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Tony Flynn

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  1. The following story from February 1919 shows that way back then begging was still a problem, with many of the so called beggars, men who had served for their King and Country and returned home to a “make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in.” as promised by David Lloyd George, sadly not the case. William Wilson, 65 of no fixed abode appeared at Salford Quarter Sessions charged with being, "An incorrigible rogue and begging". P.C Charles of the Manchester City Police told the court that he was present at the City Court in June 1918 when Wilson was convicted of being a "rogue and vagabond - begging" and received a three months prison sentence. Next up to put the boot of authority in was D.C. Ernest Smith who said he was present on November 11th when Wilson was convicted of being a "rogue and vagabond and went to the Salford Sessions, which meant that he had spent three months in prison awaiting trial. Fair play to William Wilson for taking the stand and defending his good name from these alleged slanderous statements from our Boys in Blue. Wilson stated that the description of him as a "rogue and vagabond" was never mentioned in his first trial, also his desperate circumstances led him to beg as he lost his small 27 years income. He could not get regular employment as he was unwell, while a Doctor could relieve him, he could not cure him, only an operation could do that. Wilson then went on this amazing yet bonkers rant, which is printed word for word it's that good. That last out burst brought laughter from the Bench, after the laughter had subsided Mr A.M. Langdon the Salford Recorder, showed that he had no sense of humour by stating. Blimey you have to feel some sympathy for Wilson, if not only for that rousing speech which Clarence Darrow would have been proud of,.... look him up. He probably was a bit of a pest mithering people for money, but at least he seemed to do it in style and he would have made a Preacher of some repute I don't doubt, I would have gone to hear his sermons, I'll bet they were fun though.
  2. Which brings me neatly to a story that I posted last week about the gun toting Salford pub landlady from the Nelson Inn, Ordsall Lane, Salford. I was curious to know why the accused David Simpson got such a lenient sentence for what was a very serious offence. I fearlessly delved into the archives of the Salford City Reporter for 1919 and came across a follow-up story to the court case which shows that Jane Landers was very economical with the truth in the witness box about the events of that fateful day in January. The new case was heard at the Salford Quarter Sessions before The Recorder, Mr A.M.Langdon K.Q. and the Mayor of Salford, Alderman E.Mather with Mr Horrowitz for Simpson and Mr Rycroft for Landers. Initially Jane Landers had told the court that she met David Simpson in the Derby Hotel, had a brief conversation and one drink with him. Mr Horrowitz began his cross examination of Landers and was soon picking holes in her defence. He asked her if she had several glasses of stout with Simpson earlier on in the day whilst sat in her pub, the Nelson Inn, she denied this She was asked if she had gone out to buy fish and chips for Simpson and her sister on the same day, again she denied this. Horrowitz asked her if the brewers dray arrived when Simpson was in the pub, she agreed that the dray did arrive that day but Simpson was not in the pub. She was then asked if a Mrs Bowie and Mrs Waterford were sat in their company at the Derby Hotel and did they not also come back to the Nelson Inn where Mrs Bowie played the piano, again this was denied by Landers. Finally she was asked if that when woken up by the sound of breaking glass in her bedroom door and she shouted out who was there, did Simpson shout out, "Davy" or did she hear, Daddy?", she remained adamant that he said, "Daddy" It's not looking to good for Jane Landers is it?, talk about when in a hole stop digging. Horrowitz then questioned P.C. Gleeson who arrested Simpson and had stated that Simpson was sober when arrested. He then "Suggested" to the P.C. that Simpson was almost incapable with drink, also why was he not given a test at the police station to prove that he was drunk so that he could be charged with that offence also? P.C. Gleeson glumly muttered, "No" to all questions asked of him. David Simpson took the stand looking resplendent in the full Army uniform of a Quartermaster Sergeant of the Royal Scots regiment and told the Bench that he had served for 16 and a half years in the British Army and had fought in the Boer War and in France where he was wounded and discharged as being permanently unfit, adding that he had never been in trouble with the police or the Army in his life. He then said that he had arrived in Salford at 5am from Colchester where he was in a Military Hospital, he went to his married sister's house in Gloucester Street, at 1pm he went for a glass of stout in the Derby Hotel and stayed until 2pm On leaving the pub he met Mrs Bowie and Mrs Waterford and had a chat with them, Jenny Landers came along the road and was asked by Simpson if her name was "Kitty" to which she replied, "No, Jenny". Minutes late she returned and asked him if he would like to go back to her pub, the Nelson Inn for a drink along with her unnamed sister to which he accepted. Whilst there a brewers dray arrived and Jenny Landers said to him, "You must have brought me good luck, the beer has come". After having drank more stout he gave her money to go and buy some fish and chips for the three of them, they all stayed in the pub until 7pm and then went to the Derby Hotel for more drinks. At the Derby Hotel Mrs Bowie and Mrs Waterford joined them and they all drank whisky until closing time then returned to the Nelson Inn where Mrs Bowie gave them a song on the piano, it seems like an early episode of Coronation Street, we are just missing Ena, Martha and Minnie. He then told the Bench that he left the pub about 10pm with Mrs Bowie, Mrs Waterford and the unnamed sister, after that he could only remember