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WEEKEND WEB: Letter gives fascinating insight into wartime Britain

We look back at the Free Press of 100 years ago this week...

Mr Ed Cragg MD wrote to the Free Press this week in 1918, contemplating what would happen if Britain did not win the Great War...

‘I cannot help thinking that it is high time some of our statesmen should tell us plainly, what would be the consequences to us if we did not win the war. Every responsible person I have met says “We must win. We ‘ve got to win”. But no one ever tells us why.

What would happen if we did not - if we made peace by negotiation, peace without victory, which is an example of the deficiency in the British character, namely, lack of imagination.

The statesmen all know, of course, but no one has ever thought of telling the ordinary man in the street, the person upon whom victory depends.

So many cry: “We want peace! We want the boys home!” We do. But unless we win, the boys never will come home. Instead, we shall have to begin a feverish preparation for the next war. All of us will have to shoulder our rifles and prepare. For we should be forty millions against two hundred millions, Germans andAustrians - and we should stand alone.

In three years, at the farthest five, after peac e without victory,one fine summer’s day, when we were all looking forward to Bank Holiday or preparing for the harvest, without any declaration of war, fifty thousand German aeroplanes would come over.

They would bomb every town, village and house and land, each with 10 men, fully armed, and they would begin to shoot - ravaging, commiting rape, arson and murder.

In a week, we should be at the German’s mercy, then would begin a time of slavery - our men driven to work in factory, mine or on the land, by German masters.

We are in the final lap. we must stick to it. Afterwards, we shall have a word to say on our account. But it must be afterwards.’

Ed Cragg, MD.

Dramatic scenes in juvenile courtroom

A painful scene was witnessed in the Spalding Juvenile Court.

George Denton, a schoolboy, of Crowland, was summoned for using bad language on the public highway.

Sgt Chappell gave samples of the language used by the boy.

The chairman asked the boy’s mother if she wished to ask the policeman any questions and was about to speak when she suddenly turned pale and fainted.

She was helped from the court and the boy burst into tears on seeing his mother’s plight and he promised not to offend again.

The chairman said: “You see what trouble you’ve caused by your bad conduct. Will you promise not to use such language again?”

The boy replied: “Oh yes, yes sir. I’ll never do it again.”

Hefty fine for heffer owner

Farmer Harry Harrison, of Gedney Hill North, was summoned for allowing nine beast to stray and said he did not want to ‘stock’ the road and he was ‘after the beast’.

Insp Page said defendant was a habitual ‘road-stocker’ who turned his beast on the road every day. He was fined 27s.

Man reported his own crime

Lutton labourer Riley Thorpe said he found his dog was not home when he returned from work and he reported that to the police. He was fined 5s.

Milk made

Milk seller John Major Limb, of Holbeach, was fined 10s for selling milk not of the nature and substance demanded by the Food and Drugs Act. Tests showed he had watered down the milk.


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