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Last updated: March 2008
Though there was increasing optimism by September that this year would see an end to the fighting in World War 1, there was no question of having a professional football season. Football season 1918/19 was therefore played under the same rules as had prevailed since season 1915/16, the London Combination running the competition in the south-east. Punch McEwan still had charge of the team at Arsenal.
Sat 7 September 1918: first fixtures in the football season 1918/19: Fulham 2 Spurs 2; QPR 2 Arsenal 3.
On Sat 14 September 1918 Henry Norris and William Hall were able to attend a match together, more or less for the first time since August 1914: they were at Highbury to see Arsenal 4 Millwall 0.
On the evening of Wed 18 September 1918 Henry Norris chaired the regular meeting of the London Borough of Fulham, at which the inevitable results of the pay increase given by the LCC to its teachers were played out: the rates in Fulham went up from 3 shillings and 9d in the £ to 4 shillings and 5d in the £.
Although I couldn’t find a report that specifically said Henry Norris was there, most of the London mayors attended a meeting on Thur 19 September 1918 at Westminster Hall, called by an old acquaintance of Norris’, Sir Archibald Dawnay, mayor of Wandsworth. The London mayors discussed whether non-British residents in the UK should be allowed to vote. From the reports I have been able to find, it seems the mayors decided that they shouldn’t - not even those who had become naturalised citizens.
On Sun 22 September 1918 the Trades Council in Fulham held a mass meeting at Eelbrook Common on the edge of Sand’s End, the constituency Henry Norris represented at the London Borough of Fulham. The meeting was called to register the workers’ protests at current wage-rates (the LCC teachers had really stirred things up) and the huge profits some industrialists had been making from the war.
By Wed 25 September 1918 - over a month before the date of mayoral elections - the Times was able to report that Henry Norris had been asked to serve as mayor of Fulham for the tenth successive year.
On Sun 29 September 1918 there was the beginning of the end of the fighting in World War 1: Germany’s ally Bulgaria surrendered to the allies. A small but significant event. During October and early November 1918 however, the war played its last, nasty card: this was the period at which the terrible flu epidemic - which killed more people than the fighting - was at its height. It was called Spanish Flu; but in fact seems to have originated in the USA.
On Tue 1 October 1918 a day of events was held in London, including a matinée at the London Palladium, to raise money for soldiers blinded in the fighting. George Robey was amongst those who donated their services. The day was organised by some of the mayors of the London boroughs; I couldn’t find the names of the mayors in question, but George Robey was an acquaintance of Henry Norris on the charity football matches circuit.
On the evening of Thur 10 October 1918 a meeting took place at Fulham Town Hall of the Property Owners’ Protection Association. Henry Norris had organised the meeting and attended it, to hear a discussion of the problems caused to property owners living off rents by the Rent and Mortgage Restrictions Act 1915, which had been made worse by the recent rises in rates.
Immediately after the POPA meeting, over the weekend of Sat/Sun 12/13 October 1918 Henry Norris attempted to have a weekend away - probably the first holiday he’d had since the war broke out. But it didn’t last - he was summoned back to Fulham to play his part, as mayor, in Gun Day.
A telegram sent at noon on Sat 12 October 1918, by US President Woodrow Wilson, began his efforts to broker a ceasefire in World War 1. It was sent in circumstances of a German retreat.
That afternoon, Sat 12 October 1918 Arsenal 3 Spurs 0 had a crowd of 30000, the biggest since during early in season 1914/15: things were beginning to return to something approaching normal in Norris’ life.
On the morning Mon 14 October 1918 Fulham’s War Savings Committee held its Gun Day. Edith Norris, as the mayoress, met the gun at the boundary of the borough, and walked with it to Walham Green, where Henry Norris as the mayor met the procession and made a speech of welcome. The Norrises contributed some of the prizes in the Grand Draw that was held later. And everyone must have been cheered by William Hayes Fisher MP telling them, as a member of the coalition Government, that the Germans were asking for a ceasefire.
By Wed 16 October 1918 rumours (which were true) were reaching western Europe of civil unrest in Germany’s Rhineland and in Westfalia. That evening, Wed 16 October 1918, the London Borough of Fulham held the last meeting of the mayoral year. Henry Norris’ end-of-mayoral-year speech looked forward to a ceasefire that might even have begun before 9 November, when the councillors were next due to meet, to elect him as mayor again.
Over the next month the papers were full of the end of the fighting, and the ceasefire negotiations; coverage of anything else dropped off, so it’s been difficult to find out the football results though I do know tha after the matches on Sat 19 October 1918 Arsenal were 2nd in the London Combination, and Fulham were 7th (out of ten).
