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Remembered Today:

A Disgrace To His Country


Jarvis
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Been browsing the local newspaper archives again. 1915 this time.

The image below at first seemed quite 'tame' to me but gradually brought home how lucky we are today in having an opinion and being able to excercise it. I guess a 30 shilling fine amounted to quite a bit in 1915.

post-15884-1174424921.jpg

Jarvis

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Whilst free speech must be allowed and I would hope many that fought and died held that ideal high,my grand mother may have looked upon it differently when she heard her husband had been killed and she was left penniless to bring up 4 children. It must always be better when others do the fighting, on behalf of free speech, for you ?

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Jarvis

Do you know the date of the article? I ask because Sir Osmond Williams lost his eldest son at Loos in 1915, this may have clouded his thoughts when making the comments about Roberts.

Andy

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Jarvis

Do you know the date of the article? I ask because Sir Osmond Williams lost his eldest son at Loos in 1915, this may have clouded his thoughts when making the comments about Roberts.

Andy

At work at present but I know the article is dated between February 1915 and April 1915 because those were the months I was researching/photographing. I am not sure if the severity of the punishement was normal for the crime for those times. It is early in the war and patriotism was probably very high just then.

I was a little taken aback by the 'pettiness' of it all.

I can date the newspaper (the local weekly - Barnard Castle Teesdale Mercury) this evening for you.

Jarvis

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Hi, Jarvis interested in your posting as I was born and bread in Penrhyndeudraeth, population at that time I would guess to be about 1200 ish, with around 70 names on the local war memorial, I belive that there is a family memorial to Osmond Williams son in the local church.

Hwyl

Kevin

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Whilst free speech must be allowed and I would hope many that fought and died held that ideal high,my grand mother may have looked upon it differently when she heard her husband had been killed and she was left penniless to bring up 4 children. It must always be better when others do the fighting, on behalf of free speech, for you ?

So, although the men were fighting and dying for free speech, it ought not to be allowed willy nilly ? Who decides who gets to speak and what they are allowed to say? Can there be a controlled freedom?

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Could it be that a relative of Hugh had been killed or wounded?, will try to find out more through local papers of the period when I visit the local archives at Dolgellau.

Kevin

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The relative (2005) values of 30 bob make interesting reading, depending on which measure is used this could be seen as a hefty fine, and so presumably viewed seriously.

£80.06 using the retail price index

£431.21 using average earnings

£480.35 using per capita GDP

£624.15 using the GDP

David

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The relative (2005) values of 30 bob make interesting reading, depending on which measure is used this could be seen as a hefty fine, and so presumably viewed seriously.

£80.06 using the retail price index

£431.21 using average earnings

£480.35 using per capita GDP

£624.15 using the GDP

David

Thirty bob was a very popular fine in WW1.

The vast majority of Conscientious Objectors were "fined 30 shillings and handed over to the Military Authorities".

As is well known, this was and is a free country. You are free to do as you are told. :lol:

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The date in question for this clipping is 10th February 1915. One must bear in mind that my local weekly paper is very provincial and the article would almost have certainly appeared before this date elsewhere (almost all of the non-local stuff will have appeared elsewhere first). I find most of this stuff very interesting although I am actually trawling through for the local stuff such as Letters From The Front, etc.

I like the line As is well known, this was and is a free country. You are free to do as you are told. from David and would amend it somewhat to ....

As is well known, this was and is a free country. You are free to do as you are told, unless you can afford not to.

I have some more clippings I'll post that will provide interest, etc.

Jarvis

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Sir Osmond Williams may have taken the line that his son was prepared to fight for his country, (and I'm sure this caused him some concern) why shouldn't others. He would at least be in training by Feb 1915, if not at the front.

The unfortunate Hugh Roberts may have been making a light hearted remark, which was taken wrongly by the magistrate.

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So, although the men were fighting and dying for free speech, it ought not to be allowed willy nilly ? Who decides who gets to speak and what they are allowed to say? Can there be a controlled freedom?

There could be under the Defence of the Realm Act, under which this man was "done."

This reminds me of a recruiting poster which I once saw, showing marching soldiers and a caption in Welsh. The poster was on display in a bar in Ypres. At long last I found myself in there when there was a Welshman in and asked him to translate. He told me it said, "Don't be fools, boys! Stay where you are! It's horrible here and all the officers are idiots!" I had to take his word for it, of course.

