22nd May 1915. Anti German Feeling in Rugby


On Friday night last week a crowd assembled at the top of High Street, and made a hostile demonstration against Mr Meerholz, a naturalised German, who runs a hair-dressing establishment on premises also used as a branch post office. As soon as it was dusk people began to congregate ; but, on the whole, good humour prevailed until about 11 p.m. when a stone was thrown through the plate-glass window of the shop and another through the bedroom window. Inspector Lines, Sergt Goodwin, and about eight constables were on duty in the vicinity. They controlled the crowd well, and at about 11.30 induced the people who had assembled to quietly return to their homes. Mr Meerholz’s shop window was boarded up to prevent further damage.

On the following day rumours gained currency it that further raids would be made on the place, and also upon a house at Bilton. A considerable number of police-nearly a hundred were quietly drafted into the town, and were kept in readiness in the respective localities, but there was no attempt to give effect to the alleged threats. A number of people assembled in High Street, but more out of curiosity than in a spirit of mischief.

The demonstration was referred to in several places of worship in the town on Sunday.

Preaching at the evening service in the Parish Church, the Rector (the Rev C M Blagden) said :-“ We feel that on our belief in the Godhead of Jesus Christ depends our belief in the authority of His teaching. ‘Never man so spake’ as He did, and when He lays stress on judgment, mercy, and faith as essential qualities in the Christian character we are bound to observe what he tells us. It is from this point of view that I wish to protest publicly against the hooliganism which brought dishonour on our town on Friday night last week. Lynch law is no part of the teaching of our Lord. It provokes retaliation ; it makes no distinction between innocent and guilty ; it always falls heaviest on defenceless women and children ; it is in its essence utterly un-Christian. Those who were guilty of the violence which fills us all with shame and disgust will find a much better field for their activity in Flanders, where there are plenty of armed enemies waiting for them.


Allusion was made to the incident by the Vicar of New Bilton (Rev F Challenor), who said he thought it was a very disgraceful thing to do. That which we hated in the Germans we were in danger of developing ourselves, and he urged New Bilton people to take no part in such proceedings.



SIR,- I have seen with pleasure that you have reprinted my letter of May 12th in “ The Times,” and as I now live the greater part of the year in Warwickshire, I am only to pleased to supplement that letter.

As far back as 1867, my father took out expatriation papers for me “ a minor ” after the free city of Frankfurt had lost its independence through being annexed by Prussia, an act against which he and others strongly protested. After a few years of travel, I settled in London in 1870, and became naturalised in 1876. I have already condemned and expressed my abhorrence of the German acts and methods in this war, and perhaps I may now add that my only son has been fighting with the British Army since last October.-Yours faithfully,


22 Upper Brook Street, W.

May 20th, 1915.


DEAR SIR,- The letter in your last issue gives me a welcome opportunity of giving public expression to my feelings of grief, horror, and indignation at the crimes committed by the German Government. They are the outcome of that aggressive arrogant Prussian militarism which I have always denounced, and which has become a standing menace to civilisation and humanity.

As regards my position on the Bench of Magistrates, I have sent my resignation to the Lord Lieutenant of the County, as I realise that under present conditions this position is liable to mis-construction by those who do not know me.-Yours faithfully, F MERTTENS.

Bilton Rise, near Rugby, May 15th.

Mr R B Meerholz, 23 High Street, Rugby, writes to say that he became a naturalised Englishman in the year 1909, and that he has not resided in Germany for the last 17 years. He has for the last 11 years continuously resided in England, his adopted country. He takes this opportunity of expressing his detestation of the conduct of the Germans, and wishes to contradict all rumours to the effect that his sympathies are with them. He heartily desires the success of the Allies.


