Thursday, 28 December 2017

Luton Soldiers Absent Without Leave



King Richard III public house, Castle Street, Luton c1965 [WB/Flow4/5/Lu/KR3/1]

Friday 28th December 1917:  Four Luton soldiers have appeared in front of the magistrates after going absent without leave to get home for Christmas. Lance-Corporal Arthur Odell, aged 31 went missing from the Eastern Command Labour Corps on Monday and was found in bed at his home at 8, Spring Place by the police. Frederick Solomon of the Royal East Kent Regiment giggled when his name was called and claimed he was not absent without leave but had merely overstayed it. He was found at his home, the Richard III public house on Castle Street, on Wednesday. Private Charles Fensome had stayed three days beyond the end of his leave from the Essex Regiment, and was found at home after the police received information from his father. All three were remanded to await an escort back to their units.

The court was more sympathetic to Lance Corporal Thomas Spacey of the Bedfordshire Regiment, who appeared in court wearing the uniform of a wounded man and walking with the aid of a stick. Police Inspector Janes explained that he had received a telegram from the Commandant of a V.A.D. hospital at Rochester about Corporal Spacey. He went to the home of the 19 year old soldier’s parents at Alfred Street and found him there. Inspector Janes explained that the young man had been in hospital for a long time and was anxious to spend a few hours with his parents, but had been refused leave as the hospital authorities thought it was in his own interest to stay. On Wednesday Spacey applied at a Special Court for permission to go home. He showed the Clerk a medical certificate stating that his mother was very ill. As the escort had not yet arrived to take him back to the hospital and his wounded leg had received proper medical attention the magistrate gave him permission to go home until the escort came for him; if they had not arrived by then he must report to the Police Court tomorrow morning.

A fifth Luton soldier could hardly explain his absence as a desire to be home for Christmas. Private Herbert Henry Smith of the Anti-Aircraft Service was found in the kitchen of a common lodging house and when asked for his pass he said he had lost it. On investigation the police found that Private Smith had been absent for two months; he enlisted on September 20th but deserted barely a month later on October 24th.

Source: Luton News, 27th December 1917

Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas Dinner Table Collection



Children’s ward at Bedford Hospital with Christmas tree, c.1910 [Z1306/10/6/15]

Tuesday 25th December 1917: The Mayor and Mayoress of Bedford, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Browning, have organised a Christmas dinner table collection in aid of the Lord Roberts Memorial Workshops Fund. These workshops teach soldiers and sailors who have been disabled in the war to make useful articles, enabling them to feel that they are earning their wages and are not dependent on charity. The workshop products include woodwork of every kind, furniture, brushes, baskets, metal goods, tinware, wooden and metal toys, stationery and printing of all kinds. These are made in light, airy factories, where crippled men are turned into valuable citizens. They are specially equipped with adapted machinery for the use of the men.  The aim of Mayor and Mayoress’s appeal is that a collection will be made at every dinner table in Bedford today. Every house in the town has been provided with an envelope, which will be collected over the next two days.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 21st December 1917

Friday, 22 December 2017

Death of Discharged Luton Soldier

Saturday 22nd December 1917: The verdict of “suicide while temporarily insane” returned at an inquest held in Luton yesterday afternoon is a sad reminder that mental wounds as well as physical injuries are producing casualties in this war. John Long, a 44 year old carpenter of Cobden Street had been discharged from the Army, and had recently been strange in his manner and suffered from insomnia. While he was in the Army he had been “upset” by the air raids.

Source: Luton News, 27th December 1917

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Leighton Buzzard Boys Cause Damage at Timber Yard



Leighton Buzzard police station and magistrate’s court c.2000 [Z1432/2/1/20/47]

Friday 21st December 1917: Three boys from Chapel Path, Leighton Buzzard have been summoned for committing wilful damage to hay and boards belonging to Henry George Brown, timber merchant of Mill Road. He had complained at the last Court sitting that he found Horace Major (aged 16), Frank Kempster (aged 15) and Alfred Mills (15) and others in his yard on the afternoon of Sunday 25th November, throwing wood and hay about. However, as none of the boys attended the hearing it had been adjourned. When asked why they had failed to appear but had sent their mothers instead, Superintendent Matthews said he supposed the boys were busy earning too much money. He now had witnesses - two boys who had heard Major threaten to set fire to Mr. Brown’s stacks if he had to pay much that morning. Major said he had been earning fourteen shillings a week but was now out of work; Kempster had done four days’ work last week for which he was paid ten shillings. Each of the boys were fined £1.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 25th December 1917

Monday, 18 December 2017

A Quarrel Between Munitions Girls



Munitions workers at Leighton Buzzard, 1914-18 [Z1432/2/12/2/5]

Tuesday 18th December 1917: At the Leighton Buzzard Police Court today Annie Underwood, aged 22 and a munition worker from Vandyke Road, Leighton Buzzard, was summoned for assault by Kate Pratt, also of Vandyke Road. The smartly dressed Miss Pratt complained that on December 4th, as she was coming home from night work at about 7.30 am, Miss Underwood met her and knocked her across the head and face with her hands, accusing her of saying things about herself and her mother in the railway carriage. Miss Underwood had also claimed that other girls had stopped Miss Pratt calling her names out of the carriage window. Miss Pratt said both claims were a lie.

