Charles had disassociated himself from all his pre-war friendships after 1918, but by now he had become a well-respected citizen, known locally as Major Charles, the retired Royal Flying Corps pilot. He was easily recognised with his tall frame, his walking stick and his limp. His morning walks were always punctuated by a series of greetings and short chats wherever he found himself as he wandered through the streets.
On the third day of the strike, the 5th May, his chosen route took him into Kingsland Road, where he found himself unexpectedly caught up with a huge and noisy crowd. Some horse vans and a couple of motorised lorries had been declared by the strike leaders to be ‘black’ transport. They were being manhandled by a belligerent gang of angry strikers. There were all sorts of people standing all around, some voicing encouragement to the strikers, some shouting abuse. Policemen were present in force on the south side of the obstructed area and were clearly preparing for action.
The atmosphere quite quickly became threatening. More police arrived on the north side of the crowd and Charles heard an officer cry out, “Charge the Bastards!” In a moment, the scene was transformed. Anxious to avoid being crushed by the crowd, Charles attempted to turn back but found his way blocked by charging policemen and panicking bystanders.
Truncheons waving, the police attacked from both ends of the jammed area. They launched themselves at the ragged gang with arms flailing, knocking them down, scattering them into each other and into the crowd of onlookers and passers-by. Men, women and a number of children were sent flying and trampled over by the onrushing mass of uniforms.
Everything happened far too quickly for Charles. A sudden surge of bodies threw him against a doorway, causing him to lose his balance. His head cracked against the hard stone of the supporting door frame and his walking stick flew up into the air. He tumbled headlong to the ground, ignored and trodden upon by the turbulent mass of fleeing troublemakers and panicked spectators; and completely disregarded by the single-minded, heavy-booted policemen relentlessly chasing, beating, kicking, and arresting their targets.
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