With the 5th Beds

An unnamed  Luton Territorial serving with the 5th Battalion Beds Regiment wrote to let Luton News readers know what the men were experiencing since their flag-waving departure from the town nearly a week earlier. 5th Bedfordshires outside old Luton town hall

In a letter dated Wednesday, August 12th, 1914, he wrote: "As you stated on Thursday last, we got away from the struggling crowds at Luton at midday Wednesday and were billeted at the Goldington Road Schools, from which the desks had been partially cleared. There we made ourselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and ate the ration we had (most of us) brought with us as per Standing Mobilisation Orders, which had been issued to us years ago ready for such an emergency. Those who had neglected to do this were not, however, seriously affected as we had an area round the school allotted to us containing every kind of shop. In this area we were allowed to roam without our belts and arms and we were allowed to go into the town (properly dressed) for a couple of hours in the evening only.

"Thursday and Friday were spent here in this manner with a few route marches and inspections thrown in. Our spare time, however, was not at all doleful, the cycle scouts, who were in a lobby by themselves, having discovered a piano in the corner, and poured forth melody by the yard, and the interest was kept up by men coming in from practically the ends of England, men who belonged to the Battalion but were putting in their training with other corps.

"Various rumours kept flying around, but on Saturday we entrained for ------ [destination not revealed], where we found a home (for how long who shall say?) at the schools, which were splendidly appointed, and here we were served out with waterproof sheets and blankets.

"Our Quartermaster and his staff have risen to the occasion nobly, and our feeding arrangements are excellent except that the messing is in rooms, of thirty to forty, instead of in tents of eight as at camp, which is easier for the cooks but is more difficult to distribute.

"Our area here is a large one, but does not touch the main part of the town, and the men are only allowed to purchase intoxicants between 1 and 2 pm and 7 and 9 pm. I am pleased to see, however, that the men generally are taking the situation very calmly and, without being 'war mad', are prepared to do their duty.

"We are being put through a very vigorous training, and the country around here has been divided into training areas where we can go by forced marches and go through the various evolutions pertaining to our calling.

"We were very forcibly reminded that we had ceased 'playing' on Saturday, when each man filled his pouches with 100 rounds of ball ammunition, which is carried on nearly every parade and was even taken, with rifles, by our battalion to the open-air church parade in a field adjoining the schools where the Cambridgeshire Battalion is billeted.

"Altogether we are occupied all day until about tea-time, and there is hardly time to look at the morning papers before the evening ones come out.

"Yesterday, in response to a call from the War Office, the Colonel called for volunteers to serve in Europe, if required. The response was excellent, all the officers and 60 to 70 per cent of the men coming forward, and many of those who did not had the harder time, inclination and spirit having to give way to the superior domestic and other claims.

"Every day or two we march out with our full kit and transport, ready to march off or entrain without coming back to our billet, and today out training area was very appropriate as we manoeuvred in the grounds of a house named "The Bedfords".

"All is very cheerful tonight as the main portion of the mobilisation bounty of £5 has just been dished out."