Strike menace stopped

Unrest eased at home, while the situation in defeated Hungary continued to worry the allies.

28 March 1919

Strike menace stopped. Railway & miners accept terms, also transport. Coal scarce in London.

Allied troops to go to Hungary.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

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Hopes of a settlement with strikers

22 March 1919

Johnson to Reading buying trousseau. Leaving us Monday. Married next week! & off to Canada!!…

Strike postponed till Wednesday. Hopes of a settlement.

March past of Guards in London. Old Sir George went up.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

We have passed through dark days, and darker still may be the days to come

The post-war picture was gloomy.

Visit of the Rev. Dr. Selbie.

When, owing to the Railway Strike, Dr. Selbie was unable to be present at the Pastor’s Recognition Service, he promised to come to us in the New Year. Thus it was, that on Sunday, March 16th, we had the great privilege of listening to him.

The sermon in the morning was based upon Haggai ii, 9- “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former.” It was, said the doctor, a sermon on Reconstruction. The Jews had returned from their long captivity to find Jerusalem a ruin, and their land in the hands of aliens. Under the leadership of Nehemiah and others, they set to work and first built the temple and restored the worship of Jehovah. The people had a mind to work and their first work was that of spiritual reconstruction.

We are living in tremendous times, far more so than most of us realised. We have passed through long years of terrible war and terrible loss. The work of reconstruction lay before us. Were we prepared to undertake the work? More important still, was the temple of God to be the first consideration? With 90 per cent of our population non-Christian, how could this be? We have passed through dark days, and darker still may be the days to come. But the Christian is essentially an optimist. God’s will must be done, if not by us then by some other hands. To us, as to the ancient Jews, comes the assurance that “the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former.

There was a prophetic power in the doctor’s utterances. His picture of the present time was dark, his condemnation of much which passes for Christianity severe, but above all was the assurance of the love of God, and of the ultimate victory of righteousness over evil.

Thatcham Congregational Church section of Newbury and Thatcham Congregational Magazine, May 1919 (D/N32/12/1/1/1)

Inciting to Bolshevism

Eduard Soermus was an Estonian musician and revolutionary who had been living in Wales.

8 February 1919

Dottie says German prisoners are no longer to be used but make way for our own men. Tuck came back demobilized!…

Strikes still continuing. No undergrounds or tubes running,. Many people taken to work in Army lorries. Conferences going on. A Russian violinist “Soermus” taken up – inciting to Bolshevism. He in Brixton, is to be deported.

Phyllis changed room – by herself to escape flu patients.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Candles and flour in case of strikes

Phyllis Vansittart Neale recovered from the flu and lived another 40 years. Meanwhile industrial unrest was increasing.

4 February 1919

I off by 9.3 to London. Walked to Hyde Park Corner across park. Found P[hyllis] looking white, but temp. down. Had walked across room. All other patients have “flu” – return of the complaint. Took my lunch & sat with her till ¼ to 2, then bus to EVN….

Still tube strike & others!! Londoners getting in candles against electricians’ strike. Told to have flour if bakers strike!!


Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Strikes everywhere

Civil unrest threatened the postwar peace.

1 February 1919

Strikes everywhere. Baton charges at Glasgow…

Heard about Phyllis’s first walk! So pleased.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“Anything that one can say sounds so trivial”

A friend who Florence had been visiting just before receiving the news of her brother’s death sent her sympathy.

78 Parkhurst Rd
Holloway
N7

Oct 7th 1918

My dear Florence

I do so wish that sad letter had found its way here instead of awaiting you at your home on your return. I feel we could have been a little consoling to you both & you would have seen your brother Percy too. I am filled with upset that I did not say “stay a day or so longer & we will chance strikes, etc”, I should have loved to.

Let me know if I can be of any service at any time. Anything that one can say sounds so trivial, so I send you both my best love & heartfelt sympathy.

Affectionately yours
Janet

Letter of sympathy to Florence Image on the death of Sydney (D/EX801/81)

Going out to pick blackberries for the soldiers

Strikes at home caused problems for many people.

Little Coxwell
Sept 25th

The older children are going out to pick blackberries for the soldiers in the afternoon.

Lower Sandhurst
September 25th 1918

The last half-holiday for blackberry picking was given this afternoon. 258 lbs. picked. The School has picked in rather over a fortnight 2465 lbs. of fruit for the Ministry of Food.


Datchet
25 September 1918

Miss Riley absent through Railway strike – came in 10.30 & walked from Staines.

Sparsholt
Sept 25th

The children were granted a half holiday this afternoon to gather blackberries for the Ministry of Food.

Log books: Little Coxwell CE School (C/EL80); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL/66/1); Datchet National Mixed School (SCH30/8/3); Sparsholt CE School D/P115/28/47)

Servant hunting

It was getting much harder to find young women willing to work in domestic service, when the war had opened up other opportunities.

