Saturday, 6 June 2015

1st/5th Bedfords Visit Luton

Sunday 6th June 1915: Luton has been in a state of high excitement this weekend as the 1st/5th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, which left the town in the first days of the war, passed through on its way to the Front. The battalion went to Bury St. Edmunds, where it spent many months in training, then to Norwich and most recently to Sl. Albans to be equipped ready to leave for France. This weekend the battalion has undertaken a route march through Bedfordshire. After marching from St. Albans to Dunstable the troops continued to Bedford on Friday, back south to Luton yesterday, and will leave the town this evening to return to St. Albans. On both Friday and Saturday the men were required to march twenty miles, but they remained in splendid condition and have been complimented as one of the smartest Territorial battalions. They set off from Bedford at 6.10am yesterday and were originally expected to arrive at Wardown Park at about noon, with a civic reception planned for 2pm. Due to the trying conditions caused by the heat and patches of tarred road the men were allowed a long rest at Barton and did not arrive in Luton until 7pm.

The town greeted the soldiers with streets decorated with flags and a large crowd of spectators. Despite the crush the police were able to keep the crowd in good order. The battalion arrived led by the cyclist section, followed by the signalling section and the band, then the four companies, in turn followed by the machine gun section with their bulldog mascot, and finally the baggage train. They were welcomed by the Mayor who reminded them of the heroism of their fellow Bedfords at Ypres and at Hill 60 and wished “all honour to our Lutonians and Bedfordshires”. He also offered all the men a free dip in the Waller Street swimming baths this morning. Lieutenant-Colonel Brighten replied on behalf of the battalion, promising that the men would do their part, and led his troops in three cheers for those who had given them such an enthusiastic reception. The crowd returned the three cheers, the band played the national Anthem, and marched off to Luton Hoo Park where they spent the night.

This morning the battalion attended a church service where the vicar gave a stirring address. The men were given free time for the rest of the day. They are to assemble at the Park at 6.30pm for the march back to St. Albans. The band is to stay behind to give a concert at Wardown for which a large audience is expected.

Source: Luton Times and Advertiser 11th June 1915

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