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Saturday, March 25th 2017, 10:49am

British Empire News 1948

This is the BBC Home Service…

3 January
During talks to renew the 1930 Anglo-Iraqi Treaty, the Iraqi foreign minister, Fāḍil al-Jamālī, stated that the Iraqi people were “sensitive to the merits” of the Treaty. This evening the Independence Party held a secret meeting in its headquarters where they planned a public protest against the government.

4 January
Students from the al-Karkh and Al Adhamiya secondary schools in Baghdad protested against the statements of al-Jamālī. They marched towards the School of Law with the intention to continuing onto the Royal Palace. When they arrived at the School of Law the police attempted to break up the protest but students from the School of Law left their classrooms to join the protest. The police used clubs and fired shots to disperse the protest and many students were wounded and 39 were arrested (6 members of the Iraqi Communist Party or the related National Liberation Party) and the School of Law was closed.

5 January
The first episode of the radio serial drama Mrs Dale's Diary is broadcast on the BBC Light Programme today. The serial centres on Mrs Mary Dale, a doctor's wife, husband Jim, and the comings and goings of a middle-class society. The Dales live at Virginia Lodge in the fictional London Metro-land-style suburb of Parkwood Hill. They have moved there from the real area of Kenton, which straddles the border between the London boroughs of Brent and Harrow. Mrs Dale's mother is Mrs Freeman, whom Jim always calls "mother-in-law". The family had one daughter, Gwen, and a son, Bob. Bob, who worked in the motor trade, is married to Jenny; they have twins.

6 January
Students from all colleges in Baghdad today have joined the strike.

8 January
The Iraqi authorities have released the arrested students from the School of Law, the student’s strike ceasing soon after.

12 January
The London Co-operative Society opened Britain's first self-service supermarket in Manor Park, London today. Marks & Spencer have plans to introduce self-service in the food department of their Wood Green store later this month.


Thursday, March 30th 2017, 10:42am

British Infrastructure and Transport Projects in 1948

New Sections of Motorway opening this year (labelled by prospective Junction numbers):
J1-2 Ringway 1 – Westhorne Avenue section (including the Kidbrooke Interchange with the A20 & M20) of the M2 motorway carrying traffic from London to the Channel Ports.
J6-9 Medway Bridge – Stockbury section of the M2.

J1-2 Ringway 1 – Eltham and J2-3 Eltham Road sections (including the Kidbrooke Interchange with the M2) of the M20 motorway carrying traffic from London to Folkestone.
J5-7 Slough - Maidenhead Bypass section of the M4
J16-20 Barthomley – Warrington and J20-29 Warrington - Preston sections of the M6
J6-7 Lisburn – Sprucefield section of the Belfast and Dungannon M1 motorway

New sections of Motorway beginning construction this year (labelled by prospective Junction numbers):
J5-6 Three Crutches - Medway Bridge section of the M2.
J3-5 Mottingham – Sidcup section of the M20.
M92 spur motorway for the planned Forth Road Bridge to connect South Dunfermline and the planned M90 motorway to the bridge. It will continue west bypassing Rosyth and to the east it reaches Genrothes and Kirkcaldy. This route will also serve the Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmorran and various quarries. It will cross the Kincardine Bridge and serve as a Fife to Glasgow route.
Westgate - Claypit Lane Phase I of the A58(M) western section of the Leeds Inner Ring Road with a double-deck road structure; eastbound traffic travelling on the top deck. It runs almost entirely in a vertical-sided cutting, up to 20ft deep, with numerous short cut-and-cover tunnels to effectively hide the road and shield its noise.
J12-13 The Birches – Verners section of the M1 in Northern Ireland.

London North Eastern Railway have begun electrifying the Mayflower Line as work continues on the West Anglia/ Fen Line.
The London Midland & Scottish Railway have begun introducing several new steam engines into its fleet. 25 LMS Britannia Class 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotives for mixed traffic duties, 45 LMS Standard Class 4 4-6-0 steam locomotives and 25 LMS Standard Class 4 Tank steam locomotive for commuter traffic will be introduced by 1951.

