The Courage of Conscience project aims to discover and celebrate the stories of Derbyshire conscientious objectors, other resisters to the war, and their families.
We hope to raise awareness about the brave men and women who went against the national tide of opinion and enormous government and public pressure, and remained true to their principles by opposing the war and refusing to take up arms.
Nationally there were 16,000 conscientious objectors, who refused to fight, for religious, ethical or political reasons. These brave and principled individuals often suffered great hostility from families and communities, and had to make their case before tribunals which usually refused them. Their fate varied from working with ambulance corps, imprisonment or the death sentence.
Despite the contempt they were shown at the time, a number of the COs later became respected for their principled opposition to the war including George Benson who was Labour MP for Chesterfield for most of the period between 1929 and 1964.
Using research about local conscientious objectors, River Wolton, a former Derbyshire poet laureate will work with young writers in Derbyshire to create their own responses.
Gertie Whitfield from Whitworks will also be creating history and drama materials based on the real experiences for use in classrooms in local schools.
Finally the information will be available on this Courage of Conscience website, the Propeace website, and the Derbyshire Record Office “Derbyshire Lives in the First World War” website.
We are keen to hear from anyone who has any information about the conscientious objectors in Derbyshire, or would like to do research or be involved in the project in any way.
COURAGE OF CONSCIENCE is a project of PROPEACE CHESTERFIELD, the project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
PROPEACE CHESTERFIELD seeks to provide a platform of support for local PEACE and JUSTICE groups to work together, sharing information, resources and events in order to build and grow their organisations and to provide a broad base of information for individuals wishing to explore the work of the wider peace movement.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with more than £6 billion across the UK,using money raised through the National Lottery. www.hlf.org.uk.