Miles, Cyril

He was born in Catford and was aged 30 in 1916

59 Perry Hill, Catford

In 1911 census Cyril Miles is shown as living at this address together with his brothers, Archibald, Herbert Henry* and Walter Edwin who were all conscientious objectors, as was his brother Henry "Havelock". Also living at the address were his father Arthur, mother Margaretta Jessie and a brother Arthur E. Their father's business is listed as Arthur Miles & Sons Upholsters at 59 and 59A Perry Hill and also a yard at Rutland Road, Catford.
*See note below

Cyril worked as an upholsterer, he was a Baptist who attended the Perry Hill Baptist Church, and was a member of the Dulwich Branch of the No-Conscription Fellowship.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War
His appearance before the Military Service Tribunal, where he said he was a Baptist, was reported in the Lewisham Borough News on March 17, 1916. He and his brothers' Archibald and Henry "Havelock" who also attended on the same day were offered Non-Combatant Certificate, which they all refused and gave notice of appeal, as did a Herbert Henry, who was reported as being a cousin by both the Kentish Mercury and the Lewisham Borough News.

His was arrested in May and brought before the Greenwich Magistrates together with his brother Henry "Havelock", an event reported in The Kentish Mercury on May 19, 1916. Cyril and his brother were both charged with "failing to attend when called out on permanent military service". Cyril said that, although he believed in the Bible he would not be sworn, he was not fined but was handed over to the military authority at the court.

Prison experiences

He was then taken under guard and conscripted into the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and following a court-martial on 28 May for disobeying orders found himself imprisoned. On August 11 the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs found his claim to be a conscientious objector genuine and he was referred to the Home Office Scheme. He refused to co-operate and, as an absolutist, now began a cycle of disobeying orders, being sentenced to a period of hard labour in civilian prisons and on discharge being handed back to the army for the cycle to recommence. From 1916 to 1919, he was courts martialled and sentenced four times and spent more than two years in goal in Winchester, Wormwood Scrubs and Wandsworth.

He was supported in his stand by the No-Conscription Fellowship Dulwich Branch.

Conscientious Objectors still in prison in April 1919 were released under what became known as the “Two Year Rule”, whereby all prisoners convicted of army offences would be released if they had served two years or more. Cyril was finally released in April 1919 and as with all others in his situation he was dishonourably discharged and told he faced another two years in prison if he tried to sign up again.

After the First World War
As a conscientious objector who had been courts martialled and imprisoned Cyril would not have been allowed vote for five years from the end of the war.

Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds, Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors
Lewisham Borough News 17 March, 1916
Kentish Mercury on May 19, 1916
Dulwich N-C.F What are Conscientious Objectors? July 1917 in the Cumbria Archive Centre ref:D/Mar/4/97

Note Herbert Henry's biography for details of possible confusion over history of this families conscientious objection

Ann O'Brien, Volunteer at Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre, May 2014, revised July 2015

This wiki is still being developed and subject to change. Please bear with us until it is completed. If you have any suggestions for improvements or inclusions please let us know. Click here to contact us


by Local History and Archives Centre, Lewisham and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License