Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Belgian Refugees

Image: Holly Lodge (also known as The Hollies), North Street, Leighton Buzzard shortly before demolition c.1968 [Z50/72/209]

Wednesday 30th September 1914, Leighton Buzzard: Mrs Gertrude Willis has arranged for some Belgian refugees to be provided with accommodation in Leighton Buzzard. Use of a large house in North Street, The Hollies, has been given rent free and the Council has agreed not to collect rates on the property, so long it can get permission from the Local Government Board. The refugees to be housed there are people who held good and well-paid positions in Belgium but who have been reduced to dependence on British charity by the German invasion of their country. The Hollies has been comfortably furnished and equipped with furniture, carpets, pictures and china lent in response to appeals for help. Mrs Willis now only needs some household linen to complete the comfort of the Belgian guests. Many benefactors were willing to give furniture and other items, but the scheme only allows for loans and everything will be returned to the owners when it is no longer needed. A local coal merchant has given a ton of coal “to commence with” and generous offers have been made to help with the cost of housekeeping. The first refugee family of five arrived today and more are expected in a few days.

Source: Luton News 1/10/1914

Monday, 29 September 2014

Dead or Alive?

Wilstead, 1914 [Z1306/134/6/1]

Tuesday 29th September 1914, Wilstead: A letter received from a French Hospital indicates that the notification of the death of Private Timothy Cambers sent to his young, pregnant wife at Wilstead was premature. There is no addressee so it is not known when Mrs Cambers heard that her husband was still alive. It is to be hoped that she received this letter soon after it was sent and did not have to wait for it to filter through the War Office machine. 
St Quentin the 26th of September 1914
 This is to certify that private Timothy Cambers No.8213 of the Bedfordshire Regiment company C has been in treatment in our hospital from the 27th of August 1914 on to the 26th of September owing to injuries sustained on the battlefield.
 From: Union des Femmes de France
           Hopital Auxiliaire
          15 Salle Vauban – St.Quentin
 Source: X550/2/59

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hit By A Train

Postcard commemorating the Sharnbrook rail accident of 4 February 1909 [Z1306/100/26/2]

Monday 28th September 1914, Sharnbrook: An unfortunate accident took place on the railway near Sharnbrook Station this afternoon. P.C.Stringer of Harrold was on guard at the Girder Bridge when he was hit by a light engine on its way from Bedford to Wellingborough as he stood by the goods line. He was thrown down the embankment on to the passenger line and had to be taken to the County Hospital badly injured. At least the accident was nowhere near as terrible as the dreadful disaster of 1909 - the express goods train from Manchester to London crashed into a stationary goods train at Sharnbrook Station and both the driver and fireman of the express were killed.

Source: St Peter’s Sharnbrook Parish Record, P112/28/6, p.55

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Tea Wars

Notice posted in Luton News, 24th September 1914

Sunday 27th September 1914, Bedford: Since the war started shopkeepers at Thomas J Lipton's stores, including Lipton's in Bedford, have been telling people not to buy Lyons’ tea as the directors of the company are Germans and their profits will go to help the German war effort. Lyons brought a libel action against Lipton and as a result notices have now been posted in the newspapers stating that Lyons is a British company with British directors, shareholders and shopkeepers. Lipton’s agents and employees have been forbidden to say or publish anything suggesting that Lyons is German.

Source: Luton News 24/9/1914

Friday, 26 September 2014

Walking Wounded

Luton Town Football Team 1908-1909 [Z1306/74/21/5]

Saturday 26th September 1914, Luton: Soldiers wounded at the battle of Mons last month are now recovering at Wrest Park, the mansion of Lord Lucas at Silsoe which is being used as a military hospital. A number of the wounded were taken to see the football match between Luton Reserves and Gillingham Reserves today.  Most had an arm in a sling or a bandaged foot – some had to wear slippers as they could not get their feet into boots. They said that nearly all the wounds had been caused by shrapnel. When asked one what war was like one soldier replied "there is only one word – hell".