25 September 1918
Busy morning [in London]. Servant hunting… Strike on, so advised to go not later than 3.20… Strike getting over.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

No baskets owing to railway strike

Strikers threatened to put paid to the good work of Berkshire children.

Aldermaston
24th September 1918.

Half day for blackberrying, berries unable to be sent off as no baskets arrived owing to railway strike.

Datchet
24 September 1918

Blackberrying this afternoon.

Little Coxwell
Sept 24th

As the weather has been fine today I shall take the older children blackberrying today instead of Thursday.

Hampstead Norreys
24th Sep.

Took secular work from 9.30 to 11.30 to allow children to go blackberrying. Closed for the afternoon for blackberry picking.

Peasemore
Sep. 23 & 24

We took the children for blackberry picking in the afternoons.


Log books of Datchet National Mixed School (SCH30/8/3); Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3); Little Coxwell CE School (C/EL80); Hampstead Norreys CE School (C/EL40/2); Peasemore School (C/EL49/2)

A wild mass of soldiers

Railway workers went on strike.

Florence Vansittart Neale
24 September 1918

A & E to dine. E receiving War Badge from Sir F. Loyd. Paddington a wild mass of soldiers. Wicked strike of railway men. Government firm.

William Hallam
24th September 1918

Aeroplanes were flying over all night long last night.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

“One of the men had his legs nearly blown off”

William Hallam was on holiday in Cornwall but still had the war forced on him.

William Hallam
20th July 1918

This morning just after breakfast a merchantman’s crew were landed at St. Ives. About 20 Chinese and four English officers. One of the men had his legs nearly blown off and he was taken to Penange hospital. We heard 2 vessels had been sunk about 7 miles off. Stormy again.

Florence Vansittart Neale
20 July 1918

Heard Tzar really shot on 16th. Poor man.

More strikes threatened in Coventry &c. Hope they will come round!!

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Germans 6 to our 1

The news was so bad that even militant union members were holding back now.

Florence Vansittart Neale
26 March 1918

Bapaume lost. Germans 6 to our 1. Nice prayers by Archbishop. Boy & Bubs [Leo and Elizabeth Paget] left us for the White House.

William Hallam
26th March 1918

A meeting of the A.S.E. to protest against such a thing as striking in this crisis so I went to support it.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)
and of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

The horrible British workman

The news continued to be mixed. The upper class Florence Vansitttart Neale was outraged by men at home going on strike.

3 March 1918

Activity on front – most attempts repulsed.

Much better Russian news – they taking offensive.

Strike going on. Horrible British workman.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Despite all the talk of brotherhood and solidarity, it is the hard bargaining of the Labour market to which the men will return from the trenches”

Socialist agitators were concerned that it would be back to the bad old days after the war.

“After The War” Problems: 1. – The Class Struggle

It is first of all essential in discussing “after-the-war” labour problems to realise that at bottom they are precisely the same as the old “pre-war” problems… Europe – whatever the colours of its map – will be, after the wat, the same old Europe that we have known all our lives; a Europe inhabited by a few capitalists and a multitudinous proletariat – a Europe of heaven knows how many nationalities, but only two classes…

While the control of industry is in the hands of a capitalist oligarchy, and of the State they control, while Labour is a commodity to be bought and sold, there cannot be, in any real sense, a new England.

Despite all the talk of brotherhood and solidarity, it is the hard bargaining of the Labour market to which the men will return from the trenches. They may have saved England: but their share of the salvage will be only their own labour power, by the sale of which they must gain their livelihood. They may have won political freedom for the world: but they will have to begin again to fight for economic freedom for themselves.

And they will not be able to take up the battle where they left in in the summer of 1914. The fight will be the same, but the conditions under which it is waged will have been modified considerably – and modified greatly to the disadvantage of Labour…

Prices may fall at the end of the war, but they will not fall to the old level, and it will need a stiff struggle to bring the general standard of wages into conformity with the new prices. Every indication points to an even harder battle over the restoration of the rules and privileges which were so lightly abandoned in the hot fit of patriotism. Promise of restoration were cheerfully made, and trustfully accepted; but it is a long way back to March, 1915, and the capitalist press is already busy explaining why and how restoration will be neither practicable nor desirable. So, to, with the rights sacrificed under the Munitions Acts, with the concessions with regard to dilution, with every sacrifice of freedom or status that Labour has made. The employers have, naturally enough, little wish to abandon their gains; they have realised, too, the possibilities of the exploitation of patriotism, and will not forget the experience. Already the cry is being raised that in trade war which is to come with peace, the whole energies of the nation will be demanded; that strikes will still be acts of treachery to the nation. All that has been preached with regard to munitions of war will be preached with regard to munitions of peace.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)