Echoes in Enamel, by Sue Brown, at Stroud Museum

Home Front
(From the Kitchen to the Factory)

Decorated spoons hanging on the wall,
Like so many enamel medals;
Spanners turned to ornaments,
Like so many swords to ploughshares;
The world of home and war juxtaposed
In a museum cabinet of domestic remembrance:
A sewing machine, a cup and saucer,
A register of Daniels’ munition girls
(Like so many schoolgirls in a school logbook),
Sepia pictures of their phossy war work –
Kitchen sink linked to trench sump:
‘Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers’
(The family gathered round the kitchen table,
The vacant chair at its head),
The telegram boy at the front door,
The tears in the tea cup,
‘And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds’.

Echoes in Enamel, by Sue Brown, is an exhibition about munitions workers at Daniels in Stroud. Get to Stroud Museum soon – I think it finishes on April 26th.

1914-1918: And Now For The Final Cost:

 

 
(With thanks to Crispin Thomas and Johnny Fluffypunk)
Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1
Barnsley 4 Blackburn Rovers 2
Birmingham City 2 Blackpool 3
Bolton Wanderers 1 Bradford City 9
Derby County 6 Brentford 7
Brighton and Hove Albion  5
Bristol City 5
Bristol Rovers 3 Bury 7
Burnley 5 Cardiff City 0
Chelsea 6 Clapton Orient 4
Coventry City 6 Crystal Palace 4
Bradford Park Avenue 2 Everton 7
Exeter City 6 Fulham 0
Grimsby Town 1 Huddersfield Town 5
Hull City 4 Liverpool 6
Luton Town 3 Manchester City 9
Manchester United 8 Middlesborough 7
Millwall 5 Newcastle United 9
Newport County 1 Northampton Town 1
Norwich City 6 Nottingham Forest 2
Notts County 2 Oldham Athletic 0
Plymouth Argyle 7 Portsmouth 0
Preston North End 10 Queens Park Rangers 0
Reading 9 Sheffield United 2
Southampton 4 Southend United 10
Stockport County 9 Stoke City 0
Sunderland 0 Swansea 0
Stalybridge Celtic 0 Swindon Town 6
Sheffield Wednesday 3 West Bromwich Albion 2
West Ham United 7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Watford 3 Tottenham Hotspur 14

Forest Green Rovers and WW1

Forest Green was, as historian Tim Barnard comments:
‘A staunchly Non Conformist village,
made up of Baptists and Congregationalists’ –
Although the club was based at a pub,
‘The Jovial Forester … Lower Forest Green … in those early years’;
Tim also comments that: ‘Some might argue that FGR are
carrying on with that tradition with our new Green ethos!’
This is more than interesting,
for such non-conformism was often double-edged:
For some it meant thrift, ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’,
Sabbatarianism, devoted Bible reading and so on,
But for others, the 3 Rs and the Bible meant only one lesson:
‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than it is for a rich man to enter Heaven’;
Such people might well have joined the local riots of 1766:
‘On Friday last a Mobb was rais’d in these parts by the blowing of Horns &c
consisting entirely of the lowest of the people such as weavers, mecanicks,
labourers, prentices and boys &c… cutting open Baggs of Flower
and giving it & carrying it away’;
Or the Captain Swing riots in Horsley in the winter of 1830:
‘This is to tell you gentlemen that if you don’t pull down them infernall machines then we will you damnd dogs. An yew mus rise the marrid mens wages tow and sixpence a day an the single tow shillins or we will burn your hayricks’;
Then at the end of the nineteenth century,
there came agricultural trades unionism,
With Joseph Banks, the Slad Road chemist, leading meetings,
Calling for an end to truck and payment in kind,
And calling for shorter hours and higher wages,
Labourers should be paid, he said,
‘In sterling money, not fat bacon … or a couple of swedes’.
So this was the background preceding the Great War,
The background from which men marched out from their football pitch,
Some never to return:
‘There are 3 names with initials on the Nailsworth war memorial
matching names and initials of pre- war Forest Green Rovers players.
W Brinkworth, E Beale, S Marmont.
W Brinkworth is also named on the Woodchester Baptist Chapel memorial plaque, now in Woodchester Parish Church. That all fits because FGR and Forest Green was a staunchly Non Conformist village, made up of Baptists and Congregationalists’, says Tim.
In conclusion, Tim has sent us the following:

Stroud Journal, September 1919
Stroud and District Football Association notes

When war broke out in August 1914 the above League had made every effort for a record season. Rule books etc had been printed ready for issue to the clubs who had entered and nearly 800 registration forms had been received from players who had “signed on” to take part in league matches.
Then came the call to arms and by the beginning of September so many of these players had joined the colours that it was impossible for the clubs to carry out their programmes.

The League Committee at once came to a decision and decided to disband for the duration of the war.
Many of the boys who at that time were looking forward to their favourite pastime have fallen on the different battlefields that their names will always live in the memory of those interested in the Stroud and District League….

Jack Russell and Edward Hogg

Immaculate in spotless cricket whites,

Keeping wicket on the village green,


Up past Slad’s crossroad war memorial,


Betwixt Purgatory and Paradise,


To where 7323 Private Edward Hogg’s name


(7th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment),


Returned, after dying with 300 comrades,


In their own version of hell in Belgium.


