Harold Wild’s Diary – 1917
Gorton ILP Rooms: Langdon Davies on Conscription. Detective Present.
WGAS [Adult school] Muhammadanism [sic]. I introd. lesson with aid of map.
NCF raided by Mil. & Police. 9 arrests. I was at first detained.
Learned from Mrs Watts that last Friday 2 detectives raided NCF Office for literature & absentees. Miss Pimlott & M.Mitchell were in at the time, and Mrs Watts & later Dalby came in. M & D were able to show papers & there was very little literature to be taken away.
Philip & Mrs Snowdon at Oldham (Co-op Hall). RJ Davies in Chair. 3 or 4 dissentients out of 800/900 people.
ILP. Milton Hall. “Industrial Conscription” Chair: FW Jowett MP. Speakers: Fred Bramley, Robert Smillie, Mrs P.Snowden. Ramsay McDonald responded to a call for an address. Many national leaders present.
At the NCF mtg., Messrs Robinson (Cleethorpes) Hunter & Willie Stewart spoke.
24 January 1917
To-day is my 21st birthday. [Then follows list of presents – pathetic by our standards!]
The main thing of moment to me is that I can now act politically without the fear of bringing penalties for my acts, on my parents, as a minor. I [underlined] shall be responsible. I [underlined] shall suffer any punishments,
[The narrative ends here abruptly, apparently with a comma, not a full-stop and the rest of the book contains his personal financial accounts. But the narrative continues exactly where it left off in a new diary, again called “Diary of Events, 1917.” …]
……myself, which contravention or defiance of any iniquitous measures on the Statute Book may involve.
If ever I hold a 21st Birthday Party it will be a postponed one.
At the Annual Mtg to-night of the NCF I was elected one of the 6 ordinary Committee members.
Stockport Central Hall filled to hear RJ Wallhead & A.Ponsonby speak on Peace by Negotiation. No interruptions whatsoever. Principal JW Graham was in the chair.
Night: I paid a visit to Rusholme Chapel where Rev. – Tyson preached the Trust Sermon. On hearing of my presence he was anxious to shake hands with me afterwards, & mother came outside the Chapel to call me to meet him.
Bertrand Russell at Gorton ILP mtg. I noticed Detective Houghton was present.
My wage from to-day has been increased from 40/6 to 43/6. [That is, from £2 and 6 pence, to £2, 3 shillings and 6 pence.]
NCF mtg. raided. Arrests: Orrell, R.J.Lewis, Gwillan, Mitchell. The officers returned after taking the ‘bag’ to the Town Hall, and raided an IBSA [Bible Students?] mtg in the large hall, getting two or three absentees. We had sung the “Red Flag”. The Bible Students sang “God be with you till we meet again.”
At night I called on Mr J.Turner of Plymouth Grove, who is blind. R.J.Lewis had asked me to ask his landlady to forward letters to him with news of arrest. Lewis apparently had been in the habit of spending his Friday evenings with this man & reading to him!
I paid another visit to Mr Turner giving him Lewis’ address.
In two journeys I removed RJ Lewis’ 3 boxes to Mrs Watts, handing her the 2 keys.
Cycled to Brayshaws & left Mrs Brayshaw £10 to take care of until Lewis returns.
Good Friday. NCF Ramble. 37 of us. Potts Shrigley, Bow Stones, Kettleshulme, Whaley Bridge, Hazel Grove.
BSP [British Socialist Party] Public Mtg in Pendleton Co-op Hall to celebrate Russian Revolution [sic!].
NCF social & dance. Many Home Office Scheme men being present.
Mr Whitmore (who was handed over on Tuesday) to our amusement turned up at our Group Mtg in Khaki!
Paid a short visit to the Harrisons again. Afterwards I met Ryan who was out on bail after arrest to-day.
NCF Ramble – Middlewood, Strines, Hazel Grove.
A May Day Demonstration, organised by the Trades Council, to “commemorate & rejoice in the Russian Revolution.” It was strongly anti-militarist, anti-war & international. I had no idea our sympathisers could so pack the Free Trade Hall. Chairman; A.A.Purcell. Speakers included J.E.Sutton, MP, (who got a very hostile reception, being a war man).
To-day I heard the sad news that Wilfred Tysoe had been killed in France.
