The Murder of Arthur Brodley: Part Five
The weeks passed quickly and by Saturday, August 19, 1939, news about the murder of Arthur Brodley and related stories with respect to the capture and incarceration of his murderer, Joseph ‘Philly’ Morris, had slipped into the middle pages of the "Echo." Throughout most of the month, the Monte Carlo Ice show, Akhbar’s Indian show, complete with a levitating woman, Max Miller, who was considered to be the rudest comedian that ever lived, and the crowning of Miss Betty Meadus as Queen of High-Cliffe, graced the front pages of the Echo. By the end of August the front page of the "Echo" shifted dramatically with the signing of the Ten Year Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union on August 23. On Tuesday, August 29, the Echo announced: “Children Evacuation to Bournemouth Begins Tomorrow.” Herbert Morrison, leader of the London Country Council, was quoted to have issued this advice: “Children—be kind to each other. Parents: Make the kiddies cheerful. Others: Show a British smile.” As August ended, the pages of the "Echo" were filled with the growing crisis; still, it made room on the front page to report on a jewel heist from Knibbs & Son in Boscombe. No mention was made on any of its pages about the Brodley murder or the compelling circumstantial evidence against ‘Philly’ Morris as argued by his lawyer, Richard Bell, or that the trial would begin on Tuesday, April 30 at the Central Criminal Court in London, commonly known as the Old Bailey.
On Friday, September 1, Hitler invaded Poland. Two days later, on Sunday, September 3, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced in deeply sad undertones that war had been declared against Germany.
Everyone in Britain awaited a calamity after the German invasion of Poland but none materialized; they had expected a robust response to the German invasion of Poland but little of military importance took place. Only stilted sameness existed between people as they went about their daily business as they tried to absorb and adjust to the torrent of prohibitions surrounding what they could not do and what they had to do. Their transition to this new normalcy ached for relief. Steeped in this portentous suspension, they struggled to shift their attitudes away from Hitler’s machinations. Refocusing meant shifting to the greater pleasantries inherent in holiday planning that smacked with the wholesome and real camaraderie of family and friends. The children, who had been evacuated to the Bournemouth area for their protection, began to return to their families as reality’s tenuous hold on the preciousness of time regrouped to momentarily follow a different drummer. This period between September 1939 and April 1940 became known as the “Phony War” or “Sitzkrieg.”
Legal sparring between the Crown and ‘Philly’ Morris’s lawyer, Richard Bell, had pushed the trial to Tuesday, June 25. During that summer of 1940 the fate of Britain hanged in the balance as the battle for Britain was fought out overhead between the British Air Force and the German Luftwaffe.
The usual curiosity seekers that normally filled a courtroom during a murder trial had petered out. It was thought by those who remaine...