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CONWAY GODFREY JAMES 1891 -

 

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Conway Godfrey James, born 1889, worked as a Bread delivery man in Risca, South Wales, when he was Conscripted under the Military Service Act in March 1916. Conway, along with his brothers Tom, Herbert and Reginald, refused conscription, and became Conscientious Objectors. One of the first group of men to be called up, Conway argued his right to exemption on the grounds of Conscience in front of the Risca Tribunal, but was rejected, eventually leading to his arrest for ignoring orders to report to barracks. In April 1916 he was arrested, sent to trial at Newport Police court, fined, and handed over to the Army who transported him to Cardiff.

While confined at the Cardiff Drill Hall in May 1916, Conway and the two younger James brothers met other Absolutist COs, and 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, and Conway was soon discharged from the army on medical grounds. For all the trouble the army had gone though to attempt to force a principled man to abandon his opposition to the war, a medical exam would have likely automatically qualified Conway for exemption. Instead, he chose to make his stand on moral grounds, certain to make his point that he believed war to be a crime he would not participate in.

 

 

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CO DATA

Born: 1891
Died:
Address: 8 Lyne Road, Risca, Wales
Tribunal: Risca
Prison:
HO Scheme:
CO Work:
Occupation: Bread Delivery Man
NCF:Cardiff Guard Room
Motivation:
[2]
ABSOLUTIST

 


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