The "Daily Mail" and Brightmore

From The Tribunal 20th September 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
_For other extracts go to:_http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

The “Daily Mail” has re-opened the Brightmore case – and shut it up again quick! On Friday, September 14th, it published on its principal news sheet a letter, running into over half a column, from “Chas. Grimshaw,” late Major, Manchester Regiment, protesting against the “iniquitous manner” “in which Brigadier-General McD Elliot and myself were called upon to resign.” Mr. Grimshaw went on to say that Brightmore’s statement “was not only grossly exaggerated, but untrue.”

This letter worked up Carmelite House to fecer heat, and the “Mail,” in its leader on the same day, told its readers that Mr. Grimshaw’s letter would “be read with general sympathy and indignation,” that the Army authorities had been guilty of “illegalities, muddle-headedness,” and of putting conscientious objectors in a “privileged” position. The whole article was couched in the “Mail’s” most mandatory tone, and was beautifully headed and sub-headed:

THE CODDLED SHIRKER.”
Illegal Favours

At this point the curtain falls on the first act, and four days latter, during which period the “Mail” was evidently acquiring wisdom, and being brought down from Northcliffian frenzy to have been something like that described in Gilbert and Sullivan’s verse, which runs:

“After the rise, the fall;
After the boom, the slump;
After the ‘cham.’ and the big cigar,
The cigarette and the hump”!

Anyhow, on Tuesday morning, September 18th, the “Mail” published this remarkable leaderette:

THE BRIGHTMORE CASE

“In the light of information which has since reached us it is clear that the comment which we made on Friday on the enforced resignation of Major Charles Grimshaw , of the Manchester Regiment, as a sequel to the ill-treatment of Private Brightmore, requires modification.

“A soldier who disobeys orders is put into ‘detention’ and has the right to claim a court-martial. This is the punishment proscribed by the regulations. It was not the punishment meted out to Brightmore. He was put into an open pit and left there daily for several days. Such irregular and illegal punishments are quite rightly forbidden by the Army authorities, and it was owing to such a breach of military law that the War Office took actions against the responsible officers.”

It is not for us to probe further into this matter. Sufficient for us to record the facts and to express the view that the incident is the most encouraging that has taken place for many a day/ If C.O.‘s have done nothing else than to obtain from the leading militarist organ in the land the emphatic statement that “such irregular and illegal punishments are rightly forbidden by the Army authorities,” their stand has not been in vain.

dove..