‘Seeking Out the Slackers’

In September 1916 a country wide series of joint police and military raids were launched to find ‘slackers’. After conscription had been introduced earlier that year, it was deemed necessary find those shirking their duty. ┬áThe main targets were theatres, music-halls, picture palaces, boxing rings, any place of entertainment. The Mayor of London advised people to carry their registration cards and Medical Board certificate with them at all times, after a series of weekend raids.

While much of the rest of the country waited for the coming week, Yorkshire started on the 9th of September. It was a Saturday night! In Hull there had been raids on Kingston Rovers football ground earlier in the day. Captain Featherstone of the recruiting office launched the Doncaster raids with assistance from the Chief Constable and Superintendent.

They raided the Grand Theatre, Palace Music Hall, Picture Palace, and Electra Picture House. The exits were guarded while a notice on screen told women and men above military age to leave. All young men not in uniform were questioned and asked to produce their paperwork. Some had to send their dates home to fetch their paperwork because they couldn’t leave!

The audiences were packed and an office was set up in a butcher’s shop on Silver Street. It took 2 hours to get through all the men from the Palace alone. All those unable to produce their paperwork were taken to the police station.

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Sgt. Oswald Rixon

Widely known in the Thorne Community