International Conscientious Objectors Day – Object of the Fortnight 15/05/2014
THE GRAVE OF HARRY AND ARTHUR BURROWS, CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS FROM BRADFORD Our object of the fortnight blog has been brought forward this week to coincide with International Conscientious Objectors Day (15 May) which aims to raise awareness of those who have refused to participate in armed conflict. As part of our ‘Stories in Stone’ strand of the Choices Then and Now project, the Peace Museum has been working with Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford. This has been described as the best Victorian cemetery outside of London. The ‘Stories in Stone’ project hoped to discover Conscientious Objectors buried amongst the 23,000 graves in the cemetery and uncover their untold stories. The Burrows brothers, Arthur and Harry are two of the COs found to be interned at Undercliffe. Their gravestone is in the Quaker plot in the cemetery. The Burrows family were Quakers, who owned a rag merchant business in Bradford before the First World War, and consisted of five brothers and two sisters. When WWI broke out in 1914, Harry and Arthur did not join up. When they were conscripted in 1916 under the Military Service Act, they both refused to fight and became COs on the grounds that their religion was against the harming or killing of other men. Their older brother Fred however was a career soldier; he had joined the army in 1909. It is a fascinating story of how brothers can choose such contrasting paths. Harry and Arthur were sent to the Northern Non-Combatant Corps, a branch of the army which didn’t fight but did other duties to help aid the war effort. However they were both absolutists; they refused to participate in any activity that would in any way contribute to the war. They were sentenced to hard labour and were imprisoned in numerous jails across the country. Both were eventually forced into the Home Office Scheme which was set up to try and deal with absolutists.The ‘Stories in Stone’ project hopes to uncover further information about the Burrows family, other COs and will be continuing in its partnership with Undercliffe Cemetery, who are bringing to life the stories of COs and fallen soldiers at a series of open days in July. For more information about ‘Stories in Stone’, visit: http://choicesthenandnow.co.uk/untold-stories/stories-in-stone/ Visit the Peace Pledge Union website to find out about International Conscientious Objectors Day: http://www.ppu.org.uk/coday/ With thanks to Neil McLellan, who is the Registrar and Coordinator of the Undercliffe Cemetery Charity. More information regarding the cemetery and the open days can be found at: www.undercliffecemetery.co.uk. Also, gratitude to Kathryn Hughes Ph.D, local historian, who continues to support to the Peace Museum and the Choices Then and Now project. Information about her work and her upcoming book can be found at: www.westyorkshirelives.co.uk and www.bradfordww1.co.uk. By Shannen Lang. I am the education and collections intern at the Peace Museum and also a student at the University of Leeds, studying International History and Politics.