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On the 31st January 1919 Glasgow was in the midst of a strike for a 40-hour week. A demonstration in George Square saw the Red Flag hoisted and panicked police baton charge the milling crowd.

The War Cabinet in London monitoring the developing situation had declined pre-emptive arrests of strike leaders, but now unleashed the military. That evening 10,000 British soldiers started to arrive in the city, supported by tanks and guns. Howitzers protruded from the City Chambers and barbed wire surrounded it. Armed soldiers guarded critical sites and tanks were based at the cattle market. Images of these events have entered collective memory of the city’s inhabitants.

In context this was a time when fears of Bolshevism were spread amongst western ruling elites. The first month of January saw western allied troops fighting in Russia, Trotsky leading the Red Army in Poland, the Spartacist Rebellion suppressed in Germany and the Irish Republic declared by victorious Sinn Fein MPs. Glasgow, crucial to Britain’s war effort was conversely, one of the most deprived cities in Europe, and ripe for change. It was a world in turmoil.


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  • Hardback, 320 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785904547
  • 22 January 2019
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