Tourist Trouble: The Anzacs and Crime

Drunk and Disorderly Tourists in London

At about 10:30PM on the 23rd June 1919, an Australian soldier was arrested for being drunk and disorderly at Charing Cross. The events that followed were the epitome of the Australian camaraderie that was exhibited throughout the war.

As the soldier was taken to Cannon Row Police Station, between twenty and thirty of his comrades ambushed the police in an attempt to rescue him. This initial attempt failed to secure his release. However, within an hour, around two hundred Australian soldiers arrived at the Station.

In the melee that followed a further two men were arrested. However, all signs of disturbance had disappeared by midnight. This incident highlights how the police were easily seen as the ‘enemy,’ owing to the distorting effects of alcohol. This event was not in any way unusual, many such cases of drunken criminality amongst soldiers existed both during and in the aftermath of the First World War.

On the 7th January 1916, Arthur Mason was found, with three other Australians, to be fighting two Scottish Guardsmen outside a public house. Police constables Hughes and Finn attended and on ordering the men to stop, Mason turned his attention towards the officers. He repeatedly kicked and swore at the officers, leading to his arrest. Mason was convicted of assault and fined three pounds.

William Kailor also took a disliking to this metropolitan ‘enemy.’ He was on leave having served in the Dardanelles, but was found to be violent in Shepherd’s Bush one evening, kicking a constable several times and splitting his face. Charged with assault and being drunk and disorderly, he pleaded that he had forgotten himself and, owing to his gallant service, was handed a lenient fine of forty shillings.