Posts Tagged ‘railway workers’

1920′s “Pocket Canister” respirator, for use by railroad engineers and coalmen while passing through train tunnels. As advances in technology allowed for train tunnels to be longer, new problems arose in that some tunnels were turning into literal death traps, with the smoke produced by the engine becoming thick enough to suffocate crewmen.  These pocket canisters were one of many solutions to the problem, others including the use of surplus military gas masks, such as the AT shown in the 3rd picture.

Image Source:  Arno Carl Fieldner, Sidney H. Katz, Selwyne Perez Kinney. Test of gas masks and respirators for protection from locomotive smoke in railroad tunnels with analysies of tunnel atmospheres. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922).

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“Dom. Police To Stand Trial On Robbery Charge,” Sudbury Star. August 10, 1918. Page 08.

Officers Attached to Local Squad Out on $1,500 Bail Each

The preliminary trials of W. H. Good and F. W. Thompson, Dominion Police stationed at Sudbury and charged with robbing three Austrians of the sum of $95 on the evening of Friday, August 2, were heard in Sudbury police court Wednesday morning and afternoon. Magistrate Brodie, after hearing the crown`s witnesses committed the prisoners to stand trial at the next jury sitting of the Supreme Court, December 2nd. Bail was fixed at $1,500 for each prisoner, $1,000 of their own recognizance, and two sureties of $500 each. Charles Taylor, of Sudbury, is the bondsman. The officers have been suspended from the service.

The first witness to tesity, Evan Slobodan, an Austrian, a laborer on the C.P.R., living in a boarding car, indentified the prisoners, saying that they were the men who on Friday, August 2, came to his car about six o`clock, and started to look through his belongings. When asked to show their badge the policemen did so. Officer Good then felt his pockets and told him to lay his belt on the table, the belt containing a bank book and $140, after which Good told him to show him the contents of his grip at the other end of the car. In the meantime Thompson was counting over the money in the belt. At this juncture, according to the evidence, Good picked up a dagger on the table and asked the Austrian for his papers, but before he could produce them the officers left the car. Slobodian immediately counted his money and discovered that two ten dollar bills and four five dollar bills, $40 in all, was missing. About nine o’clock he complained to the police and accompanied them until the accused were found in Taylor’s pool room.

L. Ardrechich, another witness, in giving evidence said he was stopped by the Dominion policemen in the same care, but that after making him take off his belt and counting the money they handed it all back to him. Asked by the Crown if he was asked for any papers, witness stated that he was not. The only thing that the officers had told him was that he would have to appear in court for having so much money on him. After Good and Thompson left the car he knew nothing more of the happenings until a constable told him to come down to the police station. That was about nine o’clock the same evening.

Steve Dedick looks after the lights on the switches in the C.P.R. yards and claimed to have seen accused come out of one of the boarding cars. He met the officers and was told to put up his hands, and while Thompson was searching him, Good put handcuffs on him. They then told him to take them to the car. Upon reaching the car Thompson took the money out of his pocket and then he was told to unlock the car door. On arriving inside the car, Good asked Dedick to show him his valise, and it was while searching this that Good told Thompson to take $40 out of teh $70 they had taken from Dedik’s pocket. Witness was told to be in the car at 11 o’clock that night as he would have to appear in court, but when they went outside he was told that if he would give ten dollars more it wouldn’t be necessary to appear in court. Witness made no complaint and said nothing about the incident until about ten o’clock Friday night, when a constable came for him and asked him to go to the police station, when he saw Good and Thompson.

The court then adjourned until two o’clock in the afternoon when Metro Cosczuk, another witness, also identified the prisoners as the men he had seen when he entered Dedik’s car on Friday last. Witness said the officers felt his pockets and asked him if he had any knives or guns and after being told that he hadn’t, they told him to stay in the car until they got out.

Steve Maszuk’s story did not throw any new light on the affair other than he had $75 on his person, but was not searched. Before the accused left, they asked him if he knew if any of his partners had any guns or knives.

Sergt. Short testified that about nine o’clock on August 2, Solbodian came to the police station and laid a complaint that he had been robbed and described the men. A search was started and at the post office corner he met constable White and instructed him to go with Slobodian and search the hotels and pool rooms, after which the witness went up to the C.P.R. station. It was while at the C.P.R. station with Chief Brown that constable White had made an arrest. On his return to the police station Sergt. Scott assisted Chief Brown search Good and Thompson. They found $94.75 on the former, and a revolvver, and $4.00 on the latter. Handcuffs were also found on both men.