LMS Britannia Class

LMS Standard Class 4


Saturday, April 8th 2017, 2:44pm

16 January
It was announced today that the Iraqi government has signed a renewed Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. In Baghdad a fresh student strike began. Although spontaneous in nature, the protest has drawn the attention and support of the communist Student Cooperation Committee, the Progressive Democrats, the Populists, the Kurdish Democrats and the student wings of the National Democratic Party and the Independence Party.

Telford was designated today as Dawley New Town. It is in the borough of Telford and Wrekin in the county of Shropshire about 13 miles east of Shrewsbury and 30 miles west of Birmingham. The New Town area covers 9,100 acres of Dawley, Wenlock, Oakengates, Wellington Rural District and Shifnal Rural District. Development will be overseen by the Dawley New Town Development Corporation, with the first homes planned to be occupied by 1952. Initial planning and design concepts will be produced by the Birmingham-based John Madin Design Group. The Minister of Town and Country Planning has proposed an extension of 12,000 acres taking in the historic area of Ironbridge Gorge at some point in the future. Many of the new town's residents will be from the West Midlands conurbation, which includes Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Dudley and Walsall. In total, half a million square metres of factory space are planned. Telford will be the terminus of the planned M54 motorway linking Telford to the M6. The town will have three railway stations at Wellington, Oakengates and Telford Central on the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line.

17 January
Today has seen the all-time highest attendance for an English Football League game as 83,260 people watched Manchester United draw with Arsenal at Maine Road.


Sunday, April 9th 2017, 1:56pm

Politics in 1948

Great Britain


The Glasgow Camlachie by-election was held on 28 January, following the death of the sitting Independent Labour Party (ILP) MP Campbell Stephen, who had held the seat since 1935. However, he resigned the ILP whip in 1947, and later that year joined the Labour Party, for who he had held the seat from 1922 until 1931. The ILP stood Annie Maxton, sister of James Maxton, who before his death had been the party’s most prominent figure. As a seat in a working class area of Glasgow, the Labour Party stood John M. Inglis, a train driver and trade unionist. Given their strong second place in Camlachie in the 1945 general election, the Conservative Party stood Charles McFarlane, a local factory owner. The Unionists stood Charles McFarlane. Despite having no background in the constituency the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Liberal Party also stood candidates. Guy Aldred, a well-known local anarcho-communist stood for his United Socialist Movement on an abstentionist anti-Parliamentary platform.
The election was narrowly won by McFarlane for the Unionists. Labour came a close second, while the ILP vote declined dramatically and demonstrated the party was no longer a significant political force. The SNP took a close fourth place, while the Liberals came in sixth, beaten even by Aldred.

The Paisley by-election was held on 18 February, caused by the death of former Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin which had the effect of elevating his son, the sitting Labour MP Oliver Baldwin, Viscount Corvedale, to become Earl Baldwin of Bewdley. The election was fought between Douglas Harold Johnston for Labour and John MacCormick, a Scottish nationalist candidate with the support of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, with Johnston emerging the winner by 6,545 votes.

The by-election for the constituency of Wigan was held on 4 March 1948, caused by the death of the incumbent Labour MP William Foster. The result was a hold for the Labour Party, with their candidate Ronald Williams, defeating the Conservative candidate Harold Dowling and the Communist Party candidate T. Rowlandson. An independent candidate also stood, ex-RAF airman Owen L. Roberts who fought the election for, “the peace and prosperity of the country”. He came last with just 932 votes.

The Armagh by-election was held on 5 March following the death of Ulster Unionist Party Member of Parliament William Allen. Allen had held the seat since its recreation for the 1922 general election. He had often been elected without a contest; the last election at which he had faced an opponent was in 1935, where he had taken 67.6% of the vote against Charles McGleenan, an independent Irish republican candidate.
The Ulster Unionists selected James Harden, a former British Army Major. The Northern Ireland Labour Party had never stood in Armagh and decided not to put forward a candidate. McGleenan had been a founder member of the Irish Anti-Partition League and the organisation decided stand James O'Reilly, a farmer and a Nationalist Party member of Kilkeel Rural District Council. Harden won the by-election, taking 59.7% of the votes cast.
Geoffrey Bing stated in Parliament that impersonation took place at one polling station on "a really large scale", and that two election agents who arrived to investigate were attacked by a mob of two hundred people. Harden, in response, noted that O'Reilly had agreed with him that, despite some incidents at the close of polling, the election was fair, and that he had seconded his vote of thanks to the returning officer. Harden held the seat without facing a further contest.

