Petrides, Neville Michael

He was born in Sydenham and was 32 in 1917

58, West Hill, Sydenham

Neville Michael Petrides was a traveler and salesman and was a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War
His appearance before the Military Service Tribunal was reported in the Lewisham Borough News of March 17, 1916. He said "the Military Services Act constitutes an invasion of individual liberty", and he appealed on business and conscientious grounds. When the Chairman asked if he objected on religious grounds he said only on ethical grounds. Alderman Jackson then expressed the opinion that this was not a conscientious objection at all, and his claim was disallowed on all grounds.

His arrest as an absentee was reported on 26 January, 1917. He was taken under guard and conscripted into the 22nd London Regiment and first court-martialled in Winchester on 2 February when he was sentenced to one year's hard labour.

Prison experiences

He was an absolutist believing that any alternative service supported the war effort and conscription as well. At the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs on 12 April, 1917 he refused to accept the Home Office Scheme's conditions. As an absolutist, he 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. Neville's last court-martial took place in Sittingbourne on 12 February, 1919. By now he was with the 3rd Batallion the Queens Regiment, and he was sentenced to two years hard labour in Maidstone Prison. He was discharged from there by order of the War Office on the 8 April 1919, by then he had spent almost two years in gaol in Wormwood Scrubs and Winchester and Maidstone. He was recorded on Maidstone Prison's Quaker nominal register on February 18, 1919. Some absolutist COs who were not religious sought the comfort of attending meetings led by Quaker Prison Chaplains. There is no record of his having been accepted into the Society of Friends during or after the war.

Neville was supported in his stand by the No-Conscription Fellowship.

After the First World War
His address is given as 28, Balmoral Road, Willesden Green. As a conscientious objector who had been court-martialled and imprisoned Neville 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 March 17, 1916

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

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