Miss Underwood said she was on her way to work when the girls told her what Miss Pratt had said. When she asked for an explanation Miss Pratt had pushed her gently off the path, saying “Don’t insult me”; she therefore claimed that Miss Pratt had struck her first. Miss Pratt told the court “I pushed her off the path and said I shouldn’t be insulted by a girl like her – nor I shan’t sir!”  Dorothy “Dolly” Short, also of Vandyke Road, was called as a witness for Miss Pratt. She said that Underwood came up to Kate Pratt accusing her of having said things in the railway carriage, which Kate did not know anything about – Miss Underwood then struck her on the face. She agreed that Miss Pratt had gently pushed her off the path.

The defendant claimed she had asked Miss Pratt civilly why she had been “telling girls my character” but that she refused to answer. “It isn’t the first time she has insulted people; you can’t go out without they’re poking fun at girls”, she told the Chairman. She simply pushed Miss Pratt back after she pushed her off the path. Another witness, Dorothy Kempster, said that as she was going to meet her friend Annie Underwood she saw her talking to Kate Pratt, who pushed Annie off the path. Asked what happened she replied “Of course, Annie struck her back”. The Chairman told Miss Underwood she really must not smack other people’s faces, and ordered her to pay a fine and costs of fifteen shillings and sixpence.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 25th December 1917

Friday, 15 December 2017

Two More German Prisoners Escape at Woburn



German prisoners marching along Woburn Sands High Street to work in Duke of Bedford’s woods, 1917 [Z887/2]

Saturday 15th December 1917: There has been another escape by German prisoners of war working at Woburn. Two prisoners were felling trees in the woods on Friday afternoon when they went missing. It is believed the escape was only made in order to get away from some other prisoners with whom they had differences and who had been making their lives uncomfortable  - after an escape has been attempted prisoners are generally sent to a different camp. The two men  were recaptured the same evening.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 18th December 1917

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Food Shortages



Willard’s grocer’s shop, 47 High Street, Leighton Buzzard c.1920 [Z1432/2/1/19/134]

Thursday 13th December 1917: The Divisional Food Commissioner has asked the editor of the Leighton Buzzard Observer to publish the following letter:
Sir – I wish to appeal very urgently to all to whom butter, margarine and tea are not necessities to refrain from using them during the present scarcity, which it is hoped will be overcome shortly. I particularly address this appeal to the larger households and to the servants in those houses especially in the country. I do not think it is realised how the shortage affects the women and workers in the towns who, after a hard day’s work, often have to spend their spare time in obtaining very insufficient quantities of those commodities, and sometimes have to wait in queues for hours at a time only to be disappointed in the end.
It is hoped that some scheme of better distribution and a fair equalisation of supply to each consumer will be evolved shortly, and in the meantime I appeal to everyone in the country to use as little milk and butter as possible, and so release more of these two commodities for the towns. Every pint of milk and every pound of butter released from the country districts is of invaluable help in the towns.
 Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer 18th December 1917

Monday, 11 December 2017

Winston Churchill Speaks at Bedford



Winston Churchill 1904 [Wikimedia]

Tuesday 11th December 1917: Bedford Corn Exchange was packed to capacity last night to hear a speech from the Right Honorable Winston Churchill, M.P., the Minister of Munitions.  It had proved impossible to meet demand, with every ticket issued more than a week ago.

Mr Churchill told his audience that they were gathered in a grave hour. When he spoke two months ago in London he said the war was entering its sternest phase, but admitted that the situation was now more serious than expected. The country was in greater danger than it had been since the Battle of the Marne saved Paris and the Battle of Ypres saved the Channel Ports. The cause of the Allies was now in danger and the future of the British Empire and of democratic civilisation hung in anxious and solemn suspense. Anyone could see that Russia had been thoroughly beaten by the Germans, her heart broken by German might and intrigue. Much of the German army which had been at the Russian front would be used to attack the French and British forces in the West, and the Austrians would be able to switch troops to fight the Italians and maybe to join the Germans on the Western Front. It was necessary to look these things in the eye “because Britons are stirred on by the signs of danger and emergency to exertions of which our foes had never dreamed … because, if we had the will, we have also the means to conquer”. The facts should be stated plainly, but he would also show some of the means by which we would be able to overcome these dangerous circumstances.

