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We Will Not Fight

By: Will Ellsworth-Jones (570.3/35844)
Publisher: Aurum ISBN: 978845133009

In June 1916 Philip Brocklesby, a young second lieutenant just arrived in Boulogne on his way to the battle of the Somme, slipped away from his regiment in a desperate attempt to see his brother who had been imprisoned nearby. Yet it wasn’t the enemy who were holding Bert, but the British army. Bert, along with thirty four other passionately committed conscientious objectors, had been court-martialled for refusing to fight. The brothers did meet but both knew it could be for the last time: Philip faced death in the trenches, Bert before a firing squad.

Through the poignant story of the Brocklesby family, Will Ellsworth-Jones explores the history of conscientious objection in World War I, charting the ordeal of men who stood firm in the face of public scorn, official condemnation and the threat of execution. This powerful account also assesses the men’s lasting legacy – an enhanced freedom to voice unpopular beliefs and to challenge those who decide to take a country to war. It always requires courage to go into battle; this book – vivid with personal detail from unpublished letters, diaries, memoirs and interviews – recounts one of those moments in history when it took just as much courage to say: ‘we will not fight’.

June 2008


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