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 due to 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 during the war 

A variety of remarkable documents belonging to a British conscientious objector who was 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 due to being a Quaker, have 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 2nd Armoured Division based in Algeria.

Documents belonging to British contentious objector William ‘Bill’ Spray during the Second World War have 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

He was awarded the Croix De Guerre, the highest 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 take place on July 8 and the collection is expected 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 as the leader of a group of ambulances. 

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

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

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 up to the Friends Ambulance Unit to support Allied soliders during 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 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

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

He kept a diary during the war and also took several photos of his experiences on the frontline, including an image of the grave of fellow medic Dave Frazer, who died trying 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 passing away in the 1980s.  

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