Important New Book On World War 1 Conscientious Objectors Published

The Pearce Register Of First World War Conscientious Objectors which contains details of almost 20,000 COs underpinned much of the research we have done in Bristol on local COs, just as it has with similar research in other parts of the country.

Now Cyril Pearce, who compiled the Register over many years, is publishing his new book ‘Communities of Resistance – Conscience and Dissent in Britain during the First World War‘.

The book is an exploration of the histories of more than forty war resister communities across Britain from rural villages and industrial towns to the urban villages of greater London. It tells the stories of the men and women who stood by their own judgements on the war and as individuals and in like-minded communities found their own ways to resist it. Bristol is one of the places featured.

Publication of the limited edition hardback is at the end of September. – 550 pages with over 70 illustrations. There is a pre-publication offer allowing you to buy the book at a discounted price. Details are on the publishers’ website here. A paperback edition will follow.

A well-crafted, scholarly tribute to men and women war resisters, it details the hitherto unchronicled distribution of supportive local communities, identifying the places, social spaces and networks that sustained anti-war outlaws, prisoners and their families during the First World War” – Julian Putkowski, co-author of Shot at Dawn
Cyril Pearce is the established go-to source for anything you want to know about the peace movement and conscientious objection in the First World War. Communities of Resistance is destined to become the movement’s encyclopaedia, its veritable bible, packed with erudition and inspirational story-telling. A masterpiece” – David Boulton, author of Objection Overruled
Communities of Resistance is an astonishing piece of scholarship. .fascinating….”– Bruce Kent

For more information email

‘Refusing To Kill’ Material For Schools Goes Live.

‘Refusing To Kill’ Booklet Front Cover

Working with local teachers & educators Remembering The Real World War 1 have created online materials about World War 1 conscientious objectors for teachers to use.

The online resources include material for primary and secondary school or college and are relevant to a range of subjects (in particular, history, religious education, citizenship, the humanities more generally and may provide the basis of project work). Resources include PPT presentations for lessons, history cards and primary sources (photos, newspapers, newsletters, leaflets, audio oral history, and letters and sketches from CO prisoners). These materials are backed up with links to secondary sources (including papers, books and pamphlets, audio and video of history talks, walks and historical recreations) and to external websites.

Based on the ‘Refusing to Kill’ exhibition and booklet,the material is on the Bristol Radical History Group website – follow the links here. Have a look and pass the link on to any teachers you know.

The ‘Refusing To Kill’ booklet is still available to buy – follow the links here.

In coming months BRHG plans to add new material online relating to slavery, Edward Colston & Bristol’s workhouses.

For more information email

Puppets On The Red Carpet

You may have seen Otherstory’s ‘Taking A Holiday‘ puppet show or taken part in the ‘Steps Against War‘ puppet history walk in Bedminster earlier this year.

Now there’s a chance to attend the premiere of the film of the walk, meet the puppets and hear how the walk was researched and created.

Venue Bedminster Library, Bedminster Parade, Bedminster, Bristol, BS3 4AQ

Date: Thursday September 26th

Time: 7.00pm

Admission Free


Otherstory worked with a group of local people and Remembering the Real World War 1 to discover untold stories of Bedminster people in the First World War.  Together they created Steps Against War, a history walk with puppets to tell these stories, including 40 Bedminster men who refused to fight: who went to jail, or who took to the hills; the local detective always on their tracks; the women running networks of resistance – and the secret hideaway at the heart of Cannon Street

The film of Steps Against War is by Pru Fowler and Ben Edwards.

Otherstory are particularly delighted to be holding this event at Bedminster Library, where many of their early discoveries were made, with the support of library staff.

For more information email

‘Refusing To Kill’ Booklet Published

‘Refusing To Kill’ Booklet Front Cover

We are pleased to announce the publication by Bristol Radical History Group of the ‘Refusing To Kill‘ booklet.

The booklet is a much expanded version of the material included in the ‘Refusing To Kill’ exhibition that appeared at various venues across Bristol from September 2017 to July 2018. The exhibition and booklet tell the story of the 580 men from the Bristol area who, for religious, moral or political reasons, refused to fight in World War 1, as well as the story of the men and women who supported them. It includes the names, addresses and occupations of all 580 conscientious objectors, as well as re-prints of rarely seen documents from local archives.