Source: Luton News 1/10/1914

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Little Visitors

"The Soldier's Chorus" Postcard, 1914 [Z1306/75/16/56]

Friday 25th September 1914: The billeting of large numbers of soldiers in the county has brought with it a number of difficulties.This week the Luton News carried the following report:  

"About thirty of the soldiers at Dunstable were attacked by an insidious enemy, which came on in great numbers and took such skilful advantage of cover that there seemed little hope of repelling it (or them) without assistance.[1] Accordingly, the soldiers retreated on the Luton Union House, the enemy hanging on with great tenacity. Here, by means of very hot baths for the soldiers and fumigation for their clothes, the enemy was completely destroyed. The soldiers stayed the night at the Union House, were made very comfortable by the Master and his staff, and next morning, after a breakfast, “went on their way rejoicing.” The enemy crept upon the soldiers very stealthily and unexpectedly, having, it is said, been brought into contact with the soldiers through the blankets which were supplied to them."

Source: Luton News 

[1] It is not clear from this extract which bugs the soldiers had to contend with - lice, fleas or bedbugs. Lice were a serious problem in the trenches with as many as 97% of soldiers suffering from infestations, but they were largely confined to the Front so fleas or bedbugs are more likely culprits. For more about body lice during the war see this article at First World War.com.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Lassie O' The Vale

Weldon’s Practical Knitter: Men’s Socks and Women’s Stockings. Knitting pattern c.1914-1918. [Z160/60]

Thursday 24th September 1914 (Bedford): A consignment of knitted socks was received from Scotland this week and distributed to some of the Territorial soldiers. Inside one of the socks was this letter:

The hand that knitted these
Has also penned this note,
So keep your mind at ease,
In that foreign land remote. 
I know not who or where you are,
Don’t even know your name,
So whether you are near or far,
My feelings are the same. 
My heart goes out to every seed
Of Scotland’s noble sons,
Who in the hour of direst need
Have shouldered up their guns,

And sallied forth to meet the foe,

At home or yont the seas,
To whatever land you go,
Be sure, Remember me. 
Signed: “A Lassie o’ the Vale”
The letter was found by a Colour Sergeant. Unfortunately for the young lady author he was a married man!

Source: Beds Times 25/9/1914

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Intoxicating Liquor (Temporary Restriction) Act

Plume of Feathers public house on the corner of Guildford Street and Bridge Street, Luton [Z1306/75/10/27/1]

Wednesday 23rd September 1914, Luton (Public Notice)

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Licensing Justices for the Borough of Luton have made an ORDER directing that on and from the 28th day of SEPTEMBER, 1914, and until further notice, the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on the premises of any persons holding any retailer’s license in the Borough of Luton, and in all Registered Clubs, shall be suspended between the hours of 9 o’clock p.m. and 8 o’clock a.m. of the following day, and have further ordered that all Licensed Premises and all Registered Clubs in the said Borough shall be CLOSED daily between the said hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. of the following day until further notice.
               By order,
                      WILLIAM AUSTIN,
                      Clerk to the said Justices,
                      7, George-street West, Luton,
                      23rd September 1914.
Note: The Act of Parliament authorised Justices to introduce local restrictions on opening hours for public houses and off-licenses. It was intended for areas where there were large numbers of troops and not for general application. Closing times earlier than 9 p.m. could not be introduced without the permission of the Home Secretary.
Source: Luton News 24/9/14 and 1/10/14

Monday, 22 September 2014

A Highland Wedding

Another September wedding, from The Highland Division at Bedford: An Illustrated Souvenir, 3rd edition, published by Beds Times Publishing Co.Ltd. 1915 [X414/162]

Tuesday 22nd September 1914 (Bedford): One of the Highland officers, Lieut. Nigel Blair Mackenzie of the 4th Cameron Highlanders, was married in Bedford today. His fiancée Florence May Brown (née Templeton) came down from Scotland and the service was taken by the rector of Fort William.The guard of honour marched to the church led by pipers – the bagpipes are becoming a familiar sound in Bedford now. After the wedding a reception was held at the Swan Hotel and the pipers played again as the happy couple left. This description of the bride’s and bridesmaid’s dresses was given in the Bedfordshire Times:

