In October 2018 my third book on the cultural history of twentieth-century warfare was published. Titled Opposition to the Second World War: Conscience, Resistance and Service in Britain, 1939-45 the book examines the various anti-war movements which gained great traction during the 1930s. Some, like the League of Nations Union, called for managed arms reduction and the maintenance of international peace via the use of sanctions and, as a last resort, military intervention. Others such as the Peace Pledge Union advocated a total renunciation of war in all its forms. As well as these campaigning organisations, the political and religious opposition to the prospect of another war is studied, particularly the struggle within the Labour Party between its `accidental’ leader, George Lansbury, and politicians such as Ernest Bevin who were keen to see Britain embark on a rearmament programme to counter the growing fascist threat from the continent.
Once the war began, much pacifist sentiment melted away, with only 0.6% of those eligible claiming a conscientious objection by the summer of 1940. However, a core group of MPs, formed into the Parliamentary Peace Aims Group, continued to challenge the government over the conduct of various aspects of the war. In addition, many individuals did consider that either non-military war service, or in exceptional cases a complete renunciation of any activity which may have been considered to be supporting the war, was necessary.
Finally, the book traces the emergence of a significant post-war pacifist movement, focussed mainly on opposition to nuclear weapons, from the embers of the anti-war movements of the Second World War.
My second book, Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War is available to order now. Featuring twenty case studies, from across the denominational spectrum, many are based on original interviews with people who lived through the war, and demonstrate the myriad ways in which the Christian faith could be commissioned to understand the issues of global warfare.
My first book, Fight the Good Fight, Voices of Faith from the First World War was published in 2015 to critical acclaim. It includes a foreword by the widely-respected MP for Barnsley Central, Dan Jarvis, Labour’s Spokesman on First World War Commemoration.
Professor Michael Snape, University of Durham
‘This is a valuable and varied collection that illustrates the resilience of religious faith in the midst of a conflict that is generally seen as speeding its demise. Amidst the ongoing centenary, John Broom has performed an important service in helping us to change this mistaken perspective.’
Jacqueline Wadsworth, author and historian
Broom’s book tells the inspiring stories of a number of very different characters who used their Christian faith to cope with their experiences of the First World War. Each story is a compelling one …
Fight the Good Fight is an extremely readable book, excellently researched, well illustrated with 23 plates, and packed with notes and references for anyone who wishes to take study further. It addresses a subject that has been largely overlooked thus far into the the Great War Centenary, namely the importance of Christianity during the conflict
Paul Grimley, Military Historian and Battlefield Tour Guide:
John Broom’s book explains the aspect of religion during the first world war, in short stories about people who gained, advanced or lost their religious beliefs during that conflict. It is easy to read and understand, and provides a balanced view of the subject in that era. An excellent and thought provoking book, well worth the read.
In April 2016, I was invited to give a talk at the Ewden at War commemoration day. Focussing initially on the evidence of Christianity on the Bolsterstone Village war memorial, and the CWGC gravestones in the village cemetery, I then moved on to investigate the lives of Nurse Edith Cavell and Captain Noel Chavasse, VC and Bar, RAMC.
On October 1st 2016 I shall be speaking at the Experience Barnsley Museum as part of their Somme Centenary commemorations. The theme will be Faith Matters: Christianity on the Somme, and will feature local examples of how faith was a mediating factor of people’s experience of the Battle of the Somme.
A portion of the research on the Bible Society First World War microsite was undertaken by me through 2013 and 2014. In particular the case studies of John Reith, Maude Royden, Edith Gell, Martin Niemoller, Lilian Hayman, Edith Cavell, Howard Marten and Bert Brocklesby, as well some of the research behind the Ledbury War Memorial were derived from my research.
One of the fascinating stories I have followed up concerns the Pope family of Dorset. Here I am on BBC Radio Dorset being interviewed about the story in October 2014.