Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Luton Hat Trade Training Scheme Delayed

Straw hat stall at Luton market, 1920 [Z1306/75/17/43]

Thursday 31st January 1918: At a meeting of the Luton War Pensions Committee a strong protest has been made against the holding up of the scheme for training discharged men for the hat industry. The Committee appointed to oversee the scheme were almost on the point of resignation due to the procrastination of the two Government departments responsible, which apparently had a difference of opinion as to how it should be carried out. Rumour in the town blamed the manufacturers, on the one had for trying to make something out of the scheme, and on the other for holding it up because they could not make anything out of it! In fact the manufacturers were anxious for it to go ahead, not for profit but simply to assist in the good work of training the disabled. A minimum of twelve trainees was required for the scheme to start - there were currently eight applications from men hoping to be trained, but there had been many other enquiries which came to nothing because the work was not ready. The Committee agreed to protest strongly to the Government departments which were causing the delay.

Source: Luton News, 31st January 1918

Monday, 29 January 2018

More Food Supply Difficulties

The London Central Meat Company, North Street, Leighton Buzzard c.1910 [Z1306/72/12/11]

Tuesday 29th January 1918: Obtaining supplies of basic foods continues to be an issue in Leighton Buzzard and Linslade. Only about a dozen cattle and eight sheep were sent to Leighton Market last Tuesday, which were nowhere near enough to meet demand from local butchers. Most had sold out by Friday evening, and those customers who usually buy joints on Saturday night were left without meat for Sunday’s dinner. Butchers have been forced to accept sheep allocated to them even when the animals were in such poor condition that the meat was sold at a loss – one complained he had been allotted a sheep which was “giddy, heavy in lamb and had a bad liver”, which had caused him to suffer a net loss of nearly six shillings after butchering and delivery. It seems meatless days are now becoming compulsory, not voluntary. A Hockliffe butcher was told by one of his customers: “Meatless days! We have five every week; don’t talk about them.”

The margarine and butter “famine” is still acute, and last week many households were unable to obtain any supplies. The Leighton Buzzard Food Control Committee rationing scheme comes into force this week, but it cannot guarantee supplies to those with coupons, although it should make the distribution of what is available fairer. The Food Control Committee for Linslade and the Eaton Bray and Wing rural districts was fortunate last week in obtaining a two ounce butter ration for every resident, which was delivered through local grocers on Friday and Saturday. It hopes that this distribution will be repeated in future.

The collapse of the milk delivery strike which began nearly two months ago has given some relief to the people of Leighton. The novelty of fetching the morning milk soon wore off, and “mistresses who had to make daily journeys to the milk shop because their servants refused to go have been heard to threaten never to have the same milkman again”. One of the “strikers” said they had agreed to resume deliveries because the position had become impossible, though they complained of the injustice of the Leighton Food Committee who had bowed to the demands of butchers but would not meet with the milk dealers. Although the strike has ended problems remain. Milk supplies are still inadequate to meet demand, and in Linslade there are complaints from customers paying 7d a quart for their milk deliveries who are aggrieved that they are having to pay more than customers of the same retailers who happen to live in Leighton.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 29th January 1918

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Thanks from Prisoners of War for Cigarettes

Army Club cigarette poster [Wikipedia]

Sunday 27th January 1918: Letters of thanks have been received for the “smokes” distributed to prisoners of war in Germany through the Tobacco Fund set up by the  Bedfordshire Standard. The cigarette parcels are sent to prisoners from a fund to which Messrs. Martins contribute one penny for each shilling subscribed to the newspaper’s Patriotic Tobacco Fund. Contributing  to the Fund is a cost effective way of sending tobacco and cigarettes to soldiers, as nearly double the quantity which could be bought for the same amount in the shops can be provided. Further donations are urgently needed.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 1st February 1918

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Court Martial at Biscot

Biscot Camp 1917 [Z1306/75/16/20]

Friday 25th January 1918: A court-martial has been held today at Biscot to investigate charges against Captain Charles Lane of the Royal Field Artillery of conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. It was said that on July 20th he sent a chicken, ham and other foodstuffs, and on August 11th a ham, from the Officers’ Mess to his billet. Evidence was given by his commanding officer that Captain Lane had been appointed as mess caterer on 8th April 1917, and by Gunner Percy Walter Beale, formerly chef of the mess, that he had taken food to Captain Lane’s billed at his request. Two other men stated that he had taken food, and Lieutenant Clyde T. Wilson told the court martial that Captain Lane admitted to him that he had sent hampers of food to his billet.