“The bride’s dress was of ivory charmeuse, veiled in ninon and lace, the train being caught up with small pink roses. The veil was of fine white net, wreathed with white heather and pink roses, and the bouquet, a gift of the bridegroom, was also of white heather and Mrs G Shawyer roses. She also wore a beautiful flexible bracelet of pearls and diamonds, the gift of the bridegroom. The one bridesmaid, the bride’s sister, Miss Charlotte H B Templeton, wore a dress of white crepe de chene, made in Russian tunic style, edged with skunk fur, and Maltese lace collar, with a charming cap of Maltese lace with streamers of pale blue ribbons and a knot of pink roses. Instead of a bouquet she carried a large muff of dull soft satin, lined with pale blue chiffon and edged with skunk fur, and wore a old bar brooch set with pearls, a gift of the bridegroom.”

Source: Beds Times 25/9/1914

Sunday, 21 September 2014

News from the Front

21st September 1914, Toddington

A letter received by friends from Sidney Holman of Toddington, a reservist in the 16th Lancers:
I received your box this morning, September 21st. It was a welcome change from Bully Beef and Biscuits. I saw an old paper from home. You do get some news: don’t you believe it. I was at some of the big fights and know different. I will tell you all when I come home, which will be soon now. I had a busy day yesterday, dodging lead, but I managed it all right. We are getting a lot down just now, but they are only slight wounds. – Sidney.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Lost Purse

Charles Arthur Irons, town crier of Luton 1906 [Z1306/75/20/17]

Sunday 20th September 1914, Luton: An appeal is being made by the Luton News for contributions of money to help the wife of a soldier who is now serving in Suffolk with the Territorials. Over two weeks ago she lost her purse contained £3 10s of her husband's enlistment money. She had the Town Crier announce the loss and appeal for the return of the purse. When this met with no success her husband wrote to the newspaper saying “we cannot afford to lose such a sum of money, as my money in the Service will not allow me to keep my home on. I am sure that when those who find it know that I am serving my country, their heart will tell them to send it to my wife”. Despite these appeals the purse and money have still not been found.

Source: Luton News 17/9/1914

Friday, 19 September 2014

Rugby Players Wounded

Copy of photographs of Bedford Rugby Union XV  1893-94 [BTNeg1803/8]

Saturday 19th September 1914, Bedford: Rugby enthusiasts in the town were saddened to see the names of three old Bedford team members recorded as wounded on this week’s casualty list: Captain H.C.Potter, Captain T.S.Muirhead, and R.C.Campbell. Captain Potter is serving in the Liverpool Regiment and formerly played for both Bedford R.U.F.C and the Bedfordshire cricket team; his wife’s brother Captain G.M.Griffith is another old Bedford Rugby player. Captain Muirhead has been wounded in Nyassaland fighting with the Northamptonshire Regiment. Mr Campbell is considered to be one of the club's finest ever forwards. 

Source: Beds Times 18/9/1914

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Royal Inspection

Luton Hoo Park c.1906 [Z1306/75/10/62/3]

Friday 18th September 1914: Today King George V has paid a visit to Luton Hoo Park to inspect the North Midland Territorials who have been quartered in Luton.[1] His Majesty is said to take a very keen interest in the Territorials and has visited many of their training grounds since the Territorial Force was mobilised in August. Over four thousand officers and men marched to Luton Hoo for his visit. These men are all volunteers who have given up their normal lives and occupations for the sake of their country in its hour of need. Although most have only been in the army for a month or less they have been well trained and already look like professional soldiers rather than raw recruits.

The troops assembled on the polo ground at the Park which had been turned into a parade ground for the occasion. His Majesty arrived by motor car at 10.45. By this time the troops were chilled from standing in the cold wind and were clapping their hands in an attempt to keep warm, but as the King arrived the sun broke through the clouds and brightened the scene. There was a general salute and the National Anthem was played. His Majesty shook hands with the commanding officer, General Sir William Franklin, then walked through the lines, inspecting first the infantry, then the artillery, and finally the Royal Army Medical Corps. After the inspection the troops marched past the King accompanied at first by a tune from the band, then by a bugle and a beating drum. The march past took forty minutes to complete. The King is said to have been impressed with their soldierly bearing and appearance.

