Karen Hunt ‘ Being a CO in Burton-on-Trent’

This paper emerges from an HLF project that focused on the papers of the Mid Staffordshire Appeals Tribunal and what they reveal about life on the Staffordshire home front. Amongst the Appeals papers were a group of men from Burton-on-Trent who refused to take part in the Great War either as combatants or non-combatants. Their unequivocal stand as COs led to court martials and imprisonment. This paper explores the particular local home front from which this small group of brave men emerged and the political, cultural and social networks that shaped them. It considers the forces ranged against the self-styled ‘outlaws’ and how these changed over the war in order to understand how the Burton CO’s supporters and families sustained themselves after the men’s disappearance into prisons and work camps. Key spaces for these anti-militarists were the Independent Labour Party, the No-Conscription Fellowship, the Workers’ Union and the Co-op.