vomiting at the police station the rest of the evening was a blank. He had no memory of returning to the pub, how he gained entry, being threatened with a gun or even being arrested, that's some memory loss for such an incident packed evening. Two witnesses including the landlord of the Derby Hotel stated that they had seen Simpson and Jane Landers entering the pub together and being joined by other women. Mr Horrowitz then told the Bench that Simpson was "simply a drunken freak" aman who had been drinking heavily all day and had eaten little food, he had caused no trouble throughout the day, had made no improper suggestions, left the Nelson Inn peacefully and quitely. Also it was suggested that Simpson had climbed over the pub wall, but there was no marks on his clothes or bruises to his hands, it was not denied that Simpson had got into the pub, but even Simpson could not profess to to suggest any motives because he could not remember with all the alcohol he had consumed that day. The Recorder Mr A.M. Langdon said it would appear that Simpson having returned from France had got so drunk that he did not know what he was doing which was no credit to him, but they had taken into consideration that he had been discharged from the Army hospital "and could not "carry" as much drink as Scotsmen usually do" which was met with gales of laughter for some reason. He then said that Jane Landers should have been called to give evidence in both court cases also it was not shown that Simpson was on the premises for a specific criminal purpose. "Under the circumstances I am going to give Mr Simpson the benefit of the doubt" then ordered that his previous conviction be quashed and he could leave the court without a stain on his character. More questions than answers in this case I think, why was Jane Landers so adamant that Simpson hadn't been in her pub that day and denied other questions put to her? I can only assume that her husband who was serving in the Army would not be too pleased to hear that his wife was entertaining men in his pub whilst he was away with the Army, drinking illegally and who knows what went on that day, a curious case to say the least. Justice of a sort for David Simpson I suppose but I do know that my good friend and corner-man, Billy Nolan will be pleased to see a fellow countryman's good name exonerated!
  3. Salford Magistrates Court heard a rather, strange case when David Simpson hailing from Motherwell in Scotland appeared on remand charged with breaking into and entering the Nelson public house on Ordsall Lane, Salford with intent to commit a felony. Jane Landers the landlady of the pub was standing in for her husband who was serving in the British Army. She told the Bench that on the evening of Friday, 24 January 1919 she had been in the Derby Hotel, Salford with her sister when she saw the accused, whom she had known since childhood. He asked her if her name was Kitty Harrison (her maiden name) she replied, "No, I am, Jenny" At 9.30 she and her sister left the pub and left for home where she locked and secured the doors and windows before retiring to bed, the other occupants being her three year old child and a 12 year old, nephew. At 1.15am she was rudely awakened by the sound of the glass on her bedroom door being smashed and the shape of a man in the room. She cried out, "Who's there?" to which came the enigmatic reply, "Daddy" Showing amazing courage she leapt out of bed and seized a loaded revolver from the bedside table and aiming it at him shouted, "Get out of this room or I will blow your brain's out!" He attempted to climb out of the bedroom window and once again showing real composure, she told him, "Not that way out, out of the front door or I will shoot you dead" Wisely he raced down the stairs and out onto Ordsall Lane, and straight into the arms of a passing P.C. Gleeson who promptly nabbed him on the spot and carted him off to Trafford Road, police station. And who was this mystery man? non other than David Simpson the man from the Derby Hotel. Simpson was charged and remanded in custody for a week. Jane Landers told the Court that her husband was with the Army Pay Corps in Notingham and she was looking after the pub for him, and on the evening of 24th January she and her sister went for a drink at the Derby Hotel. Mr Hinchcliffe for the Prosecution asked her if she she had been drinking for most of the day with Simpson,she replied an emphatic, ""No" For the Defence was Mr Desquesnes a well known local figure questioned Jane if it was true that she had known that Simpson had been discharged from the Army and had been out celebrating with him at several pubs in Salford?, she strongly denied this and stated that she had, had a brief conversation with him, no more, no less. He then turned his attention to P.C. Gleeson who had stated that Simpson was sober when he arrested him. Desquesnes disagreed with him and said that Simpson had been drinking a considerable amount of stout that day, also he had been discharged from a Military Hospital a few days earlier and was in no fit condition to drink alcohol. He then suggested that that in his mind that there was no doubt that on the night in question, he was not acting criminally by any means, the whole incident was really the actions of a "freak" and there was no evidence that he committed a burglary or felony. Fully in his stride Desquesnes added that there was no intention on the accused's part to do anything of a criminal nature, but it was an incident in respect of which the prisoner must naturally expect to be visited with some consequences, and that he had already served a week in custody and that a sentence of imprisonment with hard labour would involve the forfeiture of his Army pension. After due deliberation the Bench stated that women whose husbands were away on service must be protected and that the accused must go to prison for five weeks without hard labour. A strange case indeed, was Simpson drunk and thought he had somehow charmed Jane Landers into letting him stay the night?, an odd way of showing your affection by smashing down the bedroom door, though. What would have happened if she hadn't had the loaded revolver by the side of her bed, also what would have happened if she had blown his brains out as threatened, I'm fairly certain she would have got away with that charge. I think Simpson got off lightly receiving a prison sentence of such leniency and also keeping his Army pension, not to mention his brains which could have been decorating the walls of a bedroom in a Salford pub