Captain Lane pleaded guilty, admitting that the food was sent, but claiming that as mess caterer he was entitled to it. He stated that the mess was in a very unsatisfactory state when he took over, and within two months had produced a bank balance of £40 on the messing accounts, given better food, and reduced the mess subscription from two shillings and sixpence to two shillings per day. As he had been appointed with “a free hand” he regarded the food and money as his own, and held that he was in the same position as a civilian caterer to a mess. Other officers and Colonel C. H. Alexander, the Commandant at Biscot, gave Captain Lane the very highest character and did not believe him capable of the conduct alleged in the charge.[1]

Source: Luton News, 31st January 1918

[1]  A number of mess assistants and storekeepers at Biscot were prosecuted at Luton Police Court on charges of theft and conspiracy to steal provisions in December 1917; the outcome of the prosecution is not known.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Butter and Margarine to be Rationed

North Street, Leighton Buzzard c.1900, Leighton Institute on the right [Z1432/2/1/28/43]

Tuesday 22nd January 1918: The following notice has been published today by the Leighton Buzzard Food Control Committee:
In order to avoid QUEUES and the undue and unequal purchase of BUTTER AND MARGARINE the Leighton Buzzard Food Committee have prepared a COUPON SCHEME, which will come into force on 28th January 1918, and under which no person will be able to obtain more than one supply (based on the number in the household) in any week. A RETAILER WILL NOT SUPPLY ANY PERSON WHO DOES NOT PRODUCE AN OFFICIAL COUPON. 
Coupons will be issued at the INSTITUTE, NORTH STREET, between 9.30 and 12.30, 1.30 and 4.30 and 5 to 8 p.m. from MONDAY 21st JANUARY, until STAURDAY 26th JANUARY 1918. 
The Coupon must be presented to any Retailer, who will supply the applicant if he has the material in stock. There is, however, no guarantee that the holder of a Coupon will obtain a supply, but the available stocks will be distributed as equally as possible.
 Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 22nd January 1918

Friday, 19 January 2018

Communal Kitchen at Bedford

Dudeney and Johnston Ltd, 34 High Street, Bedford 1911 [Z1306/10/33/67]

Saturday 19th January 1918: Communal kitchens have been set up in many parts of the country to help to alleviate the food problems caused by the war. This innovation has now reached Bedford, where a communal kitchen has been set up by Messrs. Dudeney and Johnston. The success of this initiative has far exceeded expectations, and large numbers of both middle and working class people are taking advantage to this opportunity to obtain a well-cooked meal at minimum cost. A large variety of foodstuffs is used in the kitchen where the meals are prepared, and with the use of advanced cooking methods cereals and the more easily available foods are converted into appetising and nutritious meals. There is currently no room for the kitchen’s customers to eat on the premises, but it is hoped that next month the company will be able to provide a large room where indoor meals can be eaten. For economy and to save time customers would be their own waiters, with a nominal charge made for the use of utensils. Once the success of this scheme is more widely known it seems certain that it will be copied by other firms.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 25th January 1918

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Luton Man Captured in France

Prisoners of War in Germany [Beds Times]

Wednesday 16th January 1918: Mrs Davies of 9 Bailey Street, Luton, has received a letter from her brother, Private H. J. Broome of the Middlesex Regiment informing her that he was captured on November 30th and is now a prisoner of war in Germany. He writes:
“There is no need to worry about me, as I am quite safe and looked after well. I am not alone by many hundreds. Do not send any parcels as I have already received one, and we often get one from the Red Cross … I was not with the battalion when I was captured, but with the Royal Engineers on fatigue. We are all together in one camp for a month’s rest, and do not do any work, but just look after our own huts and cots. We do have a good night’s rest in comfort and peace – no “whiz-bangs” and “coal-boxes” flying about and knocking pieces out of us. Well, sister, it is worth pounds to be in a clean, warm bed and not in danger, but being away from home and everybody we know well, there it is. Let us hope the war will soon be over”.
Before the war Private Broome was employed on the Luton Corporation Tramways.

