Crich Pacifist March

Charles Beresford in his wonderfully researched book “The Bath At War: A Derbyshire Community and the Great War” records how Crich residents responded to pacifists preaching in their village.

Pages 278-279

A clear indication of ordinary Derbyshire people's feelings was shown graphically at nearby Crich on the evening of Saturday 30th June 1917. The previous week leaflets had been distributed saying that a great demonstration would be held there under the auspices of the Derby and District Independent Labour Party. The leaflets had asked : "Is it really necessary to go on? Are we by continuing the war, actually preparing for that world without war, which we all long to see? Are we rather not multiplying evil and planting the seeds of bitterness which can never bear the fruit of peace?"

The reason for selecting Crich as a venue is unknown, but it was a community from whom a large number of men had enlisted voluntarily, some of whom had been killed, wounded or taken prisoner.

After tea at the Mount Tabor Chapel, the large number of delegates repaired to the Market Place and from the beginning it was clear that things were going to be lively. The Derbyshire Times correspondent reported the events:

"A large crowd - several hundreds strong - quickly assembled, and although the first speaker managed to say a few words, he very quickly had to give up the attempt. Tin-cans, grass-ends, etc., were requisitioned by the loyal and patriotic populace, who also vociferously sang patriotic songs, the result being that speaking was utterly impossible. For about two hours the pacifists tried to "convert" the audience, but eventually had to beat an undignified retreat. Several of them retired in the direction of Fritchley, at which place they received a reception, if anything, more warm than at Crich. Amongst the "booty" was a hat which belonged to one of the speakers, which at the time of writing adorned the lamp-post in the centre of the Market Place, the spike on the top of the post having perforated the hat, making it look like a German helmet.

When it is considered what sacrifices the people of the Crich parish have made in connection with the war, it speaks volumes for their pluck and endurance that they so emphatically rejected the apostles of peace- at-any-price."

“The Bath At War A Derbyshire Community and the Great War” by Charles Beresford COUNTRY BOOKS/ASHRIDGE PRESS 2007
ISBN 978 1 901214 91 8

Reproduced with permision