Marking the Centenary of Conscription: Lecture on Objection to WW1 in Wales

Media Release

February 2016

What was the Opposition to WW1 in Wales?

'Remembering for Peace' Public Lecture with Aled Eurig

Who, and how many people, opposed the First World War in Wales? Who were the conscientious objectors leading the opposition? And what parallels can be drawn with conflicts today?

A revealing and informative Public Lecture on ‘Conscientious Objectors and Opposition to WW1 in Wales’ will be delivered by, former BBC Wales Head of News and Current Affairs, Aled Eirug at 4:30pm on 2nd of March 2016, at Aberystwyth University’s International Politics Department.

Aled Eirug explained: “As we mark the centenary of the First World War in Wales, and given the tendency  to concentrate on the soldiers, in this lecture I will focus on those who opposed the War throughout Wales and especially on the over 800 conscientious objectors. Whilst it’s important to remember the soldiers who lost their lives in the War, it is also important to remember that there was a significant minority who chose another path which was difficult and often unpopular.”

The public and academics alike are expected to seize this opportunity to gain an insight from Aled Eirug’s significant doctorate research into the extent of opposition to the First World War in Wales. This is one in an on-going series of challenging and topical lectures by Wales for Peace, where lesser-exposed aspects of WW1 are explored by experts, as an inspiration for communities and families to gather their own hidden histories relating to the First World War.

Head of Wales for Peace project, Craig Owen, explained: “This lecture on the 2nd of March marks the centenary, to the day, when the Military Service Act came into effect. From this date onwards most men between 18 and 41 were liable to be called up for military service – many of them only to return as names in Wales’ Book of Remembrance, currently on display at the National Library. But opposition to war in Wales is an under-explored subject, and this lecture – spotlighting Aled Eirug’s ground-breaking research into the area - will launch our call for hidden histories of Conscientious Objectors. We hope it will inspire communities and families to research and volunteer their own hidden histories and to share them with the nation through the Wales for Peace project.”

Craig Owen added, "as people and communities bring forward their hidden histories, WCIA with the support of Cymru'n Cofio / Wales Remembers and working with Quakers and Cytun, will be developing an exhibition on 'Belief and Action' in Wales through the First World War, which we hope to launch in the second half of 2016. Conscientious objection, and parallels with issues of conscience and choice in conflicts today, will be at the heart of this exploration, and we woudl love to hear from venues who woudl be interested in hosting the exhibition and telling this story." 

The lecture will be delivered in Welsh, with simultaneous translation into English. Aled Eirug will be accompanied by Cyril Pearce of Leeds University, one of the UK’s leading experts on this topic and author of the Pearce Register of Conscientious Objectors, source data for the Imperial War Museum’s records.

Later, on the same evening as Aled Eirug’s lecture, Wales for Peace is pleased to support another follow-on activity related to conscientious objection, namely Y Lolfa’s book launch of ‘Pilgrim of Peace - A Life of George M. LL. Davies’ by Jen Llywelyn at 6:30pm in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Remembering for Peace Exhibition and Lectures

The Public Lecture coincides with the Wales for Peace “Remembering for Peace” Exhibition at the National Library of Wales Aberystwyth, until 16th of April. The final in the series of Wednesdays’ Public Lectures will be held at 2pm on 16th of March at the Morlan, Aberystwyth by Rupert Gude on the subject of Opposition to the First World War in the British context.

Further information is available on www.walesforpeace.org.

Wales for Peace is a four-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by 10 organisational partners including Aberystwyth and Cardiff universities, the National Library for Wales and movements such as the Urdd and Cymdeithas y Cymod. The project’s core question is: in the hundred years since the First World War, how has Wales contributed to the search for peace? Wales for Peace is a heritage project working with communities across Wales; it is also forward-looking in stimulating debate around issues of peace for the benefit of future generations.

Note to Editor: Please call 07498309779 for further information or liaison.

Aled Eirug is currently undertakjng a PhD on conscientious objection with Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion. He is an Ofcom Content Board Member, was Head of News and Current Affairs for BBC Wales from 1992-2003, Chair of the British Council’s advisory committee for Wales 2012-2015, and constitutional adviser to the  National Assembly for Wales from 2007-11. View Aled Eirug’s professional profile here.

 

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