SIR,-I was amazed on reading the Advertiser this week that such an academic question as to whether Mr Merttens should or should not retain his seat on the Rugby Bench of Magistrates was still being discussed-and this after the Lusitania outrage and the fiendish atrocities recorded in the White Paper issued by the Bryce Commission. Mr Bonar Law has said that the well-to-do German, naturalised or not, is the most dangerous. We know that a German who becomes naturalised in England does not lose his sympathies with the Fatherland ; we know that hundreds of well-to-do Germans have been living amongst us with plenty of leisure and plenty of means, and we know that the means have been supplied by the Fatherland. If the Germans ever do visit Rugby we may rest assured that its admirable position as a railway centre will be very much appreciated by them, and there is not the slightest doubt that they know its many excellent points a great deal better than 90% of its inhabitants do, thanks to their excellent advance agents. I have the greatest sympathy with the people who in some of the large towns have wrecked German property. I say more power to them-they have instrumental in moving the Government. The German has forfeited the respect of the civilised world, and a man who will trust one of them in the future will regret it. – Yours truly, ASHFIELD.


15th May 1915. Rugby Victims of Poison Gas


Pte A Angell, 1st Royal Warwicks, son of Mrs Angell, of 17 Little Pennington Street, Rugby, is at present in a hospital at Lincoln suffering from the effects of the ghastly German poison gas. In a letter to his mother, written on May 9th, he says: “ I have been poisoned by that gas which the German murderers use. I went into action three weeks ago. After marching two days and two nights we arrived within 50 yards of the German trenches, and when we halted they opened fire on us.” The writer then goes on to tell of the losses suffered by the Battalion, and said that of five Rugby men who went into action he was the only one left. They were forced to retire, and he and 20 others took shelter in a “ Jackson hole.” Five of the party were unwounded, one died in the writers lap, and the others were suffering terrible agony. They were only 100 yards from the German trenches, and had to remain in the shelter from 4.45 a.m to 8.30 the following evening, and numerous shells dropped all around them. “ After this we were in the trenches for nine days. The Germans were not satisfied with our losses, s they poisoned us out of it. We must have lost many more men by this means. I am a very lucky chap. I was picked up half unconscious by a Frenchman in the centre of Ypres, on the main road. I wonder what the English people would think if   they could see Ypres as it is—burnt down to the ground.” Pte Angell concludes with the hope that he will be home on leave shortly.


W Cooke, son of Mr H M Cooke, has written home to his parents. His letter is dated May 6th, and he says :-“ A few lines at last I I’ll bet you have been worrying at not hearing from me, but I am all right. We have been advancing and I could not write until now. I dare say you will see in the papers that our Regiment has been cut up, and we have only a few hundreds left. We have been relieved now, and it will be some time before we take any active part again. We have been through hell this last eight days, and I never want another time like it. The German shelling is awful, but I thank God we are back out of it now. Alf was wounded in the leg, and Hancox is among the missing. I would not mind if they would fight fair, but the dirty dogs have been using that gas on us. One has to fight with a wet cloth over one’s nose and mouth, and I have seen some of our fellows go raving mad. My nerves are a bit shattered now, but otherwise I am all right, so don’t worry. We have not had any letters while we have been advancing, so I expect I shall have a few from you, Mother, altogether. Write me along letter soon.”

(The Alf mentioned in the letter is Alfred Day, of Bishops Itchington, who enlisted with W Cooke, and before enlistment worked as a blacksmith at Church Lawford. Charles Hancox was a labourer from Kings Newnham.)



Two trains, each containing two hundred wounded, passed through Rugby (L & N-W) on Sunday evening between six and eight, and were supplied with refreshments by the Rugby Town Red Cross Society. The men had been fighting as recently as Sunday last, and had crossed the Channel on Sunday morning.

News has come to hand that wounded soldiers belonging to the different regiments which were billeted in Rugby and took part in the invasion of Gallipoli are now in hospital at Malta.

A movement is being organised in Warwickshire to secure the services of more transport drivers for the Army. An appeal is to made to motor-car owners in Warwickshire to release their men wherever practicable.

