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Once again we return to the pages of the Salford City Reporter for this quirky story from February 1918, an everyday story of Salford folk...

History With Flynn

On the evening of February 2nd, 1918, an unnamed P.C. from the Manchester Police force was making his way along Blackfriars Road, Salford, in no doubt an orderly and sober fashion, when he was stopped in his tracks by the screams of a woman being assaulted.

He saw a man punching a woman in the face and screaming at her, he chased after the culprit who soon took to his heels, however a 19-year-old youth who was also passing joined in the chase and they both managed to apprehend the man and took him to the nearby Chapel Street police station - still standing across the road from Trinity Church - where he was charged with being drunk and disorderly, no mention of assault though.

He appeared at Salford Magistrates Court the following morning at Bexley Square and was named as William Fallows who resided at Dawson Street, Salford.

A rather strange case unfolded before the Stipendary which is worth repeating and I must add is not meant to cause any offence to our readers from Scotland...

The off-duty P.C. told the court that he saw Fallows punching the woman, but sadly he did not know her and would not recognise her if she appeared in the court, not very helpful considering.

The unnamed 19-year-old youth who also gave chase was next in the witness box and was asked by the Clerk of Court, Mr Foyster to read the oath, to which he replied, "I can't I'm from Scotland".

Mr Foyster obviously amazed said, "You come from Scotland and you can't read?  I find that most astonishing"

The poor lad went from bad to worse when he said that he too would not be able to recognise the woman who was being assaulted, but added helpfully that he recognised, Mr Fallows.

Mr Foyster told him to sit down.

Next in the dock was Mrs Fallows who was described in the paper as being 'badly marked around the face and eyes' no doubt a polite way of saying she had a pair of shiners, I assume.

She told the court a rather pitiful tale of how she had nine small children to Mr Fallows but he was a 'brute' who kept on punishing and beating her, things were that bad that she was often too frightened to go home in the evening and would stay at 'friends' for her own safety, hardly a happy marriage is it?

The 'brute' William Fallows was then called to give evidence who naturally put a different spin on the accounts of the evening and his matrimonial troubles.

No doubt angling for mercy he told the court that he had been recently discharged from the Army having served with the R.A.M.C. (the Royal Army Medical Corps) and left with £15 and what he described as a 'silver badge' - hopefully a medal - and with the money had bought all of his children, new boots and with the remaining £12 gave it his eldest daughter to hide from his wife in her stocking, because he said that she was often out of the house and drinking with 'bad women'.

Furthermore, he wasn't drunk he had only consumed a small glass of whisky and was looking for his errant wife.

With a final roll of the dice, he told the Stipendary that he was a man who had fought for his King and Country and that he was the innocent party! he then saluted the Bench and left the dock, no doubt expecting a round of applause from the crowded courtroom.

However, his case of sobriety and heroism came crashing down around his ears when the Stipendary asked Detective Inspector Clarke what was known about Mr Fallows.

This paragon of justice was found to have no less than 77 previous convictions for theft, assault and drunkenness to name but three.

As for his glowing army war record? the D.C. told the court that Fallows had been in court five times for absenteeism from the army and putting the proverbial boot firmly in added that that the Military Authorities were no doubt glad to see the back of him as he had kept two soldiers travelling backwards and forwards from Blackpool to act as his escort  back to barracks.

The Stipendary weighed up all the evidence in front of him and said, "The time has come to when I am not going to stand any of this any longer, you will go to prison for a month with hard labour"

And so the 'army hero' was carted off to Strangeways prison for a diet of bread and water and a side portion of hard labour for good measure, which to be fair wasn't a bad result considering his previous form.

Hopefully, Mrs Fallows was able to live a quieter, more peaceful life with the 'brute behind bars unless of course, she found the £12 hidden in her daughter's sock and went out with her 'bad friends' for a drink or two, and who can blame her?


Tony Flynn

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