Tom Mann’s Memoirs, 1923

Book three: Home again

XIX. Police brutality
1910 to 1911

First published: 1923
Publisher: The Labour Publishing Company Limited, 38 Great Ormond Street, London WC I
Transcription, mark-up: Steve Painter


In opening this chapter I propose to give some account of the disturbance in the minds of the capitalists aroused by the events narrated in the previous chapter. For this we must go back a little.

Before the final stage of the struggle was reached in Liverpool, and when there was no serious reason to expect disorder, soldiers were drafted into the city in large numbers and were encamped in the parks. Furthermore, two gunboats were sent up the Mersey and anchored in midstream opposite Birkenhead, with the guns trained on Liverpool.

This last proceeding was particularly senseless, for, had the guns been fired, great damage would have been done to capitalist property. It seemed to cause much annoyance to the authorities that so effective a struggle was being carried on without anything in the way of rioting or tumult, and they therefore decided to brew trouble themselves.

We had recently started a weekly paper called The Transport Worker. In the issue of August 8, the strike committee announced a mass meeting to be held on St George’s Plateau the following Sunday, August 13, at 3pm. We also stated that cinematograph pictures would be taken of the procession of the trade-union branches with their banners, etc.

The weather had been charming for weeks on end. On Saturday, August 12, an order was given by the authorities to a wood-working firm in Birkenhead for some hundreds of stout staves for policemen. These were to be of unusual length.

On behalf of the strike committee, I myself and a colleague interviewed the Liverpool superintendent of police, saying that we were quite able to keep our men in hand and that we should have no difficulty in controlling the demonstration on Sunday. We urged him to leave matters to us, and not parade the police force. He heartily agreed, and said he would issue instructions accordingly.

Sunday, August 13, was a glorious day, and the Liverpool men turned out to participate in the demonstration. Many thousands marched in the lengthy procession, with bands and banners, and made their way to the plateau in front of St Georges Hall. The following report from the The Transport Worker gives the details, and there are many thousands in Liverpool and district who will perhaps be interested in having their memories refreshed of the tragic events of that Sunday.

As evidence that a formal request had been made for the use of the plateau on the occasion, and that the same was granted, the following letter may first be quoted:

August 9, 1911

Dear Sir,

Re Plateau, St Georges Hall

I beg to inform you that your application for the use of the plateau in front of the above building on the afternoon of the 13th August has been granted for the purpose of a meeting in connection with the Liverpool District Council, and the National Transport Workers Federation, subject to satisfactory arrangements being made with the head constable, and to your being responsible for any damages which may be done to the property of the corporation.

Yours truly,

Thomas Shelmerdine, corporation surveyor

The report in The Transport Worker runs as follows:

In order to do our best for the success of the meeting, the considerations of a peaceful assembly were uppermost in the minds of us all, and to this end the closing sentence in the official route read as follows: “The processionists must walk four deep and keep to the left-hand side of the roadway giving way to the other traffic as directed by the police authorities.”

The resolution to be submitted to the meeting from the four platforms was as follows:

“That this meeting heartily congratulates the transport workers of Liverpool and other ports on the successes achieved by the recent effort for improvement of the conditions, and now urges upon all workers to organise industrially, and all unions to unite for solidarity locally, nationally and internationally, as to the means whereby industrial and social changes can be made, until all workers shall receive the full reward of their labours.”

As duly announced, the carters and dockers played a very prominent part in the procession.