The booklet can be purchased on line via the Bristol Radical History Group website here

For further information email

Back Cover
‘Refusing To Kill’ Booklet Back Cover

Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience Festival – Programme Announced

Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience Festival - 2019
Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience Festival – 2019

Details have been announced of the programme of talks, films, performance, exhibitions etc taking place as part of the Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience Festival. The main festival weekend is Saturday & Sunday 27th & 28th April but some exhibitions are on at venues across the city for a longer period and there are some linked events taking place before and after the weekend.

Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience is a national festival which looks at hidden or lesser known stories of the First World War, legacies of the conflict, peace-building and alternatives to officially sponsored commemoration. Topics considered include: the Shot at Dawn campaign; conscientious objection to military service; strikes; mutinies, desertion and absenteeism; colonial experiences and impacts; women’s peace activism; treatment of veterans; a century of opposition to war; alienation from commemoration.

At Bristol’s M Shed museum, the weekend festival (27th-28th April) will bring together community groups, local historians, academics, campaigners, activists and performers from across the country. The festival includes exhibitions, performances, printing workshops, talks, films, song and music, community projects, a puppet walk and puppet show.

The main festival website has details of all the events

Details of all the talks at M Shed on 27th/28th April are on the website here

Details of all the films being shown on 27th/28th April at M Shed are
on the website here

Details of the evening events on 27th April at the SouthBank Club are
on the website here

More events are being added so keep looking at the web site.

You can follow the festival on Facebook here and on Twitter here

For more information email

These Dangerous Women!

Sharon Morgan as Sylvia Pankhurst in Thursday’s Child

Organised by Remembering The Real World War 1 and linked to the Commemoration, Conflict and Conscience Festival, this film night is an opportunity to see two films about the part of women in opposing World War 1.

Date: Tuesday 23rd April, 2019
Time: 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Venue: The Cube, BS2 8JD
Price: £5/£4

Tickets can be booked via the Cube website here, although the title of the event on the web page doesn’t really fit the films!

Thursday’s Child
Best remembered as a suffragette, Sylvia Pankhurst was also a passionate supporter of the Russian revolution, a founder of the British Communist Party and a talented visual artist. Fighting for women to have the vote at the beginning of the century, she became a campaigner against colonialism in Africa after the Second World War. She dedicated her life to fighting oppression and injustice.

Sylvia Pankhurst is played by Sharon Morgan and this programme, made for Channel Four, is presented by the late Professor Gwyn Alf Williams. It was directed by Michele Ryan who will take part in the Q and A following the screening.

Drama/documentary made for Channel Four, directed by Michele Ryan and presented by Gwyn Williams. 50 minutes. Michele Ryan will be present for the Q and A.

These Dangerous Women
A drama-documentary on the women who tried to stop World War One. In 1915 1300 women from 12 warring and neutral nations got together in the Hague to find a way towards peace. Directed by Charlotte Bill and produced by the Clapham Film Unit, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 23 minutes

This screening is part of the Commemoration, Conflict and Conscience Festival. Chaired by Dr June Hannam.

‘This Evil Thing’ Returns To Bristol

'This Evil Thing'
‘This Evil Thing’

Anyone who saw Michael Mears’ one-man show ‘This Evil Thing’ in Bristol Cathedral in October 2017 will know what a powerful piece of theatre it is. We are now pleased to present two new performances, linked to the Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience festival at the end of April. The two performances take place on Sunday April 21st – Easter Sunday in the atmospheric surroundings of the crypt of St John the Baptist Church, one of Bristol’s oldest medieval buildings.

Tickets £11 (£9 concessions) can be purchased online at tryBooking here

For more information email

The play brings together the stories of Bert Brocklesby, a schoolteacher and preacher at his Methodist chapel and Bertrand Russell,one of the greatest philosophers of his time.
With the advent of military conscription their worlds are about to be turned upside down.

