Peppercorn, Oswald

He was born in Lewisham and was 31 in 1916.

34, Dartmouth Row, Blackheath

Oswald Peppercorn was an opera singer, he was single and lived with his father Walter James and three sisters. He was a member of the Dulwich Branch of the No-Conscription Fellowship.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War:
The Lewisham Borough News April 17, 1916 reported that he was represented at the Military Services Tribunal by his father, as he was an opera singer and was currently touring. He said he was "not a Quaker, but his attitude towards war was precisely that of that body and had been for 15 years".

It was reported that he was awarded a Non-combatant Certificate, that he must have rejected as he was conscripted into the 10th Battalion London Regiment. He was court-martialled at Hurdcott, Salisbury on two occasions before his appeal was heard at the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs on 31 August, 1916 where he was accepted as a genuine conscientious objector and referred to the Home Office Scheme.

Prison experiences

He served seven months in the Home Office Scheme but rejected and was rejected by the scheme and was recalled to his regiment on 23 May, 1917. Oswald, 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 Wormwood Scrubs, Exeter and Wandsworth.

He was supported in his stand by membership of 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. Oswald was finally released in April, 1919 and as with all others in his situation he was dishounrably discharged papers and told that faced another two years in prison if he tried to sign up again, proof if it were needed that the military had no sense of humour.

After the First World War
As a conscientious objector who had been court-martialled and imprisoned Oswald, would not have been allowed vote for five years from the end of the war, but the 1922 Electoral Register shows him back living with his father.

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

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

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