the men who said no
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HENRY (HARRY) W SCULLARD 1890 - 1964  


Harry was a Congregationalist with a religious objection to taking life. Before the war he had been involved in the local Y.M.C.A movement.

His initial Tribunal hearing was in Sutton, a Tribunal that seems to have been more than usually unsympathetic to Conscientious Objectors. The Tribunal judged that he was a genuine CO with the right to be exempted from all military service. Even so he was harshly refused. He stated he would “have nothing to do with the prosecution of the war, and would not take the military oath”.

Harry was arrested, fined and sent to the military regardless of his beliefs and even though he had flat-out stated he would refuse any military order as “the spirit of Christ is against all warfare”. He completely refused to have anything to do with the military machine - not signing any paperwork, refusing to have a medical exam and even went so far as to refuse his personal details to the army, including his next of kin. This refusal of military orders incensed the officers he encountered and Harry, alongside around 50 other COs, was sent to France. In France they were told that, as “soldiers” overseas refusal to obey an order was a crime punishable by death.

When in France, the COs were marshalled with a group of soldiers undergoing military punishments and told to march. The 16 COs present stood their ground as the soldiers marched away - earning them another threat of death from the officers giving orders.

By May 1916, Harry was in a cramped underground cell that rapidly filled with water. 16 other men were kept in a 12ft square cell, with only a bucket for toilet facilities. Fed only on a “punishment diet” of bread and water, he was given the dreaded Field Punishment Number One. For 28 days, Harry was tied with his arms outstretched to a barbed wire fence, incapable of moving any part of his body and left to the elements. Field Punishment Number One was abandoned by the army after the First World War - deemed as too cruel. Many COs were subject to this kind of punishment, often alongside beatings and death threats.

The memories of other men imprisoned with Harry are full of moments of kindness, both from other COs and from ordinary soldiers they encountered. Soldiers, up for court martial and punishment for military crimes, were astounded at the strength of belief needed by Harry and other COs to withstand such terrible punishments - and would (when officers weren’t watching) try to get cups of tea, food and even just encouragement over to the COs.

On the 2nd of June, 1916, Harry was told that he would be faced with the death penalty, and that a last few days were being given in order to think it over - the choice was simple: join the army, betray his principles and fight to kill his fellow man, or face death.

Not a single CO (Harry included) chose to join the army, even to save their own lives.

Instead, on the 7th of June, 1916 he was marched with the other COs outside of the prison, and their sentence was read out:

The Accused were Tried by Field General Court-Martial, had been found guilty and sentenced to death. The sentence has been confirmed by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig”

“....and commuted to ten years penal servitude

At the last minute Harry had been saved. Political pressure from CO supporters back in England had led the government to denounce the military punishments and the Army had backed away from shooting men who most considered to be civilians. Soon after the Army would transfer control over COs to the civil authorities.

Harry was sent back to prison in England, spending several months in Winchester prison before being moved to a Work Camp set up as an equally harsh alternative to prison. This, the infamous Dyce Quarry, would be shut down shortly after Harry’s arrival over the scandal caused by the death of Walter Roberts. While at Dyce, Harry’s photo was taken alongside many of the men he had been imprisoned with in France.

The Home Office Scheme proved to be Harry’s home for the next three years. Shuffled between camps, he would work at back breaking, pointless manual labour, still as determined as ever to refuse to kill until well after the end of the war, when he was finally released in 1919.






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About the men who said NO

Born: 1890
Died: 1964
Address: Lyndhurst, Warwick Road, Sutton
Tribunal: Sutton, refused any exemption
Prison: Winchester
HO Scheme: [1]
CO Work:
Occupation: Insurance Clerk


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