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  • 100 YEARS AGO: BOGUS MONS HERO JAILED AT SALFORD


    Tony Flynn
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    History With Flynn

    Do you remember the television programme, The Monocled Mutineer, which told the story of Percy Topliss, a rum cove who deserted from the army, several times and would often dress up in a stolen British Army Officers uniform, to obtain free food, lodgings, impress women and gain revenge on his old adversaries, until he was shot dead in dubious circumstances in June 1920.

    This story from December 1921 tells of a young man found by the police in the Hanky Park area of Salford dressed, not as an officer but wearing a Lancashire Fusiliers uniform and  a Mons service ribbon and a Victory ribbon, to which he was not entitled.

    Police Constable Wright, told Salford Magistrates Court that he was on duty on Nursery Street, when he saw Robert Hartley aged 20, who resided at Tindall Street, Pendleton "loitering in a suspicious manner", when asked what he was doing, replied, "waiting for a pal"

    He was then asked about the uniform and ribbons he was wearing, his reply was astonishing in it's honesty, "I have no other clothes to wear"

    P,C, Wright took him to Pendleton Town Hall for further questioning, Hartley insisted he had a legal right to wear the uniform and the ribbons, the next day in Court he was remanded in custody for a week whilst further checks were carried out.by Inspector Mitchell.

    Back in Court it was ascertained that Hartley had never served overseas with the British Army and was not entitled to wear either the uniform or Mons ribbon also he had been discharged from the Defence Force in July 1921, and would only be entitled to wear a uniform without service buttons or badges.

    Hartley then admitted the offences but stuck to his defence that he had no clothes to wear but the uniform, and that the ribbons were issued to him, and furthermore he had not received any money from the Guardians,

    The Clerk of the Court, Mr. W.H. Foyster asked him if he had looked for work, he replied "It's work I want, not relief"

    The unnamed Stipendiary Magistrate told Hartley that this was one of the worst cases of this kind he had come across and sentenced him to three months imprisonment.

     

    In my opinion I think Hartley was possibly a bit of a chancer, hoping to impress a young woman with tales of his bravery fighting overseas, and if it was his only clothing, then he deserves some sympathy for his plight.

     

    Finally The Battle of Mons was in August 1914, and the British Expeditionary Force fought there, can't see a mention of the Lancashire Fusiliers, besides young Mr Harley would have been 14 years of age!

     



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