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THE MEN WHO SAID NO | ROAD TO CONSCRIPTION | CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION | PRISONS | SENTENCED TO DEATH | TRIBUNALS | WIDER CONTEXT | INDEX
REGINALD T JAMES 1892 -  

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Reginald James was the youngest of the four James brothers, and, like his older siblings, faced Conscription, Tribunal and arrest for refusing to go to war.

Along with brothers Conway and Thomas, Reginald was arrested and tried as an absentee from the army and handed over to the military under guard at Cardiff Drill Hall. There, after meeting other Absolutist COs, together they formed a guard-room branch of the No-Conscription Fellowship. Smuggling a letter to the NCF chairman, their actions inspired hundreds of other men around the country to do the same, and soon, guard-room NCF branches became a source of mutual support and advice for COs in the hands of the military. The letter read:

“Hope to smuggle you just a word. Escorted to roller rink, Cardiff, on Monday Evening. No supper, no beds. Slept on floor. Tuesday morning, no breakfast. Taken before major and asked to sign rations form, refused. Asked to see doctor and sign papers, refused. Threat by Major of death penalty, or anything less court martial shall determine. All orders disobeyed. Still no food. After 24 hours fast asked again to sign rations form or send out for food. Refused to do either. Victory at last! Bread and cheese for supper. Delicious beyond words! Blankets!! Salmon for breakfast!!! Wild excitement. Flag flying cheerfully. Concerts on guard-room floor a speciality. Soldiers learning the “Red Flag”. Whatever lies before us we can face it.”

From there, Conway, Edward and Reginald were sent to the major depot at Kinmel park, where they would soon face another court martial. In early June the brothers were separated. Reginald continued to refuse orders, and faced a court martial on the First of June, which sentenced him to two years hard labour. His sentence was commuted to 112 days, but a month later he had been discharged from the army, deemed “not likely to become an efficient soldier”. This experience is almost unique for a British First World War CO, but little is known about why it took place. It’s possible that Reginald was deemed unfit, or simply surplus to requirements. However, with so much information on the experiences of First World War COs lost in the last 100 years, it’s likely that the answer will never be known.

 

 

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CO DATA

Born: 1892
Died:
Address: 8 Lyne Road, Risca, Wales
Tribunal: Risca
Prison:
HO Scheme:
CO Work:
Occupation: Grocer’s Assistant
NCF:Cardiff Guard Room
Motivation:
[2]
ABSOLUTIST

 


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