Tom

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This reminds me of a recruiting poster which I once saw, showing marching soldiers and a caption in Welsh. The poster was on display in a bar in Ypres. At long last I found myself in there when there was a Welshman in and asked him to translate. He told me it said, "Don't be fools, boys! Stay where you are! It's horrible here and all the officers are idiots!" I had to take his word for it, of course.

Tom

Sounds about right to me, and I don't even speak Welsh :D

In 1915 Indian soldiers were writing home from France, telling friends and relatives not to come to the war. There was a prog. based upon their letters, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 some years ago.

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Ah, they're funny people in Penrhyndeudraeth, at least according to my daughter-in-law who hails from Porthmadog.

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WWI was a modern war in all respects. The desire if not frantic need to control the propaganda front was taken very seriously. US jails filled up with sedition offenders and the US mail was regularly censored by gov't agents.

Tom's story is wonderful ... it is weird enough to be true.

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Defence of the Realm Act 1914

(1) His Majesty in Council has power during the continuance of the present war to issue regulations for securing the public safety and the defence of the realm, and as to the powers and duties for that purpose of the Admiralty and Army Council and of the members of His Majesty's forces and other persons acting in his behalf; and may by such regulations authorise the trial by courts-martial, or in the case of minor offences by courts of summary jurisdiction, and punishment of persons committing offences against the regulations and in particular against any of the provisions of such regulations designed:

a, to prevent persons communicating with the enemy or obtaining information for that purpose or any purpose calculated to jeopardise the success of the operations of any of His Majesty's forces or the forces of his allies or to assist the enemy; or

b, to secure the safety of His Majesty's forces and ships and the safety of any means of communication and of railways, ports, and harbours; or

c, to prevent the spread of false reports or reports likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty or to interfere with the success of His Majesty's forces by land or sea or to prejudice His Majesty's relations with foreign powers;

Open & shut case, I would say!

Steve

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Open & shut case, I would say!

It may be an open and shut case within the terms of this piece of draconian legislation, but using DORA to prosecute (persecute) this man is like cracking a nut with a sledge hammer. Was the state in such a shambles at the time that the utterings of this man either disaffected his majesty (heaven forfend) or materially interfered "....with the success of His Majesty's forces". ?, I think not.

Andy

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Defence of the Realm Act 1914

(1) His Majesty in Council has power during the continuance of the present war to issue regulations for securing the public safety and the defence of the realm, and as to the powers and duties for that purpose of the Admiralty and Army Council and of the members of His Majesty's forces and other persons acting in his behalf; and may by such regulations authorise the trial by courts-martial, or in the case of minor offences by courts of summary jurisdiction, and punishment of persons committing offences against the regulations and in particular against any of the provisions of such regulations designed:

Open & shut case, I would say!

Steve

Draconian powers like this in order to fight "Prussianism"?

No matter how bad DORA was, it stopped short of the firing squad. Which is why the Army shipped a group af Conscientious Objectors out to France in order to sentence them to death.

So, in this "free" country you had the absolute legal right to a conscience, but try getting your rights and you might have been shot. Luckily, the sentences were not actually carried out.

For example:

"Howard Cruttenden Marten (b. 1884), a conscientious objector and member of the No-Conscription Fellowship during the First World War, was sentenced to death, commuted to ten years, then imprisoned at Winchester and Wormwood Scrubs, and later employed on the Home Office Work Scheme at Aberdeen (Dyce), Wakefield and Dartmoor (Princetown). He later worked briefly with the Friends' War Victims Relief Committee." - My emphasis

Source: http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/news/0409hmc.html

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Who decides who gets to speak and what they are allowed to say? Can there be a controlled freedom?

I would say the Magistrate gets to decide in this case. An officer of the law may charge someone if he thinks an offence may have been committed, but the Magistrate, in this case, has to agree.

Of course he/she who brought the charge may have had some prior idea as to the courts likely response :unsure:

I'm not sure if there can be a controlled freedom, is it actually freedom ?

Can there be an UNcontrolled one ? Is that actually freedom ? :unsure:

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A quick local search could have found Hugh to be as young as 15, and most likely spoke in Welsh, as Mark said we're funny people in Penrhyn, and find it difficult at times to speak and express ourselves in the English tounge even today, how we managed to communicate during WW1 I do not know, but I suppose that CHARGE is the same in English and Welsh, oh, and not so far away in Tremadoc an other funny fellow was born. And he ended up Arabia.

