27 April—28 April 2019

Commemoration, conflict and conscience: The hidden stories of WW1

This national festival looks at the hidden stories of World War One through talks, stands, films, puppets, walks and arty things to do.

Bringing together community groups, performers, artists, historians, academics and activists, the day will examine the stories of:

  • Conscientious objectors to military service
  • Strikes
  • Mutinies
  • Desertion
  • Absenteeism
  • The men executed by the British military and the Shot at Dawn campaign, which fought for them to be pardoned
  • The global reach of the war
  • Colonial and commonwealth experiences
  • Women’s peace activism

This free weekend of activity is timed to coincide with the centenary of the release of many absolutist conscientious objectors from prison in April 1919.

Don’t forget to see The Poppy Retake and From the Shadows of War and Empire in the Bristol Life Gallery as well as mini exhibitions throughout M Shed.

Saturday talks 

Shot at Dawn campaign (Room 3)
11am – 12.30pm
Unique session with family of men shot at dawn & campaigners who won their pardon: Janet Booth, Julian Putkowski, Piet Chielens

Conscientious Objector stories from around England (Studio 1)
11am – 12.30pm

Burton on Trent: Karen Hunt
Oxford: Sue Smith
Hereford: Elinor Kelly

Internment and internee stories from England and Germany (Room 1)
11am – 12.30pm
Civilians at Wakefield Lofthouse Park Camp: Claudia Sternberg
British BAME civilians at Ruhleben in Germany: Sonia Grant
German communities in NE England: Silvie Fisch

Art and war: Resistance and recovery (Room 2)
11am – 12.30pm
An ethical exploration of how to be a war artist: Jude Huchen
Sculpture project for service personnel & family: Al Johnson, Ian Rudge

Opposition to conscription in Wales and Ireland (Studio 1)
12.30pm – 1.30pm
Irish Nationalism, the ‘Irish question’ and the war: Joe Mooney
South Wales miners’ resistance to conscription: Aled Eurig

Paying for peace or paying for war (Room 1)
12.30pm – 1.30pm
A session organised by Conscience – Taxes for Peace not War

A hundred years of opposition to war (Room 2)
2pm – 3pm
Lindsey German, national convenor, Stop the War Coalition Daniel Blaney, national vice-chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Treatment of Veterans: Then and now (Room 2)
3pm – 4pm
The treatment of WW1 soldier amputees: Louise Bell
Shell-shock to PTSD: Aly Renwick, Veterans for Peace

Commemorating World War One (Room 1)
3.30pm – 4.30pm
The Shot at Dawn Memorial: Andy de Comyn
Irish commemoration & war memorials: Mary Muldowney

Saturday book launch

2pm – 3pm
Refusing to Kill and Mabel Tothill from Bristol Radical History Group

Saturday museum tour

3.30pm – 4.30pm
WW1 tour of M Shed’s collections. Sign-up sheets at the festival welcome desk on Floor 0.


Sunday talks 

Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness Conscientious Objectors (Studio 1)
11am – 12pm
British Mormon Conscientious Objectors: Andrew Bolton
Jehovah’s Witness Conscientious Objectors: Gary Perkins

Women and Opposition to War 1 (Room 2)
11am – 12pm
German Women Against the War: Ingrid Sharp
The Lives of Two Anti-War Manchester Women: Alison Ronan

Justice for Alice Wheeldon (Room 1)
11am – 12.30pm
A very special session with Alice’s great-granddaughter, Chloe Mason, Cyril
Pearce & others, looking at the WW1 case & ongoing campaign to clear Alice.

Commemorating War 2 (Room 3)
11am – 12.30pm
In Flanders Fields Museum Ypres: Piet Chielens (the Museum’s Director)
Politics, Piers Morgan & the Colour of Poppies: Symon Hill (Peace Pledge
The struggle to stop a statue in Canada: Lee-Anne Broadhead & Sean Howard

Women and Opposition to War 2 (Room 2)
12pm – 1pm
Bradford Women’s Humanity League: Eve Haskins
Women’s Objection to War Work in World War One: Lucienne Boyce

Conscientious Objector Stories From Around England (Studio 1)
12.30pm – 1.30pm
Rochester, Chatham & Gillingham Tribunals, Kent: Catharina Clement
Mid-Staffordshire Conscientious Objectors: Gerry Barton & John Babb
Forest of Dean Miners, Conscription & Conscientious Objectors: Ian Wright

Remembrance & Modern Day Conscientious Objection (Studio 1)
1.30pm – 2pm
Joe Glenton (conscientious objector), ForcesWatch

Conscientious Objectors: the Story Continues (Event Suite)
2.30pm – 4pm
Revisiting what we know about objectors: Lois Bibbings
New Zealand & Australia’s Quaker Anti-Compulsion Campaign: Martin Crick
Autograph Books Autobiography: Cyril Pearce

Closing: Bruce Kent, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Event Suite)

Sunday museum and exhibition tours

1pm – 2pm
‘The Poppy Retake’ & ‘From the Shadows of War & Empire’ with Kooj Chuhan, creator of ‘The Poppy Retake’. Sign-up sheets at the festival welcome desk on Floor 0.

3.30pm – 4.30pm
WW1 tour of M Shed’s collections. Sign-up sheets at the festival welcome desk on Floor 0.


10.30am – 11am
‘Emmerdale’s Conscientious Objector’ with Cyril Pearce Part of the Emmerdale 1918 series which looked at the experiences of a Yorkshire conscientious objector

11am – 12.15pm
’The Singapore Mutiny’ with Tony T (Dir) Documentary revealing how World War 1 shaped Ghandi’s rise to prominence in India.

12.30pm – 1.15pm
’Watford’s Quiet Heroes’ with Simon Colbeck (presenter) Documentary about conscientious objectors

1.25pm – 1.55pm
‘The Last Clarion House’ with Alison Ronan (researcher) Film about Nelson ILP Clarion House, the Clarion Cycling Clubs and the House’s role in the struggles of suffragettes & conscientious objectors


12.30pm – 1.30pm
Student Voices After the Great War: performance, talk and discussion (Room3)
Ex-service students, the first government grants for higher education & the
founding of the NUS.

12.30pm – 2pm
Commemoration through drama: performance, talk & discussion (Room 1)
Play 1: ‘War in Mind’ John Bassett, Spaniel in the Works
Play 2: ‘Protestors for Peace’ Peter Nias

Puppet walk

10.15am for 10.30am start (approx. 2 hours)
Enjoy a unique experience with Otherstory who will lead a performance of their World War 1 Puppet History Walk starting from M Shed. Sign up during the festival at ground floor festival desk-some pre-bookable tickets available at Other Story.

This event is supported by University of BristolArts and Humanities Research Council, Everyday Lives in War, Remembering the Real WW1 and M Shed.