Sunday, 13 September 2015

Anti-German Rioting at Flitwick



The Avenue, Flitwick, c.1900-1920 [Z50/50/41]

Monday 13th September 1915: Anti-German rioting broke out in Flitwick last night when a group of soldiers from Bedford raided a house in The Avenue occupied by Mrs Kn├╝ttel (or Nuttall) and her son, who is said to be of German descent. Mrs Nuttall’s husband had lived in the area for eighteen years but was sent to the Three Counties Asylum last December suffering from general paralysis of the brain[1]. Since then his twenty-two year old son has taken on the responsibility of his father’s business.

Yesterday evening’s events may be a consequence of a paragraph printed in a weekly journal which questioned the loyalty of Mrs. Nuttall and her son. About twenty soldiers arrived in Flitwick from Bedford as the villagers were returning from Church and made their way to Avenue House as Mrs. Nuttall was alone in the house preparing supper. With ribald songs and curses the men challenged the occupants to come out then began to throw stones through the windows. Mrs Nuttall went upstairs and from a bedroom window begged “Please leave me alone. I have been eighteen years naturalised and there is nobody in the house but me”. Her pleas were ignored and heavy boulders were hurled through the windows. As she went downstairs a stone flew through the glass door, broke the hall lamp and narrowly missed her head.

As Mrs. Nuttall hid in the dark cellar the rioters forced open the door and demolished a cake left on the dining room table, while leaving the bread and butter untouched. A crowd gathered and the local policeman arrived. A gentleman who tried to restore order was challenged to fight. There were cries of “We don’t want the Germans here!” and “Where are the Germans? Fetch ‘em out!” punctuated by the sound of breaking glass. P.C. Gaylor eventually managed to get the men away from the house and found Mrs. Nuttall in a state of collapse. She was taken to a neighbour’s house and then with her son to spend the night with a relative. After the event thirty heavy boulders were collected from the rooms, almost every pane of glass was smashed, and furniture and flower pots were damaged.

Mrs. Nuttall was born in Germany but has lived in England since she was a girl and was naturalised when she came to Flitwick. She says she can only assume the attack was the result of the magazine article and has placed the matter in the hands of her solicitor. Her son was born in London, attended Bedford Modern School and has no connection with Germany. She felt it most un-English to be treated this way by strangers, but was thankful for the sympathy of her neighbours and the other residents of Flitwick.

Source: Luton News, 16 September 1915

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