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History: 4/5 Conscription & Conscientious Objectors

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Humanities Department

on 24 September 2013

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Transcript of History: 4/5 Conscription & Conscientious Objectors

No-one is allowed to give bread to horses, ducks or chickens.
British Summer Time will be introduced to give more daylight for extra work.
The government may take over any factory or workshop.
The government may take over any land it wants.
The government will now be censoring newspapers.
Opening hours in pubs will be cut.
Beer will be watered down.
Customers in pubs are not allowed to buy a round of drinks.
No-one is allowed to ring church bells.
No-one is allowed to light bonfires or fireworks.
The royal Family changed their surname from Saxe-Coburg to Windsor.
1. How big an impact do you think the laws passed through DORA would have on the war effort?

2. Are there any laws which you think may have been difficult to enforce?

3. Do you think the public would have supportive of DORA?
No-one is allowed to talk about naval or military matters in public places.
No-one is allowed to spread rumours about military matters.
No-one is allowed to buy binoculars.
No-one is allowed to trespass on railway lines or bridges.
No-one is allowed to use invisible ink when writing abroad.
What do you understand by the term ‘total war’?

Total war is a war which affects the entire population of a country; all a nations resources are geared towards supporting the war effort.
The Tribunals didn't use their powers with much judgement or sympathy.
In many cases applications were turned down altogether, which meant that the men were liable for call-up as ordinary soldiers.
These unwilling conscripts could be arrested and handed over to the military; if they disobeyed military orders they would be court-martialled and sent to prison.
Copy and complete:

Propaganda was used to …
Conscription is when a law is passed …

1. Which do you think would be more beneficial to the Army?
2. As recruitment methods, what problems are there with:
A) Propaganda?
B) Conscription?


In 131 characters explain one way in which the First World War impacted upon the lives of civilians.
All ‘Aliens’ over the age of 16 were required to register at their local police station.
They had to demonstrate a good character and knowledge of English.

1. What does the term ‘alien’ mean in this context?
2. What concern/threat is this act designed to deal with?
Some were 'alternativists', prepared to undertake alternative civilian work not under any military control.
Tribunals had power to exempt them from military service on condition that they actually did this work.
Some were pacifists who were against war in general.
Some were political objectors who did not consider the government of Germany to be their enemy
Some were religious objectors who believed that war and fighting was against their religion. Groups in this section were the Quakers and Jehovah Witnesses.
 A combination of any of the above groups.
Conscientious objectors were men who refused to join the army, even after conscription, on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

A ‘conscience clause’ in conscription law gave men the right to refuse to fight.

Those who claimed to be conscientious objectors had to face a tribunal to argue their case as to why they should not be called up to join the army.

1. Why do you think conscription was introduced?
2. Do you think conscription is a good idea?
3. How would you feel if conscription was reintroduced today?
Why do you think the recruitment numbers fell so drastically after 1914?

What event in 1916 made recruiting more men to the army vital?

How could the British army increase their numbers?
What methods did the British Army use to encourage men to join the forces?

How successful were these methods?

Would these methods persuade you to join the army?
Imagine that you are a conscientious objector.
You are facing a tribunal that will decide whether you are able to not join up.
Write a short speech (one paragraph) about why you don’t want to join the army and fight.
Think about which type of conscientious objector you are; are you willing to help the war effort in a different way?
Non-Combatant Conscientious Objectors often became stretcher bearers or medics
'Non-combatants' were prepared to accept call-up into the army, but not to be trained to use weapons, or indeed have anything to do with weapons at all.
Tribunals had power to put these men on the military register on this basis.
Absolutist Conscientious Objectors
Some were 'absolutists', opposed to conscription as well as war, upholders of civil liberty and the freedom of the individual - values thought to be respected in Britain.
Absolutists (most of whom were committed pacifists) believed that any alternative service supported the war effort and in effect supported the immoral practice of conscription as well.
The tribunals had the power to give these men complete and unconditional exemption.
To understand the impact of conscription on the British Home Front.

To understand the meaning of conscientious objectors.
Scotland & the Era of the Great War:
Domestic Impact of War
What is Conscription?
Do you know any countries where conscription is still used today?
In January 1916 the government passed the Military Service Act:
This stated that all single men between the ages of 19 & 40 had to join the army by law.
In May 1916 this was extended to include married men.
In 1918 the age limit was extended to 50.
Did the recruitment campaign work?
Initial Recruitment Campaign
Supporters of conscription argued that young men had a duty to serve their country and that it was the best option to ensure Britain won the war.

Critics argued that the government should not be forcing individuals to do something and that it was an attack on 'individual liberty'
1. Which point of view do you agree with? Explain your answer.
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