About 3,400 conscientious objectors accepted call-up into the Non-Combatant Corps, which the press dubbed the No Courage Corps, or the Royal Army Medical Corps. • Other men, who regarded themselves as absolutists or alternativists, who were forcibly enlisted were often bullied, deprived of basic rights, and imprisoned if they refused to obey orders. • Over 6000 conscientious objectors were arrested; Most were court-martialled - some were sentenced to death but had their sentences commuted before being sent to prison. • Other conscientious objectors were sent to work in camps, set up by the Home Office, where they were forced to make fertiliser from dead animals or do back-breaking manual labour for non-existent projects.
The Dyce (Aberdeen) Military Camp • The first settlement was opened in early 1916 at Dyce near Aberdeen. • There, for ten hours every day except Sunday, 250 men were expected to move stones in barrows from the mines to the crushing machines and then to the roads where they were needed for repairs. • Men, thin and sickly after months of malnutrition and insufficient exercise in prison, returned after exhausting days in the mines to dilapidated tents, thrown out by the army as unusable. • Soon, as autumn arrived, the settlement turned into a field of mud; clothes and blankets wet from the persistent rain, never dried.
On 8 September 1916 a conscientious objector, Walter Roberts, died of pneumonia at the camp. • Roberts was the first of 73 conscientious objectors across the UK to lose their lives as a result of their treatment. • MP Ramsay MacDonald visited the camp and declared it a ‘complete disgrace’. • Following public concern by October 1916 the camp was closed. • Many of the men returned to prison, others went to camps elsewhere.