The Croydon North by-election was held on 11 March. The seat had become vacant when the Conservative MP Henry Willink resigned, having held the seat since a by-election in 1940. The Conservative candidate Fred Harris held the seat for his party with a much increased majority winning 54% of the votes cast.

The Brigg by-election was held on 24 March for the constituency of Brigg in Lincolnshire following the resignation of the constituency's Labour Party MP Tom Williamson, a trade union leader who had held the seat since the 1945 general election. The result was a victory for the Labour candidate Lance Mallalieu, who held the seat with a reduced majority, beating the Conservative candidate Anthony Fell.

The by-election for the constituency of Southwark Central was held on 29 April, caused by the resignation of the incumbent Labour MP John Hanbury Martin. The result was a hold for the Labour Party, with their candidate Roy Jenkins beating the Conservative candidate J. M. Greenwood.

The by-election for the constituency of Glasgow Gorbals was held on 30 September, caused by the appointment as Chair of the National Assistance Board of the incumbent Labour MP George Buchanan. The result was a hold for the Labour Party, with their candidate Alice Cullen.

The by-election for the constituency of Stirling and Falkirk was held on 7 October, caused by the death of the incumbent Labour MP Joseph Westwood. The result was a hold for the Labour Party, with their candidate Malcolm MacPherson.

The by-election for the constituency of Edmonton was held on 13 November, caused by the death of the incumbent Labour MP Evan Durbin. The result was a hold for the Labour Party, by Austen Albu.

The by-election for the constituency of Glasgow Hillhead was held on 25 November, caused by the appointment as a Lords of Appeal in Ordinary of the incumbent Unionist MP James Reid. The result was a hold for the Unionist Party, with their candidate Tam Galbraith defeating Labour candidate T. A. MacNair.

Parliamentary elections were held in Iraq on 15 June. The majority of seats (130) were won by independents. The Istiqlal Party won 5 seats, the National Democratic Party 2 seats and the Liberal Party 1 seat.

General elections were held in Kenya during May.
The seats in the Legislative Council are distributed according to a race-based franchise. Eleven Europeans were elected from single-member constituencies defined as Part A; five Africans (two of which are required to be Muslims) were elected from three Part B constituencies, and one Arab was elected from a single nationwide Part C constituency. Six Africans and seven Europeans were nominated members.

The Labour party was established on 23 March 1948 by several trade unionists.

General elections were held for the first time on 20 March, when 8 of the 22 seats on the Legislative Council became directly-elected. Voting was not compulsory and a restricted to British subjects, who constituted around 2% of the 940,000 population. Although various organisations called for a boycott of the elections, voter turnout was 63.1%.
The Progressive Party (PP) was the only contesting party, winning five of the eight elected seats, the others going to independents.
Of the 22 seats in the Legislative Council, eight are elected, two nominated by commercial organisations (the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and twelve appointed by the British authorities; these included the Governor, Colonial Secretary, Financial Secretary, Attorney-General, Solicitor-General, two Directors, two ex officio Commissioners and four non-officio ones.

A by-election was held in the Rural West constituency on 16 October. Independent candidate Balwant Singh Bajaj was elected with 55.5% of the vote, taking his seat on 19 October.

Constitutional reforms in 1948 replaced the appointed Advisory Council with a Legislative Assembly. The new Assembly had 75 members, of which 10 were appointed by the Governor-General, 42 elected by electoral colleges in northern provinces, 13 nominated by the provincial councils in the three southern provinces and 10 directly-elected in Khartoum and Omdurman.
Parliamentary elections were held on 15 November.
The elections were boycotted by pro-Egyptian parties, leaving only the Umma Party and the Independence Front to contest the elections. Demonstrations led to the deaths of 10 deaths and 100 injured.
The Umma Party won 26 seats and the Independence Front 4. Most of the remaining 44 members had been elected due to the influence of officials and sheikhs. Voter turnout in the directly-elected seats was only 18%.
The newly-elected Legislative Assembly met for the first time on 15 December 1948. The Umma Party's Abdallah Khalil was elected Speaker.