  4. The street planners certainly had a gallows sense of humour calling it Paradise Row, when the reality was that it was a hovel of terraced houses, with shared rooms, little hygiene and a communal outside toilet for all the residents. Crime, drunkenness, violence, poverty and an early death were the accepted norm in Greengate for the poor, malnourished residents, any wonder that law and order was frequently broken. One of the residents of Paradise Row was Ellen Brazell, who appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with the theft of a shoulder of bacon, valued at £3-2 shillings and eight pence. Detective McDonald and P.C. Blakeley were on street patrol in Greengate when they saw Ellen sitting on a doorstep, looking slightly the worse for drink. The boys in blue could'not help but notice that she had something rather bulky hidden underneath her shawl, and when asked what it was, she replied, " Its nothing" The police opened her shawl and found concealed in there a full shoulder of bacon weighing 40Ibs!, not something you would casually carry around with you. Asked to account for the this "bonanza of bacon" this "glut of gammon" this " pulchritude of pork" - that's enough bacon puns, insert your own if you must - her answer was, "A man who has just gone past into a nearby house, put it onto my knee and asked me to mind it" Ellen was taken to the local court and remanded in custody for a week which seems a rather harsh sentence. The following Saturday, Ellen was once again before the Magistrates, this time things would get worse for her. James Williams the manager of a local grocery shop at 117 Greengate told the court that two shoulders of bacon had gone missing from outside his shop the previous Saturday. Poor, Ellen took the stand and pleaded that, "I know nothing about the other piece" hardly the cleverest defence. The Magistrate asked her if she had anything else to say in her defence, to which she replied, "I am guilty, only for me having had a drop of drink it would not have happened. I am very sorry and leave myself in your hands" That seems quite an honest admission of guilt with a plea for leniency thrown in, she had already served a week in the police cells. D.C. McDonald then took to the stand and proceeded to put the proverbial trotter in, sorry boot, not trotter! He told the Bench that Ellen did have a criminal record for theft and drunkenness and was no stranger to the courts, what a swine! In all fairness he did say that Ellen had a husband serving in the Army and a son who was also serving in the Royal Navy. Sadly this mixed bag of information cut no crackling with the Magistrate who sentenced her to one month's imprisonment - without hard labour. You have to feel sympathy for Ellen who had already spent a week in remand and was now facing further imprisonment for receiving the stolen bacon. Imagine living in a slum like that and a windfall of food is dropped in your lap, well i know that I would be off like, Tom, Tom the Piper's son with my swag.
  5. However did you know that the IRA organised campaign of bombing and sabotage against the civil, economic, and military infrastructure of the United Kingdom from 1939 to 1940, The S-Plan or Sabotage Campaign or England Campaign as it became known was intent on wreaking death and damage to the country and it was partially successful. In January 1939 bombs exploded in London and Manchester, sadly a chap called Albert Ross aged 27 was killed whilst walking through Stevenson Square when a bomb exploded and he was hit by a flying manhole cover. The following day an unnamed man was walking along Barton Road when he noticed an alarm clock in a field next to an electricity pylon, he had heard about the bomb explosions that had taken place the day before and quickly informed the police. D.S. Naylor and D.C. Downs from Green Lane police station arrived at the scene and quickly discovered that the clock was part of an explosive mechanism. Fastened to the pylon and some seven feet from the ground were three sacks containing gelignite, detonators and dynamite, fortunately the clock which had been primed to explode at six o clock had stopped and thus prevented an explosion. If the pylon had come down it would have meant a total power black-out in the Eccles and Davyhulme area and could have affected the nearby Barton Power Station, the possible real target. Police also took possession of an IRA leaflet saying, "Give Ireland Its Freedom" which had been pinned to the noticeboard at St Catherine's Church, Barton. The caretaker Mr Arthur Cookson had seen the leaflet earlier in the day and didn't take much notice, later in the evening he saw the notice flapping about soaking wet, hanging from the board. Later on he saw a policeman at McAlpine's shop near Barton Bridge and told him what he had seen, both men returned and to their amazement found that a new notice had been pinned up, meaning that the IRA man was in the area at that time. He described seeing a mystery man in the churchyard the night before, middle aged in his 50's wearing a light coloured raincoat and cap hanging about the church gates, who disappeared when he approached him. Armed police were stationed at Barton Bridge and Barton Power Station in case of any further bombing attempts. I couldn't find if any people were arrested in the Eccles area in connection with this bomb, however on 23 January two women were arrested in Manchester in possession of explosives including one barrel of potassium chlorate, two Mills bombs, 49 sticks of gelignite and 10 electric detonators. Were these women in any way responsible for the Eccles bomb? again I could not find any record of anybody being charged with the Barton bomb. A fascinating story which had an happy ending but could have been so close to disaster for the local area.
