Tag Archives: enlistment

First World War: Anti-war campaign in Australia

From ‘Bootham Overseas’, Bootham magazine, December 1915

“THOMAS BINNS ROBSON (1858-1860) writes from near Adelaide of the recent experiences of JOHN F. HILLS (1882-1884, Master 1886-1889), who “has been making quite a stir lately owing to his anti-military propaganda, which he has been actively carrying on ever since our ‘Boy Conscription Act’ came into force. The military authorities have looked upon him as opposing enlistment, and have tried to stop him from speaking in Victoria Square on Friday evenings and the park on Sunday afternoons, as has been his custom. The first attempt was a charge of treason, changed to breaking a bye-law for chalking on the roadway where he advertised his meetings and quoted portions of the Sermon on the Mount. This failed, because the bye-law only referred to the footpaths and not the roadway. Then he was brought up before the police court charged with telling the young men not to recruit at a meeting held some two months previously. His lawyer got the case dismissed on the plea that the regulation under which he was charged went beyond the War Precautions Act and was ultra vires…. Probably J. F. Hills will be again charged and have to fight it out on its merits. He says he did not use the expression he is accused of, but after so long a time it will be hard to prove, especially against the military. The last two or three times he has appeared in public he has been mobbed by an organised lot of young fellows in khaki, who joined the mob against the police who were protecting J. F. H. to a place of safety; and the last time the police started the row by setting on to Hills to make him go away before he had done anything. . .   The war spirit is rampant and seems to override all other considerations.”


First World War: Reasons for Enlistment


DEAR SIR,—It has been suggested that it would serve a useful public purpose if we could discover the real reasons why men have enlisted, and perhaps classify the answers. Thus :—

1 . CONSCIENTIOUS.—Men who have studied European history, who have travelled widely, who speak several foreign languages, who are conversant with the work of The Hague Peace Conferences. Self-critical, demanding both sides of a case before they act.

2. LOYAL.—Responsive to calls for help. Ready to defend the weak against the strong. Prompt to pay debts they have themselves contracted. Serious-minded men, who have no hesitation in supporting a cause obviously just. They support their country because their country seems loyal to greater causes.

3. PATRIOTIC.—Men who admit their own ignorance and are not conversant with the details of the real issues at stake, but who are willing to sacrifice themselves for what they are told is their country’s good without considering whether this is also good for other countries. My country right or wrong.

4. ADVENTURE.—Men who are young, healthy and energetic, fond of travel, sport and shooting animals, but who have not had many other opportunities of Continental travel.

5. EXAMPLE.—Men who don’t think for themselves, who join ” pals ” battalions because everybody’s doing it, men unable to endure isolated action. Theirs not to reason why.

6. ECONOMIC.—Men discharged from other occupations, with no resources or alternatives, driven to enlist by necessity (the economic pressgang) in order to get a living, not cowards, but perhaps quite content as long as they need not fight.

7. ESCAPE.—Men who wish to get away from home conditions, away from wife, from debt, from arrest for crime. Men wanting a cheap divorce or leaving on account of the girl left behind.

8. BARBARIC.—Mere bloodthirstiness or homicidal mania and a general desire to break bounds.

Let us hope no old Bootham boys come into groups 7 and 8. But what are the numbers in the other groups?


February 11th, 1915

Hugh Richardson is likely to have been the Hugh Richardson who was at Bootham between 1875 and 1880, and taught science at the school between 1897 and 1914. His letter was printed in ‘Bootham’ magazine, Volume VII, March 1915.