This Day in History Diary Entry, August 13, 1914: Penarth workers and suffragettes react to the beginning of WWI

First published in Penarth news by

PENARTH Town Council have submitted the following entry to the This Day in History diary to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War I:

Thursday, August 13, 1914

By the time the Penarth Times issue dated Thursday, August 13, 1914 hit the newsagents; the effects of the war were becoming abundantly clear. The people of Penarth were beginning to take action to help those most affected by the war, even the Penarth Times journalists were beginning to make comment on what could be done to help those affected.

Workers and the War

We are now in the midst of black war, with all is given an awful reality. Never is the time of living man has such a terrible and devastating war taken place. With the whole of Europe on huge blaze, the outlook is exceedingly grave and who can say what the end may be. With war the workers are continually opposed, but now this position has arrived and it is up to us as workers to show a united front, and not to weaken by any means the strong attitude taken by our leaders in the House of Commons. The war has created a great deal of suffering throughout the country and the government have taken certain steps to meet this distress. Committees are being formed in each area to endeavour to cope with some of the worst cases.

I do not know whether Penarth Urban District Council have taken any steps to form a citizen committee for this district, but I hope they have. I would suggest that the committees be formed and that members of the trade unions, trade council and women’s guilds etc, in fact representatives of all organised bodies who are in touch with the workers and would have some idea of the distress and how to cope with it. From the larger body small ward committees, could even be formed to deal with each ward, while the larger body would exercise control. The District Council could assist a great deal by providing work for the men in many ways, this would be an excellent time to put into operation a scheme-if only a small one-for building workmen’s houses. I am sure if the council desire, they can provide a great deal of work in these extraordinary times. Further, they might use their best endeavours to persuade the County Council to put in to operation the feeding of school children. “

Penarth Suffrage Society

Help for war sufferers.

The national union of women’s suffrage societies wishes it to be known that it has suspended its ordinary political work for the time being, and is preparing to use the entire organisation of the union for the help of those who will be the sufferers from the economic and industrial dislocation caused by the war.”

By the Penarth Urban District Council meeting on August 17, the effects of the war effort were becoming more apparent, especially as suppliers were asking to be relieved of their contracts so they could supply to the war effort. This would have meant a fast increase in prices.

A communication from Major W Gascoyne Dalziel was read out asking the Council to "assist towards the raising of an additional army of 100,000." The Council decided to write to say this would be done. Sadly there is no record of how but it is clear at this point that the illusion of the war being over and done within no time was beginning to shatter.

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