Constable White told of meeting Sergt. Scott and being told to search the various pool rooms and hotels and told how Slobodian had picked out the prisoners in Taylor’s pool room.

Chief Brown stated that he was present when the search of the prisoners was made and that when he asked them where they got the money, Good replied that it was his pay as a Dominion policeman and some pension money.               

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“Masked Men In Daring Hold-Up Of Railway Gang,” Sudbury Star. August 10, 1918. Page 01.

Get Nearly Five Thousand Dollars from Work Gang

Giving their command of ‘hands up’ from the top of the bank of a cut, two masked highwaymen held-up a gang of 35 railway laborers working on track repairs on the Canadian Northern Railway between Portlock and Bays Water, near Parry Sound, last Wednesday afternoon. The workmen were systematically robbed of amounts aggregating over $5,000 in true western-bandit style. The highwaymen made a clean get-away.

The laborers were practically all aliens, and when the bandots had struck terror into them, they descended into the cut, lined the laborers up in a row, made them stand to strict military attention, the whole gang being ‘covered’ during the process.  One bandit was armed with a rifle and the other with a revolver. The highwayman with the rifle took his position strategically at the end of the row of men and the other bandit with the revolver stepped out in front and commanded each man in turn to come forward to be systematically robbed. The highwaymen gave their orders sternly and under penalty of death. After all the workmen had been ‘searched’ they were told that if they moved from the sport of three hours they would be shot. With this the bandits took the workmen’s handcar and departed in a southerly direction. Half a mile down the track they abandoned the hand-car and entered the bush. There have been no further developments in the case up until this morning. The provincial police and Canadian Northern constables are working on it.

Over $5,000, practically all in Canadian currency, was secured by the bandits who were doubtless encouraged in their attempt by the now notorious fact that aliens carry large sums of money concealed about their persons. Every workman in the gang was cleaned out and offered no resistance. The robbers were heavily masked, including false whiskers. The only description the police have to work on is that they were apparently young men, between the ages of 20 and 30 years, and stand about five feet eight inces in height.

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“Hun Prisoner Killed In Wreck; Two More Hurt,” Sudbury Star. January 25, 1919. Page 01.

Two Injured Are in St. Joseph’s Hospital – Train Jumped Track.

Paul Stehr, a German prisoner of war, was instantly killed, and F. Hiemenich, another prisoner, and Pte. Gorge Hawkey, of Portland, Ontario, had their legs injured, and a score of other prisoners and guards had narrow escapes from more or less serious injury about two o’clock on Wednesday afternoon when a work train on the C.N.O. Railway left the rails near Stackpool. Five cars went over a ten foot embarkment into the ditch. The dead man and the two injured ones were in a car which turned on its side and dragged quite a distance before the train was brought to a standstill. Three other men in the car escaped without a scratch. The two injured men are in St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Were Hurrying to Wreck
The work train was part of what is known at Kapuskasing Camp as a railway detail, and the men were being hurried to a wreck near Capreol when the accident happened. The train was running at a fair rate of speed, and twenty-five cars suddenly left the track, five near the rear end taking to the ditch. The car in which the dead man and injured were riding suddenly turned on its side, the boxes and barrels in it being thrown about. Stehr was thrown out the side door, closely followed by Guard Hawkey. Stehr was pinned under the side of the car, it being necessary to raise the car with jacks to release the body.

Hawkey Dragged Thirty Feet.
Hawkey was more fortunate. Some of the boxes in the car went out the door ahead of him, and when the car turned on its side these boxes were under, preventing the weight of the car from catching the prostate man. He was dragged about thirty feet, but the only injured he sustained was to one of his legs.

The other men were in cars which left the rails but did not go over the embankment. They were merely shaken up as the train bumped along over the ties.

Huns Were Sailors
It was learned today that the German Stehr has been an interned man since shortly after the war started. He was taken off a German liner in New York and first taken to Kingston and interned at Fort Henry. He was later transferred to Kapuskasing. Deceased was thirty-six years of age. The body is at Henry’s morgue.

