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Women in the Anti Conscription Campaign of 1918

Anti-conscription Pledge

“Denying the right of the British Government to enforce Compulsory service in this Country we pledge ourselves solemnly to one another to resist Conscription by the most effective means at our disposal.”

Above is the wording of the Anti-conscription Pledge devised in April 1918. During the summer after a major offensive by the Germans in April there was a  conscription crisis in Britain. Ireland had been exempt from enforced conscription since 1915. To read more about how it came about:

Within weeks of the World War One beginning in the summer of 1914, there were already some who, fearing that conscription was likely, emigrated from Ireland. From the summer of 1915 compulsory military service had become a live possibility. Read more

The papers contained many articles as the one below in The Irish Independent of 25 June 1918:

“Irishmen Soldiers

In future Irishmen crossing to Great Britain for munition or Government work will be called up for military service in the same manner as other British Subjects, Mr. Beck told a questioner in Parliament yesterday but Irishmen in munition factories will not be compulsorily recruited before they are given an opportunity of returning to Ireland.

It was stated that 40,000 had crossed since Oct. 1916, but that the undertaking given to them would be unaltered at present. “The new decision – which Mr. Beck told Mr. Lough he didn’t think would require legislation – will not affect those brought across by the Ministry of Labour. or those holding employment Exchange certificates.

Sir Edward Carson put a couple of questions about hose men being younger than men called up for service, and Mr. Beck had no doubt many for them were. The men referred to would be liable to military service only for administrative action protecting them on the ground that they came over in response to a Government request.”

The women of Ireland did not want to see their sons partaking in a war that was not of their making.

To find out more watch the informative YouTube video; Filmed by Marcus Howard. Liz Gillis gives a talk on women in the 1918 Anti Conscription Campaign. The talk was filmed at the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Anti Conscription Conference in The Mansion House. Liz Gillis is a historian, author and researcher having written “The Fall of Dublin”, “Women of the Irish Revolution”, “The Hales Brothers and the Irish Revolution” and “May 25th: The Burning of the Custom House 1921”.

 

Sources

https://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/how-ireland-was-lost-in-the-1918-conscription-crisis

Irish Independent 25 June 1918
Irish Citizen 06 July 1918