Welsh Conscientious Objectors Lecture at Caernarfon

Wales’ Conscientious Objectors in WW1 Remembered

in lecture at Caernarfon Festival

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Gone are the days when a man, because of his conscience and refusal to enlist in war, would be scorned as a coward or mocked with a white feather. Yet these attitudes of the past account for the dearth of understanding about who, why and how men in Wales became conscientious objectors during WW1. A revealing lecture by Aled Eirug, at Clwb Canol Dre, Caernarfon, on Saturday the 9th of July at 12 noon, is set to shine a light on the this history of conscientious objection in Wales. The lecture is an important event in Caernarfon’s successful ‘Gwyl Arall’ festival programme and is held in partnership with Wales for Peace. The lecture will be in Welsh with simultaneous translation into English.

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Aled Eirug, former BBC Wales Head of News and Current Affairs who’s done extensive research into conscientious objection during WW1 in Wales, explained: “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. My lecture will focus on those who opposed the War throughout Wales and especially on the over 800 conscientious objectors.”

Head of Wales for Peace project, Craig Owen, added: “Opposition to war in Wales is an under-explored subject, and this lecture, spotlighting Aled Eirug’s ground-breaking research into the area, will support 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.”

The focus on conscientious objection will continue over the coming months. A register of the WW1 conscientious objectors of Wales, compiled by Cyril Pearce from Leeds University, is to be launched for public access in August. Also anticipated later in the year is the Wales for Peace ‘Belief and Action’ exhibition, which will present the context of conscientious objection during WW1 in Wales.

Other ‘Gŵyl Arall’ events at Clwb Canol Dre on Saturday include Dr Elin Jones speaking on the suffragettes and the First World War at 4:30pm, then on Sunday at 1:30 Menna Elfyn will host a ‘Refugees and their Friends’ session with notable Welsh authors as well as those who’ve found refuge in Wales, whilst another not-to-be missed item is at 4:30 when Ifor ap Glyn will elaborate on his research on ‘The Road to Mametz’ for the young Welsh soldier Dafydd Jones from Llanddewi Brefi. Further details can be found in the ‘Gŵyl Arall’ programme.

Wales for Peace is a four-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by 10 organisational partners including 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.

Aled Eirug is completing 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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