The country’s war aims were still as they had been in August 1914, that those who had committed crimes like the trampling down of Belgium, like the sinking of the Lusitania, and many other atrocities, should not profit by them. The Germans should not emerge from the struggle stronger than when they began it, and should not be able, when the war is over, to retire and plan “another hideous catastrophe to let loose on her unsuspecting neighbours”. Prussian militarism should be crushed and the German people realise they had been led into misfortune and disaster by the rulers in whom they had trusted. That was what Mr. Asquith, Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson meant when they said our aims were reparation, restoration, and security. For the moment Prussian militarism was more menacing than it had been at any time since the first rush of the invaders was stopped, and until it was beaten there would never be peace nor safety in the world. No peace based on weakness or war weariness on the part of the Allies could be honourable or lasting. To make peace now would simply hand on to our children the temporary consequences of the Russian collapse. Although the military situation was an anxious one, he was confident that there were no means by which this country could be overcome if everyone did his or her part. The greatest danger was that the people might be tempted by specious peace terms.

Our aims were plain, and admitted of no compromise. When great danger had threatened this country before the British nation had simply held on with a bull-dog grip, and it had always come out all right. If they held on there was a clean line marked out to victory. The heart of the people was as sound as a bell, with the output of munitions increasing every hour. He had abundant confidence in the people of this island. The country still had great reserves of men; the Navy was grappling with the submarines; and there was a steady flow of new ships. England was war-hardened but not war-weary. The loss of Russia was a great disaster, but the entry of the United States of America into the war was a greater consolation. The “great democracy of the West” had come to the aid of humanity. Practically the resources of the whole world were united against the Germanic powers and would secure the victory.

England must bear the burden until the spring of next year until American aid could arrive. This was the climax to which all English history had led up – “this old Motherland holding up with bleeding but undaunted arm the threatened freedom of mankind while her mighty daughter, from whom she had been so long divided, hastened across the vast wastes of ocean to bring overwhelming deliverance and aid.” Talk of peace now would be equivalent to rejecting the offer of the United States, would repudiate all that our brave men have done, and would desert the cause of the down-trodden and oppressed nations we had pledged ourselves to defend. The country must act resolutely. Army must be raised to its greatest possible strength … “Let them have tons upon tons of ammunition, hundreds upon hundreds of guns, and thousands upon thousands of aeroplanes. They can be got ready – they must be got ready”.

[Churchill’s speech was greeted with cheers and loud applause]


Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 14th December 1917

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Discharged Soldiers to be Trained for Hat Industry



Demonstrating a machine in a Luton hat factory, mid-20th century [PL/PH/3/53]

Sunday 9th December 1917: Arrangements are being made for men to be trained at Luton to work in the hat trade as straw hat machinists, blockers and stiffeners. The training will be free, with allowances paid to the men and their families while they undertake it. Those who complete the training satisfactorily will be given a bonus. Applications are to be sent to the Secretary of the War Pensions Committee at Luton Town Hall.


Source: Luton News 13th December 1917

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Theft of Provisions at Biscot Camp



Soldiers at Biscot Camp c.1917 [Z1306/75/16/14]

Friday 7th December 1917: At a hearing lasting four and a half hours at Luton Court House four men charged with theft and conspiracy to steal provisions from Biscot Camp have been sent for trial. Bombadier Frederick Thomas Cocksidge was charged only with theft; Bombadier John James McGrath, Walter John Baxter (assistant storekeeper at the Canteen) and Thomas Charles Mortimer (storekeeper) were charged with theft and conspiracy; and Mortimer was also charged with receiving stolen goods. The prosecution took place following management changes at the Regimental Institute at Biscot and the appointment of a new President, Lieutenant Clyde Wilson, who discovered the alleged offences.

The main witness, Percy Walter Beale, had been reduced  from the rank of mess sergeant to gunner after four charges against him were heard by the Messing Committee. He admitted giving away items that did not belong to him, and said he later acted as decoy to catch the prisoners. He had also made accusations against Captain Lane (the former President of the Institute) and Lieutenant Baker, but did not know what had happened to them. He admitted giving presents to Baxter and receiving from him pickles, cigarettes and chocolate; and said he had also received money from Mortimer.

McGrath had signed a confession, and the other three prisoners had admitted the offences. Baxter and Mortimer were also prosecuted by the Navy and Army Canteen board for receiving stolen hams, and Mortimer was also charged with attempting to steal five cases of salmon. The defending solicitor described some of the evidence for the prosecution as “a combination of Jonathan Wild and Judas Iscariot”, but agreed the prisoners should be sent for trial. All were allowed bail except Mortimer.

