Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Britain 1
This chapter suggests that Britain has a rich military history. Since the beginning of the First World War in 1914 the British military has been almost continually involved in conflict in some form or other as they were in the previous century. This rich and long military history has, inevitably, seen British forces involved in activities that have resulted in ethical controversy. Compulsory military service was a part of life for Britons from Anglo Saxon times and earlier. The Civil War was partly a war between conscript armies. The victories at Trafalgar and Waterloo were won on the backs of conscripts. At the beginning of the First World War in 1914 Britain was the only major European power to rely on voluntary forces. The heavy casualties soon incurred led to pressure for conscription. When military personnel refuse a legal order on grounds of conscience they strike at the heart of what it is to be in the military.