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Conscientious Objection Day 2024

May 15, 20245:36 pmMay 15, 2024 6:24 pm

This year to mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day, we want to share with you the brave story of Mary Cockroft.

We recently had a visit from Mary Cockroft’s daughter, Dianne Goacher, who shared her mother’s story of being a CO during World War Two. 

During this time, single women between the ages of 20 and 30 were included in military conscription. However, due to gaps in legislation that did not acknowledge the right to object to civilian and industrial work, many women were refused the right to be recognised as conscientious objectors.

When Mary Cockroft was 19 years old, she was conscripted to be a nurse. Influenced by her Quaker beliefs, she was an ‘absolutist’ who repeatedly refused to participate in the war effort in any form.

Due to her age and the type of enlisted work of nursing, she was not allowed to register officially as a CO. Instead she was fined on two occasions and then sentenced to two months in prison, of which she served six weeks.

Despite this, Mary never wavered on her beliefs. These images show some of the materials documenting this process.

Written by Aine McKenny