Sunday, 2 July 2017

Luton War Pensions Committee has a Complaint

Alderman J. H. Staddon, Mayor of Luton and President of the Luton War Pensions Committee, as High Sheriff of Bedfordshire 1938-9 [Z49/261]

Monday 2nd July 1917: The Luton War Pensions Committee has expressed considerable indignation over regulations regarding massage treatment which appear to be thoroughly unreasonable. A number of military cases have been receiving massage treatment from William Lawson, the Luton Town Football Club trainer. However the authorities at Bedford Military Hospital have objected, stating that a special form of massage has been devised for military cases which can only be given at a suitable hospital; no fees will be paid to private masseurs. The Military Hospital will accept men sent there for treatment, but the level of inconvenience this would entail is extreme. One man was sent there for treatment on Friday and was told to come back three days a week. Between railway fares and compensation lost work time this would cost the Pensions Committee around thirty shillings a week, when the same treatment could be given in Luton for four shillings and sixpence without interrupting the man’s working week. When the secretary telephoned the authorities and explained this ridiculous situation he felt the official there agreed and it is hoped that a satisfactory resolution will be found.

Source: Luton News 5th July 1917

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Serious Fire at Bedford

Aftermath of the fire [AD1082/4a]

Friday 22nd June 1917: Last night saw the biggest fire Bedford has seen in modern times. It broke out before ten o’clock at Messrs. Hobson and Co.’s timber wharf near the river and devastated about two acres of buildings and wood sheds with their contents. The fire was spotted in its early stages by three young men in the gardens near the Picturedrome. They searched for buckets and water but without success, and the fire soon took hold and the position became hopeless. The Fire Brigade were assisted by their own supernumeraries, the Borough police and special constabulary, and by soldiers in training at Bedford, but the flammable nature of the oils, paints and wood on the premises meant the fire continued to spread. They were also hindered in deploying their hose when it was found that the hydrant opposition the Bridge Hotel had been damaged and was unusable. Fortunately the wind blew the flames across the river and the Brigade were able to prevent it spreading to the south, saving St. Mary’s and Cauldwell Street. However, they were unable to stop the adjacent premises, Messrs Newland and Nash’s malting, from being engulfed by the fire. By midnight the fire had largely burnt itself out and the mill and wood shed had been reduced to a scene of smouldering desolation.

Source: Bedford Volunteer Fire Brigade scrapbook [AD1082/4a]

Monday, 19 June 2017

Water Shortages

Water Tower, Stanbridge Road, Leighton Buzzard [Z1432/2]

Tuesday 19th June 1917: The following notice was issued by Leighton Buzzard Urban District Council on Saturday:   
WATER SUPPLYIn consequence of the shortage of water at this period of the year, the above Council request householders not to use more than is necessary for domestic purposes, and to avoid any waste by running taps, etc. Standpipes should be turned off immediately after use.Leaking taps should be reported at once to the Water Engineer, and the same will be re-washered free of charge.Water for “domestic purposes” does not include water for gardens, lawns, etc. Water used for the latter purposes must be paid for according to the scale of charges under the Council’s Water Regulations.In every case where water is used for other than domestic purposes notice should be given at the Council Offices, or to the Water Engineer.Penalties are provided under the Waterworks Clauses Acts for waste or misuse of water.

The Urban District Council of Linslade has now followed suit with a similar edict:
WASTE OF WATERNOTICEAttention having been called to the serious waste of water caused by leaking taps and defective fittings on private property, and the unauthorised use of water for garden purposes in the district.Notice is hereby given that proceedings under the Public Health Act (Waterworks Act) will be taken against any person wilfully allowing any waste or leakage or misuse to occur on his or her premises.NOTE. – It is the duty of every tenant immediately to inform his or her landlord or landlady, of any defective pipe, tap, or fitting, and to report same to the Council in writing.
The need for these ordinances had become acute. Not only has water wastage by consumers become an issue of national importance, but a considerable amount of water is being lost due to burst service pipes. During May the Water Engineer for Leighton Buzzard had to repair to burst pipes in South Street, North Street, St. Andrew’s Street and Market Square. A plan has been draw up of the water distribution system showing where shut-off valves are situated, and five additional valves are to be installed to allow for better control of the system when carrying out repairs.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 5th and 26th June 1917

Friday, 16 June 2017

Father Sees Son Buried in France

Drawing of Bailey Hill Methodist Church 1898 [MB2274a]

Saturday 16th June 1917: Pioneer Manning, of Frederic Street, Luton, was recently present at the funeral of his twenty year old son Pioneer Harry Manning of the Royal Engineers which took place behind the lines in France. The chaplain who carried out the service has written a letter of sympathy to the young man’s mother, in which he explains that her son was brought in suffering from gas poisoning and could not be saved, although everything possible was done for him. Harry Manning enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment in August 1915 and went to France in April last year. He was wounded twice during the Battle of the Somme. In January he transferred to the Royal Engineers and served with them in various parts of the Western Front. Just a week before his death he was transferred to the same company as his father, who was able to see him after he was gassed but before he died. Before the war he worked for a hairdresser in High Town Road, Luton and was a member of the Bailey Hill Church Choir. He was expecting leave when he was killed. His father is now at home on leave, but will return to France tomorrow.