Starting from the branch office, Derby Road, at 2pm, the north-end carters, under Mr W.H. Jones, marched to meet their comrades, the north-end dockers, at Bankhall, in charge of Mr G. Milligan. The procession, then consisting of quite 15,000 men, marched in splendid order to the Carters’ Offices, in Scotland Road. There the large and magnificent banner of the Carters Union, placed lengthways on a lorry drawn by a splendid team of horses, entered the ranks in charge of Messrs J. Clayton and T. Ditchfield, and at least 4000 more carters and dockers formed in line and proceeded south. Meanwhile, the south-end carters, under Mr Edward Arnold, the carters’ delegate, had massed at the branch office in Stanhope Street, and the south-end dockers, No 5 branch, started from Toxteth Hall at 1.40pm. The south-end dockers and carters, having met in Great George Street, proceeded to Seymour Street to meet the north-end bringing up a further strength of 8000 men, whilst the Birkenhead carters, under Mr Adams, with a band, met at Birkenhead Ferry, and having proceeded across the river, met the dockers of No 2 branch, under Bro Jack Wood, and proceeded up from the Pier Head, to Seymour Street; thus augmenting the procession to a further 5000 men.

A large number of sailors, firemen, ships stewards, cooks, butchers, and bakers, engine men, crane men, tram men, railway workers, mill and warehouse workers, canal men, flat men, and in fact every conceivable branch and section of the transport industry, fell into the procession and marched orderly down London Road.

Brothers Tom Mann, Billal Quilliam, and Thos Ditchfield, at the head of the procession, in front of the band and the carters’ banner, marched at a slow pace amidst rousing cheers down London Road, the whole of the tramway traffic being suspended at the time in that area.

On arriving at the corner of Lime Street, already it was seen that at least 30,000 people had taken part possession of the plateau and Lime Street. The enthusiasm was great, and as the procession came through the lions in front of St Georges Hall, cheer upon cheer was raised as the triumphant fighters took their stands upon the different wagons serving as the platforms. It was found that the crowd was so immense that the plateau and steps would not hold them all, and, although platforms had been arranged, two other wagons, bearing banners of the dockers and carters, also served as platforms in order that the speeches of the different speakers might easily reach the audience, while at least 10,000 men surrounded the Wellington Column and listened to various leaders of the trade-union movement.

At the south of the plateau a huge pantechnicon served as a literature wagon, and a body of 100 stewards sold many thousands of the first edition of The Transport Worker, and had not the further events of the day supervened, there is no doubt that no literature would have been left unsold.

Throughout the meeting, it was plainly to be seen that the well-dressed appearance of those taking part, and the orderliness of the huge crowd, were sufficient indications that the men had come there for peaceful demonstration. The attention that was given to the speakers was in itself sufficient evidence that the men wished only for peace.

The chairmen of the different platforms were Bros Tom Mann, J. Summersgill, Tom Chambers and Peters.

At the opening of the address on No. 1 platform, Bro Tom Mann said that the railway workers had been without representatives on the strike committee, but, having regard to the conditions of their labour, no one could blame them for striking.

In some branches of work, men were receiving from 20 shillings to 24 shillings per week for working excessive hours, and others were getting as low as 17 shillings, 15 shillings, and even 13 shillings and sixpence, and upon this they were asked to support their wives and families.

The strike committee was compelled to have regard to their conditions, to look upon them as comrades, and to do its best to get their grievances adjusted.

He then announced the decision that the strike committee had come to in the morning as communicated to the railway companies. He said: “We have decided on the strike committee, adequately representative of other sections of the transport workers, to adopt a peaceful attitude and to show our wish for a speedy settlement by sending a letter to all the companies. There shall be no excuse for them. They will know that there is someone willing to receive communications from them, and to help in arriving at a settlement. If that brings forth no reply tomorrow, if they ignore us or refuse to take action with a view to a settlement, the strike committee advises a general strike all round.” At this moment cheering continued for at least five minutes. Bro Tom Mann remarked: “We cannot, in the face of the military and extra police drafted into the city, have effectual picketing, and we cannot but accept the display of force as a challenge. We shall be prepared to declare on Tuesday morning a general strike, that will mean a strike of all transport men of all classes; of railway workers, passengers as well as goods men, drivers, stokers. It will mean all connected with the ferry boats, tug boats, river tender men, dock board men, the overhead and underground railways, flatmen, barge men, dockers, coal heavers, crane men, elevator men, warehouse workers, carters and in fact every conceivable section and branch of the great transport industry in Liverpool will down tools until this business is settled.” (Raising his voice to a pitch that could be heard on the top of the steps of the plateau, he shouted): “If you are in favour of that action, if we get no favourable reply from the railway companies, please hold up your hands.” The response to that request was unanimous. All within hearing held up their hands, and at least 20,000 people in front of Bro Tom Mann’s platform held up both hands in the air.

