In collaboration with performers and historians from south of the river, Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) are putting on a series of events over the autumn of 2023 uncovering hidden histories of south Bristol.

The Bedminster-Southville history festival in October features history talks, a walk and an exhibition exploring the radical face of Bedminster before and after WW1, hidden histories of Ashton Court Estate and West Street, the storming of the New Gaol in 1831, women prisoners from Bedminster transported to Australia and strikes by British Army units at the White City.



Trouble at the White City – strikes in the British armed forces in 1919

This talk considers, from a Bristol perspective, the huge wave of strikes involving tens, if not hundreds of thousands of personnel in the British Armed forces at the end of World War One.

Mass insubordination, refusals and in some cases mutiny swept through army, navy and air force personnel in January 1919.  Driven by the desire for immediate demobilisation and fears that politicians and military leaders might commit them to the ongoing invasion of revolutionary Russia and other colonial ventures, servicemen replied with a resounding “We Want Out”.

In Bristol, the first signs of the approaching unrest appeared amongst soldiers in the White City camp at Ashton Gate followed by strikes of aircraft personnel at Yate. Similar refusals appeared in battalions of the two army units most associated with Bristol the Gloucestershire and Somerset Light Infantry Regiments.

This talk will consider the nature and organisation of the strikes, the demands of the servicemen and the outcomes. It will also contextualise the strike wave within the generalised collapse of european armies from 1917, leading to the end of World War One.