  6. This story concerns the Black family, Ada and her husband Benjamin who lived on Broadway, the road at the side of Salford Docks. Trouble began when they boarded the already full tram at Regent Bridge next to the old Grove's and Whitnall brewery and soon after a fight broke out which ended in a court case at Salford Magistrates Court. Ada and Benjamin appeared before Mr J. Bolton the Chief Magistrate charged with allegedly assaulting Edith Griffiths the tram conductress and tram Inspector, Mr Sutcliffe. Edith was first in the dock and told the Magistrate that she was the conductress on the 98 tram which was running from Deansgate to Salford Docks via, Water Street. The tram departed at 9.20pm with a full compliment of passengers which included nine standing inside and six standing on the upper deck, and before setting off Edith put the safety chain across the rear platform to indicate that the tram was full and also to stop people sneaking on. At Regent Bridge she was upstairs collecting fares, no people left the tram but two people had boarded it and had blatantly lifted the safety chain to gain entry! Is nothing sacred? When the tram arrived at the junction of Cross Lane and Trafford Road, ticket Inspector Sutcliffe got on board and asked Edith had everybody got a ticket, so she decided to check on the two mystery passengers and was met with total silence when asked if they had purchased tickets. She asked again and was told by Ada Black, "What's your problem, we are in no hurry", I would have taken that as a no and left her alone. Edith then informed Inspector Sutcliffe what had happened, he then bravely informed her to get their names and addresses, after such such a robust reply from Ada I would have told him to ask them, surely that was his job, you wouldn't have had this nonsense from Blakey from "On the Buses" Ada once again asked Ada Black for her name and was met with a punch to the side of the head, to which she cried out, "You Awful woman, what did you do that for?" Inspector Sutcliffe attempted to separate the two women and was punched in the the face by Benjamin Black for his troubles. All four of them spilled off the bus and Benjamin continued to pummel Inspector Sutcliffe, ripping the buttons off his prized tunic and bending his thumbs backwards which he described as, "severely hurting me" The boys in blue were quickly on the scene but not before Ada took to her heels and ran off, only to be caught by PC Usher and the Black's were taken into custody. In her defence Ada told the court that she had offered to pay her fare but the conductress told her she was too busy to collect any more fares and that she was the one assaulted, a claim that Benjamin backed up, adding that he too was assaulted by Inspector Sutcliffe. Oddly enough the Chairman of the Bench said that the conductress was to blame for this incident by taking the safety chain off the rear platform and for, "Making rather more of the incident than was necessary" However he added that Ada had no right to strike the conductress and fined her five shillings. As for Benjamin Black, incredibly all charges were dropped against him! in my opinion he was the guiltier of the two by assaulting both the conductress and the Inspector. No moral to be learnt here then or to quote Hunter S Thompson, "Buy the ticket, take the ride...and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion"
  7. However for some, British soldiers and sailors who had been captured in combat it was a different story, many of them were forced to make the long trek home, alone and often on foot and when they returned they told the eager, waiting press, horrific stories of the inhuman and barbaric way that many of them had been treated by their captors, the Beastly Hun. This story from the pages of the Eccles and Patricroft Journal from December, 1918 tells the story of a Clifton soldier, Lance-Corporal, Fred Williams who had been serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers but was captured in March 1918 near the village of Roisel in the Somme region of France. The story he told the reporter is quite an extraordinary one which at time beggars belief. Fred who was a Medical Officers Orderly was captured by the Germans and shot in the leg as he tried to escape, fortunately for him it was only a flesh wound as he would be grateful for later. He was taken to their front line and this is where his ordeal would begin, he was made to carry a wounded German on his back for eight miles, then a further six mike march before being put in a cage along with other prisoners for the night. The next day he was forced to march along with other prisoners, a gruelling,18 miles without food and water, and this was just the beginning. Incredibly the next day he was marched for another 20 miles where they were given a a quarter pound of bread and a cup of coffee to sustain them before being locked up in cages for the next three days, adding that the German captors then stole all their valuables and belongings. "Suitably refreshed" the men were marched 17 miles to a railway station to board a train to a P.O.W. camp near Munster, there were no trains and so the men slogged on for another 10 miles, that's an incredible 27 miles in one day without adequate food or water. Eventually Fred arrived at Munster where he spent three weeks awaiting trial for possession of a firearm whilst looking after wounded soldiers, a charge he denied to no avail, but was found guilty and sent to a local mine at Saterfeld where was working alongside local woman at the bottom of the seam, digging out coal at the bottom of the shaft. In August he was given an easier job working with the Red Cross in his P.O.W. Camp which held some 800 British, French, Belgian and Russian soldiers which sounds a far better option that working down t'pit! Two days after the Armistice was signed Fred was told to make his way home and walked 34 miles in wooden clogs to Friedriechfeld and a military hospital, after treatment he was sent home and arrived in Hull on November 23rd. Once safely home he told the reporter some examples of the shocking treatment meted out to prisoners by the German guards. They were told to salute German officers and if they didn't were beaten to submission. The most shocking story and which I find hard to believe concerns an Irish P.O.W. , described as being six feet four inches in height who refused to salute to the German's saying he would never do so, a German officer then spat in his face, which enraged the Irishman who floored the German with one punch, he was arrested and taken into their custody. Fred then states that he was told to get an ambulance and pick up the Irishman and take him back to his hut. He found that the man had both his arm's chopped off and his tongue cut out and had to be fed by a rubber tube, surely the man would have bled to death? propaganda or truth? I have read stories of British P.O.W.'s being beaten and battered by the German's but never something like this. We were then told that when the mail arrived the German's would taunt them with the letters before burning them in front of them, also when they were served fish a rare treat, ammonia would be poured into it to make it inedible. I just don't know what to make of Fred's tale hopefully it wasn't all true, I do know that the British public were eager to read stories about how barbaric the Hun were, roasting babies on bayonets and raping nuns was a common story have read, again how true was this? Whatever the truth Fred was looking forward to re-joining his old employers, The United Yeast Company in Manchester and hopefully live a quiet, normal life, he certainly deserved one.