It was apparent that a similar resolution was then being put at the other platforms, for they also continued one after the other to hold up their hands at a given signal, and to cheer vociferously. There was then every indication that the men were determined upon what course to adopt, that they would wait and see what would happen during Monday, but that if no negotiations were entered into on Monday, a general transport workers’ strike was to take place — with thorough determination, and with all its disastrous effects to the shipping and transport work of the port on Tuesday morning. But little was it dreamt, or even anticipated, that within a few minutes afterwards persons supposed to be possessed of coolness, courage, and foresight should so lose their heads and act so foolishly, yes, and so murderously, as to put that vast meeting of quite 100,000 men and women into a state of panic and bloodshed. It was fortunate for the meeting that Bro J. Havelock Wilson (who has fought so many fights, and so endangered his health that the doctor has ordered him to withdraw from the front ranks of the fighting line), that his illness had somewhat subsided and his general health recovered sufficiently for him to take part. Standing on No 2 platform, with his old comrades Bros J.A. Seddon and Tom Chambers, also supported by his old colleague, Bro Ned Cathery, Bro Wilson held the audience with his advice to those present.

Following Bro Tom Mann, Bro Quilliam of the Carters Union, told the men that the only solution to the difficulties of the railway workers was the course that had been taken. It had not been taken rashly, but with a clear deliberation and foresight into the possibilities of every conceivable course that might have been adopted; and it was only after several hours conference of the strike committee that they determined upon what action to pursue.

He advised the men that, while it would mean at least 80,000 men downing tools until the question was settled, and that during such time excitement would be high and the spirit of some might be a little excessive, for the success of the movement it was essential that all parties should keep cool and collected, and above all not be guilty of any acts of disorder.

He pointed out that it would be only suiting the ends of the persons they were fighting, for some men to get out of hand, to give an opportunity to the police and military to use barbarous tactics to overawe the men and cow them down, and thus cause a state of wild confusion, with the ultimate object of destroying the splendid solidarity that had been shown on all sides.

While Bros Ditchfield, Clayton, and William Henry Jones, of the Carters Union, were speaking, it was noticed that something untoward was taking place opposite the plateau in Lord Nelson Street. A visitor to the London and North Western Hotel assures us he was looking out from a window above Lord Nelson Street, and saw the bother from start to finish. That some youths were sitting on one of the window sills of the hotel, when three huge burly policemen, without the slightest display of tact, consideration, or common sense, dragged these three youths off the window sill, and began pushing them down the street towards Lime Street. This agitated a few of the men who were there, and who were there only because Lime Street was filled with people, and there was no room for anyone else, and remarks were passed to the police not to interfere.

This is most important, because the head constable had assured Bro Tom Mann that there would be no display of police more than was sufficient to be ready in case peace was broken, and certainly that none of the police present would do anything which was likely to provoke the crowd. Therefore these wanton acts on the part of the three constables in Lord Nelson Street are highly reprehensible, utterly contrary to the spirit and letter of the head constable’s assurance, dangerous to the peace, and such conduct that ultimately set the town aflame, and caused such pain, suffering, and disaster on all sides; and it is these three constables of the Liverpool City Police Force that deserve the utmost censure and instant dismissal from the force if not punishment in the courts of law. Other persons present also corroborated this independent witness’s statement.

