The outbreak of war in 1914 split the socialist movement right across Europe and brought a bloody halt to the hopes and dreams of the previous years. Socialists like Robert Blatchford, the Clarion editor, and Harry Hyndman, founder of the Social Democratic Federation, stepped onto recruiting platforms for the British Army, while others, like Keir Hardy, remained opposed. The Bolton socialists were equally split. Close votes were recorded at Wood Street meetings, for and against the war.
The campaign for women's suffrage followed a similar pattern.
Even the Pankhurst family were split - Emmeline and Christobel strongly for, Sylvia just as strongly against.
Alice Foley remembered: " 'poor Belgium' was brandished like a flaming torch to laggards, and silly women proffered white feathers to embarrassed boys." (Alice Foley; A Bolton Childhood).
In Bolton Sarah Reddish opposed it from the beginning. She took part in the Women's Peace Crusade and when conscription was introduced in 1916, supported the 'No Conscription Fellowship'. At the club, she eventually managed to carry the day - in 1916 members voted to leave the British Socialist Party and reverted once again to being the Bolton Socialist Party. They immediately passed a resolution demanding the release of and began supporting the work of the No Conscription Fellowship.