Monday, 18 December 2017

A Quarrel Between Munitions Girls

Munitions workers at Leighton Buzzard, 1914-18 [Z1432/2/12/2/5]

Tuesday 18th December 1917: At the Leighton Buzzard Police Court today Annie Underwood, aged 22 and a munition worker from Vandyke Road, Leighton Buzzard, was summoned for assault by Kate Pratt, also of Vandyke Road. The smartly dressed Miss Pratt complained that on December 4th, as she was coming home from night work at about 7.30 am, Miss Underwood met her and knocked her across the head and face with her hands, accusing her of saying things about herself and her mother in the railway carriage. Miss Underwood had also claimed that other girls had stopped Miss Pratt calling her names out of the carriage window. Miss Pratt said both claims were a lie.

Miss Underwood said she was on her way to work when the girls told her what Miss Pratt had said. When she asked for an explanation Miss Pratt had pushed her gently off the path, saying “Don’t insult me”; she therefore claimed that Miss Pratt had struck her first. Miss Pratt told the court “I pushed her off the path and said I shouldn’t be insulted by a girl like her – nor I shan’t sir!”  Dorothy “Dolly” Short, also of Vandyke Road, was called as a witness for Miss Pratt. She said that Underwood came up to Kate Pratt accusing her of having said things in the railway carriage, which Kate did not know anything about – Miss Underwood then struck her on the face. She agreed that Miss Pratt had gently pushed her off the path.

The defendant claimed she had asked Miss Pratt civilly why she had been “telling girls my character” but that she refused to answer. “It isn’t the first time she has insulted people; you can’t go out without they’re poking fun at girls”, she told the Chairman. She simply pushed Miss Pratt back after she pushed her off the path. Another witness, Dorothy Kempster, said that as she was going to meet her friend Annie Underwood she saw her talking to Kate Pratt, who pushed Annie off the path. Asked what happened she replied “Of course, Annie struck her back”. The Chairman told Miss Underwood she really must not smack other people’s faces, and ordered her to pay a fine and costs of fifteen shillings and sixpence.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 25th December 1917

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