Tuesday, 24 October 2017

False Rumours of Air Raids

Market Square, Leighton Buzzard, looking towards Hockliffe Street, c.1920 [Z1306/72/11/3]

Wednesday 24th October 1917: A man has appeared in front of the Leighton Buzzard magistrates on a charge of spreading a false report that the Germans intended to carry out more air raids on England on the nights of 23rd and 24th October. Arthur Steele, aged 60, is a cellarman from High Wycombe who has been lodging at Leighton Buzzard for the past month while working for a firm of wine and spirit merchants in the town. P.C. Clarke stated that he was on duty at the corner of Hockliffe Street and Market Square yesterday evening when Steele came up to him and said “I have received official information that there is to be a great air raid by the Germans on England tonight and tomorrow night”. When asked where he got his information he replied: “I received it from a friend of mine in London”. He refused to give his name or address, or to say whether he was staying at Leighton. P.C. Clarke asked if he realised he was liable to arrest under the Defence of the Realm Regulations for spreading false reports he replied: “I know all about the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and you can apprehend me if you like”. Police Superintendent Matthews came along and Steele repeated what he had said, though he denied using the word “official”. The regulations do not allow bail for cases of this type without permission from the military authorities, so Steele was remanded until 6th November.[1]

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer 30th October 1917 & 13th November 1917

[1] When the case was heard Steele’s solicitor told the court that there had been much discussion of air raids at his lodgings and they were much on his mind. Steele said he had refused to give his name as he was annoyed by the policeman’s officious manner. He was a respectable man who had never been in trouble with the police before. The Chairman of the Bench told Steele he had behaved very foolishly, but as he had by this time spent 14 days on remand he was sentenced only to one day’s imprisonment. The manager of Messrs. J. White & Co. wine merchants said they did not intend to re-employ Steele.

No comments:

Post a Comment