Source: Luton News, 14th June 1917

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

German Prisoners-of-War at Woburn

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

Thursday 13th June 1917: The commandant of the internment camp for German prisoners of war at Woburn has been asked if he would allow some of the prisoners to help with the work of potato spraying; this is now being recommended to allotment holders to help avoid blight. He was rather reluctant as he had in the past taken a great deal of trouble to arrange to provide prisoners as labourers, only to find out that they were not wanted after all. When they were employed in gardening and agricultural work experience showed that the prisoners proved very satisfactory, and he would expect to get permission from the War Office if application was made to him in good time. However, he was now “sick of the labour question” and did not intend to waste time pleading with people to employ the Germans. There was plenty of lumber work available for them.

While the German prisoners may make efficient and civil labourers, not all have been prepared to co-operate with their captors. Only a couple of weeks ago one of the prisoners escaped from Woburn Camp and the special constables had to be called out to search for him. He was spotted coming out of Copse Spinney in the parish of Battlesden apparently making for Watling Street, and was recaptured and returned to Woburn by two policemen.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 5th and 19th June 1917

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Heavy Casualties for Sundon

Private Percy Hull senior and Private Percy Hull junior

Sunday 10th June 1917: The experiences of the village of Sundon give an idea of the impact the war is having on many small communities. From a population of only around 350 people, around 60 have joined the forces. In the area known as ‘Slate Hall’ in Upper Sundon nearly every house has suffered a casualty in the recent fighting. Private Percy Hull and his son Private Percy John Hull enlisted together and have both been wounded. The father was hit in the side and head at the Somme in October last year and has now been discharged from the Army; the son was sounded at Arras on April 24th and is now progressing favourably in hospital. A second son, 19 year old Gunner Fred Hull enlisted last October and is now on his way to the Front. Sergeant Fred Marlow enlisted as a private in the Bedfordshire Regiment in November 1915 and was killed on April 29th, the day after receiving promotion to the rank of sergeant. He was “just going to send a fairy light up for a signal for the artillery to open fire, when a sniper shot him through the head.” Sergeant Marlow’s brother George, who enlisted with the Bedfords in December 1914, has been wounded twice and hospitalised with a skin disease, but has now returned to his regiment. Their uncle, Private C Marlow is a patient in a military hospital in Yorkshire after serving at the Front, and his cousin Private Fred Marlow is in Egypt with the Essex Regiment.

The wife of Private John Jellis was notified last September that her husband was missing. After eight months of uncertainty she finally received official notification last month that he had been killed in action. Before the war her husband worked at the Gas Works in Luton. Another Sundon man, Private Arthur Eames, was reported missing on April 29th; his sister is anxious for any information regarding her brother. Another brother, Private T. Eames served in France for 16 months before suffering a wound so severe that his arm was amputated above the elbow. He is now waiting for his official discharge and for admission to Roehampton hospital to receive an artificial arm. Other Sundon casualties include Private George Hull (killed in April) [1]; his brother Private Frank Hull (wounded);Private John Day (wounded); Private Herbert Ward Sanders (wounded); and Lance-Corporal Muckleston (gassed accidentally at a gassing school)

Source: Luton News, 7th June 1917

[1] No relation to the Hull family mentioned above. Twenty one men are listed on the Sundon war memorial; most were killed later in 1917 or in 1918. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Two Soldiers Reported Missing

St. Barnabas Church, Linslade c.1920 [Z1130/74/8]

Friday 8th June 1917: Acting-Sergeant Charles Harris, aged 42 and formerly of 8 Water Lane, Leighton Buzzard has been reported missing. Sergeant Harris is a Boer War veteran, who joined the Army at the age of 18. At the beginning of this war he was working at the Wire Works in Leighton Buzzard. Although he was no longer liable to be called up, he volunteered to rejoin the Army and was attached to the Berkshire Regiment. His wife and daughter are now living with her parents at 36, Bassett Road.

A Linslade mother is undergoing the same terrible anxiety. Mrs Janes of Soulbury Road is waiting for news of her youngest son, Private Claude Janes of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He took part in an unsuccessful attack on 3rd May and was wounded while crawling from one shell hole to another. He has not been seen since and it is hoped that he may have been taken prisoner.[1] Private Janes is just 19 years old and a former choir boy at St. Barnabas Church in Linslade. He has two brothers also serving in the Army, one in France and the other in Salonica.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 12th June 1917

[1] Sadly both Sergeant Harris and Private Janes were killed in action on 3rd May 1917. Both are commemorated on the Arras Memorial.