the men who said no


The Men Who Said No tells the story of resistance to the 1914-1919 war. It tells the story of the men and women who put their lives on hold, first to stop war from happening and then refusing to participate in it. It aims to record something of the experience of as many individual COs as possible irrespective of their affiliations or politics and put conscientious objection into a wider context of the anti-war movement at the time.

This is 'work in progress'. It will be a long time before we approach anything near a complete picture. You can help. If you have relatives that were COs in the First World War or know anyone who had we would be very glad to hear from you. You can contact us here.

We are different
Unlike the Imperial War Museum and its multi-million pound Lives of the First World War which is scooping names including COs by the million into their database, ours is both more modest and more ambitious. Importantly it is a project curated by the PPU, a direct descendant of those COs and therefore best placed to represent their values now and in the future.

This website started life as part of the Objecting to War Project run by the Peace Pledge Union and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Peace Research and Education Trust. The project's aim was to stimulate and support research into conscientious objection to military service during World War One; to help collect and collate related material; to create and to produce easily available and widely publicised resources for public and educational use.

A related aim of the project was to promote and support a network of people interested in history and research in this area in particular and who are willing to help with cataloguing and promoting the results of their research. To work in partnership with Local History libraries and local history groups, the University of the Third Age and others. We aim to provide appropriate training, facilitate meetings for researchers to compare notes, co ordinate research, plan future activity and engage with the wider community by offering talks to community groups, associations and schools. Much of this work continues today in the afterlife of the Project.

A vast multi million pound industry has grown up to name the military men who died - the Glorious Dead - and laud those that survived the carnage as heroes. Much less is said or known about the men who refused to participate in the killing and all those who worked against the war and for a better world. That war did not end wars nor did the even more brutal one a few years later.

In the 1914-18 war the men who said no were a minority though their number grew in the following war. 'Never Again' was and continues to be a popular cry following grim events but rarely backed up by any meaningful action that might prevent a recurrence and make the next war inevitable. And so it is today.



If you would like to leave a personal message linked to your relatives page let us know.


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