Trouble at the White City – strikes in the British armed forces in 1919

Event Details
Date: , 2023
Time: to
Location: Tobacco Factory
Price: Free
With: Roger Ball
Series: South Bristol History Festival 2023
Page Details
Section: Events
Subjects: Mutiny, World War I
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted: Modified:
The White City international exhibition at Ashton Gate in 1914

This talk considers, from a Bristol perspective, the huge wave of strikes involving tens, if not hundreds of thousands of personnel in the British Armed forces at the end of World War One.

Mass insubordination, refusals and in some cases mutiny swept through army, navy and air force personnel in January 1919.  Driven by the desire for immediate demobilisation and fears that politicians and military leaders might commit them to the ongoing invasion of revolutionary Russia and other colonial ventures, servicemen replied with a resounding “We Want Out”.

In Bristol, the first signs of the approaching unrest appeared amongst soldiers in the White City camp at Ashton Gate followed by strikes of aircraft personnel at Yate. Similar refusals appeared in battalions of the two army units most associated with Bristol the Gloucestershire and Somerset Light Infantry Regiments.

This talk will consider the nature and organisation of the strikes, the demands of the servicemen and the outcomes. It will also contextualise the strike wave within the generalised collapse of european armies from 1917, leading to the end of World War One.

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