What is considered by many to have been one of the best bits of war work performed in Luton has come to an end under the happiest possible conditions, wrote The Luton Reporter in its February 2nd, 1919, edition.
Yet six months or so ago the Luton Borough War Prisoners Fund, which was established in June 1915 to provide necessaries and comforts for prisoners of war whose homes were in the town or immediate neighbourhood, gave cause for real concern.
Luton Town Council's unanimous decision to use Wardown Mansion as a maternity hospital for three years or longer brought a hostile response from the local Press. Ahead of the next Council meeting that evening, the Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph led a scathing onslaught in its February 4th, 1919, edition, warning that members of the Council were riding for a fall if they did not immediately reverse their decision.
When Lutonian Capt Bernard Arthur Smart (pictured) took part in the first ever air raid launched from a ship at sea and gained a bar to his DSO, the British Admiralty provided no details of the feat he and his fellow pilots had accomplished in destroying the German airship base at Tondern on July 19th,1918.
First hostile response to Luton Town Council's planned use of Wardown Mansion as a maternity home came in the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph of February 1st, 1919, under the heading 'Hands off Wardown'. It read:
“A repulsive story of German cruelty” was how The Luton News (January 23, 1919) described the story of repatriated POW Sapper William Harold Woodford, of New Cottages, Aley Green. Mrs C. R. Green, also of Aley Green, wrote that William (“or rather what is left of him”) was in England and that she and his wife Lizzie had visited him at Lewisham Military Hospital.
Unlike many prisoners of war, Pte Ernest Thomas Parsons, 42392, 2/6th North Staffordshire Regiment, experienced a less brutal captivity in the hands of the Germans than many comrades.
He had been captured at Bullecourt in France on March 21st, 1918, with a shrapnel wound in his left arm. He finally arrived back home at 16 Russell Street, Luton, in January 1919 to tell his story to the Tuesday Telegraph (January 21st, 1919).
Pte Herbert William Taylor, 40381, 5th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, was presented with the Military Medal by Luton Mayor Councillor Henry Impey during a meeting of the King Street Pleasant Sunday Afternoon group, of which Herbert was a member.
He had earned the medal for rescuing two wounded comrades - one of whom survived the war - under heavy machine gun and rifle fire near the village of Gommecourt in France.
With a bullet through his brain, Regimental Quartermaster-Sgt Charles Francis Hipperson was found dead in a field on Sunday, January 19th, 1919. He had been missing from the Royal Engineers Signal School at Houghton Regis since 11.30 the previous morning.
A discharged soldier who had co-habited with a Luton woman while her husband was a prisoner of war in Germany was jailed for five years with hard labour at Beds Winter Assizes on January 17th, 1919. Thomas William Wingrove, aged 41, a fitter of no fixed abode, had pleaded guilty to wounding Ethel Bliss, aged 30, of 118 Chapel Street, Luton, with intent to do grievous bodily harm, by cutting her throat with a razor, on December 23rd, 1918.
Mr Albert E. Wray, the Luton Tramways Manager, has accepted a responsible position with the firm of Dick, Kerr & Co, general engineers, who have works in various parts of the United Kingdom for the manufacture of generating plants, tramways etc.
He resigned his Luton position this week, only after repeated pressure from his firm to remain, and he is due to commence in his new post in February. He will act in an advisory capacity in the traction department of Dick, Kerr's engineering staff.
One of the first, if not the very first among Lutonians to have the distinction of receiving the newly issued 1914 Star, known as the Mons Medal, is ex-Pte J. O'Donnell, who served in the Irish Guards as a reservist in the retreat from Mons, and early in the war sustained wounds which necessitated his discharge from the service.
'Pat,' as he is well known locally, was formerly employed at the Skefko Works, and up to the signing of the armistice held a post at Woolwich Arsenal.
Driver Frank Mardle, 800506, C/230 Battery Royal Field Artillery, was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the closing weeks of the war. He had joined the North Midlands Division in the first month of the war and went to France in 1915, where he had been since.
In his recommendation for the medal, Brig-Gen Child described the gallantry of Driver Mardle, of 60 Reginald Street, Luton, as follows: