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Gerald Whitehead

Gerald Whitehead

Gerald Whitehead

Governors Letter

Governors Letter

Gerald Whitehead

(Original Text provided by Gerald's wife, Dulce Whitehead )

Gerald Whitehead was, in his later life, a valued and very active member of Chelmsford Quaker Meeting. He died in November 2000 at the age of 87.

In May 1940 Gerald, an assistant Master at Marlborough Grammar School, applied to the Tribunal in Marlborough to be registered as a Conscientious Objector. Part of his statement ran: 'Nor am I willing to acquiesce in any form of military or combatant service by undertaking duties which may indirectly be of assistance, - however small, - in the prosecution of the war and so in bringing death, mutilation and misery on any of my fellow men. I do not accept one standard of morality for peace-time and another for war-time'.

Gerald was fortunate in having respected members of the community testify to his pacifist beliefs, describing them as well-reasoned and steadfastly held for many years. His father also wrote to the Tribunal making it clear that while he and Gerald's two younger brothers disagreed with his son's views on the war, they had never doubted his integrity. He explained that while Gerald was President of the Union at University he had been, with others, instrumental in forming a well supported anti-war association.

In September 1940 the Tribunal placed Gerald on the Register of Conscientious Objectors whereupon he was asked to resign from his teaching post, without pay, for the duration of the war.

On the advice of a sympathetic National Union of Teachers he applied to be put on the Register of Displaced Teachers. After several months of unemployment he was offered a post at a Quaker preparatory school where he remained until 1949, having declined an offer to return to his previous post in 1944.

Although Gerald did not, as many Friends did, suffer imprisonment, - only the possibility of it -, or danger to his life, he did suffer from ostracism and was rejected by one of his brothers, in the RAF, who refused to invite him to his wedding. They were not to meet for 30 years, when a reconciliation took place. His younger brother, a Major in the army, stood by him and they remained good friends for life.