WWI Labour Camp for Conscientious objectors.


Some World War One conscientious objectors were sent to work camps. The conditions at one facility in Aberdeenshire saw it closed down months after a young man died from pneumonia.
By the second year of the war, the initial flood of volunteers had slowed to the point where Britain was forced to introduce conscription for the first time in its history.
The Military Service Act, which came into force in March 1916, allowed for objectors to be exempted from service on religious, moral and political grounds, but their appeals were judged by a military tribunal.
Thousands of objectors were sent to do “work of national importance”, such as farming, and many more performed non-combat duties, such as working as ambulance men or stretcher-bearers in war zones.
Others were forced into the army, and when they refused orders, they were sent to prison.
There was much public criticism over able men sitting in jail when they could be doing useful labour.
So a project was devised under which the men would break rocks in the north of Scotland for use in road construction.
Some were sent to a camp in Ballachulish in the Highlands.
The men faced tough work and poor conditions, but at least they were housed in huts.
Other “conchies” were sent to the camp at Dyce, Scotland
They lived in army surplus tents that leaked in the rain and worked smashing granite in the nearby quarry.


Aberdeen University historian Joyce Walker says about 250 men, most of them sent up from England, were taken to the work camp.
She says: “They were scholars or academics, students, teachers, shopkeepers, labourers, the whole range of human endeavour.
The public mood was not sympathetic to conscientious objectors (COs), with many considering them traitors and cowards whose presence was an insult to the north-east men who had left to fight on the front.
Local newspaper the Aberdeen Journal wrote a virulent editorial attack on them in September 1916, soon after the camp opened.
It said: “A conscientious objector in war-time is a degenerate or worse, who is out of harmony with the people of the nation which protects him in peace-time and defends him in war-time”.
via BBC News – World War One: The labour camp for peace protesters.

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