‘Magnificent storytelling’ (Amnesty International)

‘The CO’s story is still a tale rarely told, and rarely presented with this level of wisdom, perception, compassion and balance… ‘This Evil Thing’ represents the great tradition of storytelling at its very best, and offers an up-close-and-personal insight into the human condition, for better or worse.’ November 2018 The Bath Magazine – Melissa Blease

News From The Puppets

Otherstory – will be performing their puppet show – Taking a Holiday on:

January 17th at 7.30 pm at Bedminster Library, 4 Bedminster Parade, Bristol BS3 4AQ
January 25th at 7.30 pm at Junction 3 Library, 138b Lower Ashley Rd, Bristol BS5 0FJ

Tickets £5/£3 available at any Bristol Library, or online @

Show is suitable for adults and children over 10 years of age

Taking a Holiday tells the amazing story of the secret beneath a Bedminster bike shop. It is a story of struggle in wartime – full of intrigue, escapes, comradeship…and bikes. What does it mean to be a refugee and on the run in your own country? Who will give you a bed for the night, a job… or a means of escape? A tabletop and shadow puppet show based on the true stories of ordinary people in 1916/17, and the hidden history of the resistance to the war machine. 


For more information email


Do you want to help create a Puppet History Walk?

Otherstory will be developing a Bedminster-based history walk with puppets, in Jan – March 2019.

The walk will uncover the hidden histories of local people who resisted the First World War. It will take people round the actual locations where the war resisters lived, worked, met together and in some cases hid from the authorities. We’ll be using a mixture of puppetry, readings from historic texts, and songs from the period to bring their stories to life.

Otherstory are
looking for people to help make it happen! There are a series of workshops, where you can get involved in

Researching local conscientious objectors and war resisters
Making or dressing puppets
Making props and scenery
Finding photos from the time to use in the walk
Choosing and editing text from the time

And if you’d like to be part of the walk itself:

Practising some puppetry
Learning songs from the period
Helping to plan or steward the walk

The project is aimed at adults, and young people 14 and over. You can be involved in the whole project; or just come to one or two workshops, to do something you enjoy.

Research workshops will on Sat Jan 12th 2-4pm at the Bristol Archives and Sat 26th Jan 2-4pm at Bedminster Library

Puppetry workshops will be at Windmill Hill City Farm on:

Sun 10th Feb; Sun 24th Feb; Sun 10th March; Sun 24th Mar – 2-4pm

If you’re interested in taking part go to: and fill in a form

This project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.

For more information contact

French Village Remembers Bristol Deserter

Alfred Jefferies

Alfred Jefferies was the only man from Bristol shot by the British Army for desertion in World War 1.

In November 2016, on the centenary of his execution, Bristol’s Remembering the Real World War 1 group laid a wreath in his memory in The Dings Park. The event was attended by local people as well as members of Alfred Jefferies’ family. It was widely covered by local media. See the story from the time on our website here.

The story of Alfred (and his brother Arthur who died on the Somme in 1916) has now crossed to France. Alfred was shot in the village of Penin in the Pas de Calais region. Having heard of our event and the ‘Bristol Deserter’ pamphlet, on 1st November 2018 people of the village met to remember Alfred Jefferies themselves. David Jefferies, Alfred’s great-great nephew, and other family members were present.

They laid a wreath to mark the site of his execution

Wreath To Mark Alfred Jefferies’ Execution

They stood to remember Alfred

People of Penin Honour Alfred Jefferies

They then visited his grave in Arras cemetery.

David Jefferies and other family members at Alfred Jefferies’ graveside 

The commemoration was reported on local television in the Pas de Calais.

(Scroll down the page to the display of ‘19/20 Nord Pas-de-Calais‘ broadcasts by date. Scroll sideways to the broadcast for 01/11/2018. About four minutes into the programme is the report of the commemoration.)

It was also reported in the local newspaper and can be seen on their website here

The next day they visited the area where Arthur Jefferies was killed to remember his life as well

For more information email

Bristol’s Local Libraries Feature Conscientious Objectors

In November 2018, Bristol’s local libraries are mounting displays to mark the end of World War 1 featuring local stories about the war. All but three of the libraries are including information about Bristol’s conscientious objectors.These displays will make sure that the story of Bristol’s COs will be seen by even more people across the city.

Those without CO displays are Lockleaze, Henleaze & Whitchurch.

Don’t forget to visit your local library in November and see their display. You can find details of Bristol’s local libraries including opening times on the City Council website here.

For more information email