Source: Luton News 18/9/1914

[1] The North Midland Division were inspected at Luton Hoo by another V.I.P., the War Minister Lord Kitchener, on 29th September [Source: Luton News 1/10/1914]

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Private Timothy Cambers

Army Form D.436 [X550/2/56]

Thursday 17th September 1914 (Wilstead): Mrs Cambers of Littleworth, Wilstead has received the following letter notifying her of the death of her husband Timothy [1]:
Infantry Record Office
9 District
Warley Essex Station
16th September 1914
 It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office notifying the death of (No.) …8213… (Rank) …Pte… (Name) …T. Cambers… (Regiment) …1st Bn Bedford Regt… which occurred in France on the …(not stated)…, and I am to express to you the sympathy and regret of the Army Council at your loss. The cause of death was …Killed in action… .
 Any application you may wish to make regarding the late soldier’s effects should be addressed to “The Secretary, War Office, Whitehall, London, S.W.,” and marked on the outside, “Deceased Soldiers’ Effects.”
 I am, Madam
Your obedient Servant,
G FitzGerald, Captain
For Officer in charge of Records
9 District
Source: Army Form B 104-82 [X550/2/57]

[1] Timothy Cambers was born at Cardington and joined the 1st Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment in February 1905 when his age was given as 18 years and one month. In fact his birth was registered in 1889, suggesting he had lied about his age to join up. He was transferred to the Army Reserve on 14 July 1911. His conduct and character had been exemplary and he was described as “a thoroughly steady and reliable man”. Most of his army service had been spent in the UK, apart from two years in India from 1907-1908. His service record shows that he was mobilised as part of the reserve on 5 August 1914 and arrived in France on 14 August. He had married Lillian A Dixon from Willington, Kent at Woolwich in 1910 and by 1914 they had two children, William (born 1911) and Rose (born 1913). The birth of a third child, Lilian, was registered at Dartford, Kent in the spring of 1915, so Private Cambers’ wife must have been in the early stages of pregnancy when she received this letter. [X550/2/56 and online sources]           

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Objectionable Words

Terraced houses in Luton, 1911 [Z1306/75/17/47]

Wednesday 16th September 1914, Luton: A woman living in Ash Road, Luton was summoned to the Borough Court today. Mrs Fellows was supposed to have “used words contrary to the by-laws” in making certain statements about the soldiers billeted at Mrs Margaret Johnson’s house. When Mrs Fellows was spoken to about the matter she was said to have used objectionable words about Mrs Johnson. Mrs Fellows denied saying these words, but did admit she had spoken to a neighbour about the way Mrs Johnson and her daughter behaved towards the soldiers. The magistrates said that if Mrs Fellows had any complaint to make, she should make it to the military authorities. The case was dismissed and Mrs Johnson had to pay costs.

Source: Luton News 17/9/1914

Monday, 15 September 2014

Raw Beef Tea

Image: Wikipedia

15th September 1914, Bedford

Recipe for Raw Beef Tea for convalescents

1 tablespoonful beef
A little salt if allowed

Stir well together, leave for 2 hours covered, and stir occasionally.
Strain and squeeze through muslin.
Serve in a coloured glass to mask the colour. This will only keep good 12 hours.

Source: Lecture notes of E.M.Bacchus, of Newnham Lodge, Newnham Road, Bedford, Red Cross Nursing Detachment No.10, August 1914 [Z160/287]

Sunday, 14 September 2014

An Unfortunate Motorcar Accident

Wrest House (South Front), c.1914 [Z1130/104/1/20]

14th September 1914, Wrest Park: About sixty convalescents recovering from injuries they sustained during the Battle of Mons have already arrived at  Lord Lucas’s house at Wrest Park, which has been converted into a hospital for soldiersSome of the Red Cross nurses who have been sent to Wrest were involved in an unfortunate accident yesterday evening. They were given permission to take one of Lord Lucas’s cars for a spin and took a corner badly near the village of Haynes. The car overturned, leaving the driver with a broken arm and the passengers with injured heads. A motor omnibus taking a group of soldiers from Bedford to Shefford stopped at the scene to help and the injured nurses were taken to Shefford. They were well enough to return to Wrest but the car was badly damaged.

