Alice Wheeldon, war heroine

Janine Kitson

Peace activist Alice Wheeldon

Speaker Chloë Mason recently presented a fascinating talk at Federation’s Peace, Environment and International Special Interest Group about a notorious 1917 witch-hunt during World War I.

Alice Wheeldon (1866–1919), an anti-war activist, was imprisoned on a false charge that she was going to assassinate Lloyd George, the British prime minister of the time. Her trial was World War I’s “first big show trial”, published in newspapers around the Empire, including Australia, to suppress dissent and opposition to the war.

Chloë Mason, who is Alice Wheeldon’s great-granddaughter, is now working with English barristers to lodge a case for review of the convictions against the peace campaigner.

The Victorian History Teachers’ Association has produced an excellent, innovative and empathic history resource package on World War I called "The War to End All Wars: Honouring the Dead by Learning the Lessons". These were commissioned by the Medical Association for Prevention of War.

Other resources recommended are the books by Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918 (2011) and Sheila Rowbotham’s Friends of Alice Wheeldon, The Anti-War Activist Accused of Plotting to Kill Lloyd George. Honest History also has excellent resources on its website.

Federation’s Peace, Environment and International Special Interest Group meets the Monday following Council (next meetings October 26 and November 23) at Teachers Federation House, Mary Street, Surry Hills from 4.30–6pm. All members are welcome.

Janine Kitson is a casual teacher.