Dec 151934

The Catholic Citizen
Organ of St. Joan’s Social and Political Alliance, (formerly Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society), 55 Berners Street, London, W.1.
Vol. XX. No. 12. Price Twopence.

Do we Appreciate our Heritage?
By Stella Gregson
A girl may leave school today and embark on her chosen career with the same chances of success as her brother. No longer need the ambitious female raise the cry that so often punctuates the novels of the last century: “If only I were a boy.” There is no longer any need for her to hide her light under a bushel, nor to bury the gifts that God gave her in the duties of domesticity.
This is the world for which women fought and prayed and suffered; the dream-world of the first feminists, won at last after the long battle against so-called tradition and arrant stupidity.
Does the girl who now tastes of the fruits of this victory appreciate her position? Does she ever pause and thank Heaven for the noble band of women who gave her this heritage? No. She takes it all for granted. She considers sex-equality as just one of the many improvements in a century that has cast aside outworn traditions.
Suffragettes? Yes, she has heard of them. Her impression of them is gained chiefly from those pictures which the newspapers are constantly reviving. Being endowed with a deep respect for her sex, she does not enjoy looking at them – women looking absurd with their hair falling down, struggling in the arms of grinning policemen; women shrieking and breaking windows, throwing themselves in front of horses, burning buildings, destroying pictures. Well, thinks the young lady who has inherited the victory without knowing the fight, it is a good thing women have some sense nowadays. They don’t make fools of themselves like that now. And thus she dismisses the whole subject of Feminism.
There must be a reason for her misguided attitude, and it is not lack of intelligence. Good use has been made of the reformed educational systems. Nor is it lack of fair-mindedness. The young girl of today does not appreciate her inheritance for the simple reason that she is not taught about Feminism, and is wholly ignorant concerning any aspect of the subject save the one which is generally held up to ridicule.
Her History course tells her of other reformations that have influenced our lives. She knows of the great movement of the nineteenth century which resulted in crowded towns and altered the entire outlook on all social questions. But that same History course does not stress the reformation that affects her more nearly. She knows, of course, that the position of women was profoundly different in the time of her grandmothers’ girlhood. But is not everything on a different basis? We can forgive her for thinking that the Feminist revolution is merely a part of the world-wide adjustment towards sanity and fairness. The lack of appreciation is not her fault. It is the fault of those responsible for her general knowledge.
If only she could be told the story of the Cause in a sane and fair-minded way, I believe that she would enjoy it more than any other event in the history of humanity. Nothing appeals to young blood more than a tale of a small country rising against and defeating a nation of powerful oppressors. How greatly would the schoolgirl relish this story of the small band of women who won their rights from the powerful nation of oppressive tradition. A story that is not an ancient one dealing with powers of long ago, but one in which her own life is implicated. Let us tell her that there is a promised land that has been won for her; that there are still those who begrudge her that land and say that she is incapable of holding it. Let her thus gain a sense of responsibility, not only to herself, but to those who went before her and whose patience and suffering gave her this heritage.
If we allow her to continue in her present state of ignorance, lacking this enriching stimulus, the result may easily be the gradual return of women to their old position of inferiority. One generation has gained an incomplete but magnificent victory. The present generation of women must turn that victory to good account, must hold the land already won and add to it. For the battle did not end, as so many believe, with the winning of the vote; there are still positions to which women are barred; there is still work to be done in the ranks of feminists, but it is being done by the older generation. We need Pankhursts and Fawcetts among the girls who are in their teens today.
If we allow the young to retain this attitude of indifference and ignorance towards Feminism, there may be a tale told in the future years of a strange whim that possessed the female mind round about the beginning of the twentieth century; of how, for a little while, women decided to be considered the equals of men, but that it all died away eventually … a mere flash in the pan … a tale to be laughed over, very ridiculous and a little pathetic.
This is the danger that we are facing. The question that the die-hards are constantly asking is: “Can women hold what she has won?” The answer lies with the younger generation, and they do not even know what all the fuss is about. Let us teach her the price of this treasure of liberty, so that we may be assured that her labour will be worthy of that magnificent struggle in which indignity, hardship and abuse were counted as nought, so that she could come safely into this dreamed-of world, and, for the first time in the history of woman, be given a fair chance to prove her worth in every sphere of thought and action.

Miss Gregson, who contributes the above article, asks us to inform our readers that she is “not an old fogey, but merely a sweet young thing straight out of a convent, therefore not possessed by a prejudice against the much abused ‘modern girl’, but speaking from first-hand experience of the views of school fellows.”

Jun 021936

An example of Arthur’s ‘News Of The Waterfront’ articles.

News Of The Waterfront
By The Mate

This column was a regular feature by Arthur in the paper, and with hindsight can be seen as his application for the role of Blitz Reporter, which he took up during the war a few years later.