Although these three policemen were appealed to by the men in the crowd to be quiet, evidently knowing that the military were at hand, and extra police in the vicinity, and appreciating at a time like this the military’s support, they displayed more vigour than was wise for the peace of the city, and continued their foolishness — in fact their criminal conduct — by drawing their truncheons and knocking the crowd about with severe blows right and left. The crowd would not stand this, and the three policemen were forced back towards the side gates of the station in Lord Nelson Street, and this was the signal for one hundred of the city police to rush madly into the crowd without rhyme or reason, or without any apparent justification or intention of maintaining peace. Such a scene of brutal butchery was never witnessed in Liverpool before. Defenceless men and women, several of whom were infirm, and many of whom were aged, were deliberately knocked down by heavy blows from the truncheons of powerful men, and even as the crowd fled from this onslaught, the police still continued to batter them about as they were running away.

It was not a question of the police using their batons to protect themselves, but utterly and entirely a savage and monstrous attack by well-trained men in such a manner as left its severe effect Upon the heads of hundreds of people. Covered with blood, the poor wretches were falling down stunned all over the street, many lying on the ground either helpless or unconscious.

The police then returned to the gates of the station, and as the crowd began to drift back, apparently to pick up those whom the police had knocked down and left lying unaided, the police again made a savage attack, driving the people forcibly into Lime Street. This time the police again drew up a cordon, at the bottom of Lord Nelson Street.

Not satisfied with this, not even calculating the severe effect of the attack upon the people, and upon those who could only learn of it from either seeing from a distance what had taken place or from news brought to them on the plateau, when the crowd again moved from the plateau into Lime Street, for no reason except that of walking from one part of the street to the other, the police again attacked, this time with the assistance of the imported police, driving the people helter-skelter to both sides of Lime Street, and leaving apparently lifeless men and women lying about in all directions.

After the police had returned and had formed the second cordon, Bro Quilliam left the platform, and entered Lime Street, for the purpose of asking the crowd to keep cool in spite of the attack, and keep back. He succeeded in getting a number of the people who were still wandering about back to the plateau, although their comrades were lying bleeding on the ground, without assistance. Some, bolder than the rest, went to help their comrades, but the police again made an attack, knocking them about like ninepins, heedless of their screams. The crowd then, and then only, after they had been infuriated by several attacks from the police, and after their comrades had been battered about and left in a most disgraceful and dying condition, began to retaliate.

To the credit of one man who showed his British pluck, and did not display absolutely disgraceful cowardice as did the police with their batons, this pedestrian threw off his coat, and putting up his fists knocked down two constables to the ground, and took their truncheons off them, but he met his fate by half a dozen constables surrounding him, knocking him to the ground and kicking him.

This was too much for the crowd, and well it might be. No man if he had the sense of liberty or the feeling of a Britisher could stand such treatment. If the worst and most ferocious brutes in the world had been on the scene they could not have displayed such brutality as the Liverpool City Police, and their imported men, did in the Sunday attacks. To the credit of the audience, they made a bold stand in trying to defend themselves and their comrades from the onslaughts.

Of course, by this time the meeting was in utter disorder; despite the great efforts of the speakers in appealing to the men to keep quiet, human nature prevented them from remaining so any longer.

Brother Tom Mann then closed the meeting and ordered those present to get away from the scene, for he knew very well that the police would only take advantage of their conduct, in the excitement that they had caused, by bringing the military and trying to induce the military to fire upon them.

The audience left the plateau, and even then the police followed in the wake of the people, who were leaving peaceably, and smashed heads with their truncheons. The mounted men then came on the scene, and rushed about the plateau as if they were wild, and dashed up the steps, clearing women and old men who had taken refuge on the steps, and driving them to seek refuge wherever they could.

We need not enter into what took place afterwards on the plateau, as there is no doubt that the men, excited as they were by the harsh treatment they had received, were forced to seek shelter in various houses, and they had become so excited by the way they had been treated, that retaliation of course followed upon the attack of the police, and in the retaliation of the crowd, certain brutal policemen received similar blows to those they had themselves inflicted.

But if the authorities think that by this behaviour they can cow the men, they are mistaken. The blood of the men is up, and they will exhibit greater solidarity than ever was evinced before.

