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On being a conscientious objector to military service in 1959

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 08 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:557
  1. Peter Bruggen, retired consultant psychiatrist (
  1. London

    When I was 25 I was interviewed for a paediatric house officer post. Towards the end I was asked if I had anything to add. I said that I was registered provisionally as a conscientious objector and that the tribunal might soon be considering my case. While waiting with the other candidates, I was called back to be asked if I was a member of the Society of Friends. I said that I was not, but that I was prepared to explain my position. They did not want my explanation. Another candidate was offered the post.

    I had a few weeks of my obstetrics job to run, but the thought of being out of work sent me into panic. The next morning one of the paediatric consultants called me: the appointed candidate had withdrawn, so did I want the post? They accepted the uncertainties of my future and I took the job.

    I feared having to speak of my position to my medical seniors

    Two months later in …

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