Source: Luton News, 24th January 1918

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Leighton Buzzard's Milk Delivery Dispute Continues

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

Monday 14th January 1918: The delivery strike by milk retailers in Leighton Buzzard which began on December 1st is still continuing and appears to be no closer to a resolution. On January 8th the Executive Officer of the Leighton Buzzard Local Food Control Committee wrote the following letter to the milk dealers of the town:
“It having come to the notice of the local Committee that certain people (old persons and invalids) are suffering considerable hardship through the non-delivery of milk, it was decided to prepare a list of such people and approach the milk dealers of Leighton Buzzard to see if some arrangement cannot be come to by them to alleviate the distress of the persons named and for delivery of milk to the same. If such an arrangement can be made the local Committee will make full enquiries and submit the names to the Association of Local Milk Dealers.”
 Mr. H. Rivers of the Leighton Dairy then responded on behalf of the retailers:
 “In reply to your letter of the 8th, we quite agree with your Committee as to the inconvenience and hardship. It is not only to the infirm but also to the general public. But we think your Committee has lost sight of the greatest hardship of all, that in fixing the price of milk at 6d per quart they were taking the living away from the retailers, mostly working men and women. We know quite well that it costs the townspeople quite 7d. a quart by the time they have paid for the fetching, and they cannot always get it done then. The best arrangement we can suggest and the fairest to all, would be for your Committee to alter their price to 7d. per quart, for they know, and the public, too, that for the retailers to pay 1s. 9d. a gallon and sell at two shillings – it cannot be done.”
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 15th January 1918

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Bedford Boy Scouts

Procession of Cub Scouts in High Street, Bedford, May 1918 [Z1306/12/7/9]

Friday 11th January 1918: The Bedford Local Association of Boy Scouts has held a meeting at which reports were given on the progress of the organisation since the beginning of the war. Since 1913 numbers have increased considerably, from 92 to 145. The “school” section of the 1st Beds Troop (the “Onesters”) grew rapidly and was made into an independent troop, taking on the redundant 2nd Beds number; a Troop of Scouts was also formed at St. Cuthbert’s which was registered as the 65th Beds Troop. Three packs of Wolf Cubs have been formed, connected with the 2nd, 60th and 65th Troops; at the last census they had 37 members.

Eighty-six Old Onesters are currently serving in the Forces and five have been killed. The 2nd Beds Troop does not yet have a Roll of Honour as all the Scouts are still school aged. Other Troops, such as the 22nd Beds (Nonconformist) and the 60th Beds (St. Leonard’s) have struggled due to the loss of officers who have enlisted. St. Leonard’s Wolf Cubs has lost members since last year’s census after their room was commandeered by the military. War service carried out by the Scout Troops is very varied and has included bridge building, canteen and military orderly work, egg collecting, messenger duty, and acting as patients for first aid classes.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 11th January 1918

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Luton Man with the United States Army

Fred W. Cannon [Luton News]

Wednesday 9th January 1918: Fred W. Cannon, whose father lives at 54 Cobden Street, Luton has written to the Luton News of his experiences with the United States Army in California:

“Since leaving Luton eight years ago my experiences have been many and varied. Starting in as a railroad man, I have been successively farmer, dining car cook (between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, and later through the Western States), hotel clerk, steel worker, miner, travelling salesman, and, last but the most important, a soldier in the grand an glorious Army of the United States. The last-named is the greatest experience of all. Whilst working in San Francisco last June President Wilson’s clal for volunteers was sent forth, and with hundreds of others I heard and went. Joining in this city on June 30th, I received my first insight into Army life, and was sent to a receiving barracks called Fort McDowell. This fort is situated on an island in the San Francisco Bay, and commands a wonderful view of the world-renowned Golden Gate, which is the entrance to the bay. A little to the east of the island in the Island of Alcatraz. This is nothing more than a rock pile, out in the bay, but upon it stands an imposing stone structure. This is the military prison, or, as it is termed here, Disciplinary Barracks.