On Thur 24 October 1918 the Times was able to report a British military offensive in the area of the River Scheldt/Le Cateau. But it wasn’t all good news at this time. By Fri 25 October 1918 the flu epidemic had the UK in its grip, with huge rises in the death rate, though by the end of October 1918 the Times was able to report some signs that the number of new cases had peaked.
On Fri 25 October 1918 a letter to all councils from the Property Owners’ Protection Association was published in the West London Observer. The letter was clearly following-up the recent meeting in Fulham. It gave the landlords’ view of the the Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act 1915 - to give it its full name - and the recent rises in rates.
This seems a little after the fair, but on Fri 25 October 1918 a conference organised by the Lord Mayor of London took place at the Mansion House: it was to discuss ways of encouraging more women to join the armed forces. All the mayors of the London boroughs had been invited to go along; but I couldn’t find out whether Henry Norris attended it.
On Sun 27 October 1918 Austria-Hungary abandoned its alliance with Germany and sued separately for peace. The authorities in Vienna issued a manifesto accepting the rights of its subject peoples (like the Serbs, one of whom had begun the whole thing); and the Hapsburg Empire began to break up into its constituent countries.
At the end of October 1918 William Hayes Fisher was piloting a Housing Bill through the House of Commons which would see central and local government between them funding a programme of working-class housing. On Mon 28 October 1918 he was in charge of the Bill’s second reading; and also took questions on the current state of the flu epidemic.
On the afternoon of Tue 29 October 1918 the LCC held its first full meeting after its summer vacation; but Henry Norris didn’t attend it.
At noon on Thur 31 October 1918 an armistice was declared between the allies and Turkey. Also that day, 31 October 1918 the Supreme War Council (that’s the allies) met at Versailles to discuss what conditions they’d accept as a basis for a ceasefire.
On Sun 3 November 1918 Austria-Hungary surrendered. And on Mon 4 November 1918 the Times reported that there was a movement in Bavaria wanting to sue for peace separately from the rest of Germany. A Bill introducing constitutional reform was going through the German parliament; it would end the absolute rule of Kaiser Wilhelm.
If he hadn’t been told privately already, on the morning of Tue 5 November 1918 Henry Norris would have read in the papers that William Hayes Fisher MP had resigned, or possibly been sacked (the papers were more discreet then) as President of the Local Government Board, after a week of criticism of his handling of the flu epidemic and other issues. And if he hadn’t been told already, Norris would have noted with interest that Hayes Fisher had acceptd a peerage - so the constituency of Fulham East would be vacant at the general election which people were now expecting to be held within a few weeks.
Early November 1918 British and French troops went on the offensive east of Valenciennes.
On Tue 5 November 1918 the allies’ proposed conditions for an armistice were read to the House of Commons; and Winston Churchill outlined the Government’s plans for demobilisation. A delegation set out from Berlin to meet the allies, with power to agree a cease-fire.
On Thur 7 November 1918 The nuts and bolts of demobilisation were going to be handled by the local councils, using the employment exchanges. A conference took place in the West Midlands to formulate a plan for this; it would include advisory committees on housing and employment. I don’t know whether Henry Norris was able to attend the conference.
On Fri 8 November 1918 the allies told the German delegation their conditions for a cease-fire. Germany was given until Monday 11 November to agree to them.
By Sat 9 November 1918 a government Demobilisation Board had been set up, under Sir James Stephenson. In a reversal of his previous work for the Government, Henry Norris was appointed the Chairman of the Ministry of Labour’s Advisory Committee on demobilisation. On the morning of Sat 9 November 1918 the Times printed reports that an independent republic had been declared in Bavaria. Henry Norris wasn’t able to go to the football matches played that afternoon, Sat 9 November 1918: in an atmosphere of joy and relief, he was re-elected to serve as mayor of Fulham, for the tenth (and last) time. He made a very bullish speech, expecting the allies to take a tough line in any peace negotiations; the Fulham Chronicle later described his attitude on this as unrealistic; but his views did reflect the popular feeling that Germany should be made to pay. In Islington, Henry Norris’ acquaintance from the Metropolitan Water Board, George Elliott, was also re-elected, to serve for a 12th year.
Over the weekend of Sat 9 to Sun 10 November 1918 a Socialist government took office in Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated. On behalf of the new government, the German delegation in France accepted the cease-fire terms. So punctually at 11.00am on Mon 11 November 1918 though some units had continued to fire right up to that time, a cease-fire ended the fighting in World War 1. By 10.30 people were on the streets in London in anticipation; at 11.00 workers rushed from their work-places to join in the celebrations. King George V, Queen Mary and Princess Mary went by car from Buckingham Palace to the City of London.
[ROGER THE NEXT FILE IS SLGE18 WHICH FOLLOWS ON IMMEDIATELY FROM THIS ONE]
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Copyright Sally Davis February 2008