the men who said no
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WILLIAM HUBERT PEET 1894 - 1977  

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Hubert Peet was an Absolutist Conscientious Objector from Sydenham, London. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and was very active in the Friends' Service Committee, Socialist Quaker Society and the Sydenham meeting. For many years he was the editor of The Ploughshare, a Quaker Socialist journal which discussed feminism, philosophy, politics and anti-war activity before, during and after the First World War.

As would be expected from a man so active in pacifist movements, he actively campaigned both against the war and against conscription prior to its introduction. In 1916 he was called up under the Military Service Act and taken before the Lewisham tribunal, who granted him exemption from Combatant Service Only, after claiming Absolute Exemption as a Conscientious Objector. His appeal at the London Tribunal was refused, though he was allowed to work for the Friends’ War Victims Relief Service for a short time.

By the end of 1916, Hubert was in prison after facing court martial for disobeying orders while in Hounslow Barracks. His case had been reassessed and his work with the FWVRS had been refused. Sent to the army, his strong principles inevitably meant that he would soon clash with the military system. Writing in The Tribunal on the 30th November 1916, he stated: “I have disobeyed and must disobey all military orders because of my conviction that all warfare, not merely killing, is wrong”.

Hubert’s Absolutist stance while in prison is shown in his refusal to accept the Home Office Scheme when it was offered to him in early 1917. The Home Office Scheme was designed to keep COs out of prison and set them to doing some supposedly useful, but often punishing and pointless manual work. Hubert and thousands of other COs rejected the scheme as a form of forced labour or industrial conscription, in addition to its punitive character and the possibility that the work done by COs on the scheme could be used to help the war effort.

In rejecting the Home Office Scheme and all alternative forms of service, Hubert virtually guaranteed that he would spend the rest of the war in prison. From February 1917 -January 1919 he was in and out of prison due to illness, temporarily discharged several times under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act of 1913 - more commonly known as the Cat and Mouse Act. Eventually discharged three months after the war ended, his health had deteriorated under the harsh conditions of prison, but his determination to resist war had not. In his own words, “as a Quaker and as a Socialist to follow a truer way of life than that which prevails and now breeds international and industrial strife I cannot act otherwise than I am doing”.

 

 

 

 

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About the men who said NO

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CO DATA

Born: 1894
Died: 1977
Address: 2 Peak Hill Lewisham
Tribunal: Lewisham
Prison: Wormwood Scrubs, Wandsworth, Pentonville
HO Scheme:
CO Work:
Occupation: Journalist, Editor of the Ploughshare
NCF:

Absolutist

 


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CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION
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