FIELD PUNISHMENT NO.1’ – a new movie that links to our research.
Disobedience and Rebellion of Soldiers and the Treatment of Conscientious Objectors in the First World War in France and New Zealand – a comparative historical study. La désobéissance et la rébellion des soldats et le traitement des objecteurs de conscience dans la Première Guerre mondiale en France et en Nouvelle-Zélande - une étude historique comparée.
As part of the research partnership between Baradene College of the Sacred Heart in Auckland and students from the Lycée Professionnel Gay-Lussac, Chauny, France we are looking at the fourteen conscientious objectors who were sent to the Western Front during the First World War. Once in France and Belgium they were subjected to punishments in order to break their will to resist conscription. One of the punishments they were given was called Field Punishment No.1 (Known to soldiers as ‘the Crucifixion’.)
A movie called ‘FIELD PUNISHMENT NO.1’ screens for the first time on TVOne on Tuesday 22nd April (that's Easter Tuesday).
The movie has been made by a New Zealand production company called Lippy Pictures.
On their website they have a ‘trailer’ video clip for the movie which is interesting to watch.
The website of Lippy Pictures describes the film as follows;
FIELD PUNISHMENT NO.1
The First World War gave rise to New Zealand’s first “conscientious objectors”, men who stood out against the jingoism of the day and declared their opposition to a war fought thousands of miles away and for which New Zealand men were conscripted, many against their will.
This is the story of the fourteen of those men who were arrested and shipped off to war against their will, where on the battlefields and military prisons of Britain and France they were stigmatised and tortured in an attempt to break their spirit. New Zealand’s most famous conscientious objector Archibald Baxter, father of James K. Baxter, was one of these men.
We follow the conchies' journey from their initial proud stance when first arrested, through their time spent in prisons, punishment camps, an asylum for the insane and at the Front Line in France, until the end of the war heralds their return to New Zealand. But not all of the fourteen returned home.
Made with the assistance of TVNZ and NZOA’s Platinum Fund.
International distribution by Content Media Corp.
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Last modified on Monday, 14 April 2014 16:40
Like you, I'm looking forward to watching the documentary 'Number One Field Punishment' this Tuesday at 8.30 on One. I'm also working on a project associated with conscientious objection. With a friend in France I've begun to translate into French the book
'We Will Not Cease' by Archibald Baxter, which I'm sure you will be using as one of your resources. Interestingly, I found out about the book from my friend in France who was researching conscientious objection during World War One. He discovered that Baxter's book was published in the same year as a short work by the famous author Jean Giono, called 'Recherche de la Pureté' which is a pacifist's account of his participation in WW1. It very graphically describes the horror of the war experience and its futility. For him a pacifist needs more courage than a soldier because he is always vilified as a coward and is forced to defend his opinion alone. Although conscientious objection was not an option for him in France, he rendered his gun useless so that he wouldn't have to kill anyone. He was at all times acutely conscious of the similarity of the situation shared by Germans and Allies and couldn't see them as the enemy. It would be very difficult to translate into convincing English because the style is so rhetorical, whereas the opposite problem exists with Baxter's work. The style is quite chatty and matter-of-fact.
I have bought the Memoirs of Millicent Baxter, as I was interested to read how Archie fared after his ordeal. I've also tracked down a couple of poems James K. wrote about his father whom he clearly venerated. I hadn't been aware of how devout a Catholic James K. was, and his parents both converted to Catholicism in late middle age. Archie had always been a believer but he didn't adhere to an organised faith at the time of WW1 so he had no legitimate basis for his objection.