Source: Luton News 13th December 1917

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Needs Cooks



Group of army cooks “awaiting orders to cook the Kaiser”, 1914-18. Photograph by J. T. Welch [Z835/18/1]

Wednesday 5th December 1917: There is an urgent need for women cooks to enrol in Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps to work in camps both in this country and in France. Every woman who serves in this capacity will release a fit man to serve as a combatant. Anyone willing to undertake this patriotic and suitable duty should apply to the Ministry of Labour.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 7th December 1917

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Misdemeanours on the Railway



Leighton Buzzard Station c.1915 [Z1306/74/1/4]

Monday 3rd December 1917: Two cases relating to the railway were heard at Leighton Buzzard police court today. In the first Henry Maze Jenks of Haverstock Hill in London pleaded guilty to travelling in a luggage van on the London and North Western Railway, contravening the Company’s bye-laws. Mr. Jenks travelled by the 4.15 train from Wolverhampton to Euston on 12th September. Between Northampton and Leighton Buzzard he was found first in the guard’s van at the front of the train, and later in the van at the rear; the communicating doors between the carriages had all been unlocked and left open. Mr. Maze was said to have caused a “good deal of trouble”, claiming to be a friend of the Chairman of the line and telling staff he would do as he liked. It was pointed out that this sort of behaviour put the safety of the train at risk, as there was a valve in the guard’s van which would automatically divide the train if it was touched when approaching a signal. In Mr. Maze’s defence his solicitor stated his client was a large manufacturer and a season ticket holder, and like many other people at this time was overworked. When he got into the train he was extremely tired and as all the carriages were very crowded he went through into the guard’s van to have a sleep – the matter should be seen as merely a technical offence. The Chairman of the Bench told Mr. Maze he should have left the van when he was told to do so and that interfering with railway employees was a serious matter. He was fined £2 with £2 5s costs.

In the second case two local boys, William Cornish, aged 17 of 1 Albany Road, and Harry Stroud, aged 16 of 3 Billington Road, pleaded guilty to trespassing on the railway platforms at Leighton Buzzard and refusing to leave when asked to do so. Frank Buckingham, a vanman at Leighton Buzzard Station, said that he had found the two boys and another lad named Rickets on the station without tickets at 6.45 on November 20th. He told them they were trespassing but they did not leave. Ten minutes later a railway detective took their names and told them they would be reported. One of the boys said he was not doing any harm and there were plenty of others there. The Court was told that gangs of youths had been a “continual source of annoyance” to the Stationmaster for the past year, hanging around on the platforms pretending to wait for munition trains from Luton and refusing to leave. The two boys were fined six shillings each, and warned that in future offences of this type would be severely dealt with.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 11th December 1917

Friday, 1 December 2017

Leighton Buzzard Milkmen on Strike



Horse-drawn milk cart from Eli Boarder’s dairy, Leighton Buzzard, c.1900 [Z1432/2/8/3/5]

Saturday 1st December 1917: The hot topic of the moment in Leighton Buzzard and Linslade is the price of milk. The price which farmers can charge to milk vendors has been fixed from today, however local Food Control Committees are allowed to decide the price retailers may charge the public in their area. In Leighton Buzzard the retail price has been set at six pence a quart, but in Linslade milkmen are allowed to charge seven pence. As a result Linslade consumers are feeling aggrieved, whereas in Leighton milkmen are complaining that a price of six pence is not enough for them to sell profitably. The great irony of the situation is that in many cases the same milkmen serve both towns.

This morning milk has been delivered as usual in Linslade at the price of seven pence a quart; in Leighton Buzzard, however, most of the milkmen went “on strike” and refused to make deliveries. They gave advance notice to the customers that they could not deliver or give credit, and have informed them that milk will be available but only if the customers bring a container and fetch it themselves. As can be imagined there are a large number of irate housewives in the town.

The Linslade Food Control Committee have stated that they fixed their price after very careful consideration, and were convinced that six pence a quart would be “grossly unfair” to the retailers. The Leighton Buzzard Committee have not made a public statement, but there was some suggestion at a Council meeting on Thursday evening that if there was a problem with supplies they would consider establishing a municipal supply. There is growing support for the idea that a price of six and a half pence should be set for both towns as an interim measure and the issue referred to the District Commissioner.


Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 4th December 1917

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Bedfordshire Regiment Comforts Fund



Lt-Col. Reginald Le Huquet © IWM (HU 124051)

