First World War

  • September 27, 2018

    A humanist representative will take part and speak at the Welsh National Service of Remembrance.

  • October 28, 2015

    Published by Quakers in Britain, the White Feather Diaries went live on Monday 26 October. Diarists tell the stories of conscientious objectors who said 'No' to war.

  • March 17, 2015

    Last year saw a flood of new books on World War 1. When I saw a new one in a bookshop or library, I would pick it up and look up how much space it gave to the issue of opposition to the war.

  • March 2, 2015

    Ninety-nine years ago today (2 March 1916), every unmarried man aged between 18 and 41 in England, Scotland and Wales was “deemed to have enlisted” in the armed forces.

  • December 12, 2014

    Shortly after Christmas 1914, an order was issued by John French, the general in charge of the British troops on the Western Front. He had heard of the informal truces that had broken out along the front on Christmas Day. He ordered that such events must never be repeated. A year later, ahead of the following Christmas, soldiers were reminded that they would be charged with disobeying orders if there was another truce.

  • December 11, 2014

    I recently preached at Kensington Unitarian Church, where I was pleased to receive a warm welcome and to engage in some good discussions. Here is the text of my sermon. I explored issues of faith, power and loyalty, looking particularly at Jesus' comments when asked if Jews should pay taxes to the Roman Emperor. I suggested this passage should be read not as a surrender to power but as a challenge to it.

  • November 21, 2014

    I had the privilege last week of speaking at Exeter University Debating Society, opposing the motion that “This house believes that World War One was a great British victory.” I am pleased to say that those present voted against the motion by seventy votes to forty.

  • November 18, 2014

    The Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red installation is gone from the Tower of London. The disputes over white poppies and the British Legion's misuse of Eric Bogle's 'Green Fields of France' have died away. But in this centenary year of the start of the first World War, there is much remembering – both honest and contrived – still to be done.

  • November 5, 2014

    The Royal British Legion, who run the Poppy Appeal, have in recent years shown a tendency to misuse the message of remembrance to encourage a pro-war, jingoistic agenda. They have now taken things a step further by using an anti-war song in a fundraising film – after taking the anti-war lyrics out.

  • November 1, 2014

    Red, white, purple or any combination thereof. The hue of the poppy we wear should be the choice of an informed conscience. To be coerced into a symbol, for whatever reason and by whatever means, immediately invalidates its significance.