Aug 081941

Story Of Year Of Raids On Merseyside
A Story Of Grim Experiences And Great Recovery

The new raid “season” is about to open, we are warned by people in authority, and as it is a year or so ago since Merseyside was first attacked by the Luftwaffe, it is interesting to review the “season” just ended.
Though the full story of the year cannot yet be told, it is interesting and instructive to look back along the road we have travelled and to realise to what extent our outlook has changed.
Few realised, last July, what we should live through in the year that has gone. True, there had been minor excitements. Occasionally there had been gunfire, even in daylight. But can you think back to that first night raid – not a heavy one – when in the intervals between the firing of the guns you could hear the steady “drum-drum, drum-drum” of Goering’s dark angels high overhead?
That night – it was in July 1940 – the first bombs were dropped on Merseyside. Neston, Irby and Thurstaston can claim the distinction of being among the first Merseyside districts to suffer actual attack. A stick of bombs scattered over these areas fell in fields and did no damage, but dug deep craters which drew wondering crowds.

Birkenhead And Wallasey
Birkenhead received an early “visit” one night in August. Bombs were dropped in Prenton, and when a house in Prenton Lane was struck, a maid who was in bed was killed. She was Merseyside’s first fatal casualty.
Two days later Wallasey was struck a heavier blow. Houses and shops at Stroud’s Corner, Cliff Road and Mill Lane were damaged and demolished. Infinitely worse, a few people were killed.
Next came the first Liverpool bombs. Just about midnight on Saturday August 17, they whistled down but did little damage. With the horrors of the Continent fresh in their minds, everyone called them screaming bombs. Do you remember that, and do your realise that nobody speaks of screaming bombs these days?
Two days later Liverpool had its first incendiary bombs, several hundred of which fell. From the centre of the city one saw for the first time that leaping, flickering greenish white halo, soon to become so familiar.
In some ways these early demonstrations of frightfulness, particularly those early deaths at Wallasey, made a deeper impression on the public than the succession of heavy blitzes during the longer nights.

On Their Doorsteps
People who had never seen themselves in the light of heroes suddenly realised that this war was to be fought out, literally, on their own doorsteps. Perhaps unconsciously, but nevertheless determinedly, people settled down to the raids, and that attitude meant defeat for the German Air Force. They set out to crack the morale of the civilian population and failed. They failed in those first few nights.
More and more efforts were made to destroy the town. In September there was scarcely a night when the alert was not sounded, and bombs were dropped on 19 nights in the month. Those were the nights when the housing estates were bearing the brunt of the attack, as they did for so long. Those were the nights, too, when the Anderson shelter proved its worth.
About the end of September raiders began to make greater use of incendiaries and for several months there was the same story in the papers of an “abortive fire-raising raid on a coastal town in the North-West”. That phrase about the town in the North-West is an echo from the past, isn’t it? Throughout the weeks there was raid after raid, with serious damage on only one occasion by fire. October came and went, bringing with it the long raids which meant six, seven and eight hours in shelters for so many people.

Lull, Then Fury
There came a lull in November, but suddenly there was unleashed all the fury of the Luftwaffe, who brought their heaviest bombs to Merseyside on November 28, rendering many people homeless but failing to crush their spirit. That was the night when a big shelter was struck, causing a number of casualties.
Another lull, with occasional nuisance raids and little material damage. Then the December blitz, which lasted two nights and on the third switched over to Manchester. This very heavy raid was followed by almost two months of comparative quietness, in which there were small raids, which failed in their objective of creating big fires.
By this time the organisation of civilians in defeating the incendiaries was so successful that raiders began dropping explosive incendiary bombs in the hope of scaring the public – a hope doomed to disappointment.
Raids, though fewer, were more concentrated in the early spring. March 12 and 13, for instance, brought two nights of hell to Merseyside, where residential areas were badly damaged by some of the heaviest bombs. It was at this time, however, that we began to hear of our night fighters, who shot down at least seven.
Spasmodic raids followed in April, but May saw the outbreak of a heavy and concentrated attack. Eight nights in succession the raiders came.

National Admiration
Firemen, ambulance drivers, rescue squads, police, and all the civil defence personnel worked unceasingly, earning the admiration of the whole country. Just how well they did their jobs is shown by the speed with which vital services were restored.
Many famous and historic places in the city were hit – churches, homes, public buildings, hotels, all felt the weight of Germany’s relentless bombing, but still the city stands. Ugly wounds in the streets have been cleaned and healed by temporary dressings and, most important of all, the port carries on its vital work. People come and go much as they have always done.
The people of Merseyside can face this autumn more confidently, for they know what to expect.
There are two great differences as compared with the post-Dunkirk period: We are now hitting back at Germany, in Germany, and we have our night fighters protecting us with growing success.
Arthur Johnson