cowardsthe true story of the men who refused to fight

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A sealed train speeds through the night around the outskirts of wartime London. As it passes through a dimly-lit station without stopping, a hastily-written note is thrown out on to the platform. What is happening to the men on board? Why do they have to resort to such a desperate method of contacting their loved ones?

This is the story of Howard Marten and Alfred Evans, two young men who refused to join the army in the First World War. They suffered abuse, imprisonment and physical punishment, because they believed it was wrong to kill. Sent to the front line in France, they were told to obey military command, or face the firing squad.

Still they refused, until finally, the death sentence was passed against them…

A compelling true story of conscientious objectors in World War I.

First published in 2003, now reissued and only available here.


Below is a short audio clip; Alfred Evans, one of the two men whose stories are told in the book, on hearing the news that he was to be shot for his absolute adherence to conscientious objection.

...it has clear relevance to the debate raging amongst Britain's young people about the nature of war...a fascinating and accessible piece of social and military history.
The Guardian
Sedgwick allows events their true depth and immediacy by refusing to moralise from hindsight.
The Daily Telegraph