One hundred years later, great-great nephew,


Jack Russell: of England, Gloucestershire, Stroud,


Archway School, Forest Green, and pilgrim,


Recreated the morning steps to death 


In the fields around Zwartelen in Belgium:


‘I found a photo of him about five years ago …


Last year … we found the very field where he died …


Waiting for the right time and then at 9 a.m.,


When they were ordered into the woods,


I walked down the road to the spot …


They lay out there all day, suffering.


Some of them made it back under cover of darkness …


I felt like I knew him and this was the closest I could get to him …


I don’t paint blood and gore …


It’s the moment before all hell breaks loose.


Because I’d found a photograph of Edward,


I could paint him looking back one last time’ …


Looking back to Slad, before stepping out to Hell.

With thanks to Sally Bailey, Stroud News. Private Edward Hogg is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour in the parish church at Slad, as well as on the war memorial. Purgatory is a copse above Slad. Paradise is near Painswick. The only place in the UK where these names appear some 6 miles apart.

The Deserter in Cider with Rosie: Questions

Radical Stroud - Stuart Butler - Slad

A Retrospective on ‘British Army Mutineers, 1914 – 1922’, by Julian Putkowski

At first glance, it must seem obvious
That as there was no explosion of mutiny
Until after the conclusion of conflict,
Then the British Army must have been,
On the whole, loyal to King and Country
(Over half of the army were volunteers);
Admittedly, two hundred and sixty six men
Were shot for desertion in the face of the enemy,
But these were acts of individual insubordination,
Rather than acts of collective, mutinous solidarity,
And few executions resulted at the Great War’s end,
(Nothing like the musket balls in Burford Church,
After the Leveller’s Mutiny in 1649,
Nor the 1797 mutinies at the Nore and Spithead,
When 29 members of ‘the floating republic’ were hanged),
But on the other hand…
The necessities of trench line duty
Prevented the mass meetings necessary for mutiny,
As opposed to acts of individual insubordination,
But when troops did get the chance to meet en masse …
Then sometimes all hell let loose,
So, who, where, when, what, why and how?
Over 2,000 men were charged with mutiny
Between 1914 and 1922
(Only men and other ranks, no officers;
A staggering 90% found guilty),
And there were over 300,000 courts martial cases,
With, again, a similar figure of 90% found guilty:
Officers demanded absolute discipline,
While diffident Tommies were often alone in these courts,
Facing a vehement prosecution …
There were over fifty wartime mutinies at home,
The major ones being at Canterbury,
In July 1915 and January 1917,
Towcester, November 1916,
And Bramshott, November 1917;
There were also 5, 739 conscientious objectors
Who faced charges,
As well as the formation, in June 1917,
Of a workers’ and soldiers’ council
At, of all places, Tonbridge Wells:
Ringleaders were posted to France and elsewhere,
But government spies and agents provocateurs
Could not prevent the ubiquitous unrest in 1919,
When army camps were overwhelmed
By strikes, demonstrations and protest
At the slow pace of demobilization;
Special Branch top toff, Sir Basil Thomson, gloomily intoned
‘I do not think at any time in history since the Bristol Riots
have we been so near revolution’,
So worried was he by the flying of red flags …
But, in the main, motivations for mutiny
Were about dreadful training camps and rations
(Wiltshire, 1914 and 1915, Etaples, 1917),
War weary impatience with demobilization
(Dover, Folkestone, Calais and India, 1919),
Complaints about mistreatment and punishment
(Blargies North Prison, 1916),
But even when taking that into account,
The 1919 mutiny at Poona is an exemplar,
Of how an ostensible protest about demobilization
Was, in fact, a pregnant denotation
About the fragility of Empire,
And its impact upon boss and worker at home:
Soldiers in India were worried about their jobs,
If not speedily repatriated;
The top brass in India were worried that after Amritsar,
There might be insufficient troops to quell rebellion –
But fighting for King, Country and Empire
Would be cold comfort if you lost your job,
A few ‘Homes fit for Heroes’ were not enough,
Strikes, wage cuts and unemployment
Were just around the corner in ‘Dear Old Blighty’,
And as for Ireland and Empire …
And as for war against the Bolsheviks …

He is a tantalising figure, that deserter.

David Adams in his recent book about F.W. Harvey, The Nightmare Trail, writes of direct disobedient action by soldiers in 1919: ‘Indeed, such was the discontent among returning soldiers that in January 1919 700 men of the Third Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment refused to parade, drill, train or work, and marched and demonstrated about work, pay and food conditions – part of a nationwide series of strikes and mutinies hidden by the government from the public.’

Question: Was the deserter one of these? He could not have been one of the three men of the Glosters who mutinied at Malvern Wells in 1915 – could he?