  8. Today we look at how the Borough of Eccles received the news and how they celebrated. This is how the Eccles and Patricroft Journal broke the news to its readers. At 10.30am on Monday 11th November a group of wounded soldiers from one of the local hospitals were stood outside the newspapers offices on Church Street when the news came through by telegram, and a poster was quickly displayed in the front window for all to see. Elsewhere in Eccles it was reported that the Managing Director of a local spinning mill received the news by telephone and immediately informed the workforce to go home and celebrate on full pay, a rather generous offer. By 11am the news had spread to Patricroft and Peel Green, once again the workers from the local factories and mills poured out onto the streets unable to contain their joy. Factory sirens, hooters and whistles were sounded from the numerous factories along with ships moored on the local Manchester Ship Canal all eager to join in the long awaited celebrations. In the article it says that local schoolchildren excluded from school by the Medical Officer owing to the Influenza epidemic paraded through the streets waving small home made flags. The 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic would go on to kill an estimated 50–100 million people worldwide. One paragraph stood out for me, I assume the girl munition workers were from the Gardners Engineering Works in Peel Green which During World War I made munitions and parts for heavy guns and engines for tanks. Church bells were heard ringing throughout the Borough a sign of once happier times. Even as news came through of the cessation of hostilities news was still coming to local residents news of deaths and disablement of relatives, a sobering thought. Another striking feature of the day was the number of cars and lorries that were bedecked with flags and bunting driving through the town. We were also told that the Anti-Aircraft guns in Winton which were supposed to be secret, how do you hide them? fired a number of blank rounds in celebration, no doubt alarming quite a few people. As dusk approached local children began letting off fireworks which they had presumably hidden away for this big day with rockets lighting up the night sky. A large crowd gathered outside Eccles Town Hall and the Mayor Alderman Bethel gave them a congratulation speech, adding that it was with great sorrow that so many young men had been killed in the conflict. Boy Scouts with Chinese Lanterns congregated outside the Carnegie Library and marched through Eccles with Eccles Borough Band joining in later on in the evening. The Salvation Army Band even got in on the act and paraded through the Borough, finishing off at Eccles Cross where they played the National Anthem at 11pm, a time usually when most people would be safely tucked up in bed. The people fully deserved to let their hair down and dance in the streets but for many, many residents it must have a day tinged with sadness and regret at the thought odf so many loved one's who would never be coming home again.
  9. I looked through the pages of the Salford City Reporter for Monday 11th, November 1918 to see how the newspaper reported how Salford celebrated the end to this terrible carnage which had raged for over four years and had claimed the lives of over a staggering 750,000 British soldiers. These heartbreaking losses decimated city's, towns, villages and hardly any family didn't suffer a fatality, some parents losing as many as four of their son's an horrendous statistic. The news of the signing of the Armistice was received in Salford Town Hall by a phone call from a Manchester newspaper, most likely the Manchester Guardian at 10.30am. The news spread like wildfire throughout Salford and within minutes flags were seen fluttering and bunting was hastily erected across streets as large crowds gathered on what was described as being a "sweet, sunny morning" By 1pm the the people of Salford were celebrating and its worth quoting what the Salford Reporter had to say, The celebrations continued to spread, ships in Salford docks were hastily decorated in flags and their sirens could be heard ringing out. to add to the noise factory sirens also rang out Workers from nearby mills and factories spilled out onto the streets in celebration, soldiers on leave and others in military blue in local hospitals were seen dancing with joy and embracing mill girls, it was reported rather coyly that, In Bexley Square the Mayor and members of the Corporation made congratulatory speeches to the crowds who thronged the Square, Salford Police Band took up their position and played a number of patriotic airs which no doubt added to the air of celebration. A strange story I came across regards the company of Reddaway and Co a rubber works situated on Lissadel Street where the owner Frank Reddaway no doubt swept away with patriotic fervour addressed his workers thanking them for all their efforts and praised the British Army for defeating the Kaiser. Remarkably he then added, This was obviously met with cheers and shouts of "He's a Jolly Good Fellow" a remarkably kind gesture by him although the cynic in me suspects that he made a hell of a lot of money from the War. Bells were rung from every church in Salford, something that was forbidden during the war years and special church services were held to celebrate an end to the war. A war that had drained the country of generations of men,food, vital supplies, and brought heartache for what? The Prime Minister David Lloyd George declared that he wanted to create, "a fit country for heroes to live in" Sadly we all know how that dream ended with returning servicemen finding no work and many small business had gone, . Local records show many cases of ex-soldiers begging or trying to make a few pennies by selling goods at unofficial street markets at the same time trying to avoid officials who wanted to close these markets down. In all these ways, the people of Salford had to endure enormous suffering, disillusionment and a lack of dignity during and after World War One.
