1917 court: Trouble brewing for soldiers sneaking ale

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At the Scarborough Police Court before Mr SP Turnbull (in the chair) and Mr Wm Boyes, Sarah Ann Malton, married, 46, Sandside, was summoned for having procured intoxicating drink for three members of His Majesty’s Forces, who were undergoing hospital treatment, on May 23.

It was the first case of the kind taken at Scarborough.

Defendant pleaded guilty.

Detailing the facts, the chief constable said that on May 23 three soldiers in hospital uniform, the blue dress which was so well known as indicating that soldiers are undergoing hospital treatment, left the railway station about 1pm. They had arrived by train from Wykeham, where they are undergoing hospital treatment at Wykeham Abbey.

They were seen by PC Shepherd, and were followed by him down Westborough, Newborough and Eastborough to the Southside. They went slowly, and proceeded direct to the house of defendant at 46, Sandside. They went into the house at about 1.30pm, and the constable kept watch and at 1.33pm defendant came out of the house with a large jug, and went to the Lancaster Inn. She had this jug partly under her apron - the apron was thrown over it. She returned five minutes later to the above house, and at 2.10pm the constable went to the house.

He found the outside door open, and just inside there was a sort of lobby, or short passage, and the door leading from the passage into the room was barred on the inside. He knocked, and defendant opened the door. The constable said: “You have three wounded soldiers in your house?” She replied: “Yes,” and the constable saw when the door was opened the three soldiers - one sitting on a couch near the window, and two seated near the fireplace. Mrs Malton sat near the door.

There were three glasses standing on the table, one of which was full of beer, and the other two half full. Another glass of beer was placed on the floor near the fireplace. A large white jug - previously referred to - was standing in the centre of the table, and contained about half a pint of beer. The constable asked defendant who had brought the beer, and she replied: One of the soldiers (named) gave me 2s, and asked me if I would bring half a gallon of beer. I did so. I am very sorry, I know I have done wrong by doing so.

The three soldiers admitted that what defendant had done was correct. One of them said he had had about the same, and the other that he had only one glass. That was about three and a half pints in ten minutes. They must, said the chief, ironically, have been very thirsty. One man said he had known Mrs Malton about seven years, but her statement, which he asked the magistrates to believe was very different. She said she had known him about three weeks. This man (Bailey) was the leader of this expedition, and Mrs Malton said that he, accompanied by another soldier, went to her when she was standing on her doorstep one afternoon three weeks ago, and asked her if she would get them a drink of beer. She did so (this was on a Tuesday). He gave her 2s. The soldier, accompanied by two more soldiers a fortnight ago, gave her 2s to bring half a gallon of beer (this was on a Thursday) and the same soldier that day (the 23rd) took the two others and giving her 2s asked her to fetch them some beer.

Those, said the chief, were the facts, and he submitted to the magistrates that it was a very serious thing to assist wounded soldiers to obtain drink. They were not allowed to be served at licensed houses, and the licensed victuallers had, he believed, been most careful. They had refused to serve them. He knew several cases where they had refused, and if private individuals assisted soldiers in that way it would defeat the aim of the regulations which was to prevent wounded soldiers obtaining drink except under doctor’s orders.

There had been trouble during the past month at Wykeham on account of wounded men going into Scarborough and returning the worse for drink.

Defendant said she did not say to the constable that she knew she was doing wrong. She had said she did not know or she would not have bought the beer. The door was not bolted but was just “shoved to.”

The constable, recalled, said he understood Mrs Malton to say that she knew she had done wrong, but she was sorry, she would not have done it had she known.

The constable said there was no handle to the door, which fastened with a bolt inside.

The chairman said it was not unusual for women to carry jugs under their aprons.

Defendant, it appeared, is the wife of a soldier, and she has four children.

The chairman said the magistrates thought it was a very serious offence, and one which might cause a great deal of trouble. It would have to be stopped.

Defendant: I shall never do it again.

The chairman said the magistrates did not think that defendant had known she was infringing the law, although she had evinced that she had been doing a thing she was ashamed of. She would have to pay a fine of £1. If there were any other offences of a similar kind in the town, the offenders would be much more severely dealt with.