The amazing story of a conscientious objector honoured for his bravery in Second World War

The pacifist Quaker honoured for his bravery in World War Two: Amazing story of conscientious objector who won French gallantry honour for rescuing injured men under heavy German fire

  • Documents of a British conscientious objector in World War Two were found
  • William ‘Bill’ Spray refused to fight in the war as a result of being a Quaker
  • Instead, he worked as a medic in the Friends Ambulance Unit in North Africa 
  • The collection includes photographs, documents and a diary from the war
  • Mr Spray received the Croix De Guerre medal for bravery through the war 

A variety of remarkable documents owned by a British conscientious objector who was simply honoured by the French during the Second World War has been discovered.

The diary, documents and photos of William ‘Bill’ Spray, who refused to fight in World War Two as a result of being a Quaker, have now been brought to light after being held for decades by a private collector.

Instead of going into battle as a solider, Mr Spray was stationed with the Friends Ambulance Unit in 1943, and aided troops in the French second Armoured Division based in Algeria.

Documents belonging to British contentious objector William ‘Bill’ Spray through the Second World War have now been discovered after several decades in the hands of a private collector 

The collection will be sold by C&T Auctions on JUly 8 and is expected to cost around £600

The collection will soon be sold by C&T Auctions on JUly 8 and is expected to cost around £600

He was awarded the Croix De Guerre, the best and most prestigious French military honour, for bravery in rescuing injured soliders under heavy German fire. 

The sale of the archive, arranged by by C&T Auctions will need place on July 8 and the collection is likely to cost around £600. 

C & T Auctions specialist Tim Harper said: ‘This is a probably unique collection belonging to a conscientious objector who served with the Friends Ambulance Unit because the leader of a group of ambulances. 

‘No one could ever question his bravery as on numerous occasions that he rescued wounded men under fire. 

‘It is a remarkable story and an archive of considerable historic interest.’

Mr Spray refused to fight during the war due to being a Quaker but was assigned to the Friends Ambulance Unit where he acted as a medic for troops stationed in North Africa

Mr Spray refused to fight through the war as a result of being a Quaker but was assigned to the Friends Ambulance Unit where he acted as a medic for troops stationed in North Africa 

The Cambridge graduate kept a diary (pictured) of his stories during the war. He was presented with the Croix De Guerre, the highest French miltary honour for bravery in saving hurt soldiers under heavy German fire

The Cambridge graduate kept a diary (pictured) of his stories through the war. He was offered the Croix De Guerre, the best French miltary honour for bravery in saving hurt soldiers under heavy German fire

Mr Spray was one of 60,000 men who registered as conscientious objectors during World War Two, with many choosing to work in bomb disposal factories, mines and farms in wartime Britain. 

Around 5,500 objectors were arrested and branded as cowards due to their refusal to fight.

After training as a paramedic and spending two years working in a hospital, Mr Spray was called around the Friends Ambulance Unit to support Allied soliders through the war.

Mr Spray kept other documents and photographs, including the grave of fellow medic David Frazer (top row, second right), who died trying to save a soldier in Strasbourg in February 1945

Mr Spray kept other documents and photographs, including the grave of fellow medic David Frazer (top row, 2nd right), who died wanting to save a soldier in Strasbourg in February 1945

Mr Spray returned to England in 1944 in time for D-Day and worked as a headmaster of school in Berkshire before passing away in the 1980s

Mr Spray returned to England in 1944 in time for D-Day and worked as a headmaster of school in Berkshire before loss of life in the 1980s

The Cambridge graduate was also present at Normandy in 1944, while that he also light emitting diode a team of medics in Morocco and Algeria. 

He kept a diary through the war as well as took a few photos of his experiences on the frontline, including an image of the grave of fellow medic Dave Frazer, who died wanting to move a casualty under fire in Strasbourg in February 1945.

After returning to England in May 1944 ahead of D-Day, he became headmaster of the Quaker Leighton Park School in Berskhire before loss of life in the 1980s.  

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