Sunday, 15 February 2015

Suspected Spies at Streatley

Students of Hythe School of Musketry on parade [Z524/10]

Monday 15th February 1915: Two soldiers were summoned to Luton Divisional Sessions this morning for failing to produce proof that they were licensed to drive motors when challenged to do so by the police. The authorities were keeping a careful eye on motorists during the few days before the Kaiser’s birthday for fear that they may act as guides to raiding Zeppelins. It was believed that this had been the case during a previous Zeppelin raid on the east coast.

Captain Edwin Ashley Dodd of St. Loyes, Bedford had been driving at Streatley on January 24th. Captain Dodd, an officer in the 2nd Beds Yeomanry, wrote from the Hythe School of Musketry that he regretted he was unable to attend the Court due to his military duties. He stated that he had neither driven nor travelled in a motor car on January 24th, and that even if he had it would have been reasonable to overlook an offence of that type because of his military status. The police superintendent argued that as the Captain was summoned in respect of driving a motor cycle, and a motor cycle was a motor car, the case should be continued. The Clerk of the Court admitted that this was the case in law and it was decided to adjourn the case for a month.

Corporal Albert Walker of the Royal Engineers was stationed at Houghton Regis and was also riding a motor cycle at Streatley when he was challenged on January 27th, the Kaiser’s birthday. He told the police constable he had left his licence in camp at Houghton Regis. Corporal Walker admitted the offence, but said he was on Government duty, had been sent out at short notice, and could not disobey orders. The Court had received a letter from Captain Leslie Wright of the corporal’s battalion, stating he had been called up for urgent night duty and due to pressure of work no application for a license had been made, although one was made immediately afterwards. Due to a clerical error the license had to be returned and was not finally received until February 8th. As Corporal Walker only took up his duties at Houghton Regis on January 27th, the Bench decided to dismiss the case but warned him that if it happened again he would have to take the consequences - even government motorists could not be allowed to “run about the country without licenses” as there were spies about, and it would be very easy for a spy to get into khaki uniform.

Source: Luton News 18th February 1915

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