Fathers at the front, children in trouble

On 15 April 1916 The Chief Constable of Berkshire delivered his annual report to the County’s Standing Joint Committee which oversaw police matters. There had been a reduction in serious crime, but an increase in minor and juvenile offences, which he ascribed to the numbers of absent fathers.

General remarks as regards crime during the year 1915

During the past year the number of Indictable and Non-Indictable Offences again shows a very satisfactory decrease compared with previous years. There is little doubt that the war largely accounts for this.

I would, however, point out the fact that there has been a very large increase in the total number of offences, both Indictable and Non-Indictable, committed by Juveniles. In 1914, the number of Juvenile offences (Indictable) was 39, whereas in 1915 it has risen to 82, and in the case on Non-Indictable Offences it has risen from 38 in 1914 to 82 in 1915.

These Juvenile Offences largely account for the increase in Stealing and Malicious Damage… and no doubt the want of control over children due to the absence of their fathers on Military Service and the consequent extra burden of work thrown upon the mothers, may be looked upon as a primary cause of this youthful indiscipline. The increase in the number of offences under the Education Act may also in a sense be attributable to the same case, owing to children being kept at home to help their mothers….

As regards Tramps, I do not think any comparison can be made between this year and other years, as the whole question of vagrancy has so altered owing to the exigencies of the war. Several Casual Wards have been closed altogether, and no doubt many of the men who would otherwise be classed as Tramps are now serving their country in some capacity or other or have found employment elsewhere.

Death of PC 144, F. B. Hewett
I regret to report the death on 30th December 1914 of PC 144, Francis B. Hewett, who lost his life when HMS Natal exploded and sank. He rejoined the Navy as a ship’s steward on 1st June, 1915, under the provisions of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915. He was 21 years of age, was unmarried, and had served 2 years and 2 months in this force at the date of his death.

Chief Constable’s Report to the Standing Joint Committee (C/CL/C2/1/5)

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“It gets nearly unbearable at times”

Naval wife Meg Meade wrote to her beloved brother Ralph tyo encourage him in his down moments.

March 9th [1916]
Peter[borough]

My own darling Ralph

I am so very delighted that your chiefs have said such nice things to you & encouraged you to stay in the Army when you leave, but why should that be for ‘my ears only’! because it prevented me telling the parents I even had a letter from you & I felt most deceitful! & they would so love to know about it, so mind you tell them in your next letter…

Darling, I think your last letter sounded downhearted, but perhaps you were trying it on with me & I am glad to see you look anything but moping in the Staff photograph which has fetched up alright. Don’t talk about being a poor devil or growing old! We are all in the same boat as far as that is concerned, & I am looking forward to happy times after the war when you will marry & settle down with a nice Mrs Ralph, who will refuse to allow you to be either pathetic, a poor devil, or old!! It will come true alright. Don’t worry your head, but cheer up & get your ingenious mind to work on how we can finish off these d-d Bosches in the shortest possible time.

It was very kind of Captain(?) Gascoigne to bring that photograph…
I am going up to London today to see Arthur Clanwilliam who is passing through London from Ireland on his way back to the Front, & I will order the magazines you want.

As to the Natal sinking, of course London was full of contradictory rumours, & we shan’t know the truth for a long time. I believe that the Captain’s wife & Commander’s wife were on board & lost their lives, but there wasn’t a party.

I don’t think that will worry a Censor to read, as it’s common property.

Jim’s very well, but having hard work, as he’s been given 24 boats instead of 16. There may possibly be a chance of my seeing him next month which I am panting for. I was reckoning up the other day & find that of the 20 months duration of the war I have only seen him for 14 weeks of it. But it can’t last for ever, although it gets nearly unbearable at times!…

Darling, I won’t hear of you giving me a birthday present. It’s not done in wartime, only I send you a kiss for your darling thought.

Aunt Far’s letter of economy to the Times the other day called Physicians Heal Yourselves, addressed to the Government after the ridiculous speeches by ministers in the Guildhall, was a jolly good letter. She is, I hear, drowned with letters from people all over the country describing the uncontrolled Government waste that goes on everywhere….

I know you will be said too about Desmond FitzGerald’s death, killed whilst showing how a bomb worked to a General, such a waste of his life. I haven’t heard if the General was killed too.

Bless you so, & I do hope we shall soon hear that you are on the way home for “a drop of leaf” as Jim calls it….

From forever
Meg

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

Will the government have enough pluck to shoot those who oppose conscription?

Ralph Glyn’s parents both wrote to him on New Year’s Eve. The good bishop was quite gung ho (and one might think not very Christian) about deporting Germans and even shooting conscientious objectors! Lady Mary was still fussing about her quarrels with a rival Red Cross workroom.

The Palace
Peterborough
Dec 31 [1915]

My darling Ralph

Here is my New Year letter to you…

Things at Salonica [sic] seem doing well – & our forces must be growing there – as we see daily accounts in the papers of “more troops arriving” – and I am glad that the French General has taken the enemy consuls & staff & put them on board of a French man-of-war – so they have got rid of them as spies – & it is good. Tonight’s paper tells of an English cruiser blown up in harbour – “HMS Natal, captain Eric Back, RN armoured cruiser sank yesterday in harbour as the result of an internal explosion”. This seems to me only another reason why we should ship away every German in England & send them to their own country, as it is no use keeping the enemy here to do such mischief as blowing up our ships in harbour – as I should say it must have been done by some bomb put on board by a German.

We have got our conscription so far, & shall hear all about it on Thursday. It is high time the “Government” (so-called) made up their minds to the inevitable – & the “country” will back them up certainly – & now we shall “wait & see” if the Government will have pluck enough to shoot those that oppose them.

Much love – & take care of your dear self.

Your loving father
E C Peterborough

Dec 31 1915
My own darling own Ralph

The news of the loss of the “Natal” has come this evening to us here – and one dreads to think it may be another treachery or labour trouble – but the news is good of the full Cabinet meeting and one feels sure that the country will be sound on the question of these men who have held back…

I hear of Edith Wolverton coming here but not to see us. I think the war makes these women quite queer. They are so anxious to be petite maitresse & do not understand how it is all lost in provincial towns where everyone on the spot wishes to emulate any “star” that wishes to “shoot”. We are very happy with our canteen and it will give us plenty to do and I shall hear I suppose soon about the other crazy emulation over Red Cross. They are all quite sick with anger I have my private workroom and the Sham Committee find they are quite powerless to stop it but I am quite willing to co-operate it when they become real. I am in close touch with Headquarters. Oh! me, when will these silly little fusses be read over by you and where! And it will all seem so silly and so paltry and hard to believe that men and women can be so mean and self seeking over work for the sick and wounded at the Front.

We keep quite quiet and say nothing, but they are spluttering into the papers with their silly complainings. It may have to end in a private official enquiry but Winfrey has managed to save his face by registering one committee under all three – Queen Mary’s Needlework, Sir Edward Ward’s Voluntary Association & the Red Cross! All this with one Fund and the same little creature as accountant that went against affiliation to centre at the beginning & start of all the fuss. I am afraid the expenses are enormous, and that I shall have difficulty in getting the money unless we can get the whole thing put under one authority & one Fund….

Letters from E C and Lady Mary Glyn to their son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)