The Sainsbury’s Advertisment

It’s a bit Herbert Marcuse,
A bit One Dimensional Man:
A unification of opposites,
A harmonisation of contradictions,
Where liberal-democratic capitalism
Gives that tantalising illusion of freedom,
Whilst simultaneously appropriating opposition.
It’s Gramsci’s cultural hegemony,
It’s Sainsbury’s Christmas advertisement:
A celebration of an unofficial truce,
With unauthorised fraternisation,
And near mutiny,
Held up as a paragon of virtue,
In a sanitised World War One
(Where is that queer, sardonic rat?),
With the fetishisation of confection and money,
And where disobedience and mutinous self-expression
Have been gently press ganged into the national service
Of conformism, consumerism, capitalism and consumption.
Not so much 1914 – 2014, as 1984:
Orwellian double-speak,
Post-modernist history,
21st century store wars.

The 1914 Truce in Context

The 1914 Truce in Context

It wasn’t, in fact, a bolt from the blue,
Instead the 1914 Truce was part of a pattern,
That both preceded that Christmas and continued beyond:
There were ‘cushy’ sectors, involving ‘laissez-faire’,
‘Rest and let rest’, ‘Let sleeping dogs lie’,
‘Mutual obligation element’,
‘Tacit truces’, ‘mutual understanding’,
‘Compromise, and be mighty glad to be alive’,
Running along the British front line on the Western Front.

There were respected rituals during the day:
Breakfast bacon and ration party truces,
When as Ian Hay wrote in 1915:
‘It would be child’s play to shell …ration wagons
and water carts…but on the whole there is silence…
if you prevent your enemy from drawing his rations…
he will prevent you from drawing yours.’

In addition, both sides faced General Winter:
A German officer commented in 1914:
‘Friend and foe alike go to fetch straw from the same rick
to protect them from the cold and rain and to have some sort of bedding
to lie on – and never a shot is fired.’

Sometimes, defused rifle grenades were tossed into trenches,
Containing messages, sometimes weather truces
Led to salutations, conversations and jokes,
(‘”Waiter!”… fifty Fritzes stuck their heads up…”Coming Sir.” ’);
Sometimes, a deliberate policy of positive inertia
Was recognized and reciprocated,
Sometimes night patrols would studiously avoid each other.

Weaponry, even when used, could also send messages:
Rifle and machine gun fire might be aimed too high,
Hand bombing led to a signaled, invitational
And deliberate misplacing of explosives:
‘their trenches…no more than ten or fifteen yards from ours…
was a good insurance against strafing on either side.
The mildest exchange of hand grenades or bombs…
Would have made life intolerable.’

Heavy artillery took a different line:
Here messages were sent by the fact that often,
The same spot would be shelled at exactly the same time each day:
‘Twelve little Willies at noon to the tick,
Got our heads down, and go them down quick,
Peaceful and calm was the rest of the day,
Nobody hurt and nothing to say.’

‘Nobody hurt and nothing to say’:
I have compiled this prose-poem from ‘Trench Warfare 1914-1918: The Live and Let Live System’, by Tony Ashworth (Macmillan, 1980); his conclusion is that:
‘Altogether it does not seem unreasonable to assert that live and let live occurred in about one-third of all trench tours made by all divisions within the BEF. Such was the scale of this undertone of trench warfare.’
This ignored and forgotten history is something to talk about in centenary year.

Live and Let Live

When you’ve been out ‘ere as long as I ‘ave,
You get to know the ropes and have a laugh,
Keep’ yer ‘ead down aint enough for Fritz,
You’ve got to show you can live and let live.
When Fritz has his breakfast, let ‘im be,
Then he’ll let you ‘ave your bacon an’ yer tea,
But if you shells ‘im when ‘e’s having grub,
He’ll pay ya double back and there’s the rub,
An’ when yer out at night lookin’ for straw,
If you sees Fritz then give ‘im some, and more,
Then he’ll do the same and ease yer bed,
Instead of aimin’ for yer ‘ead.
An’ when it rains and raids is off,
Send Fritz a joke and make ‘im laugh,
And when he fires and aims too high,
You shoot ‘im back but in the sky.
Live and let live, that’s our way,
That way we live another day.
“Eh? What’s that? My best memory?
Of this whole long ruddy war?
It aint the medals. It aint the glory.
It was No Man’s Land. That first Christmas.
In the snow. Playing Fritz at football.”

Stroud 1914

Stroud 1914

Stroud, like so many places a century ago,

Was an unconscious microcosm of the whole nation:

The sloping slate roofs of the red-bricked terraces,

The new suburban villas with their monkey puzzle trees,

The grand country houses with their uninterrupted views,

The old stone cottages with their vegetable plots,

The farms, the barns, the byres, the stables, the milk churns,

The dry stone lanes, the holloways, the footpaths,

The ginnels, the alley-ways, the new name streets,

The orcha​rds, the commons, the hedgerows, the fields,

The rivers, the streams, the springs, the brooks,

The canals, the wharves, the railway lines, the gas lights,

The bridges, the viaducts, the factories, the mills,

The forge, the furnace, the foundry, the smithy,

The plumes of steam as men marched to the station:

The clunk of the signal, the guard’s shrill whistle,

The handkerchiefs, the tears, the waves, the loneliness,

The camps, the tents, the ships, the ‘planes, the fronts,

The telegrams, the slow drawing down of the blinds.