We are indebted to every paper in the city, and country, for the accounts given of the strike. In no one paper are the baton charges justified, but on the contrary utterly condemned.

The Manchester Guardian has not failed to express itself in no uncertain terms. In the heading to the news of the day’s proceedings, loom large the words:

Incredible stories of violence

Merciless use of truncheons

Even when the crowd was separated into groups, the police continued their onslaught

They used their truncheons mercilessly and some could be seen taking deliberate aim at the backs of the men’s heads before giving them blows which despite the din could be heard yards away. It was when nearly all the crowds had been dispersed that the worst scene of all occurred, and that brutal unnecessary blows were struck by some policemen, mostly young and probably inexperienced. The steps of the hall had been crowded with men and a few women interested in the demonstration. The orders given for the steps to be cleared led to scenes. At the top is a wide stone platform with iron railings to protect the ends where there is a sheer drop of 12 feet. When the police charged up the steps, they had the people congregated there in a trap from which escape could only be effected by dropping from the railings to the flags below. Hundreds realised that this was the only thing to do, but in a few seconds the police had won their way to the railings and men, women, young boys, and girls were pushed past them over the edge as rapidly and continually as water down a steep rock. The officers could be seen using their truncheons like flails. Dozens of heads and arms were broken and many shoulders and arms received blows, the marks of which will remain for many a long day, and of those who escaped the blows, many were hurt by the fall. It was a display of violence that horrified those who saw it.

So much for the Manchester Guardian report. Concluding a brief account penned by myself. I wrote:

The workers’ movement in Liverpool, and the country generally, is more solid now as a consequence; rapidly growing, truly solidifying as we were, this has added to our growth and our solidification. And although the military are being drafted in daily, and the clatter of the horses hoofs and the noise of the ammunition wagons, disturbs one’s rest at night, there is no one in terror or in the least degree afraid. The presence of military in tens of thousands will not prevent our continuing to organise, the presence of mounted police with long bludgeons, and firearms, and of cavalry and infantry with bayonets fixed, will not prevent the workers engaged in this industrial struggle from still being in it, and conducting their fight with the utmost vigour.

And more, let Churchill do his utmost, his best or his worst, let him order ten times more military to Liverpool, and let every street be paraded by them, not all the King’s horses with all the King’s men, can take the vessels out of the docks to sea. The workers decide the ships shall not go, what government can say they shall go and make the carters take the freight and the dockers load same, and the seamen man the steamers? Tell us that, gentlemen. Is there really a stronger power than that of the workers in proper organised relationship? If so, trot it out. Demonstrate your power to prevent the liners being held up, prove your capacity to get them loaded and out again on time and safely manned, to destination! The confounded impudence of the pettifogging butter dealers and flour millers, with their petty authority, strolling about full of an imaginary importance, why the whole crowd of them cannot berth, discharge, load, and take away the Lusitania. The White Star combine is a powerful combine, the American capitalists that own this big fleet of merchantmen are an important group, but can they handle the vessels or the cargo, or provide for the passengers, or take charge of the ships? And if they cannot, who can? Only the despised worker, he whom the parochial and governmental office-fillers affect to treat as human rubbish. Ah, my fine gentlemen, you are up against something at last. You affect to be so superior to the mere labourer, very well get on without him — if you can — if you can — bring in your military, still further demonstrate your power — to get nothing done; meanwhile the workers’ demands had better receive attention at your hands.

The announcement that a cinematograph picture would be taken of the procession and the demonstration had been acted upon. We had two operators, one at either end of the plateau, and a complete picture was taken showing the repeated onslaughts of the police.

We had arranged for a first view of the film at a picture theatre at noon the following day, and punctually at noon the picture was showing, but — to our extreme disappointment — the police had already been busy and had ordered the portions that told against them to be cut out. All we could do to get at our property was unavailing. The theatre manager was fully aware of what had happened, and he was not prepared to risk losing his license by opposing the police and putting the full picture on in spite of them.

