Chapter 24 » 24.14
Conscientious objection to compulsory military service
Compulsory military service was introduced during the two World Wars and Friends, among others, appeared before tribunals to justify their stand as conscientious objectors.
I was asked to be at the Tribunal in Manchester by 11 am on Tuesday, i.e. yesterday. I was there with Joyce and my witness well before time but they spent so long over the men in front of me that my case did not appear until immediately after lunch. Despite the gruelling time they had given the applicants in the morning, they gave me a very kind hearing. I felt very excited and worked up so when the chairman asked me the leading question, Why do you object to civil defence, I asked to be allowed to sit for a few moments in quietness while I gathered myself. When I felt ready I told them simply what I had experienced of the love of Jesus and how I felt that I was called to answer to the spiritual suffering in the world. They listened very quietly and only asked me how I intended to put into practice what I had learned and then, how my plans for going to China were progressing and then they seemed satisfied. I felt very young and childlike in talking to them. Their decision was to register me unconditionally on the register of COs. All over in about 20 minutes.
Looking back and realising how very easily things might have gone the other way the only explanation which both Joyce and I can see is that it is a miracle of God, helped by the prayers and loving thoughts of my friends.
I do not feel that I have yet grasped the whole significance of what has happened but I do see that it has placed an even greater responsibility upon me to follow what I really feel to be God’s calling for it is in that trust that the community has freed me.
Eric Baker, 1941