Thursday 29th November 1917: Colonel Tilly, the Honorable Secretary of Lady Ampthill’s Comforts Fund for the Bedfordshire Regiment received the following letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Le Huquet, written on 25th September:
“Dear Colonel Tilly, You were asking me whether I had any suggestions to make about Christmas presents for the men this year. Last year I was with our –th Battalion, and the arrangements you made then were excellent in every way. If you are able to do the same this year I think you will find it very difficult to improve on these arrangements. The gifts were distributed on Christmas Day, and the men were told that they were presents from the people of Bedfordshire, and I can assure you these gifts were very much appreciated. Very many thanks for your offer of footballs and cigarettes. We could do with six footballs if you can spare this number, with a few extra bladders, and cigarettes are of course welcome at all times.”
The Fund was able to fulfil his wishes and Lt-Colonel Le Huquet has sent a further letter in which he thanks Colonel Tilly and requests a large number of socks:
“The footballs arrived the day we came out of the line, and today I have given, as a first issue, 50 cigarettes to every man in the Battalion, saying that they are from the Comforts Fund, Bedford, and I can assure you they are very much appreciated, and on behalf of all ranks I thank you very much indeed for your very kind gift. Football at present is in full swing, and your gift of footballs was more than acceptable. We all appreciate more than I can say your kindness to us all, and if funds are available, and if I am not asking too much, do you think you could manage to let me have 600 pairs of socks? The winter is more or less on us now, and we have the mud and water to contend with. My aim in the trenches is always to be able to give every man of an evening a dry and clean pair of socks, and if I have an extra pair a man this would make things very much easier.”
Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 30th November 1917

Monday, 27 November 2017

A Call for Food Rationing



Potato queue at Kingsbury Farm, Church Street, Dunstable in April 1917 [Z50/36/142]

Tuesday 27th November 1917: Mr. T. A. Foster of 12 Cromwell Road, Luton has written to the Luton News arguing forcefully that the time has come to introduce food rationing in the face of the current “miserable scramble for food”. Continuing to appeal to the better nature of “food hogs” is pointless; meanwhile the responsible members of society are short of almost all necessary foods. He says:

“The greedy part of the community care nothing for talk or warnings. Nothing but drastic action will ever move them. Let us share and share alike, and thus avoid this most humiliating hunt for food. In the name of common sense, why – if the food question is a matter of life and death to the nation – is it still being tampered with? How ludicrous is the position. On the one hand we are being warned and threatened by the Food Controller that we shall have to have compulsory rationing all round, if we are not more moderate in the use of foods. On the other hand we have the great mass of the people everywhere looking forward to compulsory rationing as a relief. Indecision is, and has been throughout the war, our greatest enemy. We see it in every conceivable direction … When, oh when, will our “wobblers cease from wobbling”?

Source: Luton News, 28th November 1917

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Major Evelyn de Rothschild and Hon. Neil Primrose MP Killed



Ascott House, Wing [Wikimedia]

Sunday 25th November 1917: Major Evelyn de Rothschild of Ascott, near Linslade, has died of wounds while fighting in Palestine. Major Evelyn was called home in May when his father, Mr. Leopold de Rothschild was seriously ill, but did not arrive in time to see his father alive or to attend the funeral. He stayed in England for some time before returning to Egypt with his cousin, the Honorable Captain Neil Primrose  who had obtained a commission in the same squadron. Major Evelyn spent much of his life at Ascott where he was able to indulge his great love of horses and hunting. He rarely missed a meet of the Rothschild stag hounds and was very popular in the field. His funeral took place at Cairo on Monday.

Tragically the Hon. Neil Primrose, the younger son of Lord Rosebery of Mentmore Towers, was killed in the same action as his cousin. He had served as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Wisbech since 1910 and had held office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office, as Military Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions and as a Whip. In 1915 he married Lady Victoria Alice Louise Stanley, the daughter of Minister for War Lord Derby; he leaves an infant daughter.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 20th and 27th November 1917

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Blood Donation by Bedford Soldier



Carluke War Memorial (© Kevin Rae, Wikimedia)

Friday 23rd November 1917: In a heroic act of self-sacrifice a soldier from Bedford has allowed a large quantity of his blood to be transferred to a dying soldier in France. Sapper H. E. Greenaway of the Royal Engineers, the son of Mr. E. Greenaway, a dairyman of Iddesleigh Road, was a member of the Salvation Army Band at Bedford before the war. He joined the Royal Engineers Signal Service on 30th September 1914 and has been in France since September 1915, attached to a number of different companies. He was wounded in July this year. While in hospital at Rouen a volunteer was needed to give a blood transfusion to Gunner Andrew Selkirk of the Royal Field Artillery, who had been wounded at about the same time. Sapper Greenaway came forward and a large amount of his blood was taken. Sadly, the transfusion was not able to save the life of Gunner Selkirk, from Carluke in Scotland. He had been brought into the hospital with an extremely severe wound to his back and left leg from a shell explosion, which was followed by blood poisoning. The soldier’s widow said in an interview that she did not know how to thank Greenaway for the sacrifice he made to try to save her husband, “a noble act” which showed the quality of many of the men fighting for their country.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 23rd November 1918

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Dishonesty of an Ex-Soldier



Falcon Public House, Stanbridge Road c.1910 [Z1432/2/2/26]


Wednesday 21st November 1917: Frederick Chadwick, an ex-soldier living at Kempston, has appeared in court at Leighton Buzzard charged with obtaining money by false pretences. Thomas Page, a labourer who lodges at 17 Stanbridge Road told the court he first met Chadwick about two years ago when he was a corporal in the Monmouth Regiment lodging at Page’s daughter’s house in Queen’s Park, Bedford. Earlier this month Chadwick called on Page and borrowed four shillings, saying he was short of money. They went to the Falcon for a drink and to buy a postcard to send to Chadwick’s wife. After tea, Chadwick said he heard that Page had been drinking recently. Page took him upstairs and showed him some paper money as proof that he had not. They spoke about Chadwick’s work – he said he was a special constable looking for deserters, and implied he had his eye on two men working at Morgan’s.

