Diary: Church undertakes care of refugees

Stories from The Luton News: December 10th, 1914.

Members of Park Street Baptist Church have undertaken to take care of 17 Belgians, and the refugees are now living at Leagrave. Church members subscribe regularly to a fund, and to augment this the choir decided to give the proceeds of a concert given at the lecture hall in Park Street.

The Belgian refugees occupied some of the front seats. As the refugees could hardly speak a word of English, Conductor Mr W. Mitchell included the Belgian National Anthem in the programme in which a young Belgian woman sang a verse. One Belgian man in the party then asked to get up as well and sang "God Save The King", a compliment appreciated by the audience. At the end he shouted, "England forever" in his French accent.

The Belgian party also included a tiny baby that so many people wanted to see that the Pastor, the Rev G. Roberts Hern, had to carry the child on to the platform. It was stated that the baby's father was fighting with the Belgian Army.

  • Corporal C. Stangham, 1st Life Guards, who formerly worked at Commercial Cars in Luton, writing to his uncle, Mr F. Stangham, of 12 Stanley Street, Luton, says: "I have seen any amount of the old Commer Cars out here, and expect I helped to build some of them."

  • Obviously a football fan, Sapper A Bond, 9261, 9th Field Company, Royal Engineers, whose home address is 67 Hartley Road, Luton, writes to say he reads The Luton News at the front, and signs off "Come on you Hatters".

  • Driver T. Field, 32951, Army Service Corps, who is attached to No. 22 Company, 3rd Divisional Supply Column, writes to his mother at 39 Duke Street, Luton: It is so cold here, nothing but snow and ice. We have only got one blanket and out top coat to cover us. We have not had a clean shirt or wash for seven or eight weeks...but we have just got to a farmhouse and are enjoying ourselves in a good wash in a pig trough which has been washed out for us to have a bath in." Driver Field has been at the front since the beginning of the war.

  • Lance-Corporal H. de Fraine, 12th Lancers, writing to his mother at 112 Leagrave Road, Luton, says Lady Wernher, whose son Harold is in the regiment, is buying every man a watch, and is also presenting the regiment with a motor ambulance.

  • Last week's issue of the Drapers' Record contained photographs of Vyse's staff who have joined the colours - 75 in all. Among them was Seaman Gunner Jack Parker who, we regret to say, was lost in HMS Good Hope in the Pacific Ocean on November 1st. He was grandson of the late Mr William Parker, of Windsor Street, Luton, and son of the late Mr James Parker. He was 22 years of age and had been with Messrs Vyse Sons & Co for about two years.

  • The annual meeting of the Luton Town Cricket Club at the Town Hall on Saturday evening has been adjourned until some date in March to be fixed by the committee when the club will have a better opportunity of deciding what the prospects for next season will be. The annual report said that with the outbreak of war interest in cricket had fallen to vanishing point.

  • Local donations to the Prince of Wales' National Relief Fund now totalled £2,515 6s 11d, including £3 from Pte A. T. Hobbs, of the Warwickshire Regiment.

  • The General Committee of the Luton Voluntary Training Corps met on Tuesday, when the Mayor was elected Chairman. There was a good attendance. Over 100 men have given in their names and it is hoped to give further particulars in a few days as to their enrolment.

  • The local correspondent of the Hatters Gazette seems to have great faith in the patriotism of Luton firms. He says: "Manufacturers are eagerly looking out for novelties and endeavouring by all means to produce some fresh designs which may catch public favour, and thus bring the necessary grist to the mill, in order to help the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

  • The Governors of Luton Modern School decided at their meeting on Tuesday to inform the Board of Education that there appeared to them to be no necessity for forming any special classes for girls unemployed, or only partially employed, in Luton in consequence of the war. Mr George Warren said in his judgement there was not such unemployment as would make it necessary to provide these classes. He thought that just now they had as much work going on amongst the girls as usual and, as most of the Governors would know, Kent's were asking for 350 girls for a new department at the factory. In fact it was to be a new industry.

