Diary: Leagrave welcome for raid hero Hewlett

Stories from The Luton News: January 7th, 1915.

On Tuesday Flight Commander Hewlett, who participated in the famous raid on the German naval base at Cuxhaven, arrived at Leagrave for a short visit to his mother.

When he visited the aeroplane works of Hewlett and Blondeau Ltd he was accorded and enthusiastic welcome by the men, who immediately brought into play hammers and files and other available tools in accompaniment to their cheers. It was "rough music" but a spontaneous manifestation of pleasure which greatly touched the gallant aviator.

The Flight Commander expressed his gratitude and thanked the employees for their cordial reception.

The young officer showed no trace of his recent experience [he had to land his seaplane on the ocean after engine failure] and was very fit and well. The most disagreeable feature of the event was, he said, the six days spent on a Dutch trawler. He returned to his air-station yesterday.

  • Luton Town Council received a letter from Colonel Pearse stating that the military authorities were vacating Wardown Mansion House, which had been used as a hospital, and asking for permission for the hospital equipment which belongs to the local Voluntary Aid Detachments to remain in the house, as the building may be required again should fresh troops be quartered at Luton. The Council agreed to the request.

  • Colonel Lord Herbert Scott, commanding the 23rd Battalion County of London Regiment, wrote thanking Luton Corporation for their kindness in assisting to make Christmas as pleasant a day as possible for the battalion. The offices, non-commissioned officers and men highly appreciated the kindness of the Council in placing at their disposal the Winter Assembly Hall for the Christmas dinner and concert, and on their behalf he sent the Corporation good wishes for Christmas and the New Year. Lord Herbert Scott provided the Christmas dinner for the battalion at his own expense.

  • Luton Voluntary Training Corps drilling began on Monday when about 120 townsmen attended at the Corn Exchange. Already about 220 men have associated themselves with the movement and drilling is proceeding nightly this week with the assistance of 12 sergeant-instructors. Members of the Corps were expected to attend at least two drill sessions a week. A bugle band is in course of formation - 12 bugles, four side drums and a big drum already being available.

  • Former Luton News staff member and naval reservist Seaman-Gunner Bennett wrote of four weeks in snow and ice in the North Atlantic and North Sea. "On Christmas Eve we had the worst sea, the ship rolling 45 degrees each way and shipping half the Atlantic every minute. It was awful: mess-decks flooded out, tables, mess gear and clothes floating about, and hammocks turning nearly upside down. This lasted till the following Monday, during which time we lived on bully beef and biscuits as it was impossible to cook anything."

  • The 20th list of donors to the Luton branch of Prince of Wales' National Relief Fund showed a £17 14s 1d increase in the week ended January 2nd, 1915 - to a total of £2,570 14s 10d. The Belgian Fund total was just under £8 higher at a total of £311 6s 2d.

  • It will be noticed from an advertisement that another unit of the East Anglian Royal Engineers is being recruited. The active service unit went abroad on Boxing Day, the reserve unit at once went to Bury St Edmunds and it is not necessary to complete another reserve force. There are openings for about 200 young men at the present time, and at least 50 are required who have been accustomed to horses and farm life to act as drivers. The work is very interesting and, as the pay is also higher than many other branches of the service, we anticipate that the required number will quickly forthcoming. The recruiting office for Luton in is Napier Road.

  • The wedding was solemnised on Thursday at St Mary's Church of Pte Walter E. Lawrence, RAMC, and Ethel Annie Smith, of Park Street, Luton. The bridegroom had been invalided home from the front.

  • Thirty-six special constables were sworn in at the Luton Divisional Sessions on Monday for service in the county division, but their services are only to be required in the event of invasion.

  • Among the plans passed by the Town Council at their meeting on Tuesday were extensions to the Vauxhall Motors works in Kimpton Road.

  • The restored Someries Chapel at Luton Parish Church will be dedicated by the Bishop of St Albans on Sunday, January 24th, at Morning Prayer. The Luton Hoo Chapel Choir will join the Church Choir for the occasion.

  • The Chase Street Brotherhood has 36 members at the front or in training. Among them was one who had been made a prisoner of war along with some of his friends at Salzwedel in Germany. He had sent back an appeal for underclothing.

  • Lieut Wood, of the RAMC at Wardown House, gave assistance when a Gas Board fitter was found unconscious at the Old Bedford Road Lodge while working on the meter which supplied Wardown Mansion.

  • Pte Charles L. Henderson, 4th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, has been given a commission and appointed second lieutenant in the 5th Battalion, Beds Regt.

  • Nearly 70 wounded soldiers came by special train to Ampthill about 11 pm on Monday and were conveyed by private motor cars and ambulances to Wrest Park. There were no stretcher cases, but many were suffering from exposure in the trenches.

  • On Wednesday evening a Pickford's van collided with a tram at the junction of Collingdon Street and New Bedford Road. Windows and brass work on the tramcar were smashed but the two or three passengers on board escaped injury.

  • Some 230 poor children were entertained by the Salvation Army at the Manchester Street hall last night. On arrival each child was given a bag containing a sandwich, bread and butter, mince pie and cake. An orange and a packet of sweets was given to each child on leaving.

  • On Tuesday evening the Salvation Army invited nearly 200 poor people aged over 60 to the hall for a meal of roast beef, vegetables, plum pudding, mince pies, fruit and tea.

  • The annual concert for the inmates and staff of the Luton Union House was held in the dining hall there last night.

  • A veteran of the Crimean War was among 101 over-60s entertained at St Mary's Hall, Luton, yesterday. As well as roast dinner, there was also ale and ginger beer supplied by brewer Mr J. W. Green, while Dr Sworder sent down a gramophone with a selection of records that were enjoyed by the ladies while the men attended a smoking concert in the billiard room during the afternoon. After tea at 5 o'clock the evening continued until 8 pm, when each guest received a present of a ¼lb packet of tea.

  • Annie Dalton, licensee of The Goat public house, Park Street, lost an appeal at Bedfordshire Quarter Sessions against a conviction by Luton Justices for permitting gaming on licensed premises. The case related to "Electric Amusers," penny-in-the-slot machines that provided an electric shock but could also pay out checks to be spent over the bar. In what The Luton News described as a case of considerable importance to the licensing trade, it was stated that in a confectioner's shop, for instance, the amusement machine was legal but in a pub it was a means of gambling and was therefore illegal.

  • At the same hearing, the long-serving Chairman of Bedford Quarter Sessions, brewer Mr S. H. Whitbread resigned following a letter from the Lord Chancellor stating that holders of a retail licence for the sales of wines and spirits should not be appointed to the Commission of the Peace.