An unnamed Territorial billeted in Luton had some very kind words for the town and its people that were reported back home in the Midlands and then picked up by The Luton News in its September 3rd, 1914, edition. He writes:
From The Luton News: Thursday, September 3rd, 1914
The dark shadow of the war cloud that hangs over the country has impressed itself upon the course of the chief local industry. Ladies' hats may be classed with the luxuries of life, and many an economical woman has asked herself such questions as these: "How few hats can I do with?" instead of "How many hats can I afford?"
Could soldiers expect undue leniency when they appeared at Luton Borough Court? While a civilian found guilty of being drunk might expected seven days hard labour, a soldier accused of improperly assaulting a ten-year-old girl seemed to make little more than token appearances in court.
A corporal in the 4th Lincoln Regiment stationed in Luton was remanded on bail at a preliminary hearing at which Town Clerk William Smith said the Mayor and other members of the Council had received a good many complaints with regard to immorality in the town.
While many poems by readers of The Luton News were flag-waving and jingoistic, this one totally tugs at the heart strings and, sadly, reveals the reality of what too many men and their families were to go through during the Great War.
From the outset of war, readers of The Luton News began to wax lyrical in verse. This neatly worked poem, reflecting the town's respect for the men of the North Midlands Division billeted here, was published on October 8th, 1914.
A regular feature in The Luton News was a weekly letter written by MP Cecil Harmsworth and sent from the House of Commons. Mr Harmsworth was elected MP for South Beds, including Luton, as a Liberal in a by-election in 1911 and continued to serve until 1922. From the outset of war he gave a quite frank assessment of events at home and abroad. This was his letter published on August 20th, 1914.
The unnamed Territorial serving with the 5th Beds regiment who wrote a letter to The Luton News on August 12th, 1914, sent a further progress report in a letter dated August 19th. He wrote: Since writing you last week things have altered somewhat with the 5th Battalion Beds Regiment.
With many thousands of troops descending on Luton for training soon after the outset of war there were not enough public buildings and empty houses to accommodate them. The answer was to billet troops in private houses.
Stories from The Luton News - Thursday, August 13th, 1914
The first Luton-born casualties of the war to be reported missing in the pages of the Luton News were serving on HMS Amphion, the first Royal Navy ship to be sunk in the conflict. Launched in December 1911, the cruiser hit a mine on August 6th while defending the eastern approaches of the English Channel.
An unnamed Luton Territorial serving with the 5th Battalion Beds Regiment wrote to let Luton News readers know what the men were experiencing since their flag-waving departure from the town nearly a week earlier.
It may seem strange to imagine that even a bloody conflict as long ago as 1914 should inspire fashion statements. While the menfolk suffered the horrors of the trenches, the trendy young ladies back home were being targeted to sport the new autumn range of military toques on their heads.