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Soldiers Raid Socialist Meeting.

July 1919

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Wednesday 23 July 1919

Soldiers Raid Socialist Meeting.

An extraordinary incident occurred at Goldthorpe, on Monday night, when a number of discharged soldiers raided a Socialist “demonstration” against the Government’s Russian policy and other political questions.

There were two processions, one from Thurnscoe, and another from Bolton, both converging on Goldthorpe. The Thurnscoe procession included some Barnburgh miners, who unfurled couple of red flags, and held them aloft. There were cries of protest from the crowd, and the secretary of the Hickleton Main Band, which was leading the procession, at once halted it, and informed these men that the band would not march a foot in front of those banners.

Mr. George Probert, a leader of the Hickleton Main miners, ordered the red flags to be put away, and the men who were carrying them then stepped out of the procession. But in the field where the meeting took place the red flags made their appearance on one of the two platforms.

A number of discharged soldiers, who had gathered at the Union Jack Club, Goldthorpe, made their way to the field, and at once made dead set at the leader of the Barnburgh miners, Mr. T. Williams, crying “Down with the Bolshies,” and “Up with the Union Jack.” They ordered Williams off the platform, and when he refused to leave they took the dray, and overturned it. They then hunted every Socialist extremist out of the field.

In the meantime, the other platform, which naturally had lacked an audience, was abandoned by the speakers appointed to it, Mr. George Probert and Mr. Edward vice-president of the Yorkshire Miners’ Association, who joined the crowd round the overturned dray. The dray was then righted, and it was mounted by a soldier, who announced that he would take charge of the meeting.

Mr. Probert, who is chairman of the Bolton Urban Council, pleaded for moderation and fair play, and expressed regret at the red flag incident, which had provoked the disturbance. The soldiers then agreed to allow the meeting forward, Mr. Probert and Mr. Hough acquiescing in the chairmanship of the soldier. Both spoke at some length upon the subjects the meeting had been called to ventilate, but in moderate terms.

There was no further disorder. Throughout the meeting the Union Jack was held aloft, and the crowd at the end dispersed quietly.