Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Biggleswade Does Its Bit

Royal Engineers Signals Section leave Biggleswade, 1915 [Z1306/16/36/5]

Thursday 29th April 1915: News has reached us of the contribution being made to the war effort in Biggleswade. Men from the town continue to join the Forces and the Roll of Honour for the town now includes a total of 338 men. Those who have joined the Forces this month include:
  • John Day, son of Mr. John Day of the Olney Arms (an old Militiaman) has joined the 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.
  • John Green, formerly licensee of the Shoulder of Mutton has joined the Army Service Corps as a driver.
  • G. Cooper, A. Munns and A. Kefford have all enlisted with the Northern Signal Company of the Royal Engineers and have gone to Leeds for preliminary training. The Northern Signal Company were billeted in the town and left on Saturday 10th April, sent on their way by the cheers of 3,000 people and the music of the Town Silver Band.
  • Mr A. Cartwright of 12, Sun Place, joined the 5th (Reserve) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment and has gone to Newmarket.
  • Cyril Burton, the second son of Mr. Charles Herbert Burton, Honorary Secretary of the Unionist Club and the Unionist Association, has joined the Royal Navy as Boy, 2nd Class. He is the third Biggleswade lad to join the Navy since the beginning of the war, following Stanley Chivers (whose father and brother have also enlisted to serve their Country) and Fred Wells.

Inevitably there have been casualties from the town. Nineteen year old Private Alfred Lovett of the Bedfordshire Regiment is home on sick leave. He has been at the Front with the 2nd Battalion since the beginning of October and has been wounded three times, once in each arm and once in the shoulder. At Neuve Chapelle he was shot through the forearm with shrapnel and was sent to Manchester Hospital for treatment. Corporal Henry Gray of the 1st Battalion has written home to his brother, Mr. William Gray of Cromwell House, telling him he was wounded in the thigh by a shell splinter at Hill 60 and is now in hospital at Oxford. Private Charles Day and Private Sam Bilcock, also of the 1st Bedfords, are both prisoners of war in Germany and have written home asking their parents to send them some bread, butter and cake. Two of Private Day’s brothers are serving at the Front, and a third brother died while on army service in India. In happier news Private Albert Millard of Luton and Miss Lottie Brown of Sun Street were married at Biggleswade Parish Church on Saturday. The bride’s father, Mr. Tom Brown, is an old Militiaman and her brother Charles helped the 2nd Bedfords to repel the Prussian Guard at Ypres in October and has been wounded twice. The bride wore a fawn tweed costume, and a white straw hat trimmed with white silk and orange blossom.

The stay of the Royal Engineers in the town has been commemorated by the gift of a solid silver communion chalice and paten to the Parish Church. It is of Tudor Gothic design, inlaid with moonstones, and is inscribed: “Presented to the Parish Church, Biggleswade, by the officers and men of the Northen Signal Service Training Centre, Royal Engineers. Easter, 1915”. The town’s Belgian guests are also grateful for the support of the Biggleswade people. Monsieur Henri Bals has expressed his thanks on behalf of his family. Three of the children are attending the Council School, where they appear to have settled in happily.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard April 16th and April 30th 1915

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