Saturday, 26 March 2016

Biggleswade Soldier's Views on Rifles and Conscientious Objectors

Biggleswade Post Office c.1910-1920 [Z1306/16/32/1]

Sunday 26th March 1916: Rifleman Bert Tasker of the Post Office Rifles [1], a former employee of the Biggleswade Post Office, has written a letter home in which he explains the intricacies of a rifle and expresses his less-than-flattering views of conscientious objects:
“I am now on my last course of musketry, and expect to go out at the end of April. Musketry is very interesting if one has become a real soldier and wishes to learn everything there is to know about a rifle. There are over 100 parts to our rifle, so you see it wants some memory to remember them all. The lads in our hut have just had a good laugh at some of the excuses that the ‘conscientious objectors’ have made in different parts of the country. What do you think of them? I don’t know whether Biggleswade contains any but my opinion of such people is that they are traitors to their religion as well as to their country. For a man to say he would not defend his own mother and loved ones from the Huns if England had been in the position of Belgium is absolute cowardice and rot. No man who has any love at all for his own flesh and blood could stand idle and see an enemy such as the Germans come into the country without taking up arms against them. I think I should be quite right in saying that no Englishman loves war: I haven’t met a single soldier yet who enlisted just for the fun of having a season at ‘man shooting,’ but thank God there are some millions of men who believe in taking up arms to protect their homes and their loved ones.”
Source: Bedfordshire Times, 24th March 1916

[1] Second Lieutenant Herbert Edwin Tasker, of the 6th Battalion, London Regiment (City of London Rifles), was killed on 22 August 1918, aged 24, while attached to the 19th Battalion.

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