Tag Archives: H. H. Asquith

WWI: Forcefeeding is a form of torture

On Wednesday 8th July 1914, the Manchester Guardian published an editorial against the practice of force-feeding imprisoned suffragettes, as well as two petitions addressed to the Liberal Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna:

We publish to-day two reasoned and powerful pleas, the one from distinguished Free Church ministers, the other from a large number of medical men, against the practice of forcible feeding still persisted in by the Home Secretary, although the “Cat and Mouse” Bill was understood to have been passed as a substitute for a practice which public opinion rightly and with increasing urgency condemns.

Both petitions are addressed to the Home Secretary, and will, we trust, carry weight with him, and at least secure the interview for which the medical men ask and which the gravity of the case and the weight of the protest should make it difficult to refuse.

Forcible feeding, as carried out against resisting prisoners, is frankly a form of torture, and it is really as such that Mr. McKenna, so far as we understand his position, defends it. He says it is deterrent, and so it well may be, but so would be any other form of torture – the thumbscrew or the rack, or any other ancient and accredited method of inflicting intolerable pain; yet we do not now have resort to these methods, not even against women.

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WWI: Happy birthday, Miroslav Krleža

Miroslav Krleža as a cadet in 1914In 1914, today was Miroslav Krleža’s 21st birthday. He was born in Zagreb, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and had been educated for a career as an officer in Pécs and then at the Ludoviceum military academy in Budapest. In 1912, he had defected to Serbia, with a view to enrolling in the Serbian army, but he had been turned away as a suspected spy. On his return to Austro-Hungary, he was demoted in their army and served on the Eastern Front as a common soldier throughout the war. His career as a writer in his native language, Croatian, was to win him both the Herder Prize and the Laureate of the International Botev Prize.

In debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday 7th July, Captain Walter Faber was asking questions about army recruitment of the Liberal Secretary of State for War, H. H. Asquith, who was also the Prime Minister. The questions were answered by the Under-Secretary of State for War, Harold Tennant, MP for Berwickshire.
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WWI: The Smuts-Gandhi Agreement

On Tuesday 30th June 1914 the House of Commons had a routine sitting.

The Conservative MP for Knutsford, Alan Sykes, who had been commissioned a Deputy-Lieutenant to the Lord Lieutenant for Cheshire in 1910, rose to ask a question of the Under-Secretary of State for War about the Infantry Territorial battalions of Lancashire and Cheshire:

What percentage of the total enrolled number of officers and men of the Infantry Territorial battalions of Lancashire and Cheshire attended their annual camp this year in the Whitsuntide holidays, indicating what percentage attended for one week and what for the whole period, and giving comparative figures for the same battalions of their attendance at last year’s annual camp?

Harold Tennant, the Liberal Under-secretary of State for War, answered the Opposition question with specific percentages for 1914 and 1913, and said, when Sykes asked if the bounty of a pound had improved the attendance record:

It is impossible to give an answer yet as we have not had sufficient experience. I should not wonder if that had something to do with the result.

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