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SOLDIERS SLANDERED.

RECORD OF BRITISH TOMMIES.

LONDON, February 16. ' An organising secretary of the Yorkshire division of the Independent Labour Party, Annie E. Pinnott, 33, single, ol: btockport, was, at Dowsbury, .sent to prison for three months, lined £50, ana ordered to pay £25 costs, for having committed a oreach of the &tefence of the Realm Act at a Labour election meeting at J>ewsbury on December 10 by .spreading certain false reports in relation to the conduct of soldiers of the British army on the Continent. Mr Lowenthal, prosecute ing, said the evidence disclosed about as"grave a breach of the regulations as. one could well imagine. At the time defendant was an organising secretary of the Independent Labour party, &nd was thus occupying a position of, some ! responsibility. During the ■ election, on December 10, she addressed a meet- ! ing at the 'Vulcan Road Mission Hall, (Dr-wsbury, in .support of a candidate for Parliament, and in the cour,se;^of

her speech she said: — ' ':You have.' read' of the awful ; slaughter-, and-(atrocities,, and eyery- , thing cLso.: If you could go to.Germany yon would find the same tiring about England. It is all the outcome of the war. A discharged soldier said: 'You have read a lot about German atrocities. I'll tell you some- . thing they dare not put in our papers. 'It is quite a common thing—if -the soldiers met a woman they simply out- ; raged her, and after they had done that to her, rather than she should" go forward and "toil 1 the tale that it was !an Englishman they have taken __ a i bayonet and pierced her heart. You might/ wonder why they did not shoot her, but if a British Tommy shot a Belgian or German or French woman they would have found the British bullet." .... Another -soldier ■'•!., have spoken to told me they took a number of • German, prisoners and brought them within a safe zone for tliemsely.es,- and an officer gave the word, an'cf it was awful to ssee those; ilads blown to pieces. The soldiers are coming back now, and a number of them will open their minds,% and < tell you their views on their own experiences. We want to realise that what wOjjhave read in our papers may be trueyfand if they could tefl. adl that has happened there would bo no excuse at all either for us or them. But it is all the'outcome of war. So let us see to it, now, that we have the chance,' to put the right people in the House of Commons."

Having regard to the monstrous and wicked imputations that that speech involved upon a body of mcii who had shown the most amazing self-sacrifice and courage, the highest military authorities had come to the conclusion that it would be a wrong to the soldiers to alll'ow so monstrous a statement to go unpunished. Taking the war from the beginning, there had been ;6n an average something like . 2,000,000 British soldiers in Belgium and France, and there had not been a single case of outrage and murder of a woman., and only one case of rape. The French and Beilgian. Army authorities had been in the habit of bringing to the notice of the British authorities the most trifling offences—trespassing and stealing potatoes, for instance—committed by the British .soldiers, and so it was perfectly obvious'that .any offences such as defendant had referred to would at once have been reported to them. But fchero had been mo suggestion of such offences, with the single exception of one case of outrage. Such a record compared very favourably with the criminal statistics of civil life. ' ■ •■

'Major-General B. E. W. Childs, CM.OK, Director of Public Services at the War Office, and formerly Assistant Adjutant-General at General Headquarters in Fiance, said that all offences committed against the civil population were brought to his notice by the French aud Belgian authorities, and if any offences, such as those which had been referred to, had "been committed, he, personally, would have got to know of them. He wa-s Assistant-Adjutant-General from August 1914, to February 20, 1916. —Mr Lowenthal: How many cases oi rapt and murder by British soldiers occurred in that time? — Witness: None.—Hotv many cases of rape?— None. Brigadier-General K. Wroughton, Assistant-Adjutant-Geueral at General iiieadquarters, who said he had come I over from France specially for this 'prosecution, stated that he succeeded General Cliilds. He was about to give evidence, when Mr Leslie Owen (defending) said lie did not think this witness's evidence was necessary; .! He

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19190514.2.42

Bibliographic details

SOLDIERS SLANDERED., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9609, 14 May 1919

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753

SOLDIERS SLANDERED. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9609, 14 May 1919

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