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Reasons For People's Objections To World War I

2284 words - 9 pages

Reasons for People's Objections to World War I

As the war progressed, more and more soldiers were needed to help out
in the war to replace the large amounts of soldiers with casualties,
as the amounts of volunteers were declining each month. There were
many men who were eligible to fight but were not volunteering, so
conscription had to be introduced to keep the numbers of soldiers
great enough to defeat the Germans. In January 1916, The Military
Service Act was introduced.

All unmarried men and widowers without children or dependants between
the ages of 18 and 41 were all forced to join the war. This Service
Act did not apply to unmarried men who were in reserved occupations,
the people who were the sole supporters of a household, those with
medical disabilities or men who objected to the war on moral grounds,
who had to claim exemption. This Act later proved to be flawed as it
was based on the unreliable National Register which did not include
large numbers of men who were not traced. On May 3rd 1916,
conscription also applied to all men regardless of their marital
statuses, between the ages of 18 and 41. Universal conscription had
then become a fact when Britain started using conscription like all of
the other countries involved in the war.

Conscription being brought about started a general resistance by some
people, who claimed they could not fight on the grounds of conscience
- these people became known as conscientious objectors. The
conscripts who tried to claim exemption had to plead their case before
a Military Tribunal, who would decide whether they would be free from
military service. The tribunals had to choose between four decisions
when deciding what to do with the people claiming exemption.

The first was absolute exemption; the individual was declared
unconditionally exempt from service which could include them having
dependants, or they could be disabled. The tribunal could also give
conditional exemption to the individual, which means that they had to
become in work of national importance, such as coal miners or
industrial workers. In some cases, soldiers who were actually
fighting were sent home as there were insufficient amount of workers
in work of national importance, as a lot of volunteers came from
industrial workers and coal miners. These two occupations can need
extra men as they supply us with important necessities.

There were some conscientious objectors who were exempt from combatant
duties, another one of the four possible outcomes. They had to join
the arm forces, but they would not have to fight if they didn’t want
to. These men usually worked as medics or messengers, and some of
these people were religious, such as priests. If the people who
objected to war were not given any of the above three possible

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