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