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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft

Bingley Petty Sessions

Soldier Absentees

Harry Bentham, of Cullingworth, was charged with [being an absentee from his regiment], having been absent from December 24 from the depot of the Lancashire Fusiliers. Police-Constable Dunnett arrested the man at Wilsden, and he then remarked to the constable that he had had a good run and a good time. He was remanded on bail to await an escort

- Keighley News, 9th February 1918

6th February – Though vocal and visible anti-war feeling in Britain was still confined to a few thousand conscientious objectors, there was outrage amongst this minority group when one of their number, a Methodist shoemaker named Henry Firth, died at a work centre for conscientious objectors on Dartmoor. Firth had been imprisoned for nine months, and had become so ill in prison that he had accepted alternative service at the Princetown stone quarries on Dartmoor. Admitted to hospital after collapsing at work, Firth’s, a diabetic, requests for eggs were denied on the grounds that they were wanted for soldiers in France. Eventually the authorities relented and he was granted three fresh eggs. They arrived the day after his death. Three days after Firth’s death, the philosopher Bertrand Russell was sentenced to six months in prison for advocating in public that the British Government accept a German offer to open peace negotiations.

Mark Hayler, a Quaker and another conscientious objector imprisoned alongside Firth on Dartmoor, recalled sixty years later that “[Firth] had pneumonia. He’d been badly treated at Dartmoor, he should never have been sent out on the moor in bad weather. He should have got an indoor job and he got this cold and he got pneumonia …It was the only funeral from Dartmoor and the whole of the men attended the funeral, they insisted, they couldn’t have prevented them and they followed behind the coffin down to the railway and it was put on the little train at Princetown and taken down to Plymouth … which is about ten miles away… And I remember nearly a thousand men sang a hymn, ‘Abide With Me’”.

Sources

Gilbert, M. First World War

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)

http://www.myprimitivemethodists.org.uk/page/henry_firth_conscientious_objector

30th January – At 5.45am, the London Fire Brigade suffered their worst ever loss of life in any incident not attributable to war, when a blazing three-storey warehouse collapsed on the Albert Embankment. Seven firefighters were killed. Although the cause of the fire was unknown, it was believed to have been caused by rats gnawing through an electrical cable.

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  • Image of the aftermath, taken from the London Fire Brigade website
1st February – Discontent was growing amongst the armed forces of more nations. Greek troops in the town of Lamia, about to be sent to the Salonika Front, mutinied. Two of their leaders were executed. On the same day, in the town of Kotor, in modern-day Montenegro, Austro-Hungarian sailors aboard ship also mutinied. Led by two Czech socialists, the 6,000 sailors raised the red flag and announced their adherence to Bolshevism. However, they sang the ‘Marseillaise’, not the ‘Internationale’, and their demands were closer to Woodrow Wilson’s peace initiatives than to any of Lenin’s decrees – They wanted national autonomy, immediate peace, no annexation of territory, demobilisation and better living conditions. The mutineers appealed for help to the Austrian army garrison in the port, as well as the German submarine crews also in the docks – however, this attempt to spread the mutiny was rebuffed. Austrian authorities sent three battleships to quell the disturbance. Eight hundred mutineers were taken off the ships, forty were sent to trial, and four executed.

Sources

Gilbert, M. First Word War

London Fire Brigade http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/LatestNewsReleases_LFB150-1918-fire-remains-darkest-day-for-brigade.asp

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  • Keighley News, 26th January 1918
Sources

Keighley News Archive (accessed via Bradford Libraries website)