  10. Sadly this view wasn't shared by Robert August Arnott a man who hailed from Edinburgh, but still found time to nick stuff when in Salford. Arnott was appearing at Salford Magistrates Court in October 1918, charged with being on enclosed premises for an unlawful purpose, which to these ears sounds like old fashioned burglary and theft. The place being St Philip's Church, Wilton Place, off Chapel Street a magnificent church dating back to 1822 and designed by Sir Robert Smirke, a Grade 11 listed building. Arnott was initially arrested on October 15th and was remanded for a week to Strangeways Gaol, the reason for his remand I found quite funny. He had been described by the police at his first hearing as being, "In a shockingly, filthy condition with his clothing literally alive with vermin and lice and in need of of fumigation" Hardly the sort of chap you want sitting next to you on the bus is he. Detective Inspector Clarke informed the new hearing that Arnott had, "sweetened up" during his stay in prison and was ready to face a trail. The court heard that Arnott was was seen by the caretaker of the church, Mr Edward Ainsworth acting suspiciously, and so decided to keep a beady eye on him. The week before somebody had sneaked into the church vestry and stolen the keys to to the collection boxes in the church. Arnott was seen to approach three collection boxes, two for the Soldiers Comfort Fund, the third for The Relief Of The Poor And Needy Of The Parish, He then proceeded to tap the boxes to ascertain if there were any money in them, perhaps he saw himself as being one of the Poor And Needy Of The Parish? He then made the fatal mistake of producing a key, presumably the one stolen from the vestry opened the box and hoisted the contents. Enraged Mr Ainsworth swooped on him and detained him until the police arrived. A search of his no doubt vermin ridden clothing produced one shilling and sixpence. he told the arresting officer that he was hungry. Detective Inspector Clarke really lashed into Arnott, telling the Magistrates Bench that Arnott was no stranger to police courts throughout the country or prison cells. In July 1918 he was arrested for stealing an umbrella from...you guessed it, St Philip's Church and trying to sell it to a local pawn broker, for which he received one months imprisonment. Not content with stealing in Salford the court was told that Arnott had been placed on probation in Edinburgh for stealing money last year and had been sent to prison in Scotland for 30 days for stealing from shops. The no doubt wretched looking Arnott pleaded for mercy by stating that he was once a good man but had been ruined by drink, also his wife had left him because of his "lazy habits", lets be fair, he doesn't sound much of a keeper does he? With a final throw of the dice he added that the police in Salford and Scotland had given him a bad character! Looking at his previous convictions I think Mr Arnott was over egging the pudding to blame the police for his misfortune. His plea fell on deaf ears and he was sentenced to two months with hard labour for good measure to be spent in Strangeways Gaol. Lets look on the bright side here, at least he would be fed, watered and clothed and as an extra bonus the Great War would be over before he stepped foot back into Salford again.
  11. This tale from October 1918 is particularly poignant because the War had only one more month to run before peace was declared and sanity would once again prevail, sadly it would be too late for 470 American soldiers aboard the HMS Otranto. The HMS Otranto was was an armed merchant cruiser which later became a troopship, however the ship was considered by superstitious mates to be cursed. When launched in in 1909 the tallow used to grease the slipway froze and it took a further four days before it could be launched, an early omen, perhaps? During World War 1 the ship had been deployed off the coast of South America on patrol duties looking for German shipping. Fast forward to 1st October, 1918 and the HMS Otranto was sailing from New York to England laden with American soldiers. She accidentally collided with a French fishing boat off Newfoundland which was laden with cod, the crew of 36 were taken on board the HMS Otranto and then oddly enough the decision was made to sink the fishing schooner as a safety measure. The "curse" struck again the next day when one of the crew died from Influenza, this was at the start of the Spanish influenza pandemic which would kill 50 to 100 million people, worldwide. As the ship approached the coast of Scotland it was battered by mountainous sea's and heavy gales which measured Force 11 on the Beaufort Scale. The HMS Kashmir was moored alongside the HMS Otranto when a calamitous error was made, the Kashmir accidentally rammed into the Otranto, hitting it on the port side, punching a hole some 20 feet deep and 16 feet wide, flooding the bulkheads and killing many crew members trapped below the waterline. The collision caused the Otranto to drift towards to the cliffs of Islay and certain death for most of the crew members. A rescue ship the HMS Mounsey managed to save 500 men also the rather unlucky 36 French fishermen, who lets be fair had, had quite an eventful trip to say the least. Large waves threw the Otranto onto "Old Woman's Reef" some three quarter of a mile from shore, 21 men were able to to swim ashore to safety, including a young man from Salford, the rest were doomed. By the following morning the Otranto had been completely destroyed and the grim spectacle of 100's of bodies, in piles up to 15 feet high were washed ashore was witnessed by horrified rescuers and locals who had rushed to help in any way they could.. A total of 316 American soldiers were drowned in several hours, their remains were recovered and buried on Islay on the nearby Island of Muck. As I mentioned earlier a Salford man, 25 year old, Albert Tilbrook an Engineer on the Otranto was one of the lucky survivors, he was washed up ashore after being in the water for five hours. Albert lived in Rudman Street, off Regent Road, Salford and he wrote home to his parents from Islay to tell them that he had survived. In his letter he is incredibly modest and stated that he abandoned the stricken ship to swim to rocks about two and a half miles away, where he was eventually picked up. "I am not hurt beyond one or two bruises, cold and exposure, I am being well cared for and so don't worry about me, I am safe sound and sound, love to all the family" We learn that Albert had attended St Bartholomew's school and have been known locally as a strong swimmer, attending Regent Road swimming baths. I would love to know if Albert received a medal or any form of recognition for this outstanding bravery and surviving the horrendous ordeal, he sounds a remarkable man. A stone tower was built by the on the Mull of Oa by The American Red Cross to commemorate the the brave men who were lost aboard from the Otranto. a fitting tribute to what is a tragic story.
