During the First World War, conscientious objectors (COs) were a vocal minority who refused to participate in the conflict on the basis of their personal beliefs. Firmly at odds with both the Army and the government, they were disparagingly referred to as ‘conchies’.
The circumstances of the Second World War resulted in a softened stance from both the objectors and the state. Many COs agreed to carry out work of ‘national importance’ in aid of the war effort.
With over 14,000 COs operating within the Army – from the Non-Combatant Corps to the Royal Army Medical Corps – their service was far-reaching. Yet, they were always regarded as slightly strange soldiers.
Delving deeper into the roles of conscientious objectors in the Second World War, Dr Linsey Robb will examine their experiences of service and the attitudes of their fellow soldiers.
Dr Linsey Robb is Associate Professor in Modern British History at Northumbria University. Her research focuses on cultural, social and gendered histories of the Second World War.