Source: Luton News 18/9/1914

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Prisoner of War Returns

13th September 1914, Luton: A Luton man, Walter Horace Jeffs, has returned home after being held as a prisoner of war in Germany. He had visited Lucerne in Switzerland with some friends at the end of July. When the war broke out his friends stayed in Lucerne but he decided to make a dash for it. On 8th August a message was received by his family that Jeffs was a prisoner at Baden and they later received a postcard from him saying he was “alive, well and in good spirits”, but as it was written in German they suspected it may not have been written entirely by Jeffs himself. He arrived back in Luton last week, saying he had been struck in the eye by an officer and roughly handled when he was arrested but had not suffered any further violence. He had been hungry however, being forced to travel by train for seventeen and a half hours without food and being given only one meal a day. When his health began to fail he was given a pass to leave for Holland. The friends he left in Lucerne, fearing that they would be stuck there for six months, were evacuated on a government boat and reached home at the beginning of September.

Source: Luton News 10/9/1914 and 24/9/1914

Friday, 12 September 2014

How To Cook a German Sausage

Highland Engineers preparing dinner, from The Highland Division at Bedford: An Illustrated Souvenir, 3rd edition, published by Beds Times Publishing Co.Ltd. 1915 [X414/162]

12th September 1914, Bedford: This little rhyme is causing amusement locally:
How to Cook a German Sausage

Cook on a British Kitchener,
Use a Japan enamelled saucepan,
Greece well with Russian tallow,
Flavour with a little Jellicoe,
Servia up (help!) with little
French capers and Brussells Scouts.
Source: Beds Times 11/9/1914

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Volunteers at Sharnbrook

Sharnbrook Council School, now John Gibbard Lower School.
© Bedfordshire and Luton Archive Service 2013

11th September 1914, Sharnbrook: A meeting was held at Sharnbrook school on Wednesday to provide information about the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association. As a result a committee has been set up to help local families who are in difficulties because of the war. 

Ten young men from the village have enlisted in the services this week. A roll of honour with the names of all volunteers from the village is to be put up in the Church porch.

Source: St Peter’s Sharnbrook Parish Record, P112/28/6, p.55.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Best of Times

Image: Felixtowe letter card 1917 [ZU41/3/6]

10th September 1914: A letter from a Luton man
Landguard, Suffolk.
   Dear Friends, - We are writing to tell you that your country needs you. We are having the best of times down here at Felixstowe.
   We are preparing for our country, and if we fail to win, what will you say? But it will be too late then, so come along and do your best for your King and country.
   Remember that years ago the men of Luton and other towns did the same for us. Why should we not respond now?
   Don’t be down-hearted, as the more the merrier, and we are sure to win if you all try your best.
   Come along. There are hundreds down here, but still room for more.
Source: Luton News 10/9/1914

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Round the Camp Fire

Training camp at Ampthill Park [Z1306/1/34/3]

9th September 1914, Luton: Anyone walking up the Old Bedford Road last night would have seen and heard the soldiers enjoying a camp out as part of their training – at least, they certainly appeared to be enjoying themselves by the number of sing-songs going on around camp fires. They also seemed to have made themselves quite comfortable. Each man was given a great coat, a waterproof sheet and a blanket. By forming themselves into groups of four they could make a little tent out of two of the sheets, put the others on the ground with two blankets, and share the remaining blankets one between two. The soldiers all said they were warm enough for a good night's sleep, especially as many of them wore woollen sleeping bonnets.

Source: Luton News 10/9/1914

Monday, 8 September 2014

When is a German not a German? When he is a Scot

Novelty postcard with pull-out section containing 12 local views, 1915 [Z1130/36/1]

8th September 1914, Dunstable: An odd case was heard at the Dunstable Borough Sessions today. A labourer from Dunstable, Rowland Mowse, had been arrested for using indecent language in the High Street. It appears he had accused another man of being a German spy, swore at him, attempted to trip him, and then used filthy language in the presence of the policeman to whom he denounced the so-called “spy” - who it turned out was actually a Scotsman. The Mayor was furious to hear that the defendant was drunk at the time given that Mowse had recently written to him complaining that his wife and children were in want of food. As the Mayor pointed out, if this was the case Mowse should not have been spending money on drink. They will now be in even worse case, as Mowse was fined £1 with 13 shillings costs, or must serve twenty one days in gaol.

