Diary: Fire drama at troops' billet

Stories from the Saturday Telegraph: December 5th, 1914.

A house in High Town Road, Luton, where 40 or 50 soldiers of the 6th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment, were quartered was found to be on fire on Wednesday night. It was No 41, next door to the High Town Primitive Methodist Church and, owing to a defective flue, the roof had caught fire.

A passer-by noticed the roof burning and gave the alarm. The Luton Fire Brigade were on the spot within three minutes. The soldiers were then busily engaged in throwing their baggage out of the windows.

  • Two Luton railwaymen have been awarded silver medals by the Ambulance Committee of the Midland Railway for first aid rendered in serious cases of accident - George Fossey, a labourer, following an incident at Leagrave, and porter guard Frank E. Wright after an incident at Luton. The medals were presented at Derby.

  • Sheets, blankets, towels, pillow-cases and linen in the various forms in which it is needed in a busty hospital have been taken the the Luton Bute Hospital during the past week by the members of the Working Guild. The Guild has been in existence since 1906 and regularly towards the end of the year the members come along with their gifts.

  • Over £70 in coppers was paid in to the London, County and Westminster Bank on Monday morning following Saturday's Belgian Flag day effort. Guess the counters blessed the coppers, for Monday is always a busy banking day. A cheque for a total of £206 7s 9d was forwarded to the Belgian Orphan Fund in London as the total raised at the flag day

  • Serious complaints were made against the working the of postal system in Luton at last night's meeting of the Council of Luton Chamber of Commerce. Mr T. H. Dryden, of the Skefko Ball Bearing Co Ltd, attended specifically to draw the Chamber's attention to the problems and to explain his company's lack of success in their efforts to get better treatment. Parcels delivered three weeks late, mistakes in telegrams and posted letters found lying on the road were among recent complaints.

  • A little boy from Adelaide Terrace narrowly escaped very serious injury while walking in Luton during yesterday's gale. Outside the George Street premises of Messrs Farmer and Co, a showcase of very large size that was standing on the kerb blew over and struck the boy in its fall. The crash of breaking glass was so great that people some distance away ran to see what had happened. The boy received a slightly bruised face, but the glass showcase, which was said to have cost 135 guineas when new, was smashed to atoms.

  • Engineering firms in Luton are reporting something of a boom. The number of plans for factory extensions passed by the Town Council this week indicate that business is unusually busy. One firm reports work "day and night" for the next two years; another of branching out into an entirely new industry; a third of getting orders which would have gone to Germany under normal conditions; and a fourth of benefiting by the elimination of German competition.

  • This morning a New Town Street woman was remanded in custody by magistrates at the Borough Sessions on a very serious charge of unlawfully wounding her six-month-old daughter with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The child is in the Children's Home with one of her legs nearly severed.

  • Luton Town FC progressed to the next round of the English Cup with a 1-0 away win over Oxford City. Centre forward Ernest Simms, a recruit to the Footballers' Battalion in the Middlesex Regiment, scored the only goal in the first half. Oxford were without the services of the Rev Kenneth Hunt in their line-up.

  • At the Luton Town ground this afternoon, Luton Clarence were held to a 2-2 draw by a 23rd County of London Regt team. Bates and Whittemore were the scoreres for Clarence, Fleming and Vick for the Londons.

  • In the second qualifying round match in the Amateur Cup played at the Dell, Old Bedford Road, Amateurs drew 1-1 with Albion.

  • In the Luton Schools League, Old Bedford Road beat Hitchin Road 6-0 and Christ Church beat Surrey Street 3-0. Friendly between Beech Hill and Waller Street ended 7-0 in Beech Hill's favour.

  • The official war news this afternoon is distinctly good. The principal points of a French communique are that to the north of the Lys two lines of trenches have been carried at one rush. Along the canal near Ypres a point regarded as of considerable importance has been carried. Rheims has again been violently bombarded, but in that quarter the Allied forces have succeeded in destroying some earthworks. In the Argonne, where the struggle is also very severe, several trenches have been carried and counter-attacks repulsed.


The Army authorities have notified Mr and Mrs H. Smart, of 92 Bury Park Road, Luton, of the death in action at the front of one of their sons, Pte Albert Smart, of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regt. He was 22 and had been in South Africa with the 2nd Beds for over three years until they were recalled at the outbreak of war, arriving back in England in September before being posted to Zeebrugge. A second son, Pte H. G. Smart, is at the front with the North Staffordshire Regiment.