Pacifists win WW1 grant

IssueOctober 2013
News by Bill Hetherington

A £98,000 heritage lottery fund grant to the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) attracted some press attention in September. The grant will enable the PPU to carry out a two-year project to encourage communities and schools across Britain to research local conscientious objectors (COs) during the First World War. There was a debate in the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph and even Le Monde (France) on using publicly-subscribed money in this way – rather than in connection with those who supported the war.

The project, including a full-time worker, will have the theme ‘No More War’, a post-First World War slogan that inspired the PPU’s predecessor, the No More War Movement, with which it merged in 1937.

The PPU’s view, and so understands that of the Fund, is that there should be a proportionate balance in commemoration of the First World War centenary. The group points out that recognition of conscientious objection was written into First World War conscription legislation.

The PPU welcomes information on individual British COs of all conscription periods to add to its CO database, now 10,000-strong – 5,000 from the First World War.