Source: Luton News 10/9/1914

Sunday, 7 September 2014

White Feathers

Image: Wikipedia

7th September 1914, Luton: White feathers have been sent to young single men in Luton who have not enlisted. Some of the sillier girls have been convinced by what they read in the papers that any young man not in uniform is an unpatriotic shirker. They do not seem to realise that with so many men joining the army even some former soldiers are finding it difficult to re-enlist. One young man who had served as an officer in the Territorials tried to rejoin his battalion as soon as the war began. The battalion was at full strength and he has been waiting for a commission in another regiment. He would be happy to join the ranks, but has heard that new Territorial battalions are being formed and hopes to be needed by one of them. Despite this he received a white feather in the post. It may also be that single men have family responsibilities, caring for parents or siblings, or are not fit enough to be accepted into the Forces. They say that although Lord Kitchener asked for 200,000 men to join up, over 300,000 have now enlisted and the War Office does not have the resources to equip or train all the new recruits. Even if there were cause to believe a young man may be shirking his duty and to tell him so with a white feather, it would surely be better to give it to him personally and give him a chance to explain himself rather than to take the coward’s course and send a feather anonymously.

Source: Luton News 3/9/1914 and 10/9/1914

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hospital Beds for Soldiers

The County Hospital, Bedford, 1909 [Z1306/10/6/3]

6th September 1914, Bedford: The County Hospital at Bedford has offered fifty beds to be used by wounded soldiers and expects to receive its first military patients any time now. They have asked for help from anyone able to lend bedsteads and mattresses to the hospital and also need bedding and clothing for fifty men. 

The training given to nurses by the Red Cross includes advice on how wards should be arranged:
Red Cross Nursing Notes: Accommodation for Sick Ward

Walls. Should be good thickness. Their main face smooth, impervious surface, rounded angles at floor & ceiling, so as to facilitate cleanliness and avoid harbouring dust.

Ventilation. Windows on opposite sides, one facing S.E. and the other N.W.

Windows. With double hung sashes & fan light above, they should fall inwards with side cheeks to prevent down draught.

Warming. Must be sufficient. The best system is that combined with ventilation & which warms incoming air. Bath must be warmed with hot water for baths, waste pipe of sink should have 3 inch base drain.

Closets and sinks. Should be in an annex.

Space per patient:
- 12 linear feet of wall space
- 144 square feet floor space
- 2000 cubic feet air space
NB. This applies to ward and hospital but as purity of air depends upon how often it is changed a less cubic capacity can be used in exceptional cases if ventilation is efficient.
Source: Lecture notes of E.M.Bacchus, of Newnham Lodge, Newnham Road, Bedford, Red Cross Nursing Detachment No.10, August 1914 [Z160/287]

[1] Ethel May Bacchus was born in Croydon c.1883 but had moved with her family to Bedford by 1891. She died in Bedford in 1976 age 94.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Woburn Abbey

Woburn Abbey, 2008 © Bedfordshire and Luton Archive Service

5th September 1914, Woburn: Many of the employees of the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey and Park have already left to join the Forces. More are expected to follow as the Duke has made it crystal clear that after the war he will not continue to employ any single men who fail to serve their Country. All his workers have received the following notice:
“To all employees on the estates of the Duke of Bedford, K.G. His Grace directs that at the conclusion of the war posts now held by single men between the ages of 19 and 35 who are physically fit, and have not accepted service in any of the Naval and Military Forces of the Crown, will be thrown open to men who return from the war in want of employment, and that the present occupants of those posts must not expect to retain them.”
Source: Luton News 10/9/1914

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Russians are Coming!

