The Bulletin of the Birmingham Branch of the WFA

Compiled by Bob Butcher

October 2010


Note: RND—(Royal Naval Division or 63rd Naval) Division from 1916)

PORK AND BEANS—from Latin Semper idem. Another term for dinner. Thus the question is asked 'What time do we parade after pork and beans?' the word dinner is understood. If pork and beans are served up six days a week, then pork and beans are given as a change on Sundays. The reward offered at the beginning of the War (£5 or a month's leave) to a man in the RND who found the pork has not been claimed.

LEAVE—A much quoted term which originally was meant to signify a holiday (usually about ten days). The word is now used more to suggest a pleasant but impossible theory, a foolish dream, a wild exaggerated imagining, the product of an over hopeful brain.

BLIGHTY—A term with many alternatives (1) the place we should visit if we got leave; (2) a slight wound which gets one to England; (3) the only tune some bands know.

MATCHESThese were common before the war, but are now collected by the RND as souvenirs and curiously and jealously guarded.

STEW—A form of heated water served up in the RND. Sometimes it is flavoured  with bully beef. Occasionally it is kept near meat without being allowed to come into contact. Stew has proved to be quite harmless.

REST—A refined form of punishment to troops. A certain cure for men tired of being 'up the line'. A short term used to express 'endless parades ceaseless polishing, burnishing and injections'.

WIND UP—(No connection with windfall) Another way of expressing fear. The RND are famed for putting up and never getting up wind.

PAYING OUT—A pagan festival now rarely observed though not entirely obsolete. IN THE PINK—Information contained in all letters home and allowed to pass by the most strict censor. A state of health so near perfection that only a parcel is needed to complete the state.

FRENCH BEER—First cousin to STEW. A harmless form of discoloured water drawn from casks. The cup which does not cheer and cannot inebriate. A term of derision. The beverage supplied to Band of Hope Festivals.

SCROUNGE—A form of conjuring or legerdemain by which a soldier produces something from nothing. Scrounging is best carried out at dark. Firewood, building materials, even 'Mokes' have been scrounged. Synonymous with the old army term 'to make'.

BISCUITS—(The Editor has     been compelled to blue pencil the language used in reference to this term.)

REVIELLE—An invention of the Devil and a much abused term applied to a period in the morning which seems more like the middle of the night. A French word, the English for which is 'A rude awakening.'

SWINGING THE LEAD—Amateur (sometimes professional) theatricals acted before the Medical Officer. Sometimes the outcome of hypochondria (good word that). Often the result of a disinclination to work. The doctor usually treats the malady with a No 9 but the army is sometimes nasty about it, and treats it as 'Malingering'. The latter is most efficacious.

From THE MUDLARK, No 3 January 1918.

I thank Tony Henwood for forwarding this item.

Frank Gardner


At the Birmingham Crown Court on Monday before Judge Ruegg an action was brought by Lewis Harry Richardson and Isaac Mark Richardson, tailors of 39 Corporation Street to recover damages from Mr AE Brawn of 58 Stamford Road, Handsworth, for assault and battery and, as a firm, to recover damages for injury done to their stock and fittings.

The defendant is a member of the Warwickshire Rifle Corps and the plaintiffs are official tailors to the Corps. The plaintiffs alleged that Brawn, after returning a uniform several times for alteration, brought in a parcel on May 5th, threw it on the counter, and said he was not going to have any more trouble with it. He threatened to hit Mr Lewis Richardson on the jaw and, when the latter jokingly remarked 'Don't you think you had better begin', struck him on the face and knocked his glasses off. The defendant then knocked him down and stunned him.

When he came round he saw his brother Isaac on the floor with the defendant standing over him. Lewis tried to pull him away and, in the struggle that ensued, a rail on which were hanging some finished clothes, was knocked through two windows, and the clothes were trampled and torn. His Honour described the defendant's action as a cowardly and unprovoked assault. He awarded

Lewis six guineas damages and Isaac £9.10s; to the brothers as a firm, he awarded £11.8s. 6d damages.

