The martyrs of Ripa
This 1980 ‘Spectrum’ radio documentary examines the treatment of a group of conscientious objectors who refused to take part in national military training. The 13 young men were held on Ripapa (also known as Ripa) Island, in Lyttelton Harbour near Christchurch, for some months during 1913. Their treatment was sometimes harsh, and when their case was made public they were dubbed by the press ‘The martyrs of Ripa’.
A matter of principle
Duncan McCormack was a working-class socialist. At the outbreak of World War I, he determined that he would not participate in what he later called a “fight to redistribute the spoils of colonialism.” When conscription was introduced, he ignored his call-up papers and was eventually arrested by the military police. Here he describes the cycle of military camp, court martial, prison and hard labour which conscientious objectors were subjected to for the remaining duration of the war and beyond. As his second prison sentence was for two years, he was kept in prison even after the war ended.
Pacifism on the home front
In this excerpt, Millicent Baxter recalls her conversion to pacifism during World War I as a result of reading a letter written by her future husband, the pacifist objector Archibald Baxter. Millicent had not then met Archibald, but the letter to his parents, published in the newspaper Truth, moved her to investigate his pacifist viewpoint. In the face of popular patriotism, she adopted those views for herself.
Turning boys into soldiers
Compulsory military training was established in New Zealand in 1909, and by 1912 all boys aged 14 and over were required to undertake military drills as Senior Cadets. From the age of 18 to 21 they were required to serve in the Territorial Forces. In the process boys were turned into soldiers, since the Territorials formed the recruiting basis of the NZ Expeditionary Force.
This film shows just how young this element of the Expeditionary Force was. Some very youthful-looking members of the Canterbury Territorials, and possibly Cadets as well, are seen marching into Christchurch around 1914.