The London Standing Committee and Military Service

From our writings more than 100 years ago.

The London Standing Committee

This body came into existence in December, 1915, during the course of the Great War. With the threat of enforced Military Service impending, the Clapham Ecclesia deemed it prudent to form a Committee composed of London Brethren to watch the situation, and to take any necessary action should conscription be imposed. The need was obvious. Although conscription had been anticipated, yet when it actually came, opinion was very much divided as to the precise attitude to be taken and the means to be adopted to secure exemption.

View of the former War Office building from Whitehall. The Department of the British Government was responsible for the administration of the British Army between 1857 and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the newly-created Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The petition to Parliament had helped to mould the minds of the brethren in the right direction, and had practically established Total Exemption as the only possible position to fight for, but some responsible body was needed to lead and act for the Brotherhood. This want was met in the “London Standing Committee”,who voluntarily undertook to advise the brethren on the various difficulties arising out of conscription. The Committee also became the intermediary between the Brotherhood and the War Office.

It ought to be stated that in carrying out this work the Committee acted purely in an advisory capacity to those brethren and ecclesias who needed and sought their assistance.

J. M. Evans

Read “Without the Camp”, by F. G. Jannaway, and “Christadelphians and Military Service”, published by the “London Standing Committee”.

Military Service.

All we can say is, that if after the divine guidance and protection from every form of military service (as represented by the King’s uniform) and the absolute freedom granted the Christadelphians during the Great European War (1914-1918), any brother or sister suggests a compromise in the way of any non-combatant, or medical corps, the place for such brother or sister is outside the Brotherhood, and no faithful Ecclesia would give them any place, no, not for an hour. No faithful and discerning brother will accept employment (voluntary or compulsory) which needs him to don uniform, labelling him a defender of any human king and country.

F. G. J.

Read “Christ and War”, by C. C. Walker.

Munition Making

It is no answer to say that the brother-munitioner possesses a good conscience in so doing. It is quite clear from the apostolic testimony that the conscience of “the other” should be respected; that we do not enjoy unrestricted liberty of conscience, must “give no offence either to Jew or Gentile”, and should give no occasion to the adversary to speak “reproachfully”.

This testimony has an important bearing upon the question under consideration. Any action of ours which prejudices the Truth in the eyes of the world, or which is the cause of stumbling, should be avoided. There can be no manner of doubt that our case for total exemption has been materially weakened by our refusal as a body to voluntarily exempt ourselves from the production of arms.

J. M. Evans.

“I am quite sure the munition makers have weakened our position in the eyes of the Tribunals”.

T. W. Gamble.

The foregoing “Answers” represent the conclusion of every Brother who was elected to represent the Ecclesias, and who did so with such excellent results; while the one or two who championed such work had a bad time of it.

Canada suffered severely through the representative brother being himself engaged in the making of munitions. —

F. G. J.

“Red Cross” Work.

Cap Badges of the four medical/nursing corps – The Army Medical Services (AMS) is the organisation responsible for administering the corps that deliver medical, veterinary, dental and nursing services in the British Army. It is headquartered in at the former Staff College, Camberley, near the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

This is generally held to be a satisfactory compromise for those objecting to warfare, but who desire to help their country during the stress of war. None can deny the beneficent work of the “Red Cross” in helping the sick and wounded. At the same time, it must never be forgotten that all such work is essentially the duty of the Army Authorities. The Army Medical Service exists for this purpose (amongst others).

Red Cross Work is directly under the control of the Army Authorities; the Red Cross badge is “the emblem and distinctive sign of the Medical Services of the Army”, and can only be worn by those “authorised by the State”, and “employed with medical units and establishments of Armies” (see ” R.AM.C. Manual “, Sect. 365).
Anyone, therefore, joining the Red Cross Society (or kindred organization) places himself or herself directly under the Military Authorities.

For the genuine follower of Christ there are surely many other ways of helping the country in times of stress without resorting to such compromises as Red Cross work.

F. W. Turner.

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Preceding

Thought for the Christmas time: A sense of history

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Additional reading

  1. July 4, 1916 – Battle of the Somme greeted with ‘the greatest enthusiasm’
  2. Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #2 Frank George Jannaway

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Related

  1. The Deteriorating State of the Confederacy
  2. ‘Without my husband we are a desolate and ruined family’
  3. #OTD in 1863 – Large numbers of Irish immigrants are involved in Draft Riots in New York City.
  4. The First to Die
  5. Medical Board at the War Office
  6. The Selective Service System
  7. Bringing Back the Draft: 5 Possibilities for the Future of Military Conscription
  8. Germany regains voluntary military service
  9. National Service in Review: The Swiss Conscription Model
  10. What is Zivildienst?
  11. BTS’ Success Sparks Renewed Debates About Mandatory Military Service

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