Rose, Sydney William

Dates
He was born in East Grinstead and was 25 in 1916.

Address
134, Stanstead Road, Forest Hill

Sydney William Rose worked as a wholesale drapery traveler. Living at the same address was his brother Cecil Raymond Rose who was also a conscientious objector.

Sydney was a Calvinistic Baptist and a member of the Dulwich Branch of the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Independent Labour Party.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War
His appearance before the Military Service Tribunal, together with Cecil, was reported in the Lewisham Borough News on March 17, 1916. He told the Tribunal that he was a Calvinistic Baptist who had worked for a firm selling ladies blouses but was now unemployed. The press reported that he told the Tribunal that it was supposed to suit every case and that his request for absolute exemption was refused. Sydney's appearance at the police magistrates court, again with Cecil, was reported in the Kentish Mercury on June 16, 1916. Captain W. J Elvy said that their appeal had been disallowed and that 19 May, the very day a letter calling them to permanent military service was sent they "at once went away on their cycles, leaving no address, giving the police a considerable amount of trouble". The Magistrate Mr. Symmons said that he would consider the matter when fixing penalties, but noted that they had been away on a short holiday on their bicycles and said " it occurred to me this was a quite suitable time to take such a holiday and I hope they enjoyed it", he refused them bail and remanded them for seven days so they might consult their lawyer.

Sydney was taken under armed guard to be conscripted into the 11th London Regiment and court martialled at Hurdcott Camp in Salisbury on 30 June, 1916 for refusing to obey orders. He was sentenced to 112 days in prison. At the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs on 14 August he was held to be a genuine conscientious objector and was referred to the Home Office Scheme. Like Cecil, he was sent to the Dyce workcamp in Aberdeen where, after two months, they both rejected and were in turn rejected by the scheme.

Prison experiences
He was now an absolutist believing that any alternative service supported the war effort and conscription as well. He was returned to the 9th London Regiment and was again court-martialled, this time at Fovant Camp on 6 November, 1916 where he was sentenced to two years hard labour commuted to six months. By January 1919 he had served four sentences and more than two years in prison at Winchester, Wormwood Scrubs and Wandsworth.

He was supported in his stand by the No-Conscription Fellowship, Dulwich Branch and also by the Independent Labour Party.

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. Sidney was finally released on 8 April, 1919 and as with all others in his situation he was dishonourably discharged and told that 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 court-martialled and imprisoned Sidney would not have been allowed vote for five years from the end of the war. Kelly's post office directory shows him living again at 134 Stanstead Road in 1920. His brother Cecil was also living there, and this is also the address given for Edward Harby on his release from prison.

Source
Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds, Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors
Lewisham Borough News March 17, 1916
Kentish Mercury June 16 , 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

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