Spies and Aliens

Spies and Aliens

The police had been on the watch for enemy agents in the years before the war. In 1913 the Fife watch list included 13 names: merchants, restaurateurs, missionaries and teachers and at the outbreak of war 20 Germans were arrested in Kirkcaldy alone – some from ships in port but others were residents working in shops and restaurants. The fear of spies was strong and the people of Fife were particularly exercised by the risk to the Forth and Tay Bridges. There were attacks on people thought to be in sympathy with the enemy and letters denouncing supposed agents provocateur were sent to the Chief Constable of Fife. On 11 November 1914 Lord Crawford spoke in the House of Lords on the dangers from enemy aliens resident in Fife.

Anti-German feeling came in waves. In 1914 the Kirkcaldy War Album reported the accounts by many soldiers of the barbarities perpetrated by Germany on the civilians of Belgium and France. In 1915 Elie town council changed the name of "German’s Wynd" to "Cavell Place". As part of the celebration for the Armistice in Crail "a motor lorry in which was placed an effigy of the Kaiser with a big sword in his right hand and imitation crosses and medals on his breast, was driven through the streets by the aerodrome men. On returning to the aerodrome the effigy was taken to a field and blown up".

It is significant though that at the end of the war when German internees and their Scottish families were sent back to Germany few felt that they had to leave Fife, in contrast to other areas.

WW1 Poster.