On my way home I found a military raid in progress on the premises of Lyons Cafe, Market Street.
A UDC [Urban Dist. Council?] mtg in Milton Hall at which I was not present was raided & Hughes arrested. McMurdo was also arrested but eventually released.
I was appointed minutes -sec. at the NCF mtg.
This morning by registered post I received instructions to appear at Hulme Town Hall on June 6 for medical exam. under the “Review of Exceptions” Act.
Went to Hulme Town Hall at 9.00am where I waited until about 10.0’clock, when with many others I was sent to Pendleton Town Hall. I was examined & on the ground of my lameness was relegated to the Reserve.
At 3.0pm I attended as one of eight delegates from M/c Branch at Divisional NCF Conference in the Milton Hall, at which Bertrand Russell was present.
At night (7.30) the Milton Hall was packed by a public mtg. called by the Anglo-Russian Co-operative Committee, “to congratulate the Russian people on their attainment of civil liberties, & to call upon the Govt. to grant the same liberties to the British people.” The speakers were: Bertrand Russell, A.J.Davis, Marg. Ashton, J,Bruce Glassier, I. Wassilewski, with Rev. Hewlitt Johnson in the chair. When Bertrand Russell had been speakng for some time, men in khaki, backed by a number of police, made their way to the front amidst much booing & hooting. In irony, the gallery started singing Rule Britannia. When order was restored a little, the chairman announced that an Officer would speak, then Miss Ashton. They were followed by RJ Davies. Few were sorry for this display of the powers that be. The meeting was enthusiastically with us in our uncompromising anti-militarism.
I cycled to Ashton to see the havoc wrought by the terrible Munitions Explosion at Ashton wks.
3.0pm. Big socialist & Peace Demonstration held in Stevenson Square [Manchester] without permission ofWatch Committee. Arranged by BSP [British Socialist Party].
Further BSP Demonstration in Stephenson Square.
Womens Peace Crusade – Big mtg in Stephenson Square.
Labour Leader announced a BSP Demonstration in Stephenson Sq., but evening papers advertised a Patriotic Mtg led by British Workers League. A big crowd of men over military age with one or two men in khaki made the BSP mtg impossible, although a discharged soldier appealed that both sides should be heard. Then a BSP man was thrown off the lorry by a man over military age, and the men rattled the lorry out of the square in no time.
A Womens Peace Crusade mtg had been arranged for 3.0pm in Stephenson Square, but the “Evening Chron” & “Daily Dispatch” incited their readers to break it up. A counter demonstration was advertised by the Veterans League. I arrived in the Square about 2.15 & found the Police had decided to prohibit all meetings in the Square. A big crowd was kept on the move by a force of 30-50 police.
Took my first Spanish lesson at the Ruiz Sch of Languages, Albert Square.
At an NCF social at Mrs Watts. 58 in all were present.
Mr Jones, a friend [quaker], of Moss Side, who has been in Wormwood & Hull Gaols [presumably as a CO] had tea & spent the evening with us.
After Spanish, I went to the Milton Hall to hear at the NCF meeting a fine address from Maxwell of Glasgow on CO’s of the past.
In the afternoon I went to the Octagon PSA [?] where RJ Davies spoke on “Is a permanent peace possible?”
Went to the Guild at Rusholme where Dorothy Broome [who became my mother] gave a paper on Workhouse life, under the title “And who is my neighbour” [Mother had worked as a nurse in a workhouse.]
After my Spanish lesson. I went to the NCF mtg. where Rev.S.James was to speak. I arrived at the Milton Hall a little before 9.0 just as a number of soldiers and police were entering. I realised a raid was on. I had my certificate examined & particulars taken. One or two arrests were made, but I was unable to find out who.
As a result apparently of Wednesday’s raid, I received this morning a note from the M/c Recruiting Authorities asking me to be at the Town Hall at 9.30am on the 24th & to bring my “Registration card & any other documents you may hold in connection with Military Affairs.”
[He doesn’t say whether he actually responded to this!]
Went with Miriam [his sister] to a display of Country & Folk Dances at the Whitworth Hall.
Received a notice to present myself for re-exam at Hulme Town Hall on Jan 2 at 9.0am.
Went to the Watchnight Service at Rusholme.