Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


Anti-conscription meeting on Glasgow Green, 1916

image from Red Clydeside collection

Photograph of anti-conscription meeting taken at Glasgow Green in 1916. Although the British government had consistently promised that conscription would not be introduced, the massive losses of army personnel during the first two years of the war meant that the introduction of conscription would be inevitable.

Supported by various anarchist, socialist and suffragette groupings, an anti-conscription campaign was launched and mass rallies and demonstrations took place throughout the country. Groups such as the National Council Against Conscription, the No Conscription Fellowship and the Independent Labour Party all took part in the anti-conscription movement.

The Military Service Act was passed in 1916 introducing compulsory military service in Britain. The Act allowed for applications to be made for exemptions on grounds of occupation and also on grounds of religious and moral belief. It was estimated that a total of 16,500 conscientious objectors obtained military exemption certificates during the first world war, the overwhelming majority of whom took up non-combatant military duties. Civil servants who refused to be conscripted on grounds of conscientous objection had their pension rights cancelled by the state.

Source: Gallacher Memorial Library, Glasgow Caledonian University Special Collections and Archives