  • A public notice said the Military Authorities have taken No. 4 Chapel Street, Luton, as offices of the Farm Produce County Committee, Bedfordshire. Major Gray, the Purchasing Officer, will attend every Monday from 2 to 4 o'clock to purchase farm produce direct from farmers.

  • At the request of the officer commanding the artillery at Stopsley a room has been opened in that village by the YMCA. Lady Wernher has kindly given the use of the old school, and a number of residents of Stopsley have been very good in helping the movement. The building was opened on Monday, and there is now accommodation for reading, writing (materials provided free) and refreshments from 10 am to 9.30 pm. The refreshments, such as coffee, tea and cakes, are sold at very moderate prices. The Vicar, the Rev G. H. C. Shorting, has lent a piano and the men amused themselves and their comrades. Concerts are to be arranged.

  • Miss Ellen A. Chamberlain, head mistress of Langley Street Infants' School, has been appointed to succeed the late long-serving Miss Alice P. Miller as headmistress of Old Bedford Road Infants' School. Miss Sear, at Dunstable Road Infants' School since 1902, was appointed at Langley Street.

  • Fred Waller, a Stopsley scholar, is to receive a special prize for 10 years perfect attendance at school.

  • The Rev Percival Thompson, formerly of Stamford, Lincolnshire, began his ministry at the Bury Park Congregational Church, Luton, on Sunday, having accepted the unanimous invitation to the pastorate.

  • Latest recruits to enlist for the Regulars at the Luton Corn Exchange: L. Allbone, E.A. Bain, F. Barford, J. W. Brammer, A. G. Brown, L, Chambers, F. Currant, F.G. Ellingham, W. Ginger, G. I. Hill, G. Howlett, S. King, A. Lugsden, W. Mason, A. G. Nicholls, J. T. Smith, J. Swain, A. W. Ventries, F. West.

  • Small ad of the week: "Street organ on barrow, with cover complete, as pledged with A. J. Gent, pawnbroker, No. 75, February 1914, to be sold in Market, Monday, January 4th, 1915."



Mr and Mrs Alfred Cain, of 54 Duke Street, Luton, have received an official notification that their son, 7393 Pte Sidney Cain, 2nd Battalion, Beds Regt, has been killed in action. Pte Cain, who was 29 years of age, worked in Luton for some time after leaving school, and then enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery, with whom he served for nearly eight years in India. Coming out of the R.H.A., he transferred to the 2nd Bedfords and at the time of the out break of war was stationed at the Regimental Headquarters at Bedford. The information on Pte Cain was given by Pte Bates, also in the 2nd Bedfords, who received gunshot injuries to the hand, resulting in the loss of two or three fingers, a few days after Pte Cain was killed. Pte Bates is at present staying at his home at Round Green.

We regret to have to record the loss of another Luton soldier, killed in action, namely Lance-Corporal Percy Edward Woodcroft, son of Mr and Mrs Woodcroft, of 73 Ivy Road,, Luton. The deceased was a native of Colchester but at the age of 11 came to Luton with his parents and, with his brothers and sister, went to Surrey Street School.

After leaving school he joined the Volunteers as a bugler boy and, when old enough, enlisted with the 1st Bedfords, going to Aldershot and from there to South Africa. He spent three years in South Africa and, upon the outbreak of the war, returned to Southampton with his regiment and was home on 24 hours leave before going to the front. He comes of quite a soldiering family. His father, three uncles and five cousins are now serving with the colours, whilst a brother who belongs to the Luton branch of the St John Ambulance Society is going out with the Red Cross Society as hospital orderly.

Lance-Corporal W. H. Kaye, of the King's Royal Rifles, ex-caretaker of Luton Public Library, is now in Southsea Hospital recovering from a bullet wound in the head. He was at the front soon after the outbreak of war, and was wounded on October 29th.