Sunday, 21 April 2013

Stolen Lager

We're back with Lager in WW II. And with crime. That's what you get for reading old newspapers. They're full of crime storiwes.

I say back in WW II, but we aren't quite. This is just after the end of the war.

"Two Woundings Alleged
Story Of Plymouth Constable

Charged with maliciously wounding Cpl. Stanley Heisholt, R.C.A.F., in Torquay inn on October 22, Reginald Bernard Martin, 37, hotel worker, no given address, was committed for trial at Torquay yesterday. On a second charge of maliciously wounding P.C. Hammacott. Plymouth City Police, in order to resist arrest, he was also committed for trial.

Heisholt said he was in an inn on Monday, accompanied by two women friends, when he saw accused enter. Martin said something about Canadians thinking they owned place when they came into it. Witness replied " Yes. sure, chum." something like that. He attempted to ignore accused, who seemed to be a little drunk. Accused w as standing near the door when witness was leaving and when passing him Heisholt said "Good night, chum, the pub. is all yours."

"I carried on to go through the doorway." he said, "and then I felt something at the back of my neck and heard something snap. I put my fingers to the back of my neck and they were covered with blood. was able to stick my finger into a large-sized cut.


Medical officer at the R.C.A.F. hospital said Heisholt had a wound 3.5 inches in length in the back of his neck, in which seven stitches had to be inserted.

Albert George Stanley Higney said he saw accused had a razor blade held between the fingers of his right hand. He stepped back and then put his right hand in his trousers pocket.

In a statement, accused was alleged to have said that before going into the inn he was in another licensed house where a Canadian picked an argument with him over nothing at all. He told the Canadian that they were always picking quarrels. He went into the second inn and, seeing a Canadian there, said "You think you own the town." He alleged the Canadian replied "We do."

P.C. Hammacott said he saw accused carrying a case of lager on his shoulder in the early morning of October 21. When questioned, accused replied that the case had been purchased himself and some friends the previous evening. He was taking it down the road. Witness accompanied him to 11, Saltram-place, Plymouth, where accused roused the proprietress and asked if he could lea,ve the case of beer there. She replied: "You have been here once before; I don't want anything to do with you or your beer."


The constable told accused he believed the lager to be stolen, and not being satisfied with Martin's replies to his questions asked him to accompany him to the police station. When they had walked about 20 yards accused put his free hand in his pocket and then suddenly struck him behind the ear. Martin ran away, and witness realized he was bleeding freely from a wound behind his ear. Later he recognized Martin at an identification parade at the Torquay Police Station.

Dr. Betty Slesser, Prince of Wales Hospital, Plymouth, said she inserted five stitches into a two-inch wound behind Hammacott's ear.

Accused said he had nothing to say at that stage."
Western Morning News - Tuesday 30 October 1945, page 2.

What does the article tell us? That not everyone in Britain was overjoyed at the presence of foreign troops in the country. And that there were vicious bastards in the past just as much as today.

Maybe Martin was pissed off that the Canadian was with two women. Jealousy can be a terrible thing.

I suppose I should say something about the beer. A case of Lager would have been pretty expensive. So worth nicking. I think it's safe to assume that it was nicked, the way Martin slashed the cop and ran off.


Matt said...

"not everyone in Britain was overjoyed at the presence of foreign troops in the country"

My grandad served in the British Army in WWII. He got on fine with the POW's he ended up guarding in Germany in 1945 and gave them his cigarette rations as he didn't smoke. As he said, they were just ordinary blokes who'd been called up like himself. The people he couldn't stand were American soldiers who he accused of running a mile the first time they were shot at, abandoning supplies in their haste to retreat and flashing Luger pistols they'd bought off British Tommies around bars in Brussels to impress the local women.

Gary Gillman said...

My mom's husband is 94 and was an RCAF navigator in the Lancaster in WW II. He spent of course a lot of time in England and always speaks of the experience in the highest terms, the people, the facilities, everything. I need to ask him more about this time and will do so the next time I see him. We have of course discussed the operations he did quite often but I would always ask about the flights themselves. I will ask him about pubs and beer the next time.


Gary Gillman said...

Matt's comment got me thinking about this area and after some reading on Google Books, I have concluded as follows: initially, there was some (not invariable) tension between British civilians and the soldiery, and Americans. When interacting with Americans, the latter usually were off-base, having R&R in the towns, and their ways of talking and the greater amount of money they had to spend sometimes caused resentment. This was culture clash, basically. Early on, the problem was recognized and the American ambassador in particular took special steps to encourage greater mutual understanding through a variety of measures including educating the men on English habits and sensitivities.

By 1944, the situation had greatly improved so that a British journalist for example could state that English impressions of American servicemen would be different if the men had been perceived in the combat role they were training for. The journalist had observed Americans in action in France and said had those British people seen that with their own eyes, they would have formed a much better impression. The sense I had from what I read was that by the war's end, the mutual comprehension and respect was far ahead of where it was in 1942.

As for reactions under fire, I looked for data on that and couldn't find any comparative ones. I'd doubt personally that Americans showed less mettle in battle than other Allied forces. Where this existed, I think almost always it could be explained by relative inexperience in battle.

Finally, all the soldiers in the regular armies were ordinary blokes, the Americans too.


Ron Pattinson said...


I was shocked at how poorly some American troops behaved in France and in Germany. The executions of soldiers for rape and murder of civilians is a testimony to that.