,
Letchworth
15th May 1916

Sir,

For some months a very active anti-conscription propaganda has been carried on here by the Independent Labour Party, The No Conscription Fellowship and kindred organisations. At first many meetings were held but more recently these have been abandoned and the work is carried on mainly by the distribution of large quantities of leaflets and pamphlets, although I believe surreptitious meetings are still held.

About two months ago I noticed an account of the prosecution and conviction at Oxford of a man for being concerned in the distribution of a leaflet headed "Shall Britons be Conscripts". As a copy of this leaflet had been delivered at my house, and enlarged reproductions prominently exhibited in the town I thought it my duty to inform the Police of the facts. Accordingly on the 18th. of March I saw Sup[erintenden]t. Reed at Hitchin and handed him the leaflet I had received, at the same time giving him particulars as to persons whom I suspected of being concerned in its distribution. I have since on several occasions seen both Supt. Reed and Inspector Warren of Letchworth giving them further particulars of other literature distributed as well as information obtained by me as to the activities of the No Conscriptionists here.

Supt. Reed tells me that he duly reported the matter to his Chief at Hatfield who sent the papers to the Competent Military Authority. Further evidence was asked for, it was obtained by the Police and sent forward some weeks ago. The Supt. adds that since then he has heard nothing more, though he has been expecting at any time to receive instructions to prosecute.

In the meantime the propaganda goes on with unabated, nay increasing, energy; the net result up to the present being a crop of 32 "Conscientious objectors", but I suspect that its baleful effects will not be fully felt or understood until the time comes for putting into practice the forthcoming Military Service Act.

I venture to bring this matter to your Lordship's notice, not in any spirit of complaint, but in the hope that you may take such steps as may seem to you desirable with a view to stopping a propaganda which is eminently calculated to hinder His Majesty's Government in the prosecution of the War. I cannot help thinking that if the responsible authorities were fully alive, as many of us here are, to the harm that is being done, they would lose no time in taking the necessary action.

I attach an extract from today's 'Morning Post' from which it appears that steps are being taken in Wales in a precisely similar case to the one which is the subject of this letter.

With great respect
I am, Sir,
Your most obedient Servant
(signature) H. Rivers Willson
late Inspector C.I.D Metropolitan Police.


TRANSCRIPT OF 'MORNING POST' CUTTING ATTACHED TO LETTER:

I.L.P. OFFICES RAIDED.
A Swansea correspondent states that the police raided the Independent Labour Party's premises at Cwmavon, near Swansea, on Saturday. They took possession of a quantity of printed matter and other documents, which they conveyed to the police station. Considerable activity has been shown in this district in regard to the no-conscription campaign and to conscientious objectors before the local Tribunal.


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