“A great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals”

Members of Reading’s Dodeka Club discussed the thorny question of conscription. The evening’s host was considering whether it was time for him to join up voluntarily.

The 282nd meeting of the club was held at Goodenough’s on March 2nd, 1917.

… Gibbons introduced a friend, Lt de Villiers…

…After refreshments the host suggested as a commencement for discussion the question of “National Service”, and pointed out that he personally was requiring advice as to the advisability of volunteering. The experience gained after the Military Service Act and the Derby Scheme gave one a great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals. The host feeling great doubt in his mind as to whether justice would be done to the great body of business men in the country.

Penfold started the ball rolling in the discussion, by asking if members were liable to prosecution under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, should any decision be arrived at, a military representative being present. Some discussion then took place regarding the action of Tribunals, the necessity or otherwise of National Service, compulsion and reduction of the number of shopkeepers. A very pleasant evening was concluded with some submarine stories of a rather fishy nature and a pun relating to Bagged Dads by Gibbons.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

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“A leader will appear – but my! how he’s dawdling”

Meg Meade wrote to her brother with the latest news, and the reactions in their circle at home.

23 Wilton Place
Dec 20th [1915]
My own darling Ralph

It will be very horrid to think of you in cold Gallipoli for Xmas, but we’ll all be thinking of you darling…

Jim has been told off by JJ [Jellicoe] to take charge of the 125th Flotilla, & I suppose his appointment may be gazetted soon. But perhaps not in wartime. He starts off with 3 destroyers, a depot ship, & Destroyer Leader until the rest of them join up. I’m certain he’ll make it a smart flotilla.

They seem to have had an awful gale up there lately, & his passage north wasn’t to comfortable either. It’s only daylight from 9 am to 3 pm now apparently, they’ll be thankful when the shortest day is over. Algy Harris dined here last night. He was passing through London to take up a job under some Colonel of coastal defences, somewhere in the middle of the Lincolnshire coast. He seemed very lame indeed, poor Algy, he has been badly in the dumps, & not feeling at all well. He ought to get to a warm dry climate but everything seems up against him, & he’s very deaf now. But he hears alright when he uses a sort of telephone thing. I do wish one could help him to get out to Egypt or some such place. He’s very good & brave, but it is all bitterly hard on him. Soldiering is the one aim of his life, & he feels he’s a failure, but that’s not his fault, poor dear…

Everyone seems naturally very depressed at the news from the East. It’s horrible, isn’t it, one must just go on hoping & believing that a leader will appear, but my! How he’s dawdling. I met the French Naval Attache lunching today with the Aubrey Smiths. It’s hard for such people to understand why under the circumstances we don’t have conscription, and I don’t blame them for being both annoyed with us, & they must have not a little contempt too for being too optimistically blockheaded. I hear that Mr Jack Wilson, who was nabbed by the Austrian submarine, completely lost his head at the critical moment. He threw overboard one bag of important despatches without weighting it, so that it floated on the water till the Austrians picked it up. But I heard that his other bag of important despatches was “saved owing to the presence of mind & resources of an American lady”. I wonder if she chewed the contents, or hid them up her skirts….

Meg

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)