  12. Take this story from the pages of the Eccles and Patricroft Journal from October 1918 which send out mixed messages to me. Miss Blackshaw a teacher at Eccles Parish Church Church School, on Russell Street, now demolished and a car showroom stands on its site appeared at Eccles Magistrates Court charged with with an alleged assault on an unnamed eight year old girl pupil by striking her on the back with a cane causing bruising. The child returned home and told her mother what had happened, the next day Mrs Emily Wood stormed into the school with her daughter and demanded an explanation if not a grovelling apology. The Headmaster, Mr Snelson called for the school Doctor W. Hamilton who gave the child a medical examination and would later give evidence in court. The incident arose when Miss Blackshaw a teacher with 29 years experience told the court when she became annoyed at the child for not being attentive to her lessons in class and told her to put her hands out as she was to punished by caning across them. The child either in act of defiance or fear put hem them behind her back, undeterred Miss Blackshaw walloped her across the back with the cane, a tad harsh to say the least to treat an eight year old girl pupil. Mr F.W. Ogden was in court to defend to Miss Blackshaw and the honour of the school and soon ripped into Mrs Wood. He accused her of storming into the school and using "vile and abusive language" at Miss Blackshaw and Mr Snelson, to which she replied, "I can't remember saying that" Getting into his stride and his moral high-horse Mr Ogden carried on and declared rather pompously, "Such defiance of discipline before all of the class could and would not be tolerated, if the teacher not prepared to lose all authority over the class. "Miss Blackshaw whipped the child on her back because she wouldn't put her hands out for her deserved punishment" He sounds a right misery I wonder what his home life was like, no doubt with that attitude he ruled with a rod of iron. Next in the dock was Dr Hamilton with the results of his medical examination, don't expect any revelations or justice warning. He stated that he found two small black marks on her back that were very slight and he attributed them to....."the child's blood being out of order".. Carrying on with this medical rubbish he declared that whatever punishment had been administered was "moderate" and was certainly not as severe as he would expect if her mother had carried out the punishment. I can't believe what I have just read, so basically the child got off lightly because her mother would have given her daughter a proper, severe thrashing? Just when this farce of a "trial" couldn't get any worse the Clerk of the Court piped up, "Nothing to what we got in our school days" this was met with howl of laughter from the Magistrates Bench, unbelievable really. Mr W. Hughes decided in his wisdom that no excessive punishment had been carried out and dismissed the case, and so Miss Blackshaw left the court without a a blemish on her character which is more than can be said of the eight year old. Thanks to Wendy Leach Marshall for the photograph and Wendy Mallins for her memories of me!
  13. For the answer lets take a visit to Salford Magistrates Court, September 1918 to see what the Stipendiary Magistrate had to say. Our story starts on board the S.S. Chicago City a Cunard Liner boat that was moored at Porto Empedecole in Southern Italy, which was picking up amongst other cargo, cases of wine to be transported back to Salford Docks. What could go wrong?....The Captain was soon to find out. Alarm bells should have rung when it was noticed that several seamen had begun drinking heavily from the cargo being loaded onto the boat from cargo lighter boats, a type of flat bottomed barge which would transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships. The Captain immediately put an armed guard on the ship and another on the shore in an attempt to stop the pilfering of wine by the crew. I think you can guess where this story is going and how its going to end. At 3am the next day the Captain was woken up by the Second Officer who told him that he was concerned about the amount of noise coming from number three hold. The men along with the Chief Officer prudently armed themselves with revolvers and went to see what the commotion was all about. As can be expected it wasn't a pretty sight, he saw a number of men lying on the floor, surrounded by empty wine bottles, others were singing loudly and as the Captain put it, "The men were mad drunk" A lovely expression. The men were locked in the hold overnight, presumably they had drunk all the wine that was being stored there and left to sleep it off. The next day the Captain found that none of the men detained were capable of working and were "not in a fit state to be talked too" They were then given one last chance to explain their innocence, none of them were able to do so. They must have shifted a lot of wine or it was very strong stuff for al of them to be unable to work or even speak properly. The ship sailed to Salford Docks without further trouble, no doubt the booze was firmly under lock and key if not an armed guard! Ten men were arrested by the dock police, they were, Patrick Birch, George Kyfinn, Daniel Delaney, Michael McKenna, Velkhelm Hansen, Maurice Crosby, Herbert Atwood, Harry Ward, Daniel Fitzpatrick and Jesse Baker. They were all charged with the theft of seven cases of wine valued at £25 the property of Cunard Liners. The merry matelots were were defended by Herbert Cunningham whilst Herbert Vaudrey appeared for the owners. Cunningham told the Stipendiary Magistrate that there was no truth in the allegations that they broke into the cargo, although it was obvious the cargo had been tampered with, however there were 31 men on board the ship and the men in the dock hadn't been seen doing the damage or theft. He continues that it was true that the men were very drunk but asserted that they had bought their liquor ashore and therefore had committed had no crime. Be honest that's not a very convincing argument for their innocence is it? The Stipendiary obviously not believing a word, said that he thought, "the men had broken into the cargo and after a heavy drinking bout, no doubt had a craving for more drink and committed the offence that they were charged with" He then fined each man 50 shillings or £2-10 shillings-0 pence which was about a weeks wage for the men, and a fairly hefty price to pay for going on a bender.