Saturday, April 22nd 2017, 2:55pm

19 January
A party of journalists and steel industry representatives were shown around the new David Colville & Sons Limited plant being built at Ravenscraig, Scotland since 1944. Today several coke ovens, a by-products plant, a blast furnace and an open hearth melting shop with three steelmaking furnaces are complete and operational with work on-going on the stripmill, which should complete next year. The total cost will be around £20 million with the government contributing some funds towards the cost. The works are now among the most modern in Britain and indeed Western Europe.

20 January
A large-scale student march in Baghdad today was joined by workers at the Schalchiyyah railway depot and many poor shantytown dwelling migrants from South-Eastern Iraq known as the Shargāwiyyīn. The police responded by firing directly at the demonstrators but they did not disperse and many were killed or injured in the subsequent clashes with police.

21 January
The Baghdad demonstrations have escalated. Iraqi police fired on students who were retrieving the bodies of those who had been killed yesterday. Members of the faculty at the School of Pharmacy and Medicine resigned from their posts in protest and the protests spread in the streets, including many non-students and Communists. This evening, the King of Iraq declared martial law and the Iraqi Army were called out to break up the demonstrations.

23 January
Fresh demonstrations have broken out in Baghdad combining students, members of the Independence Party and workers. Scuffles also broke out between members of the Independence party and Communists.

26 January
The Iraqi delegation returned from London and in a radio address the government called for calm and stated that details of the treaty would soon be provided. Immediately, after the broadcast several hundred people went out onto the streets.


Saturday, April 29th 2017, 6:06pm

27 January
This morning the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Baghdad was arrested in a police raid and several thousand copies of inflammatory leaflets ceased. Students and workers gathered to protest and a large group attempted to cross the bridge into West Baghdad where they would meet with students and the Schalchiyyah rail workers. In Al-Rasafa, the police opened fire on a group of Communists, killing four. The Communist protestors turned back as several Independence Party supporters along the route turned on the Communists. On the other side of the river, another clash broke out between Communist and Independence Party protesters. The police and Army moved in to break up the protestors and eventually the demonstrations petered out as the government flooded the radio and press with anti-Communist material.

28 January
The British government in a press communique by the Foreign Secretary pledged not to interfere in Iraqi internal politics and financial matters beyond British-owned assets. It also pledged to look into reducing the number of troops stationed in the country following the stabilisation of tensions with Persia.
Privately, the government has taken steps that if the violence gets out of hand and Iraqi government repression gets too severe, given the hundreds already injured or killed, that G.O.C Eastern, Middle East Command. Lt. Gen R. McCreery can call his men out of their barracks to disarm units of the Police and Iraqi Army. Ernest Bevin fears that the King of Iraq may unleash a harsh repression against his own people and risk a worse outbreak of violence. At the moment all British units are confined to barracks and so far no incidents have been recorded other than some small gatherings and stones thrown about.

On the BBC Home Programme, a broadcast this evening of a debate between Bertrand Russell and Frederick Copleston on the existence of God has divided the audience and raised much discussion.


Saturday, May 20th 2017, 10:30am

12 February
The Maudsley Hospital Medical School, founded in 1924, today changed its name to the Institute of Psychiatry, with Aubrey Lewis appointed to the inaugural Chair of Psychiatry.

16 February
Police in Baghdad raided the premises of the Al-Asas (The Foundation) daily newspaper which had recently been founded by the Iraqi Communist Party. The newspaper was edited by well-known lawyer and communist leader, Sharif ash-Sheikh. The newspaper has now been banned by the government.

20 February
The Ministry of Supply, the Air Ministry and the War Office today officially endorsed an ambitious new air defence plan for the nation called Operation Rotor. This plan is for the modernisation of entire radio-location network across the British Isles.
Operation Rotor will see 28 Chain Home stations, 8 centrimetric stations and 6 Chain Home Extra Low stations modernised with new electronic equipment by late 1949. This will be followed by the construction of 11 underground GCI stations by September 1952 and 14 semi-submerged and above-ground GCI stations by November 1953. Six new underground Sector Operations Centres are planned by September 1953.
An associated plan, Operation Vast, will oversee the development and deployment of mobile radio-location systems of equal performance to Rotor types but capable of being transported by a single lorry for units overseas. The completion being planned for July 1954.
[This news is internal so for OOC consumption only, the public cover story would just cover Stage 1, the upgrade of current equipment, for now]