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Doughboy332

Hi,

I am looking for some information about the Defense of the Realm Act.

It seems like a very broad law that affected everything from pubs to drugs but there seem to be few references to it in everyday life. Was it not as big of a deal as it seems or did people not talk about it? Did anyone try to protest the law itself? Did it apply to all of the Commonwealth or just Ireland and Scotland?

Also, I read that ten people were executed for violating the Act, but the only reference I can find are from here, which is from about 20 years later: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1940/may/22/treachery-bill

Does anyone have any more information on this?

I'd appreciate any help from a Tommy across the pond.

Thank you, Doughboy332

P.S. Is it just in the US or is it hard to get information on this stuff?

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Bernard_Lewis

Those executed were enemy spies.

DORA covered a lot of areas e.g. the dimming of lights in areas where an attack from air or sea was likely. One chap at Swansea was arrested for sketching in the castle grounds at Oystermouth. He was can artist and was acquitted. Another for setting a fire on a hillside, a prank that got him arrested on suspicion of signalling to the enemy. Fined.

Bernard

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Scalyback

Sorry to go OT. Bernard does you book(foul deeds) about Swansea include a supposed Zulu done for murder at one of the dock pubs?

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Bernard_Lewis

Yes. Thomas Allen, I think. Away from the boo at present. Bernard

Ber

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Doughboy332

Ok thank you.

It looks like opposition to DORA was limited to some socialists and pacifists and everyone else just accepted it as part of the war and the paranoia.

I guess the only way to understand it is to look at what it was like back then.

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kenf48

P.S. Is it just in the US or is it hard to get information on this stuff?

Well this was copied in California! https://archive.org/details/realmdefense00grearich

but I guess you knew that. As for your rather sweeping statement above that's simply not true, for example Regulation 40D concerned women infecting soldiers with VD, many were gaoled several women's organisations protested against this, pointing out there was an easier way for soldiers to avoid VD rather than persecuting women. The licensing laws affected everyone (and continued to do so until the turn of this century). It was not just a few socialists and pacifists though these were often most persecuted under the law.

Ken

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Magnumbellum

I am looking for some information about the Defense of the Realm Act.

It seems like a very broad law that affected everything from pubs to drugs but there seem to be few references to it in everyday life. Was it not as big of a deal as it seems or did people not talk about it? Did anyone try to protest the law itself? Did it apply to all of the Commonwealth or just Ireland and Scotland?

Also, I read that ten people were executed for violating the Act, but the only reference I can find are from here, which is from about 20 years later: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1940/may/22/treachery-bill

Does anyone have any more information on this?

I'd appreciate any help from a Tommy across the pond.

Some clarification is apposite:

DORA was the Defence of the Realm Act, not the Defense of the Realm Act. "Defense" is not a word in British English.

DORA was an enabling Act, empowering the government to make Defence Regulations on a wide range of topics. Regulations could be made at any time deemed appropriate, and could be amended or extended as deemed appropriate. DORA was much discussed, and indeed lampooned as a fussy old lady.

The Act was obviously protested by the government and parliament which passed it. The more interesting question is who protested against it - such protesters included the founders of the National Council for Civil Liberties, operating during WW1, and not to be confused with the National Council for Civil Liberties founded in 1934 and continuing today using the brand name Liberty.

The ten persons mentioned by Sir John Anderson, Home Secretary, as sentenced to death were not sentenced under DORA itself, but under Regulations made under the Act. He did not specify whether any or all were actually executed, but I suspect that most, if not all, were actually executed, most likely as aliens in activities in support of the King's enemies.

DORA's extent was to the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. "Commonwealth" is an inappropriate word in a WW1 context, as the word either refers back to 1649-1660, when the Commonwealth was substituted for the English monarchy, or refers to the post-1930 Commonwealth of Nations accepting the British monarch as Head of the Commonwealth.

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Doughboy332

So how are regulations made under the act? Could clauses be added to the act after the fact? I read something about food control in 1916 where the government took control of land using a clause in DORA which was not included under the original act.

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kenf48

So how are regulations made under the act? Could clauses be added to the act after the fact? I read something about food control in 1916 where the government took control of land using a clause in DORA which was not included under the original act.

The Regulations are made by Delegated, or secondary Legislation if you refer to the Introduction in the manual p (iv) you will see a list of 72 Amending Orders and Statutory Instruments made throughout the war together with the dates. The link at Post 2 shows the original Act. Section 1 gives the power to make Regulations.

As noted at Post 8 this is enabling legislation while an amendment to the Act requires Parliamentary approval, Regulations can be made at any time.

An explanation of delegated legislation in the modern Parliament is given in this leaflet but the same basic principles applied to DORA

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/Brief-Guides/Delegated-Legislation.pdf

Ken

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Doughboy332

The Regulations are made by Delegated, or secondary Legislation if you refer to the Introduction in the manual p (iv) you will see a list of 72 Amending Orders and Statutory Instruments made throughout the war together with the dates. The link at Post 2 shows the original Act. Section 1 gives the power to make Regulations.

As noted at Post 8 this is enabling legislation while an amendment to the Act requires Parliamentary approval, Regulations can be made at any time.

An explanation of delegated legislation in the modern Parliament is given in this leaflet but the same basic principles applied to DORA

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/Brief-Guides/Delegated-Legislation.pdf

Ken

Thanks a lot. You guys have been a great help.

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AnnB

What about ringing of church bells, which I thought was prohibited under the Act. I've come across several references in newspaper reports to the church bells being rung in my village when memorial services were held for servicemen killed in action. Was the regulation just ignored or was it repealed at some point?

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kenf48

What about ringing of church bells, which I thought was prohibited under the Act. I've come across several references in newspaper reports to the church bells being rung in my village when memorial services were held for servicemen killed in action. Was the regulation just ignored or was it repealed at some point?

If you follow the link at post 7 page 104 regulation 12b 'Prohibition on ringing of bells (etc) in certain areas'. The 'certain areas' were where there were also lighting regulations in force and where they could assist hostile aircraft and only then when the lighting restrictions were in force, so ok in daytime when presumably the memorial services were held and ok say in the West country but not on the east coast and even then exemptions could be applied.

So not ignored but yet another example of the complexity of the Regulations.

Ken

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AnnB

Thanks, that makes sense now. This was in Devon so unlikely to have been considered necessary here, but as you say the memorial services would have been during daylight hours anyway. What a wonderful resource that digitization of DORA is! I've bookmarked it for future reference.

Thanks again

Ann

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