Diary: Institute well used by troops

Stories from the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph, December 12th, 1914

When the troops first came to Luton many of them were billeted in the premises of the Church Street Adult School. At that time a scheme had been arranged for the opening of an institute for Adult School members in a hall which was originally the principal meeting place of the Church Street Schools until their large new hall was built and which is still used for two Sunday classes.

The quartering of troops in the buildings made it impossible to go on with the institute scheme for the time being, but since withdrawal of the North Midland Division from Luton and the consequent freeing of the premises, it has been possible to get the scheme into working order. While troops remain in Luton, however, they are to have principal use of the premises and they patronise the place very freely every night between the hours of six and ten.

The equipment includes a full size billiard table, two bagatelle tables, draughts, dominoes and other games. Writing materials are provided free of charge, and there is a fair supply of reading material. If any of the men are musically inclined there is a piano which they may use as they please. Refreshments are supplied at a very moderate price.

  • An enjoyable concert was held in the New YMCA Hall on the Moor on Thursday evening. Lieut McNeill presided and was assisted by Sgt Major Greenwood. An excellent programme was rendered by members of the North Midland Division of the R.A.M.C. There was a large number of Territorials present.

  • The annual general meeting of the Commercial Cars' Hospital and Benevolent Fund took place on Wednesday evening in the Co-operative Hall, Hastings Street. The Bute Hospital was voted £20 and the meeting regretted they could not make it a much larger sum, but our correspondent says it was felt that until the hospital had a resident doctor and they can be certain of obtaining all they may require, they must still support the Hospital Saturday Fund from which they had drawn most of their benefits during the year with the half of their money. Smaller donations were made to the Children's Home, the Police Boot Fund, St John Ambulance and the Nursing Funds of Luton and Leagrave.

  • The horrors of war were brought home graphically in letters from men serving at the front. Private F. Parker 5028, of Luton, serving with the 18th (Queen Mary's Own) Hussars and whose horse he was riding was shot, wrote: "It is absolute hell out here...this isn't war, it is murder." Trooper Tomlin, a reservist serving with the Royal Horse Guards Blue, wrote: "To describe the terrible scenes would be impossible...we all want to forget as much as possible, for we've all lost some good old chums, and when you see them shot down by your side it's not pleasant." And Pte G. W. Franklin, of C Company, 1st Bedfords, wrote that he had spent 15 more days in the trenches without a wash or shave and with bullets flying all around. He had heard that his regiment had lost 1,201 men and 37 officers killed and wounded.

  • Among the soldiers in Exeter Auxiliary Hospital is Lance-Corporal Albert Ernest Buckby, brother of Mrs C. Page, of 58 Inkerman Street, Luton. He belongs to the Seaforth Highlanders and received a shrapnel wound in the lower part of the leg while sheltering in a barn shelled by the Germans. He was moved to the base hospital at Boulogne and subsequently to Exeter, where on Saturday his leg was amputated just above the knee.

  • The British Red Cross Society locally has been strongly urged to do nothing at present about providing further hospital accommodation in Luton. Doctors at the Military Hospital in Cambridge, which was the base hospital for transport of the county, said they already had far more offers than they could possibly require.

  • No. 3 Bank Chambers, King Street, is to be the headquarters of the Luton Detachment of the Voluntary Training Corps. Arrangements are now nearly complete for the enrolment of the new corps and a definite announcement calling for members is expected after the General Committee meeting next Tuesday. The feeling is that the Corps should be properly equipped both with rifles and uniform.

  • Small quarrels among relatives all housed in the same building were creating difficulties among one group of Belgian refugees in Luton. And some Belgians had begun to question the bona fides of another refugee suspected of being a German spy. The authorities had made the fullest inquiries and had thoroughly satisfied themselves that there was no suspicion of espionage. Meanwhile, a little re-arrangement of families has become necessary.

  • Another cheap fast excursion to Bury St Edmunds to enable friends of the 5th Beds Territorials to visit the troops stationed in the district is to be run from Luton on Saturday next.

  • Among the old boys of St Gregory's College over 60 per cent of those of military age are serving their country. Several are taking part in operations at the front.

  • Lieut Lansberry called in at The Luton News office on Thursday to ask for a few papers to be sent on weekly to the men of the 8th Beds, one of the new battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment, now at practically full strength at Shoreham.

  • A training depot has been established at Ampthill Park by the Duke of Bedford and recruits to the county regiment, after passing through the regimental depot at Kempston. are sent on to get shaped up a bit. The Duke is commanding officer of this new depot, and is bearing all the cost. He is also providing men with articles of clothing, extra rations and various comforts over and above what they would get in any ordinary training depot.

  • A New Town Street mother was brought up in custody at Luton Borough Sessions this morning and charged on remand with unlawfully wounding her youngest child, aged six months, with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The child is in the Children's Home with its right leg almost severed just below the knee. The mother was committed for trial at the Bedfordshire Assizes.

  • At 2.30 yesterday the Luton Fire Brigade received a telephone call from the North Midland Division Field Artillery notifying them that there was a large rick on fire in the stack yard of Manor Farm, occupied by Mr Shaw, at Stopsley. Despite the blaze being a big one and with a high wind blowing the Brigade confined the damage to the one stack.

  • Luton Town equalised to draw 1-1 with Southern League Division One keen rivals Croydon Common at Selhurst. And Luton side Albion beat local rivals Amateurs in their Amateur Cup second qualifying round replay at the Dell, Old Bedford Road.