A Russian Hussar, 1914. Image: Wikipedia

4th September 1914, Bedford: Rumours about the Russians abound. It has been said that Lord Kitchener has an “unknown factor” up his sleeve – surely this must indicate he knows the Russian army will soon strike heavily at the Germans. Trains have been seen speeding from north to south with their blinds drawn. These are supposed to be carrying Russian soldiers who have been transported by sea from Archangel to Leith in Scotland, from where they are being sent to France and Belgium. More evidence that Russians are being sent across the Channel from England came from a marine who returned to Bedford from Belgium and told his friends they had been ordered to leave Ostend when the Russians arrived. On Tuesday news came that the Kaiser and his HQ staff had retired to Metz because an army of Russians was advancing against them from the coast. This rumour has not been confirmed but almost everyone believes it to be true.

Source: Beds Times 11/9/1914

Note: In fact there was no truth to the rumours of Russian involvement on the Western Front in the early stages of the war. At the end of August the Germans had defeated the Russian 2nd army in the East at the Battle of Tannenberg and during the early part of September the 3rd and 8th Russian armies were advancing against the Austrians. The French requested in December 1915 that Russian troops should be sent to the Western Front in exchange for munitions and the first Russian soldiers arrived in France in April 1916.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Luton Lads Enlist

"Luton boys leaving Luton to enlist at St Albans, August 1914", Photo by Mr W H Cox, Luton, from Luton News Almanac, 1915 [Z1516/4]

Thursday 3rd September 1914, Luton: On Tuesday a group of twenty seven men from an engineering works in Luton went to Bedford to join Lord Kitchener’s army. Although they had telephoned to find out where to go and when, they arrived in Bedford only to find there was no medical doctor available to examine them and were told to go home and return the next day. Yesterday they tried again, with their group expanded by another would-be recruit, and twenty two out of the twenty eight were enrolled. Another group of lads from Luton went together to St Albans to enlist in the 24th City of London Rifles. All but two passed the medical test and they have signed up for four years of foreign service.

Source: Luton News 3rd September 1914

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Littered With Loafers

Bedfordshire County Council 1897. Samuel Howard Whitbread is seventh from left in the second row from the front, and George Payne is tenth from left in the same row [CCV33/65/1]

2nd September 1914, Leighton Buzzard: A public meeting was held in the Leighton Assembly Room tonight to consider forming a committee to deal with any distress arising as a result of the war. Mr George Payne, the Chairman of the Leighton Buzzard Urban District Council, chaired the meeting and read a letter he had received from Mr Samuel Howard Whitbread, the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire. Mr Whitbread asked that such committees should be formed to work with the County Committee for the relief of distress. He also requested that subscriptions should be collected for the Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund and the Bedfordshire Branch of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families’ Association In response to the letter Mr Payne put forward a proposal for a committee as requested. Mr Ernest Saunt, however, stated that the time had come for some very plain speaking and that he had never lived in a place so “choked with charity” as Leighton Buzzard. In his opinion “Leighton Buzzard was littered with loafers”. He considered it a disgrace that men wanted to be paid a bonus to do their duty and had heard a man say that “he did not care if the Germans did come to England, he had nothing to lose; let the ‘nibs’ do the fighting, the people who got the money out of it”. In his opinion nobody would make money out of the war as once the fighting was done Europe would be ruined for a quarter of a century. He would only have anything to do with the committee if he was absolutely satisfied that relief was going to the right people “instead of it getting into the hands of the usual cadging crowd”. The Chairman reassured Mr Saunt that only genuine applications would be considered and the constitution of the committee was approved.

Source: Extract from Leighton Buzzard Observer, 8 September 1914, WW1/RD5/4/1

Monday, 1 September 2014

German Arrested At Biggleswade

North Bridge Street, Shefford, c.1910 [Z50/101/37]

1st September 1914, Biggleswade: A German musician named Erich Borchardt was fined £2 at a special police court held at Biggleswade Town Hall today. Borchardt had registered as an alien but admitted travelling outside the permitted five mile limit without permission. It appears he had left his motor cycle for repair at a shop in Shefford in July and had come from London to collect it. Borchardt’s wife paid the fine and they caught the train back to London.

Source: Beds Times 4/9/1914

Note: Borchardt was subsequently fined £20 with the alternative of two months imprisonment at Marlborough Street Police Court on Wednesday 2nd September for failing to notify his possession of a motor cycle.