Saturday, 11 October 2014

Bedford is Having the Time of its Life

Image: G N Barnes (Wikipedia)

Sunday 11th October 1914 – Bedford: George Nicoll Barnes, MP for Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown  and former leader of the Labour party, has paid a visit to his son who is billeted at Bedford.[1] He records his impression of the town:
"Bedford is in normal times placid. It is in the world, but not of it. It lives in reminiscence, it thinks of things of long ago and far away, and rather prides itself on its detachment. But Bedford today is having the time of its life. It has been, so to speak, taken by the scruff of its neck and lifted out of itself. It has become a centre of military activity - of Scotch military activity. ... Here in Bedford are to be seen all the tartans of Scottish story; bagpipes assail the ear by day and bugles by night; the common tongue is that of Morayshire, and Ross, and Cromarty, with a sprinkling of Clydeside. I am told that there are many who talk nothing but Gaelic, and it is said that the transport of these Gaelic-speaking men from the north was probably the origin of the rumour of Russian troops having been seen on the way to France. The town is throbbing with the vigorous life of kilted warriors, eager for the front. ... I have found them, one and all, charmed with the town and delighted with their reception. I have spoken to the townsfolk, who are just as pleased with them and to have them. And indeed there is much cause for both being well satisfied. It is a new and pleasant experience for the "Terriers", and it is a source of considerable profit to the town. Picture palaces, restaurants, and places if entertainment generally are crowded every night, and the tradesmen are busy as bees."
Source: Ampthill and District News, 17.10.1914

[1] The son George Barnes visited is likely to have been 2nd Lt. Henry Barnes, who was killed fighting with the Gordon Highlanders in September 1915.

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