Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: August 19th, 1919]
Mr C. Barber (DS&S), in proposing a vote of thanks to Lady Wernher for the great kindness she had shown to all the ex-servicemen of Luton, said it was not the first time they had to thank her for honour bestowed on them as men who had fought. Those who were privileged to be at the Memorial Service not three weeks earlier saw what they would never forget.
When Lady Wernher gave them the use of her magnificent park on that occasion they knew they would have a great success, and only those who were present could realise to the smallest extent what that success was. It was the most reverent, most beautiful service that could possibly be imagined.
Now Lady Wernher, not satisfied with what she had already done, had invited them to tea, sports and other entertainments. He wanted all to show, therefore, exactly how they thought of her Ladyship, and when this resolution had been seconded he was going to call for three cheers to show her in some small measure what they thought of all she had done.
There had never been in Luton such a gathering as this one (cheers), and they thanked her very heartily indeed for all she had done for discharged men.
Mr Colin C. Daniels (Comrades), in seconding, said “magnificent” was hardly the word for it. Everyone would agree that this was one of the finest days Luton had ever had. In this organisation of Federation, Comrades and unattached he could see a step towards what some of them were hoping to achieve – the amalgamation of all ex-servicemen into one strong body (cheers). This was a stepping-stone towards that end, and they would all agree that everything about this gathering had been absolutely top hole.
He hoped they would all go away with the very best impressions, and he thought in gathering together this great crowd Lady Wernher had helped towards the amalgamation of all ex-servicemen for the purpose of obtaining the one end they were all our for.
Mr S. E. Wilkinson (Unattached), in supporting, said that by her kindness and sympathy for discharged sailors and soldiers Lady Wernher had endeared herself to all, and no words of his could indicate the respect and admiration they felt for her.
Mr Willcox (Luton Hoo), on behalf of the Estate employees, their wives and children, also supported.
The passing of the resolution was signalised by vigorous cheering.
A handsome bouquet of malmaisons and clarkia was then presented to Lady Wernher on behalf of the guests by Mr Ellingham, of North Street, Luton, a Crimean Veteran who had a seat of honour through all the proceedings of the day.
Lady Wernher, Major Harold Wernher and other members of the Luton Hoo party had earlier in the afternoon been to him to chat about his experiences in the Crimea, India and China in the days of long ago and about the medals he so proudly displayed. As he was too feeble to to go to the platform to hand up the bouquet, Lady Wernher went over to his seat, and in return presented him with a walking-stick as a memento of the occasion.
LADY WERNHER'S RESPONSE
Lady Wernher (pictured right), replying to the resolution of thanks, said; “I have to thank you for the vote of thanks you have so kindly proposed, and which has been so enthusiastically responded to and endorsed by all present. I am deeply touched by the sentiments expressed towards myself.
“More than all do I feel honoured in having being invited to pin on the medals so nobly won by Sgt-Major Day, St Matthews, Sgt Barford, Cpl Gutteridge, Cpl Grubb and Pte Smith. In all these cases the coveted awards were gained by deeds which must make us thrill with admiration and pride. Theirs is heroism, courage and valour, added to the qualities of endurance and fortitude such as have been dem,anded of all our men who fought in this war.
“What is meant by that endurance and fortitude can only be appreciated by those who have visited the British battle front in France, as I have done. To have wandered over those windswept, devastated places is indeed to realise the abomination of desolation. Over all those wide stretches of wasted lands there is nothing but an impression of universal upheaval, endless ruin, charred and mutilated tree stumps, and nothing else except pathetic little groups of crosses which show where our heroes rest in peace.
“These surroundings were not such as to produce heroic deeds were not heroism within our men themselves. You must remember that year in and year out our men not only have stood it uncomplainingly, but have risen to such brave deeds as have found their public recognition today. In congratulating Sgt-Major Day and his comrades for their splendid achievements I know I am voicing the sentiments of all present when I assure them how proud and pleased we are to have them among us today (cheers).
“It is only a short while ago that we met on this same ground to pay homage to the dead. Today we pay it to the living. I should like you all to know the gratification it was to me – a very special gratification – that the drumhead memorial service was held here.
“To me the Park has been sanctified in that a service of that kind was held within its precincts, and the fact that we gathered here together to mourn those dear ones who will never return has formed a bond between Luton Hoo and Luton that coming ages cannot destroy.
THE RECENT RIOTS
“Now, I have a personal word to say to you men. We all know how splendidly you did your bit. Your presence here today is a tangible proof of our appreciation. It is because of the way you carried on that I appeal to you to do yet further your bit in peace.
“We all deplore the recent happenings in Luton, and that a small – a very small – section of hooligans and rioters should have cast a stigma on the town that has made it a byeword all over England. As the Lady of the Manor of Luton, I appeal to you men to steel yourselves to wipe out that stigma. It can only be done one way – by unity of principle, unity of performance and unity of action. We have symbolically seen this afternoon pulling different ways in the tug-of-war. The weaker side went under and go away empty-handed. That is not what we want to see except in play.
“We want to see every man, weak or strong, gain the prizes that make life worth living – contentment, prosperity and happiness, and to achieve this we must all pull together and not different ways” - (cheers).
Later, hearty cheers were given for Major Harold Wernher, who said it was a very great pleasure for him to be among the old soldiers again, and to see some of the old faces he had known for many years. He hoped they would meet many times in the future.
From the Luton Hoo estate 102 men went out to the war. Out of those, nine failed to return. At the outbreak of war every single man on the place who was eligible volunteered. They were not all taken, because they were not all fit, but they all tried, and that was the spirit to get on.