War is Declared

Great Britain declared war on Germany at 11pm on August 4th 1914. What happened next is well described in other sources. But what happened in Malton? For sure, war was not unexpected and when it came, word would have spread from those who had heard on the radio or read in the national newspapers. The leader of the Malton Messenger, 8th August 1914 summed up the circumstances for Maltonians and can be read in the column on the right.

The cloud has burst, Germany has "run amok" and we are in a state of war. The possibility of a conflagration throughout Europe has long been predicted and apprehended with a veiled fear, and despite England's diplomacy the sword is thrust into her unwilling hand. During the present week events have moved with sensational rapidity, war has spread from a foreign land to our own country, and instead of watching the awful drama from a distance we are forced into taking a hand in it. Last week the issue was only beginning to emerge, to-day it is plain to the man-in-the-street that the hour for grips with Geermany has arrived, that the Kaiser has taken off the mask and clearly shown that it is not a question of Servia nor of Russia, but a question of isolating England in order that when isolated she will be placed under German dictation. During the last few months Germany and Austria have used every possible influence to secure the neutrality of England, yet it is against Britain that their blow is chiefly aimed, Servia being the chief obstacle to the Austro-German advance towards the Mediterranean and the establishment of German control of the Balkans, Dardanelles, Asia Minor and the land and sea routes to Egypt and India. After the statement of Sir Edward Grey on Monday it was realised by the cointry that it was scarcely possible for England to keep out of the struggle so wantonly provoked, and the declaration of war issued by this country was the inevitable outcome of Germany's invasion of Belgium. Neither the quarrel nor the war is of our seeking; we tried to avert it, endeavoured to prevent it from spreading, but failed. The Government has a gigantic task before it, and it is the duty of every citizen to make that task as light as possible. No one would question the object which the promoters of the peace meeting held in Malton had in view, but it would seem as a whisper in a hurricane to cry peace when there is no peace, and when war has been forced on every household. There are those who would have preferred to have been at war with another of the Powers rather than Germany, on the ground of German culture, but it is the German Government's policy that matters. Germany may love the arts of peace, but she would also seem to be a keen student of the arts of war. From the moment that Germany refused to respect the neutrality of Belgium, England was involved whether she fought or not, and however much we may have desired to keep out of the struggle at all costs, duty clearly pointed to a united front to the outside world. There may be a few voices of discontent, but England as a whole is satisfied, and although she has not entered into the war with a light heart, she is ready and resolute, holding Germany to blame. In such a crisis, and after our brave soldiers and sailors have gallantly responded to the call of arms, it is well that we should cast a glance around at home. The places of those who have gone must be filled, and in a district like Malton we must not forget the harvest field. Already some farmers are in need of men to take the places of those who have gone to defend their country, and it is to be hoped that those who are unemployed will go the assistance of the farmers and of themselves. None with a spark of patriotism in them or a sense of individual and national duty would require to be asked. We also commend for thoughtful consideration the letter from Mr Hugh W. Pearson, which we publish elsewhere. Leader of the Malton Messenger, 8th August 1914

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Make Haste to Enlist

Taken from the Malton Messenger 17 October 1914

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Lights Out

More stringent lighting restrictions were introduced in the North Riding from the beginning of August 1916 [1]

[1] Yorkshire Gazette, 5 August 1916

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Zeppelin Raids

During the war there would be an occasional sighting or hearing of a Zeppelin. The first encounter was on 4 June 1915 when an airship reached Driffield. On 25 September 1916 the alarm was sounded in Malton as airships skirted the town en-route to York - Yorkshire Gaze

The Wider War Effort

While some enlisted others did what they could and a strong community spirit ensured Maltonians rallied around the war effort. On Saturday 15th August there was a meeting of Malton Employers in the Malton Museum. It was unanimously agreed that employees who join the forces should have their places reserved, and for married employees half wages of not less than 10s and not more than 15s per week would be paid [1] One of the biggest problems was that the declaration of war came just before the harvest started. Men enlisting and leaving for army training left a big gap in the farming labour force. The newspapers carry details of a continuing debate about the suitability of women and children to help with the harvest. Those in charge of the Malton Savings Bank anticipated Maltonians withdrawing large sums of money and went to great lengths to reassure their customers that there was no need to withdraw more money than necessary for normal needs and received a guarantee from the government that 'they will be prepared to supply the Bank with as much Money as may be required to meet all demands.'[2] A Malton Women's War Clothing Guild met regularly at the Friends Meeting House, knitting and sewing clothing for the soldiers [3}

  • [1] Malton Messenger, 22 August 1914
  • [2] Malton Messenger, 8 August 1914
  • [3] Malton Messenger, 19th September 1914

The Wider War Effort
Malton and Norton Co-Operative Society

The above society will present free 1/2 lb of tobacco or cigarettes to every man from Malton, Norton or Old Malton now serving with the Expeditionary Force. Will friends kindly call at the stores and give the names of the soldier, number and regiment, when the above present will be duly despatched FREE OF DUTY AND POSTAGE

Malton Messenger, 26 September 1914

Main Sack Depot

During war time employment existed for 70 or 80 women and a number of soldiers at the Main Sack Depot in Railway-st in what was the Old Malton Biscuit Company's factory. Work ceased in the first week of February 1919 - Yorkshire Gazette, 8 February 1919.

The Armistice
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Rejoicing in Malton

The momentous news for which the world had so long waited, that the armistice had been signed, was made known to the inhabitants of Malton and Norton on Monday morning through the medium of a notice in the Malton Messenger Office window … Underlying the feeling of thankfulness was the sense of loss which this district has sustained through the large number of her bravest sons who have laid down their lives in order that we may enjoy peace, and a sense of the great debt owing to them was ever present in the celebrations. Within a remarkably short time bunting appeared on all sides and by dinner time the streets had quite a festive appearance resembling more than anything else horse procession day. Then after a silence of over four years the bells of St. Leonard's burst forth in merry peals attuning one's hearts to their infectious melody.

Malton Messenger, 16 November 1918

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