Thomas Corder Pettifor Catchpool (15 July 1883, Leicester, England -- 16 September 1952, Monte Rosa, Switzerland) was before World War I an engineer and, after it, a relief worker, secretary for the Friends International Centre in Berlin, and peace worker. Educated in schools in Leicester and later at Sidcot Friends' School in Winscombe, Somerset, and at Bootham School in York, he apprenticed and worked as an engineer until World War I. He served in the Friends Ambulance Unit for 18 months, but, in May, 1916, when the Compulsory Military Service Act was passed, he resigned from the F.A.U. in protest. Refusing any alternative service, Catchpool served slightly more than two years in prison, during which his health was somewhat undermined. In 1918, he published On Two Fronts: Letters of a Conscientious Objector, a memoir about his experiences in the war and in prison. After his release in April 1919, he went to Berlin to perform reconciliation work with the Friends War Victims Relief Committee. There, Catchpool met his wife-to-be, Gwen Southall, who had nursed him from pneumonia. In 1931, the entire family--now with four children--moved to Berlin where the Friends Service Council had invited him to serve as the secretary of the Quaker Centre there. Soon the center was absorbed into the Friends International Centre, representing the German Society of Friends and the Service Councils of British and American Friends. Catchpool believed his tasks should include extending advice and relief to pacifists and to those experiencing persecution and political difficulties.
With Hitler's coming into power, Catchpool's assistance to those adversely affected by his regime--including Jews and French civilians--came under suspicion by the Gestapo. In 1933 his house was searched and he was arrested, interrogated and released. After a year, the Gestapo dropped its case against him. In 1936, the term of service at the Friends International Centre over, Catchpool's family returned to England to live in Hampstead, near London. The Catchpool home was open to visitors, especially Germans, and Corder traveled often to the continent, working as an interpreter for English peace efforts and as a relief worker for Germans in Czechoslovakia and Lithuania. He continued his efforts in reconciliation even after the war began in Sept. 1939. During the war he supported conscientious objectors and volunteered for hospital duty; in 1941 he became involved with the creation of the Bombing Restriction Committee and the Peace Pledge Union.
In 1946, Catchpool was finally able to return for a time to Germany to visit friends and to perform relief work. In 1947, he and his wife Gwen were invited by the Friends Relief Service to run the Rest Home at Bad Pyrmont in Germany. Later, in 1950 and 1951, in the midst of extensive travels, they represented the British Friends Service Committee in Berlin, now surrounded by the Russian zone. Corder Catchpool never ceased his activities in various peace societies. In 1952, Catchpool died as a result of a fall while mountain-climbing in Switzerland.