After two weeks spent at Fort McDowell, I was sent to the Presidio of San Francisco, and there assigned to a field hospital. Then my real instruction began, and we were all kept pretty busy for eight hours a day. After being given foot drill for about two months we were started on litter, or in English, stretcher drill and first aid. About this time we received orders to move, and needless to say, we were all greatly enthused over the prospects, as we thought, of going to Europe. Imagine our chagrin, then, when it became known that our destination, instead of being to some Atlantic port, was another camp in California. However, this is an ideal spot and an ideal climate. We are living in tents that are lighted by electricity and heated by little stoves, which make them very comfortable. A few months ago, where this camp now stands were flourishing ranches, but now it is a regular city, with accommodation for about 40,000 men. This is but one instance of America’s gigantic preparations, and I am sure she will continue them until the victory is complete and German militarism is a thing of the past. Profiting by the mistakes of England in not using conscription until her fighting men were greatly reduced in numbers, she is building up an Army of millions, and when American troops get started I am inclined to believe that von Hindenburg will retract his statement that ‘America need not be reckoned with’.”

Source: Luton News, 10th January 1918

Saturday, 6 January 2018

National Day of Prayer

All Saints Church, Leighton Buzzard c.1910 [Z1130/72/86]

Sunday 6th January 1918: A Royal Proclamation has declared that today is to be observed by the whole nation as a Day of Prayer and Intercession “that we may have the clear-sightedness and strength necessary to the victory of our cause.” Services are being held across the country not just by the Church of England, but also in Roman Catholic and Nonconformist churches and in Jewish synagogues. In some cases united services are being conducted by both Anglican and Nonconformist ministers, and special forms of prayer and thanksgiving issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are being used. Collections are being taken at the services for the Red Cross Society.

The Chairman and members of Linslade Urban District Council walked in procession to the morning service at St. Barnabas Church, accompanied by the Volunteers, the Volunteer Band, the Police and Special Constables, and a number of discharged soldiers.  At Leighton Buzzard the King’s Proclamation was read from the altar steps at All Saints’ Church by the Vicar Rev. G. F. Hills. Public houses have closed voluntarily for the day.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer 8th January 1918; Bedfordshire Standard 11th January 1918

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Last Great Cavalry Charge

Bedfordshire Yeomanry, High Street, Leighton Buzzard 1914-1918 [Z1432/3/20/4]

Friday 4th January 1918: Further news has been received of the action in Palestine during which Lord Rosebery’s younger son, the Honorable Neil Primrose M.P., was killed and Major Evelyn de Rothschild of Ascott House fatally wounded. During this war the tradition of charging the enemy on horseback has largely disappeared, but the two cousins were killed in what must surely be one of the last cavalry charges in the old style.* Captain John Douglas Young M.C. of the Royal Bucks Hussars writes:

“We have made two charges, which are being talked about all along the line. We charged in line over two miles of perfectly flat plain, swept by shells and machine gun fire. Our men and horses were mad with excitement. The enemy, about 3,000 strong, were in an almost impregnable position, on top of a long and very steep ridge, 200 feet high. We went straight to the top and into them. We captured all their machine guns, enormous quantities of ammunition, two guns, and 1200 prisoners, and we never stopped to the count the dead.”

During the second charge  “We went part of the way dismounted, and then led our horses up, and charged again. Probably if we had not we should have been wiped out, as they outnumbered us six to one. But they hate the sight of our swords, and just as we reached the crest of the mountain (at least it looked like a mountain) they cleared. It was a wonderful sight. Neil Primrose was killed in the last charge, and Evelyn Rothschild (since dead) was dangerously wounded in the first. We buried poor Neil this morning. He was a very gallant fellow.”

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 8th January 1918

* The charge of the 6th Mounted Brigade at El Mughar in Palestine on 13th November 1917 was indeed the last great British cavalry charge, although later charges took place in Syria in 1918 with Indian and Australian troops. 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Meat Shortage at Bedford

Cauldwell Street, Bedford, Benson & Co. butcher’s in centre, 1918 [Z1306/10/11/3]

Wednesday 2nd January 1918: Bedford is facing an acute shortage of meat, with very little available in the butchers’ shops of the town. Where butchers have been able to make meat available, it has come from beasts purchased before Christmas which were slaughtered without going through the market. What supplies remain are expected to run out by the weekend. At Bedford market last Saturday only one beast was for sale, and although more are expected to be available this week it will not be enough to meet demand. The situation is even worse in the country districts, where residents depend on the visits of Bedford butchers who have now been forced to suspend their journeys to the villages.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 4th January 1918