JOHN DILLEY'S WWI BLOG: Convicted for talking favourably about the Kaiser in the pub!

November 28, 1916 '“ Bolshie ironstone worker fined for '˜treasonable' admiration of the German war machine

Monday, 28th November 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 2:42 pm
Ex Harborough Mail editor John Dilley with a copy of the Market Harborough Advertiser. (MAIL PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER/MHMP001664-20) ENGNNL00120140121183111

A pub argument landed a Desborough man in court for ‘treasonable talk’ because he called the Kaiser ‘a good man at warfare and strategy’.

The case against Ernest Giles of Federation Avenue is reported in the November 28, 1916, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.

Giles, an ironstone worker, was reported by three men he had been having a drink with in the Desborough Conservative Club.

One of the witnesses, Frederick Kilbourn of Desborough, told the court Giles had also said: “The Germans were justified in sinking the Lusitania if she had ammunition on board and that the killing of Nurse Edith Cavell also was justified if she had wilfully and knowingly disobeyed the German law.”

Giles, who had pleaded not guilty to breaching the Defence of the Realm Act ‘by making, by word of mouth, statements likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty’, was convicted and fined £1 with £1 1s costs.


Two men with Harborough roots have been awarded the Military Medal ‘for acts of conspicuous bravery’.

Sergeant C H Maycock of Abbey Street, Market Harborough was recognised for actions while serving with the RAMC in France.

And Lt-Cpl J A Roberts, whose sister Miss Roberts is an infant mistress at the Market Harborough Catholic Schools, ‘went into a dugout practically unaided and brought out 17 prisoners’.

But his bravery did not stop there. Roberts was ‘completely buried by the explosion of a large shell’ which was so bad it completely smashed his rifle’.

The story adds: “He was promptly dug out by two of his comrades and though he was unconscious for some time he escaped uninjured.”


There is sad news of two more Harborough men killed in action – Private Albert Allbright of Gladstone Street, Market Harborough and Second-Lieut Walter Elliott, who used to work for town retailers Shindler and Douglass.

Nineteen-year-old Allbright of the 7 th Leicesters, who had previously worked at Messrs R and W H Symingtons, was killed just over a year after joining up.

Field Chaplin the Rev J Dyson says: “He was struck by a bursting bomb and very severe wounds in the abdomen and thigh gave him no chance whatever. He was taken to the dressing station but expired in a few minutes.”

His parents were given some crumbs of comfort by the chaplain. “I was asked to make arrangements for his funeral in the British Cemetery. The grave is well marked and tomorrow a wooden cross with metal plate giving name and full description of our brave young comrade will be erected. After the war the place can be easily visited if you desire.”

Elliott had been serving with the Queen Victoria Rifles since the beginning of the war and had been on the front line for the best part of two years.


The Advertiser also carried a story about a coroner again warning parents not to go to sleep with their baby in their bed.

The death of 11-week- old Irene Brookes, daughter of Private Arthur Brookes of Gibbon’s Place, Market Harborough, comes just a month after the death of another baby in the town who had suffocated while in bed with his parents.

He mother Mrs G A Brookes told the inquest she had awoken in the middle of the night and the baby was lying on her right arm but ‘its face was distorted and discoloured’.

The inquest heard ‘it is a matter of common knowledge to the medical profession and nurses of children of this age being overlaid while sleeping with parents’.

Dr C T Scott said the baby probably suffocated after it had rolled over in its sleep but it was not uncommon.

“In a great many cases it is not through carelessness or neglect but simply because parents don’t realise the danger.

“The Health Visitor told me this morning she tries to impress on parents the necessity of getting a separate cot for the child. If they cannot afford to buy one they can easily make one from a box or case so it need not be a question of cost.”

This column is published every Monday by John Dilley on the Newspapers and the Great War website and will continue until the 100th anniversary of the final armistice in November 2018.