German came here to see town by moonlight

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1914 court

A remarkable case arising out of the suspicious conduct of a naturalised British subject of German nationality, who attracted the attention of a police officer and sentries in the region of Eastborough and the West Pier at a late hour on Tuesday night, came up before the Scarborough Bench this morning. The magistrates on the Bench were the Mayor (Mr CC Graham, presiding), Alderman Rowntree, Mr G Rowntree, Mr AJ Tugwell and Mr J Sinfield.

Prisoner, who was of smart appearance, was Matthew Vogt (41), described as a watchmaker, 87, Shaftsbury Road, Ravenscoe Park, Hammersmith, and he was charged with “being a person of 
unsound mind” found 
wandering at large on the West Pier on October 6th.

The Chief Constable said that the prisoner was found acting in a very suspicious manner and was consequently followed by a constable. He was seen peeping into doorways and windows. He went to the West Pier, and was eventually arrested and asked a series of questions as to where he came from etc. He stated, in reply, that he came from London, and that he had come from London that day. He had come to see Scarborough by moonlight. He was accused of being a German, but he said 
he was an 
Englishman.

Proceedings were originally to have been taken under the Defence of the Realm Act. A telephone communication was sent to London and they learnt that Vogt had been arrested on August 31st in London for damaging a fire alarm, but was sent to Fulham Infirmary certified as of unsound mind. On September 8th he was released to the care of his friends.

Proceeding, the Chief Constable said that Vogt was born in Germany, but became a naturalised British subject in 1902. Under the circumstances, judging from their own observations, there was not much doubt that he was of unsound mind.

He had wanted to know where the dog was that had been sleeping in his cell, and said that he had been sleeping in a dog kennel. He (the Chief Constable) suggested that prisoner be sent to the Workhouse pending arrangements. As to 
being certified or his friends being communicated with.

Vogt, who spoke somewhat disconnectedly at this stage, said: “All I can say is I feel perfectly all right. I am willing to be left alone. I should like to have a guide to take me round Scarborough before I go back to London. I think I will be best by myself. I found my way nicely about.” Apparently proposing to return to London he said: “I will go back today as far as York and stop another day and will then go back to Hammersmith. I have a return ticket to London.” Referring to the breaking of the fire alarm in London, prisoner was understood to infer that a window cleaner at his private house had made statements that he was insane. He had broken the fire alarm to put himself into the hands of the authorities. He wanted to find out whether he had enemies or whether he had not. He did not suppose that at that moment he had a single enemy in England.

PC Ford spoke as to prisoner having enquired of him just after 10.40pm in Eastborough the shortest way to the sea front. Witness directed him down Eastborough and followed him on the left side of the road, Robinson was on the right side. Vogt crossed the road and peered into the gateway of Eastborough Congregational Church. He then went on to the pier by the fish offices and witness saw sentries challenge him and allow him to proceed. Witness told the sentries what he had seen and Inspector Thompson subsequently arrested him. He did not hear all that was said but all Vogt seemed able to say was that he had seen postcards of Scarborough by moonlight and that he had come to see the town by moonlight.

Prisoner protested that it was a mistake that he had said moonlight. He had said he had come to see Scarborough by night. In the hall of his house he had a picture which was called “Scarborough by Night” and he had wished to see Scarborough by night and resolved that whenever he had a day’s holiday he would come to see Scarborough. The day before yesterday “there was such a nice moonlight in London” that he had thought he would come to Scarborough before he commenced work. “Unfortunately I have been kept in this cell instead of spending the night in the open air.”

After discussion the Mayor said Vogt would be remanded for a week and would have to go to the workhouse, at which he appeared to be dejected.