Catharina Clement ‘Degrees of Conscience’

The story of three tribunals, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham in North Kent, and how they treated their conscientious objectors. Rochester, despite its Conservative and ex-military mayor, was very tolerant of the conscientious objectors and granted most of them exemption. Chatham and Gillingham on the other hand had Liberal mayors, but were much harsher towards their conscientious objectors. This talk will discuss why there was this huge difference in exemptions and why some groups received more favourable treatment than others. Through the accounts of some of the conscientious objectors a tale will emerge of imprisonment, alternative service, enlistment and even death in action. I will try to examine why they took the decisions they made. Ultimately what degree of conscience did these men display?