Princetown And The Conscientious Objectors Of WWI by Pip Barker is a fascinating and comprehensive account of the men who often got a bad press at the time and about whom I knew very little.
Princetown is an inhospitable prison on Dartmoor. “The whole place could only be described as grim.” I can confirm that statement as I remember my Dad driving us past it in the late 1970’s. It is grey and very bleak as it towers over the landscape.
The prison was emptied of prisoners in February 1917 to make way for the C.O’s to arrive in March 1917. It rapidly filled to hold 1200 men who remained there until April 1919. The men lived and worked in the prison or the surrounding area.
Although there were no locks on the doors, the men still had a tough time as it was cold and damp.
The public had little compassion for the C.O’s as many of the people had relatives who were fighting in the war. The women could be particularly cruel as they handed out white feathers. “These men were viewed unsympathetically, and in some cases with open hostility.” The C.O’s stood steadfast in their beliefs.
This is only a small book but jam-packed with information and totally fascinating, opening up history to me.
The inclusion of photos gave faces to the men, making history come alive. These men were someone’s sons or fathers. They should not be forgotten.
Princetown And The Conscientious Objectors Of WWI offers a glimpse into the past, educating us as we read as history comes alive.
I received a free copy from the publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.