(Handsworth Herald June 12 1915)

The Warwickshire Rifle Corps was a Home Guard type unit.

Alan Tucker



On Saturday23 March 1918 three Birmingham Magistrates, Mr Matthews, Mr Trought and Mr Cashmore, heard the following case at Birmingham Police Court.

William John Ward of 12 Lozells Road, had bought 23 Weston Road, Handsworth, intending to live there with his family. Therefore he applied for a court order to evict the sitting tenant Mrs Elina Beasley.

The defence explained that Mrs Beasley was aged seventy-six, blind and partially paralyzed after a stroke. She had once owned her house but in 1912 she had to sell it after a mortgage was called in. The purchaser was her next door neighbour and he had agreed to rent it to her for seven shillings and sixpence a week. However the neighbour had sold it to Ward.

The magistrates refused to give Ward a possession order. An income of seven shillings and sixpence a week was quite enough to cover the rent of another property until Mrs Beasley died. Handsworth was then a prosperous middle class residential area.




NOTE: This is a one off issue as the result of the RND submission. Any future edition depends on me receiving further submissions: Bob



but I cannot get in touch with your spirit', He said he saw a ghost called Edward with a pointed beard, and that a 'spirit woman' had died of heart trouble. Leaf told the witness to put her fingers on his palms and as she did he mumbled. A second witness woman had also visited his house and paid him five shillings. Mr Denman convicted Leaf of fortune telling and fined him £25 plus five shillings costs, or two months in gaol.

The next spiritualist put on trial was Olive Bush, thirty-four, an American dressmaker and milliner alias Madame Start. At her request her trial was adjourned so that she might consult a solicitor. She was given bail with two fifty pound sureties.

Agnes Constance Macdonald, forty-four, alias Madame Vox, a palmist was then tried. Earlier evidence had been given but at this hearing a woman witness told of having visited Vox and signed a document. The defence solicitor said that it said that Vox did not wish to deceive or impose on anyone. Mr Denman said that one could not 'contract out' of the law. A woman who had accompanied the previous witness said that Vox had said that she would marry young, her husband would have a legacy ten years later, she would have one five years later, and they would have two children. She paid two and six for this prophecy. Mr Denman fined Vox £15 and £5 five shillings costs.

Susan Fielder forty-three, was then tried. A woman witness had seen her on 3 February and paid for a palm and crystal reading. Fielder told her of a fair man who was abroad in khaki and was a Lieutenant, of a fat dark married man, and that she would have 'the time of your life'. Mr Denman convicted Fielder and said that in her case there were no extenuating circumstances but 'only revolting and objectionable features, which could only be regarded as

dangerous, wicked and horrible'. He


sentenced her to two months in gaol without the option of a fine.

The last spiritualist to be tried at this hearing was Annie Elizabeth Brodie, aged forty-four, alias Madame Leslie. Apart from being a paid spiritualist it was said that she had been convicted at Dublin for keeping a disorderly house, and had been expelled from the last Bristol International Exhibition. She denied these charges but was sentenced to two months in gaol without the option of a fine.

Looking at these cases Fielder was imprisoned without the option of a fine because her prophecies were seen as encouraging immorality. Brodie as a convicted brothel keeper, was also imprisoned without the option of a fine. Leaf and Macdonald were given the option of paying a heavy fine or of imprisonment because their visions were less harmful or merely silly, and they were otherwise seemingly respectable people. Bush was treated with kid gloves as an American citizen.




1 A stern Calvinist Scot, he went to France in November 1914 with the 5th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and received a facial wound. He became well known as the head of a national institution, was knighted and became a government minister. Who was he?

2 Who commanded the Canadian Corps when they captured Vimy Ridge?

3 'Tell any politician a military secret and he will go straight home and tell his wife, except who will tell some one else's'. Who said this of whom?

4 Who was Secretary of State for War on 4 August 1914?

5 What post did Winston Churchill hold immediately before commanding a battalion in France?

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