Mr and Mrs William Matthews, of Churchover, received news on Monday that their son, Pte John Matthews, of the Rifle Brigade, was wounded on May 5th by a shrapnel bullet in the leg just above the knee. He is at present in hospital in Manchester. Pte Matthews, who is 21 years of age, joined the army early in September, and was drafted to the front on April 1st. He was for some years footman at Mr B B Dickinsons’ boarding-house in Rugby.

Driver Harry Batson, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, writing home to his sister at 35 Bridget Street, Rugby, states that he has been on duty at observation posts in the trenches, which were knee deep in mud and water. When traversing the trenches it is necessary to keep well down to avoid being seen by the enemy’s snipers. The trenches were only 50 yards apart. The enemy’s guns had been very active round here of late, and had succeeded in setting fire to some ruined farms close to.

Mr Charles Henry Lister, a grandson of Mr Henry Lister, 105 Clifton Road, Rugby, was an engine-room artificer on H.M.S Maori, which was lost off the Belgian Coast through striking a mine on Saturday. The friends of Mr Lister have received intimation that he is a prisoner of war at Doebritz, Germany. Mr Lister’s brother, Rifleman Herbert Edward Lister, who joined the Rifle Brigade on the outbreak of war, is now in a hospital in London, suffering from a bullet wound in the left hand.

Second Lieutenant H J Gwyther, attached to the 2nd Manchester Regiment, now with the expeditionary force in France, has been wounded. Mr Gwyther, when engaged at the B.T.H Co, Rugby, was a prominent playing member of the Rugby Hockey Club.

In Saturday’s “ London Gazette ” appeared the announcement that the late Lieut Michael FitzRoy, son of the Hon E A FitzRoy, M.P, and Mrs FitzRoy, had been gazetted captain. He was selected by his Colonel for the command of a company shortly before the battle of Neuve Chapelle, in which, unfortunately, he was killed. The late Lieutenant was nearly the youngest officer in the regiment, being but nineteen years of age and he had only been in the army six months.


Two further letters have just been received by Mr and Mrs C J Packwood, of St Matthew’s Street, from their son, Charles, who is serving at the front with the Rugby Howitzer Battery, and   from these we make the following extract :- “ Things go on just about the same. We have a sort of shelling competition between ourselves and the Germans. It is their turn now. They are shelling a ridge. I expect they think we are there, but we are not. I expect later on we shall have our go, and we always register the most points. All the ‘bhoys’ are ‘in the pink’ ready for earthing.”


A hot dish of curried fowl or a hot beef-steak and kidney pudding, are luxuries not usually found on the battlefield, but these and a host of other appetising dishes, may now be enjoyed by the aid of a new invention just put upon the market by Messrs, Crosse and Blackwell. This unique and valuable adjunct to the soldier’s kit is known as the “Joffrette” Heater, and costs but 1s. 6d. complete. Its construction is so simple and yet so effectual that a tin or bottle of preserved food can be thoroughly heated is a few minutes by simply lighting the cake of solidified alcohol supplied with the Heater (additional cakes costing but 3d. each). It is without doubt one of the cheapest yet one of the greatest boons which can possibly be suggested for use in trenches.

The Heater cannot explode or get out of order, the flame is invisible and impervious to wind, and while it is of peculiar utility at the present time, it is equally serviceable for boating parties, picnics and household use where a hot maid or a cup of tea or coffee is quickly required. The “Joffrette” Heater is stocked by all the principal Grocers. Ask your Grocer for one.



SIR,—Though Rugby may contain few, if any, enemy Aliens, it is surely essential that Mr Merttens, although naturalized, should resign immediately his seat on the Bench, which he appears to have vacated during wartime.

The idea of even a naturalized German sitting in judgment on Rugby citizens after the war is repugnant, and especially one with views such as Mr Merttens has in the past expressed. If he has not already resigned, Rugby will expect his fellow Magistrates to see that he does so.-Yours truly, CITIZEN.