Prohibited areas

On 17 July 1918 (BRACERS 75814) General George Cockerill, Director of Special Intelligence at the War Office, notified Frank Russell that constraints on BR’s freedom of movement, imposed almost two years before, had been lifted as of 11 July. Since 1 September 1916, BR had been banned under Defence of the Realm Regulation 14 from visiting any of Britain’s “prohibited areas” without the express permission of a “competent military authority”. The extra-judicial action was taken partly in lieu of prosecuting BR for a second time under the Defence of the Realm Act, on this occasion over an anti-war speech delivered in Cardiff on 6 July 1916 (63 in Papers 13). (Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions was confident that a conviction could be secured but concerned lest BR should again exploit the trial proceedings for propaganda effect and thereby create “a remedy … worse than the disease” [HO 45/11012/314760/6, National Archives, UK].) Since the exclusion zone covered many centres of war production, BR would be prevented (according to the head of MI5) from spreading “his vicious tenets amongst dockers, miners and transport workers” (quoted in Papers 13: lxiv). But the order also applied to military and naval installations and almost the entire coastline. As a lover of the sea and the seaside, BR chafed under the latter restriction: “I can’t tell you how I long for the SEA”, he told Colette (Letter 75).