Briefly reviewing the situation in The Transport Worker, I wrote as follows:

Industrial solidarity

Many had declared that the day for successful strikes was past, that strike methods were barbarous, that workers who resorted to them always hurt themselves more than they did those they struck at, and that therefore strikes must be relegated to the history of bygone days and men must in future resort to parliamentary action for any improvement to be secured in their economic and social conditions. The history of the past few weeks has amply demonstrated the power of industrial solidarity throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles. Only a few weeks ago I traveled from London to Liverpool to be present at and take part in the inauguration of the strike of sailors and firemen and cooks and stewards. This was on Tuesday, June 13, and in the short interval substantial gains in increased wages, recognition of the union, the abolition of the Shipping Federation ticket, and the insistence upon decency at the medical examination, have been obtained for all seagoing men, not only deckhands, and firemen, trimmers and greasers, but equally for cooks, stewards, butchers and bakers. These gains in money wages have ranged from 10 shillings per man per month to 25 shillings per man per month, and realising that British shipping represents one half of the total shipping of the world, with a mercantile fleet of over 10,000 vessels, it means that the money gains, obtained solely as the result of the strike, for deckhands, stokehold and catering departments equals £600,000 a year.

This money is being received by men whose average wage has not been more than one pound a week, while at work, but whose actual income over the year has been considerably less than that. Thousands of men did not get more than £3/10/- a month as firemen and trimmers, and thousands did not receive more than £3 a month in the catering department. On the weekly boats, where men find their own food, wages ranged from 26 shillings to 30 shillings a week, a few have yet to be settled with, but the wages for the same men now average 32 shillings and sixpence, with payment for overtime in thousands of cases where it was never paid before.

Apart from the gains of seagoing men, many thousands of shore workers, dockers, carters and others have also received substantial advances, as at Liverpool, Southampton, Hull, Manchester, etc, etc.

Complete organisation wanted

It has commonly been asked what hope there is of ever effectively organising the mass of the workers? This depends on the methods pursued and the spirit that animates the organisers, even more than that of the men to be organised. As an indication of what can be done by concerted action, the case of the dockers of Liverpool is significant. There are 25,000 dockers in the port of Liverpool, and hitherto there has never been a larger membership in Liverpool than 8000. A few weeks ago there were only 7000, at the present hour there are 25,000. One branch whose membership had never exceeded 450 until three weeks ago, now tops 6000. Of course, it is within the bounds of possibility that many of these will fall away again, but those who have been instrumental in causing the enrollment in one union of over 17,000 members in one port will probably know how to keep the members in a healthy state of efficient organisation.

What led to the strike?

For years past the conditions of seafaring men had been deteriorating; in spite of all the efforts of the Sailors and Firemens Union, the standard of life at sea was going down. The Shipping Federation had imposed its ticket, for which the seaman had to pay one shilling a year to the Shipping Federation. The Seamens Union stood little chance by the side of it when its impositions were systematically enforced by instruction of the shipowners, who insisted upon a medical examination infinitely more humiliating and brutalising than could possibly be applied to cattle. Among the scores of thousands of seafaring men in the various departments, are many refined natures, studious, clean-living men, cultured and sensitive; by the enforcement of the beastly methods of the federation every time these men signed on for a voyage, they all had to line up like cattle, stark naked saving trousers, these to be dropped down on reaching the doctor. The applicants were examined by him in a dictatorial, bullying and often beastly fashion in presence of such officers as were considered requisite (in addition to their shipmates) to exercise a cowing influence over the men. The coarseness, the callousness, the shamefulness, the downright filthiness of this form of examination, beggars description. I venture to predict that any serious attempt to reinaugurate the foul and filthy methods will result in action of so drastic a kind that some will find themselves on what some speak of as the “spiritual plane” a little earlier than they bargained for. Repeatedly did the National Sailors and Firemens Union seek to obtain redress of these grievances by asking for a conference of shipowners, but the shipowners turned a deaf ear. During the past twelve months Mr J. Havelock Wilson has been constantly active endeavouring to bring about such a conference both by direct effort and by requesting the good offices of the Board of Trade. The reply was ever of the contemptuous order, Mr Laws of the Shipping Federation declaring that should a seamen’s strike be attempted, it would not be felt, as scarcely any of the men would respond, and those that did would immediately have their places filled by men ready at the disposal of the Shipping Federation.

