Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Deserters from the 3rd Bedfords

Charlie Chaplin at Landguard Camp 1915 [Z50/141/47]

Wednesday 20th January 1915: Two privates have appeared at Luton Borough Court today accused of deserting from the 3rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment at Landguard on 24th December.[1]

The police had received a warrant for the arrest of Horace Hammell giving an address in Castle Street, Luton. Yesterday morning Sub-Inspector Attwood hid himself in a house in Warwick Road and saw Private Hammell pass the window. When he opened the door the prisoner immediately attempted to escape but was arrested. Hammell said he had received eight shillings from his family on the previous Tuesday and went to London to spend it. He claimed he deserted because a colour-sergeant offered him five shillings to do so, telling him there was only a little food.

A warrant for the arrest of the second man, Horace Hubbocks, was received this morning. Detective Bacon made enquiries and went to an address in New Town Street but the prisoner had gone. He was later found at a house in Warwick Road. Private Hubbocks admitted deserting and said he did so because they had not got anything to eat. Hubbocks had also been to London on Tuesday and returned on Wednesday morning having spent everything he had except 1s 5d. He also claimed the colour-sergeant offered him five shillings to desert. He said the same remark had been made to about half-a-dozen men and that the whole company had been present when the offer was made. When asked if he could give any reason why the colour-sergeant should say such a thing Hubbocks replied “I can only suggest that he is a bully”.[2]

The Chairman agreed that the Clerk of the Court should write to the men’s commanding officer and report the circumstances. Meanwhile the prisoners were remanded to await an escort.

Source: Luton News 21st January 1914

[1] Landguard Camp at Felixstowe.

[2] Horace Edgar Hubbocks was killed at Passchendaele on the 20th September 1917 and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He was then serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment. From the battalion’s war diary it appears he was part of a raiding party which was pinned down by heavy machine gun and rifle fire and forced to spend the day in shell-holes. [X550/3/WD/1709]

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