Armageddon or Calvary: The Conscientious Objectors of New Zealand and "The Process of Their Conversion"
The following statement concerning a New Zealand incident was printed in "Truth" newspaper during July, 1918:—
On the morning of Thursday, June 27, at six o'clock, a raid by the military and civil police was made on this scrub-cutting camp in the following manner: As I was about one of the first men to rise from my tent, after the gong had been sounded for breakfast, for the purpose of having the usual morning's wash, I was accosted by a man in civilian clothes, who was armed with a rifle, and gave the order to "Stand, or I'll shoot." Thinking it merely a joke on the part of one of my fellow-workers, I still proceeded, towel over my arm, towards the creek, a distance of about half a chain from the tent. I had only page 178got about halfway when I was suddenly struck down from behind with a baton, inflicting a wound an inch long on the crown of my head. While I was down I was again struck several times with the same weapon, and afterwards kicked on the thigh, which also shows two ugly bruises. Naturally, the brutal treatment I was receiving caused me to call for help, and, on one or two men coming out of their tents, they were met with a cry of "You will be all treated alike," this coming from another man, also in civilian clothes, who, at the same time, brandished a revolver in a threatening manner. One of my fellow-workers then asked what was the matter, and why they were attacking me. It was only then that they announced who they were, and their object for being there. I then asked: "Why did you not let me know who you are?" He then said to me: "You are a deserter." By this time I was handcuffed and then marched to the mess galley, where most of the other men had been marched. On the way to the mess galley they told me that I could consider myself a very lucky; man for not being shot, as they had orders to shoot if anyone resisted. This I considered was very poor consolation for the brutal treatment I had received. When I arrived in the mess galley covered with blood—face, neck, head and clothes—I was still handcuffed. The cook bathed my face, and it was only after the cook had asked several times of one of the officers to take the handcuffs off, in order that I might change my saturated blood-stained clothes, that they were removed. The result of the brutal attack naturally caused me severe pain and sleepless nights, not mentioning the loss of time and money through not being in a fit condition to work, In addition. I also lost my speech for one day, caused through calling for assistance, and could only make myself understood in a very low whisper. There was absolutely no attempt to evade or molest any of the officers, neither before nor after they announced their calling and their object. If such unnecessary and brutal conduct is adopted in every instance when a raid is being made, it is a slur on the traditional "British Fair Play and Justice." Another matter worth mentioning is the language used, one man being called a —— without any provocation, by a military policeman, who, at the same time, presented a fixed bayonet, such language being no credit to any man wearing the King's uniform. This camp life is hard and strenuous enough, as anyone who has ever tried it knows, and surely because I am working in the back-blocks that is no reason why any officer should take advantage of a man's position to treat him like a wild dog. The work done here is extremely valuable to the country, and it is time some people recognised the fact, instead of sneering at the man who sacrifices all comforts to work as he does for an honest living. In conclusion, it may be stated that every man in this camp had his military papers (self in particular classed C2), or gave a satisfactory explanation of himself, which should prove to you that none of the men had anything to fear from a raid from the page 179military officers. I hope that there will be a full inquiry made into the matter herein referred to and some compensation granted to me for the personal injury I received, from the effects of which I am still suffering, and the loss of time from work.
Vouching for the truth of the above statement are the following signatures:Ernest Keenan, George Bush, Harry McNae, K. Waltanen, F. Nelson, F. McClure, Frank Anson, Victor Manninen, S. Eriksen, William Lyndhurst, A. J. Collier, J. Norman.