Where is that federation now?

Where is the unlimited supply of blackleg labour they told the world at large so cavalierly they were able to command? What purpose has been served by the ships chartered by the federation in the various ports and placed in convenient spots to receive and despatch blacklegs ? Why did it not get the blacklegs and supply them to the shipowners who most certainly turned to the Shipping Federation for a redemption of its promises? It did not, simply because it could not. What, then, helped the men in so marked a manner? Three sets of conditions. First, good trade; secondly, the concurrent strike in all ports; and thirdly, the exhibition of working-class solidarity. In spite of good trade, if the strike had not been declared and acted upon in all ports at once the men would have been beaten, and even if the strike had taken place simultaneously in all ports, still the men would have been beaten if class solidarity had not been exhibited; but because this solidarity was realised in fact by carters, dockers and many railwaymen making common cause, therefore the men won.

No room for sectionalism

To make common action possible, the National Transport Workers Federation was formed some six months ago, and although several of the unions connected therewith were very doubtful of the wisdom of action when it was decided upon, the fact that the federation discussed and conferred and demonstrated on behalf of the transport workers did no doubt help materially to prepare the workers’ minds for the exhibition of solidarity in a manner superior to what had before been experienced.

The Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers Union, of which Mr Ben Tillet is general secretary, also carried on a vigorous organising campaign, particularly in the Bristol Channel, Southampton, Hull and Salford, all of which contributed materially to the results secured. At the present hour this union is engaged in a big movement in London, with the rest of the federated unions. A demand is being made for a minimum wage of eightpence per hour for day work and one shilling per hour for overtime. A few days later these and a number of other demands were conceded.

List of Liverpool strike committee

Tom Mann, president, ASE; Frank Pearce, secretary, Jos Cotter, Cooks and Stewards; Geo Parkin, Edward Lamb, G. Clarke, Amalgamated Engineers; James Sexton, John Wood, G. Milligan, National Union of Dockers; David Kenny, T. Dixon, J. Connor, G. Ruffler, G. Hesson, Sailors and Firemen; T. Ditchfield, W. Jones, W.B. Quilliam, Mersey Carters; Jos Summersgill, J. Stephenson, J. Peters, Murphy, Liverpool Trades Council; Clem George, Williams, ASRS; Pat Kean, South-End Coal Heavers; Allen, Dock Board Coopers; Edwards, Operative Bakers; Frank Kilkelly, Arthur Short, J. Hanratty and Tom Chambers.

As president of the strike committee, I was hard at work in Liverpool throughout the affair, except for two brief intervals. In the first week of August 1911, the CGT of France organised a labour demonstration with speakers of various nationalities, including two from Germany, Comrades Molkenbuhr and Ledebour. This was the first time since the war of 1870 that German socialists had been invited by the French comrades to take part in a meeting in Paris. At this time the war clouds were threatening in regard to Morocco, and the demonstration was organised as a protest against drifting into war. It was a great success, speakers were present from Germany and Spain, and I was the spokesman for England. The burden of the speeches was the necessity for international action to refuse to handle war materiel. As soon as the meeting was over I took the first train back to Liverpool.

In July, during the strike, I had occasion to visit Dublin and Belfast and take part in the struggle there. Bros Jim Larkin, in Dublin, and Jim Connolly, in Belfast, were very forceful personalities, and were building up a great industrial movement, in many respects a pattern to others. Later, in November of the same year, I was again in Ireland. I honestly believe that the formation of the Irish Transport Workers Union, with all that this foreshadowed, gave more hope for drastic and beneficial economic and social change than anything that had ever been tried before.