Lodgings were found for Chadwick at the house of Mrs. Florence Lawson at 44 Stanbridge Road. Chadwick joined Page for breakfast and accompanied him to work. On the way he produced a document which he said entitled him to draw £2.15s, but said he could not cash it until Monday and asked to borrow 30 shillings. Page agreed and told Chadwick to go to his lodgings for the money. On Monday Chadwick showed Page an official paper, which appeared to be a bank form for £6 10s. He got Page to sign the form, telling him he was going to draw the money on Thursday, and said that if he did not come back Page could draw it. That night Chadwick again slept again at Mrs. Lawson’s. The next morning he asked her to provide dinner for himself and his wife, but did not return.

Page’s story was corroborated by his landlady, Tamor Field. She said that when Chadwick returned to collect the 30 shillings he claimed Page had agreed to lend more to cover the expense of taking a “deserter” to Cumberland. She had therefore let him have £4. On the Monday Chadwick left a paper he said was a £5 cheque with her for Page, and also asked Page to sign a form which he said would mean £20 in his pocket. Mrs. Lawson said she also believed Chadwick’s story that he was a detective hunting for army deserters. The morning after he first lodged with her he left a man at her house while he went to Miss Field’s. When Chadwick returned the next Monday he said the man he had brought in on Saturday was “one of the biggest scoundrels” he had ever known and was now serving six months in Cumberland. On Monday night Chadwick said he was short of money, and feeling it her duty to help him she lent him 3s 6d. She prepared dinner for Chadwick and his wife on the Tuesday, but he did not return. He had not paid for his lodging.


P.C. Cheshire said that when Chadwick was arrested at Bedford he said he had a pension of 6 shillings a week and would repay all the money at 5 shillings a week. He claimed to have borrowed the money, not stolen it, and to have left security with Mr. Page. P.C. Jeffrey of Clapham said he had known Chadwick for four or five months. He lived in a little cottage, and the only work he had done was a fortnight’s night watching at Cardington aerodrome. He had never had anything to do with the constabulary. Chadwick said he had no intention of getting the money by false pretences, but had been drinking at the time. However, faced with the evidence and other examples of Chadwick’s dishonesty set out in a police letter, the magistrates sentenced him to two months imprisonment with hard labour. 

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 27th November 1917

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Bedford Volunteer Regiment on Parade




Bedfordshire Volunteer Training Corps on parade, June 1915 [Z1306/12/4]

Sunday 18th November 1917: The Bedford Volunteer Regiment will be holding a parade and inspection today. The parade will begin at the Corps Headquarters in Ashburnham Road at 2.30 pm. The Volunteers will march via Midland Road, the High Street, and the Embankment to Russell Park, where they will be inspected by the Lord Lieutenant. The exercise had originally been planned as a joint parade of both the Bedford and Luton Battalions, but the shortage of railway facilities and other factors made it impossible to bring the Luton Volunteers to Bedford to take part. It is hoped that this parade will help in the recruitment of new volunteers. The establishment strength of the Battalion is 1,000, but the numbers currently enrolled are 550 at Bedford and 660 at Luton. If the Bedford Battalion cannot be brought up to full strength then there is a danger that the Bedford and Luton Battalions will be merged. Badged and exempted men, and men over the age of 41 are eligible for the Volunteer Corps. Anyone interested in serving in this way can obtain information from the Battalion’s Headquarters.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 16th November 1917

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Funeral of Leighton Buzzard Soldier



Beaudesert Boys’ Council School 1913 [Z50/72/21]

Wednesday 14th November 1917: The funeral of Company Sergeant Major Walter Dennis Toe was held at Leighton Buzzard this afternoon. His coffin was covered with a Union Jack and carried on a gun carriage, and Royal Engineers from Dunstable provided a firing party. Three volleys were fired over his grave at Vandyke Road Cemetery and the Last Post was sounded. “Dennis” Toe was just 20½ years old and the youngest of six brothers serving in the army in Egypt, France and England. Their late father, Frank Toe, served for 22 years in the Kings Rifle Regiment before becoming a postman in Leighton Buzzard. Dennis Toe joined the Northamptonshire Regiment early in 1914 and was sent to France eighteen months ago. He was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry at the Minament Trench in February and was offered a commission, which he refused.  He was severely wounded in the head in August, and died in St. George’s Hospital, London on Saturday following an operation. Among the tributes placed at his grave was a shield sent from his old school inscribed “Beaudesert School salutes one of its heroes”.


Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 20th November 1917; Luton News, 15th November 1917; Rollof Honour Leighton Buzzard 

Monday, 13 November 2017

King George V Visits Luton


Women munitions workers at George Kent Ltd, 1916 [Z1306/75/17/20]
(Caption reads: "We are helping those who are helping us")

Tuesday 13th November 1917: The King has today honoured the town of Luton with an unexpected visit. The news that he would be making an informal visit was announced on Monday afternoon. He was met by the Mayor and the Town Clerk and paid a visit to various works including those of Messrs. George Kent Ltd. The King arrived shortly before 11.00 a.m. in the Royal car and left between 12.30 and 1.00 p.m. He is reported to be looking alert and fit, with no signs of his age except a little grey in his beard. He wore the uniform of a field marshal, with a black crepe band on his left sleeve as a symbol of mourning. The processes carried out in the first works visited so interested the King that he stayed for twice the expected time.[1]

At George Kent’s works the King was greeted with enthusiastic cheers. Again, he showed a keen interest in the work of the various departments. A number of discharged soldiers now working at Kent’s were drawn up in two ranks at the foot of the stairs, where they stood to attention when the King approached. He was also saluted by the officers of the Kent’s Corps of Girl Guides. Violet Golding, a young munitions worker who recently received the Order of the British Empire for her bravery in returning to work after she lost two fingers in an explosion, was also presented to the King. In one of the workshops he asked a young girl “How many of those can you do in the course of a day?” She answered, “I don’t know, Sir. We don’t count. We just carry on.” The King replied, “Capital. What is required of us is that we should carry on to the best of our ability.”

The King thanked the Mayor for his trouble, asked him about the hat industry in the town, and was pleased to hear that it was busy with both straw and felt hats. As the Royal car left for London the route was lined with sightseers.

Source: Luton News 15th November 1917


[1] The works was not named, but it is thought likely that it was the National Fuse Filling Factory at Chaul End. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

Luton Brothers Wounded

Saturday 10th November 1917: Two Luton brothers who were wounded in a recent battle in the Ypres area have both written to their parents at 132 North Street describing their experiences. Private Albert Anderson told them:

“We went up on the 20th, and went ‘over the top’ on the 21st, and I think we can say we have been in one of the biggest battles of this war. We had to go through a wood to get to our objective, and the wood was simply swarming with Germans. They were all round us, sniping us, and what with bullets and shells and things, it was a perfect hell. We took our objective, though, and took a lot of prisoners, too. I think the Germans had a lot more casualties than we, although we had a great lot. I got slightly wounded in the shoulder with a bullet, but it is nothing serious. I didn’t trouble to go to the dressing station with it, and it’s getting on very well.”

The British soldiers dug themselves in and cleaned their muddy rifles, but when attacked by the Germans they were forced to retire under a barrage of fire. Private Anderson “gave up hope of ever getting out of that lot alive”, but now feels it is “certain this old war cannot last much longer by the way things are going on – the Germans can’t stand it, I’m sure”.

Signaller Horace Anderson, who was more seriously wounded than his brother, has sent a letter from the Royal Victoria Infirmary at Newcastle:

“I am in good old ‘Blighty’ once more, and, by jove! It is a perfect treat to be out of that lot for a while, and I thank God that I came out with my life. The day before I got hit was the hottest time I have had in my life, but I came through all right, and then the next day was not so bad. I was just returning to the battery after being forward, and I had got within about two yards of shelter when over came this big one, and, of course, I was ‘napoo’ for a while. But it gave me a nice little ‘Blighty’ one. I have a gunshot wound in the right leg just below the knee.”

Before the war Signaller Anderson worked for Messrs Kilby and Sons, but moved to Davis Gas Stove Company to work on munitions before joining up in April 1916.


Source: Luton News, 8th November 1917

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Russians Fail to Register



New Road, Linslade c.1900 [Z1432/3/13/1/4]

Wednesday 7th November 1917: Three Russians have been fined for failing to report a change of residence to the local police while lodging temporarily in Linslade. Mrs. Rebecca Rosdensky, aged 41, of Walden Street, near Commercial Road in the East End of London, was staying at 2 Sunnyside, New Road, Linslade.[1] When Inspector Walker visited the property on Saturday 6th October to inspect the lodgers’ registration forms he found Mrs. Rosdensky’s name filled in as Rebecca Rose. She told him she had been there since 29th September and was returning to London the next day, which she then did without registering. Her employer said she had not been out of London since the beginning of the war and no idea it was necessary to register. She has lived in England for twenty five years.

