Peace Day trial: Bertha Field

Bertha Field, aged 47, a machinist, of 39 Duke Street, Luton, first appeared before magistrates on Friday, July 25th, 1919, and was remanded in custody until the following Wednesday, charged with stealing face wax, Mellin's Food and a book, total value 13 shillings, the property of chemist Mr Walter S. Clark, 81 George Street.

Her case was finally dealt with by magistrates on Friday, August 1st, when Town Clerk William Smith said that, having regard to the suspense and mental strain suffered by two of the women who were charged with rioting and larceny, he had decided to take the responsibility of dropping the rioting allegations, so that the prisoners might be dealt with summarily.

Bertha Field pleaded guilty and was fined 40 shillings, or 14 days. The Bench said the decision arrived at had taken into consideration the number of days the defendant had already spent in prison.

Two civilian witnesses – young women – gave evidence of having been given articles by Bertha Field on the Sunday morning. One was given a bottle of Mellin's Food for her baby, and the other was given a box of face wax.

The Clerk (to the witness who had received the face wax): “Can you suggest why she should make you a present like that?” - “No, sir.”

The Clerk: “Well, she's hardly the kind of woman in a position to make you a present of face wax. You ought to have thought how she came by it.”

Pc Horace Frost said shen he first saw Betha Field she said: “I have nothing in my house not belonging to me,” but when questioned concerning the face wax, she said: “I was at the bottom of Wellington Street when someone gave me two boxes of face wax, a bottle of Mellin's Food and a book out of the chemist's shop. I took then and gave them away.”

Bail was opposed by the Chief Constable at the July 25th hearing, but later he stated that after consulting other police officers he would withdraw his opposition. Prisoner's husband was bound over to being her up the following Wednesday, and the woman had left the court in a semi-collapsed state.