FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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1919
Hunger Strike in British Prisons 1913-1940

1919

There were 51 recorded strikes in 1919, spread over 15 prisons. As the tables below show, all but 7 strikes with a known start and end date lasted less than two weeks. Nearly half of the prisoners attributed their hunger strike to complaints about their punishment.  But even though World War One had ended, there were still some conscientious objectors using hunger strikes to protest their punishments. See the data for 1917 for more details on conscientious objectors during World War One.

There is evidence of two coordinated strikes in 1919. The first was from a group of six prisoners who had been separately convicted of unspecified crimes by a District Courts Martial and sentenced to 2 years at Newcastle. On February 17 these six prisoners began a hunger strike to protest their punishment and gain freedom. Each strike lasted 20 days and ended on March 9. During the strike prison officials used a nasal tube to feed each prisoner 36 times (except for one, who was fed only 34 times).

The second group strike was carried out by three Australian soldiers. The three men, Sidney Norman Bowyer, Leslie William Turney, and George Leslie Mitchell, were convicted by separate Field General Courts Martial of escaping, desertion, and absence, respectively, and sentenced to hard labor at Winchester. The men went on three day hunger strikes demanding that they should be sent home as Australians. There was a fourth prisoner, Peter Bustbridge, who went on a hunger strike over the same period also demanding his release. He had been convicted of an unspecified crime by a District Courts Martial and sentenced to 2 years hard labor at Winchester. Although Bustbridge made no reference to being Australian, it is possible that he was striking in coordination with the three Australian soldiers. Prison officials force-fed none of the four men.        

Duration of Strikes

This table includes the 49 strikes for which there was a definite start and end date. Strikes with a length of "0" indicate the strike started and ended on the same day.

There were 2 strikes for which the length could not be determined, both due to a missing end date.

Notable Strikes, 1919

Conscientious Objectors

Conscientious Objectors

Group Strike

Group Strike

Australians Strike

Australians Strike