Duncan McCormack, conscientious objector

Duncan McCormack, conscientious objector

Scotsman Duncan McCormack (1893-1988) was one of the 286 conscientious objectors imprisoned for refusing military service during the First World War. In 1979 he shared his experiences with Radio New Zealand interviewer Alwyn Owen for the Spectrum programme.

McCormack emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1913. He had joined the socialist movement by the time conscription was introduced in 1916, and decided that he would refuse to serve if called up. His name came up in the 6th ballot in April 1917, and he was arrested in Auckland in September after ignoring his calling up notice.

He was transferred to Trentham Camp shortly after his arrest, where he refused to accept his kit and was sentenced to an initial 28 days imprisonment. He refused his kit once again on release, and was sentenced to 11 months imprisonment. He was sentenced to a further two years on his release in June 1918, and was finally released from prison on 30 August 1919.  

In his interview, McCormack outlines his motivations for resistance and the various phases of his sentencing and imprisonment. 

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