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13 March 2014

The Returning Officer: Spalding

By Stephen Brasher

Francis Walter McLaren was the only MP in the First World War to be killed while serving in the Royal Flying Corps, having been elected as a Liberal for Spalding in 1910. He died in an accident near RAF Montrose in August 1917. His widow married Bernard (later Baron) Freyberg, who contested Cardiff South in 1922 as an Independent Liberal, and his son Martin served as the Tory MP for Bristol North-West.

George Peel was unopposed in the 1917 Spalding by-election but the seat was abolished by the election in 1918. In his 1902 book The Enemies of Britain, Peel had concluded that “there are 20 free nations in Europe but each is arming ruinously against each other”.

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