Not forgotten 1 of 5
Published at : 27 Jan 2021
In this special edition of Not Forgotten, journalist and broadcaster Ian Hislop explores the compelling and emotive stories of conscientious objectors during the First World War.
Ian visits war memorials and the battlefields of the Western Front, and looks for evidence in local archives and personal war diaries to inspire his search for stories. He meets the descendants of some of the 'Conchies' and hears how they have dealt with the social stigma of their relatives' refusal to fight.
Ian discovers that conscientious objectors fell into two loose categories; the 'alternativists', those prepared to undertake non-combative roles, such as ambulance drivers and stretcher-bearers; and the 'absolutists', the most determined and extreme COs who refused to carry out any work that aided the army -- they wouldn't even peel a potato if it helped the war effort. Ian also explores the experiences of volunteers, who on witnessing the horrors of the battlefield, became committed COs. Ian uncovers stories of imprisonment, physical abuse, tragedy and extreme bravery.
At the heart of the film he asks, if we memorialise the courage of those who fought and died, should we not also remember and honour those who had the courage not to fight?