Heminich it is claimed, was one of the crew of the German steamer Navarra, which was captured by the British early in the war. He also has spent time at Kingston and Kapuskasing with the rest. He was under close guard at the hospital today and it was impossible to get any information from him.

Pte. Hawkey is a native of Portland, near Kingston, where he has been a guard, but more latterly has been stationed at Kapuskasing. Pte. D. J. James, of Paris, Ont., doing duty as guard at St. Joseph’s Hospital in charge of the prisoner Hemmich, was also in the wreck, but escaped uninjured.

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“The period of 1940 to 1946 witnessed unprecedented solidarity between Arab and Jewish workers, not only among the railwaymen but in many other mixed enterprises as well. This may seem ironic in retrospect, since by the end of 1947 Palestine was engulfed in a full-scale civil war. But during the Second World War and immediately after it, a short-lived conjuncture created new possibilities for militant joint action, though they were eventually eclipsed by escalating political tensions.

The Palestinian working class, Arab and Jewish, expanded very dramatically during the war. Disruption of the usual sources of supply stimulated development of the country’s industrial base, as did the demand created by the enormously swollen British and Allied military presence. Military bases and related service enterprises proliferated, drawing tens of thousands of Arab peasants and townspeople into wage labor at work sites which also employed Jews.


Labor shortages in many sectors strengthened the workers’ bargaining position, while high inflation pushes them toward action. […] In these circumstances there ensued an unprecedented wave of unionization and militancy which affected Arab workers most dramatically because they had hitherto been less active and less organized. [redmensch: This is mostly because the Jews had been strongly influenced by working-class politics in the European diaspora already.] […] This upsurge was encouraged by, and in turn benefited, newly reinvigorated left-wing forces in both the Arab community and the Yishuv which implicitly challenged nationalist leaderships on both sides by advocating class solidarity and political compromise between Arabs and Jews.

During the war a new Arab left emerged in Palestine, organized in the communist-led National Liberation League (’Usbat al-Taharrur al-Watani’, NLL). […] In the Yishuv, the initially kibbutz-based socialist-Zionist Hashomer Hatza’ir (Young Guard) movement, which advocated a bi-national Palestine and Arab-Jewish class solidarity and was trying to extend its influence among Jewish urban workers … and it won significant support among militant Jewish workers, including railway workers in what had become known as Red Haifa. The Jewish communist movement also resurfaced during and after the war. […] It now sought to gain legitimacy and support from the wartime popularity of the Soviet Union, whose Red Army the Yishuv hailed as the main force fighting the Nazis, and by trying to ride of the wave of worker activism.


A series of job actions and short strikes culminated … in a three-day occupation of the Haifa workshops in February 1944. Unrest continued after the end of the war in Europe, manifested during 1945 in a number of brief wildcat strikes by railway and postal workers, now among the most militant and experienced (and of course most integrated) segments of the Palestinian working class. The NLL’s newspaper, al-Ittihad, hailed these incidents as “clear proof of the possibility of joint action in every workplace,” provided that the workers steered clear of interference by both Zionism and “Arab reaction.”

The Arab communists’ prescription seemed to find confirmation in April 1946 when a planned strike by Jewish and Arab postal workers in Tel Aviv spontaneously expanded to encompass some 13,000 Arab and Jewish postal, telegraph, railway, port and public workers department workers, along with 10,000 lower- and middle-level white-collar government employees. This general strike paralyzed the British colonial administration and won the support of much of Jewish and Arab public opinion. The Arab and Jewish communists naturally saw in it a wonderful manifestation of class solidarity, “a blow against the ‘divide and rule’ policy of imperialism, a slap in the face of those who chauvinist ideologies and propagate national division,” but warned the strikes against “defeatist and reactionary elements, Arab and Jewish.”


The strikers ultimately won many of their demands, and … the following year witnessed the rapid growth of unions and the spread of worker activism, especially in the army camps and at the oil refinery and the Iraq Petroleum Company’s pipeline terminal in Haifa. In these workplaces Arab and Jewish workers often cooperated in pursuit of higher wages and better conditions.”

– Zachary Lockman, “Railway workers and relational history: Arabs and Jews in British-ruled Palestine.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Volume 35, Issue 3, July 1993. pp. 601-627

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