Alois Schlothauer (Slater)
The Slater’s story at Merry’s Rows is an interesting one. Alois Schlothauer was born in 1866 in Germany, the son of German parents. He eventually married in Scotland and moved to Merry’s Rows in Blantyre in 1902, after obtaining a job at Merry & Cunningham’s Pit.
In 1914, when war approached, Alois did not believe he would have to go back to Germany. After all, he had a growing family in Blantyre and at 48 considered himself too old to fight. That year, his wife gave him money frequently in order that he could become a British Citizen, but each time the money was spent on drink. A law was passed asking all foreigners in the UK to register and report to police.
In the May of 1915, Alois duly reported to the local police station, with his personal belongings, on the same day his oldest son, John reported for military service and became a dispatch rider in the “Army Air corps”. However, Alois, being of German birth was detained, transported and interned in Camp Knockaloe on the Isle of Man (off the coast of England). The camp was built to hold 5,000 men but by 1917 it held over 20,000 people.
No letters or communications were allowed between him, and the family back in Blantyre. At the end of hostilities in 1918, he, along with 80% others interned, was deported back to Germany not to return. It was a brutal and severe ripping of a man away from his family and absolutely all family contact ended with Alois, on the day he reported to the police three years earlier.
In 1918, his 2 sons in Blantyre went to Court and changed their surname officially to Slater, something many people did to hide the origin of their name. This was likely primarily for employment opportunities. In 1918, war was still rampant and more men were needed. A ballot at various collieries was conducted, relieving miners of their mining duties and asking them to report for service.
In 1918 Alois’ son, John and his half German neighbor William Siegel also from Merry’s Rows both found themselves in court for failing to turn up when requested for the next round of their military duty. Each were fined £2 and handed back over to the military. You can imagine what they felt about War and perhaps especially what had just recently happened to their absent father. With thanks to Duncan Slater for this interesting insight into his grandpa’s life.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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