Hwyl

Kevin

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Would he have been tried in Welsh or in English?

Gwyn

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Am I right here, he was 15 years old??

Makes you wonder if the "boys" he was telling not to be silly were out of short pants......

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It was fortunate for Hugh that he was not involved in the supply of narcotics to actresses, organising a dog show, selling alcohol on public transport, flying a kite, lighting a bonfire or any one of the other myriad criminal offences that were introduced by the governmental power of decree under DORA.

The British state has always been artful in preserving the interests of those it acts on behalf of by coercion and social control and never more so than in the period of 1910-26.

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WWI was a modern war in all respects. The desire if not frantic need to control the propaganda front was taken very seriously. US jails filled up with sedition offenders and the US mail was regularly censored by gov't agents.

Tom's story is wonderful ... it is weird enough to be true.

Hi, Andy!

About a year ago I was approached by a film-maker and hired to research an event in US history for a film he was making. It was in the area of the suppression of German-Americans during WW I; I will describe it later.

I read about 1000-1500 pages of sources and poked about in other ways, and I never found a concrete reference to the incident. But what I did find was quite surprising. There was some sort of semi-official "observation corps" of volunteers, hundreds of thousands strong, set up to spy on their neighbors. Many were kids like Boy Scouts. Volunteer committees would issue demands for a particular German-American family to buy, say, $300 in war bonds, and if this was refused their home might be invaded by a mob, with the inside and outside splashed with paint, people were tarred and feathered (this is not fun, in some cases this treatment could be fatal), The head of the family might be dragged downtown to the local theater, where he might be beaten on stage, humiliated, forced to kiss the American flag, and of course announce the amount of war bonds that they would buy. Pascifists (sp?) such as Mennonites who offered to buy Red Cross bonds instead were forced to buy war bonds. As a result many Mennonites left the US and moved to Canada and Mexico.

I only found one example of a full-blown, fatal lynching, but there were many staged "half-lynchings", with the victim injured but not fully killed.

There were many, many legal prosecutions. Two examples. Four Mennonite young men (these people are absolute pascificts) were arrested for draft evasion, tried in Federal court, and scentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. They were taken to a Federal prison, where they were stripped naked, hung from the ceiling of their cells with chains to their wrists, and two of the four died of pneumonia.

The Federal attorney in, I believe, Cinncinatti Ohio moved against a German church denomination that traditionally used German in its services, and indited, in one process, 167 bishops and pastors for treason, for speaking German in a church service.

The incident that I was asked to research was as follows, seemingly. (The film-maker was making a film on daschund dogs.) I had heard of this in a newspaper, probably the NY Times, some years ago at the time of a ceremony to re-re-name a Columbus, Ohio park from "Washington Park" back to "Schiller Park". Evidentally, this park, a large one in a Columbus neighborhood known as "Germantown", was re-named from the original "Schiller Park" to "Washington Park" during WW I. A ceremony was held in the park, and the climax of the ceremony was when many, many dogs, of German breeds (German Sheppards, Daschunds, Wiemeraners, Rottweillers, etc.), were dragged to the park and shot, during the ceremony, and tossed in a large pit that had been pre-dug.

I saw this mentioned in the paper, almost certainly the New York Times, the film-maker had heard of this, a friend of mine taking history courses for a graduate degree in Philadelphia said that his history instructor had mentioned the incident, and I found one fragmentary mention of it. But, despite many efforts, I found no clear, sourced mention of the incident, nor the date of it. (Anyone with knowledge of this please post.)

I am sensitive to this sort of thing, as we were denounced during WW II to the FBI by a neighbor, a drunken wife-beater, who tried to swing at my father when pushing into our apartment while looking for his wife, who had fled to Florida. Pop, who was big, a former storm-trooper and Freikorpsmann, applied the appropriate correctives and then threw him down a flight of stair to assist his return to his own apartment. After the war an FBI man actually came to our house to close the case, identified the informer, and observed that the denunciation had seemed fishy. But that did not prevent the FBI from conducting about 50 searches of the house that we had later moved to while my father worked for the US Navy. More seriously, my mother and I (a 4 year old American citizen), came very close to being put in a camp during the war, only being saved by the base commander, a naval captain, who told the Naval Intelligence officer that if we were sent off, which was the NI officers perogative, he would move the NI officer's tent off-base into a jungle with three-foot centipedes, which was the base commander's perogative. It was decided that my mother and I were not as dangerous as previously thought.

Bob Lembke

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