Ernest Richard Shotton (Born 1878): War and Memory

untitled (5)In his memoir, Ernest speaks a lot of World War One. This was due to his business’s contribution to the munitions. It was in 1914 that the Shotton brothers chose to extend their premises to accommodate the increase in the amount of work they were getting. They bought a bigger plot as it could be expected that WW1 would see an expansion in business for them. Ernest, himself was very proud of his contributions towards the war effort.

It has been said that many war writers neglected to inform us of the class system when writing about the war. Authors who wrote informatively about the war were “reluctant to look at the majority elements of the working class.” (Silbey. D, 2) This could give an idea at the reason why working class British people were so enthusiastic about the war efforts. They felt unappreciated.

Later in his memoir, Shotton goes on to give details of something that happened to him during the war. He begins the short paragraph saying that he didn’t have any intention of mentioning this occurrence but chose to in the end. During the war, air aid shelters were used to protect people from potential bomb drops.

Lights in large factories would attract attention to any fighter planes flying through the air. People had 3 minutes to ensure all lights were out. The man who he had employed to work over night in the warehouse had several times not managed to get this done on time. Subsequently, bombs were dropped on Wednesbury, close to Birmingham. As a result of the employee not managing to get all the lights off in time. Ernest and his worker both faced the subsequent penalty. This was either to pay a fine or face imprisonment in which Ernest chose the fine.

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A 1914 fighter plane

This is a part of Ernest’s memoir in which we see his strong willed personality come across, just like how he fought the bank when they challenged him. He felt such an injustice at this happening to him that he nearly faced the prison sentence. But he chose not to due to the fact that it was so close to Christmas.

The war itself was both a good and bad thing for Ernest and Shotton Bros Ltd. As when the war had finished in 1918 they saw a dramatic decline in the profits of the business which I have earlier mentioned in my life and labour post.



Silbey. D, The British Working Class and Enthusiasm for War (1914-1916), 2005

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