"France", Bedford Recruiting Rally Procession
Saturday 2nd October 1915: Recruiting rallies have taken place across the country today. A rally had been expected to take place in Bedford on the second Saturday of August, but this was postponed by the War Office so that it could become part of today’s national effort. The highlight of the rally was the magnificent procession which featured war-workers of all kinds together with a pageant of the Allies and the Colonies. The Bedfordshire Yeomanry led the advance guard, followed by the Band of the 1st Bedfords. Other participants included two platoons of soldiers from the Duke of Bedford’s Training Depot at Ampthill Park, two hundred munitions workers, the Grammar School Corps, the band of the East Anglian Royal Engineers, the Bedford Volunteer Training Corps, Bedford No. 3 Detachment of the Red Cross and a hundred “Yellow Devils” of the 5th Bedfords and representatives of the 2nd Battalion. There were six pageant cars, built on trolleys lent by the Midland Railway Company and drawn by heavy draft horses. These denoted Britannia, Russia, Belgium, the Colonies, France, and finally Japan, Serbia and Italy.
The procession arrived at Russell Square where four motor lorries of the Army Service Corps were used as platforms. The park shelter was requisitioned for use as a Recruiting Office. The meetings were well attended and the speeches kept brief; speakers included the Lord Lieutenant, Major Bassett of the Bedfords, the Mayor, Mr. Frank Kellaway M.P. and Mr. A. W. Black M.P. After the meetings two of the bands played to the appreciation of the large crowds. A number of young men were escorted to the recruiting office and returned holding their papers. The proceedings concluded with a Grand Military Tattoo by the drums and fifes of the Welsh Division. The number of recruits who came forward after the speeches were given was lower than expected, but it is hoped that the interest created will lead to a higher than usual number of enlistments over the next few days.
Source: Bedfordshire Standard and Bedfordshire Times, 8th October 1915