  14. This story from the pages of the Eccles and Patricroft Journal from September 1918 is a mixture of both of the above emotions and an almost happy ending for once. Corporal David Macfarlane who resided at Cross Street, Eccles was before the outbreak of war a postman on the streets of Eccles and by all accounts a well known man in the Borough. He was no stranger to combat having fought in the Boer War in South Africa and in October 1916 he joined the 2/5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusilier and was soon in action. He fought in the Third Battle of Ypres where his regiment suffered many casualties, he was shot through the hand as he was retreating and then in the leg as he lay on the floor, along with fellow Eccles man, Corporal Lee who lived at Cecil Road, Eccles he was taken as prisoner of war and taken to various camps around Belgium before settling at Munster Lager, Medical Hospital, Westphalia in Germany. With the war grinding to a bloody stalemate Macfarlane because of his age and ill health was repatriated back to Blighty after 13 months in captivity. He gave an interview to the Eccles and Patricroft Journal when he was on home leave from the King George Hospital in London, who no doubt wanted to hear tales of heroism and jingoism and he did not disappoint. When taken prisoner he was taken to a field hospital and the only treatment he received for his injuries where cold water bandages which left his hand deformed and useless, he did retain the use of his leg though. Now in his stride he told the journalist, "I saw plenty of British pluck on the Western Front but nothing compared to to the pluck of our boys who are in the hands of their German captors. "Nothing can induce them to or compel them to make munitions, one lad who refused was placed on bread and water for 17 hours and was forced to stand in bitterly cold weather, at the end of it he had to be practically thawed out but he maintained his refusal to work for them" He then thanked the Prisoner of War Relief Fund who had sent them essential food. "I received six parcels a month, the Germans were eager to buy our bread, dripping and soap but Tommy never parted with them, we make sure our boys get their share" Surprisingly he was allowed to visit the nearby town of Munster, he said that all the shops were either closed or had no provisions in them and yet the Germans were still convinced that they would win the war as the people of Britain were starving to death. Also in the Munster camp were three local men, Reggie Cox who lived at Boardman Street, Eccles, William Moore from Church Street, Eccles and a lad named only as Winn from Parrin Lane, Winton. Macfarlane finished the article by stating that he was eager to to resume his duties as a postman in Eccles when fully fit, despite his deformed hand. That newspaper article to me reads full of British bravado and the good old Bulldog spirit which is what the people wanted to hear. However that wasn't the the truth as his parents who lived at Vicarage Close, Eccles revealed that David was one of their seven sons. One had been killed, one had lost his right hand, and another son had lost his arm and a leg. The other three were still fighting in France and to be honest they still stood a good chance of being killed killed or maimed in that senseless bloodbath which would drag on for another three months. To have lost one son and had three others disfigured and maimed is beyond my belief, yet somehow people were still joining the Army, albeit more reluctantly than in 1914, which seems a form of collective madness which it obviously wasn't but begs the question why? I doff my cap to Corporal Macfarlane and the many, many men who fought and died in that that war yet still cannot understand why they didn't refuse to go, point blank after seeing the terrible loss of life and hardships that would be endured by families at home.
  15. It is said that a man in uniform does indeed attract the ladies, sadly this knight in shining armour turned out to be a cad and a bounder amongst other things. Our story begins with the Rutter family from Salford taking a short holiday in Bakewell, a small market town and civil parish in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire. The daughter Emily met a soldier Private William Graham from the West Yorkshire Regiment who was convalescing in a nearby Military Hospital from injuries he had received on the Western Front and they soon struck up a friendship. Emily asked him to write to her at the family home on West High Street, just off Cross Lane, which he dutifully did. The enterprising Private Graham went one better when he turned up unannounced at the family home looking resplendent in his new army uniform, complete with Military decorations, four wound stripes and he had even been promoted to a Lance Corporal! He told the family that he was on leave for a further week and would then return to the Western Front to fight for King and Country. The Rutter family welcomed him into their home where he soon made himself comfortable, he was given his own bedroom and was fed three meals a day, the least they could do for this brave boy. However this idyll was shattered on the Tuesday morning when at the breakfast table he told Emily that he was going upstairs to change his clothing, he was that long getting changed that she became suspicious and rightly so as it turned out. He came downstairs and brushed past her without saying a word and left the house, sadly a search revealed that he had taken with him a silver watch and several gold rings valued at £3 - four shillings. He didn't return that day and so the local police were informed, and by a simple twist of fate, he returned the next afternoon possibly for his dinner and was met by Detective Needham and Detective Dutton who promptly arrested him and took him to Cross Lane police station for questioning. A search of his clothing revealed the watch and rings, which Private, sorry Lance Corporal Graham denied ever having seen before. To add to this confusion Mrs Rutter whose husband owned a shop at 91 Cross Lane came into the police station and told the Detectives that Graham had been in her shop earlier that day, she was in the rear feeding chickens in the yard, she came into the shop and found him behind the counter. She asked what he was doing there, again he simply walked past her and strolled off along Cross Lane, taking with him, three flash lamps valued at three shillings. William Graham was charged with theft and appeared at Salford Magistrates Court the following day. Further misery was heaped upon his no doubt slumped shoulders when a Military escort appeared and informed the Magistrate that Graham should be charged with wearing Military decorations that hadn't been awarded to him, also the wound stripes were a lie and worst of all he was not a Lance Corporal, he had simply promoted himself and purchased the insignia, what a bounder but not in the same class as Percy Topliss the Monocled Mutineer. The Magistrate sentenced him to three months imprisonment for the theft of the jewellery and for the Military impersonation he was given a further months imprisonment, a total of four months in total. Ironically this would have saved Private Graham from any further military action as the Great War would end up in November 1918. As for Emily duped in love by a chap in his uniform, hopefully she learnt her lesson and possibly married a policeman, by all accounts a more honest type of chap.

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