The 1919 Mutinies & Police Strike ~ The Federated Press of America ~ The School
Go to the war, workers, go to the war;
Heed not the Socialists, but wallow in gore;
Shoulder your rifle, worker, don’t ask what it’s for;
Let your wife and children starve, and go to the war.Chorus of 1918 British street song
I have seen references to it even in our Secret Service reports, which of course do not deal with the better classes.Walter Long
With the Devil, but for Russia and against the Bolsheviks.Pyotr N. Wrangel
In months leading up to the July 1919 police strike, James Marston’s fortunes as NUPPO General-Secretary dwindled, coinciding with the rise of his successor, Sergeant Jack Hayes. The element of surprise that ensured the success of the 1918 walkout was non-existent a year later; Hayes understood another successful strike would be impossible and so pushed for a different approach. Both inside and outside police circles, many saw this as a sign of moderation. He is of singular interest both as NUPPO leader and, it turned out, as a talent-spotter, facilities agent and probable agent of influence for Moscow. In these roles, Hayes enabled the earliest known Bolshevik penetration of the British Government, leading to a scandal in 1929 that changed how Britain’s secret machinery operated.
This chapter investigates the impact of post-Armistice military and police unrest on British assessments of subversion. Army mutinies, unionisation attempts in the Royal Navy (RN) and another police strike – in addition to growing industrial strife – stoked official fears of revolution. Using Hayes’s activities as a convenient link, this chapter concludes by re-visiting the 1 November 1919 establishment of GCCS, the peacetime cryptographic successor to the Admiralty’s Naval Intelligence Division (NID) 25 (better known as Room 40) and the War Office’s MI1(b). At a time when telling subversive capability from intent was vital, the School proved critical; unsurprisingly, it was an early target for Bolshevik intelligence.
In a December 1918 report, only a month after the Armistice ended the war, Basil Thomson stated revolutionary feeling was at its highest ever in Britain. Yet a few lines later, he explained how the suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst acknowledged in an intercepted letter ‘the working man’s interest in Bolshevism was flagging. …