Brighton Friends’ Meeting House in Ship Street is hosting a major exhibition of “Quaker Service in a Time of War”, commemorating the many local Quakers who served their country as Conscientious Objectors during the 1914-18 World War.
Local Quakers such as Leonard Devereux, who objected to military service on religious and conscientious grounds, had to face an often hostile Tribunal to be allowed to serve in other ways.
Leonard joined the Friends Ambulance Unit from 1915, and after first aid and ambulance training served for the rest of the War on ambulance trains, keeping a vivid diary of his experiences.
Leonard lived in Prestonville Road, worked as a solicitor’s clerk and was involved with the Brighton Quakers Adult School in Ship Street before the War. The Devereux family, like many others, had strong connections to Brighton Quaker Meeting, and Leonard’s daughters were both married in the Meeting House.
Speaking ahead of the publication of the extracts today, she said:
The National Archives' digitised First World War unit diaries will allow us to hear the voices of those that sacrificed their lives and is even more poignant now there are no living veterans who can speak directly about the events of the war.
This new online vehicle gives a very public voice to some of these soldiers, through which we will be able to hear their thoughts and feelings.
The online publication of thousands of pages of diary entries from the First World War will allow "allows people across the world to discover daily activities, stories and battles of each unit for themselves", author and military records specialist William Spencer said.