Mrs. Rosdensky’s mother Leah Shaps, and Annie Goldstein, aged 13, of Hunton Street in Spitalfields, were also staying at 2 Sunnyside, and both were summoned for the same reason. All three of the Russians were fined 15 shillings and sixpence, including costs, for their breach of the alien registration regulations.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer 13th November1917

[1] Although the newspaper report gives the address of Sunnyside as New Road, it was in fact on the corner of Old Road and Station Road. In the late 19th century the house was used as a school. In 1900 it was sold and was subsequently divided into apartments. It has since been demolished and Lara House now stands on the site. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Edgar Mobbs Challenge Cup



Bedford Modern School c.1910 [Z1130/9/2/2/1]

Sunday 4th November 1917: A general meeting of subscribers to the Colonel E. R. Mobbs Memorial Fund has been held at Northampton, at which it was unanimously decided that a challenge cup should be provided for Bedford Modern School. The cost of the cup is not to exceed £50. A sum of £500 is to be given to the East Midlands Rugby Union, and the remainder of the fund is to be used to provide a permanent memorial to Colonel Mobbs after the war. 

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 2nd November 1917

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Leighton Buzzard Conscientious Objector at Tribunal



Friends Meeting House, Leighton Buzzard 1969 [Z50/72/2]

Friday 2nd November 1917: William M. Holland of Regent Street, Leighton Buzzard has appeared at an appeal tribunal asking for his conditional exemption from military service on grounds of conscience to be renewed. He explained his reasons in writing:

“I still believe that war is the devil’s business and that Christians should not kill or assist to kill those for whom Christ died. I believe that the war is being continued for territorial gain and the gratification of military pride, and I welcome this opportunity of protesting against the sacrifice of lives to the ambition and vainglory of statesmen and army commanders. It is impossible to believe that this country is fighting for liberty and justice when over 1,200 men are in prison for loyalty to conscience and for claiming that exemption to which they are entitled by Act of Parliament. I would also point out that (1) The genuineness of my case has been recognised by the Tribunal on two occasions by granting exemption from all forms of military service. (2) I have fulfilled the conditions of my exemption.”

Mr. Holland has been a member of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, since 1909, and made his initial appeal for exemption from military service in July last year. Colonel Fenwick, challenging the appeal on behalf of the Army, engaged in a long argument with Holland over his pacifist views. After this was brought to an end by the Chairman the tribunal considered a recommendation by the Advisory Committee that Holland should serve in a non-combatant corps. Holland told the tribunal he was not prepared to undertake non-combatant service and was working 9½ hours a day as a farm labourer. He then produced a protection certificate from the Bedfordshire War Agricultural Committee which had been sent to him last week. The Chairman pointed out that a lot of time and trouble would have been saved if he had presented the certificate earlier, but Holland declared he did not ask for the certificate, did not want to be protected by it and intended to send it back. After lively discussion the tribunal came to a majority decision that his certificate of temporary exemption should be renewed for another six months.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 6th November 1917



Monday, 30 October 2017

Complaints of Animal Cruelty at Leighton Buzzard Market



Leighton Buzzard High Street on market day 19091 [Z306/72/10/9]

Tuesday 30th October 1917: Concern has been expressed in a letter to the Leighton Buzzard Observer that boys are treating animals cruelly while helping farmers drive them through the town on market day:
“Sir, - May I ask why some farmers and dealers of cattle employ lads who are unreliable? The cruelty that is practised upon our dumb animals is quite blood-curdling at times. Only this week a lad was driving some sheep and calves through the High Street and had a thick, crooked stick. With it he struck a poor little calf over the nose so violently that it fell on its forelegs through the blow and shock and could not rise for some time. A good strapping would do such lads good, and then they would probably be kinder to the poor animals committed to their charge. E.G.”
His comments were supported by the Reverend William Mahony, Vicar of Linslade who is also concerned by the treatment of the animals while they are being transported to market:
“Sir, - I am very glad that your correspondent “E.G.” has drawn the attention of the public to the cruelties inflicted on cattle at the weekly market. But are these “boy drovers” regularly employed by the farmers? I believe that many of them voluntarily offer their services, perhaps for a few coppers, and generally do more harm than good. On Tuesdays, especially in the holidays, a number of our boys may be seen, all armed with sticks, belabouring unfortunate calves and making themselves a nuisance to the regular drovers. May I draw your attention to another point? During Monday night the neighbourhood of the railway station is made hideous by the clamour of these animals, and even on Tuesday night they may sometimes be heard protesting from the cattle trucks. During all this time are they supplied with water or food of any kind? Perhaps the R.S.P.C.A. will investigate. Until lately we have been familiar with the presence of two Inspectors of the Society of market days, but to the best of my recollection I cannot recall a single instance of a prosecution by the Society for cruelty to cattle on market days, during the last six years. Yet one cannot pass through the town without seeing a lot of unnecessary cruelty.”
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer 23rd and 30th October 1917