Conscription - Opinions of a Soldier

The Waterford News - 24th of September 1915, Page 5 (Last Edition)

Conscription - Opinions of a Soldier
Courtesy of The Waterford News

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Opinions of a Soldier

A Royal Fusilier -- a Waterfordman -- sends us the following letter. He says he is a regular reader of "Waterford News" He adds that he is glad to learn that his fellow-citizens are not slackers.
Dear Sir -- As the question of conscription is in the public mind so much just now perhaps the opinions of some armymen on the subject may interest your readers. The opinions of many officers and N.C.O.'s is that conscription should only be resorted to when the voluntary principle has been proved a failure. As is so often stated - a volunteer is worth a dozen pressed men.
The vigour and dash of our soldiers is not equalled by the fighting men of a conscript army in other countries Those in favour of conscription argue that many thousands of the men of our new armies are morally conscripts. No doubt a great deal of moral persuasion had to be used to get some to join. At the same time it would be infamous to state that all are conscripts. There are thousands of young men in our new armies that cheerfully resigned prospects, position and ambition so that they could play the manly part for their country’s sake. The statement can be verified by visiting any camp or by reading the letters from soldiers at the front in the newspapers. Here in my camp are to be found men of all classes and colours-Canadians, Australians, English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh and coloured men from Jamaica. There is absolutely no class prejudice here. The professional musician sleeps alongside the coal miner from Staffordshire and the clerk is bed-pal to the farm labourer. Lord Kitchener has stated recently that the number of recruits coming forward lately is very low. I believe if the Government will tell the Empire exactly the position we are now in, and in addition threaten that a Conscription Act will be put, in operation after a certain date if the recruiting figures do not show a great improvement, then we will get all the men we require, and many more in addition the Government might also hint that the pay of a conscript soldier will be only twopence per day, with one-third the amount of the present allowance to dependants. If that will not fetch the slackers send out the press gangs. The principal objection experienced soldiers have against conscription is that a conscript army would mean a very badly disciplined one. A pressed man will only act when he is compelled to do so. Therefore the obvious conclusion is that the longer the longer the voluntary system works the better it will be for the country. However if all else fails then let us resort to conscription, but let us hope that it will never be necessary to do so. Every man that is worthy of the name should deem it his duty and an honour to take up arms in defence of his country and her liberty.
"A Royal Fusilier"

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