The horrors of war have been accentuated by the terrible downpour of rain on the Continent, and it is not surprising that some of the soldiers are being affected by rheumatism. Some graphic descriptions of the war have been given in letters sent by Corporal Bird to his wife at 8 Oak Road [now Oakley Road], Leagrave.
Stories about individual casualties of war had already begun to be published in The Luton News. But by October 29th, 1914, a first Roll of Honour was printed. This was by no means up to date as information from the front could take weeks to arrive but it was the best available information the newspaper had at that time. Sadly it would be added to at future dates and the updated lists published periodically.
The list includes men from throughout the newspaper's circulation area, which included Dunstable and villages in South Beds and Mid Beds.
Corpl A. S. Conquest, of the 1st Black Watch, a Luton man who is now staying in Rothesay Road, Luton, recuperating after being badly wounded by shrapnel at Rebis. He gave a thrilling account of his experiences on the Continent to a representative of The Luton News.
Having explained that he had been in the Black Watch for nearly eleven years, he said: "We were among the first to go out, leaving Aldershot on 13th August. We went to Southampton and eventually landed at Havre. The second morning we went up to a place called Boué. We were there for about three days.
Before the Bury St Edmunds Magistrates on Thursday morning [October 22nd, 1914], Rudolph R. Baukey, of Luton, a private in the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, being of German nationality, was charged with failing to register himself as required by the Aliens' Registration Order 1914. Defendant pleaded guilty.
"The General Officer commanding wishes that in recognition of the excellent work performed towards this Division by the Bute Hospital, Luton, an institution supported entirely by voluntary contributions, a subscription from 1d upwards by men should be raised for its benefit throughout the Division."
The tragic consequences of conflict were felt in all too many homes during World War One. But the tragedy was heightened for those who were never told officially what had happened to a beloved son. Such was the situation facing Luton father Alfred Snoxell - but he was determined to get as close to the truth as he possibly could over his son's fate.
Private A. G. Clarke (7203) R.A.M.C., 1st General Southern Hospital, University, Barnbrook, Birmingham, writes as "an old townsman" to give his experience whilst at the front. He says:
I was attached to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and on leaving England we had, as we expected, a great reception on arriving at Havre. Our next move was to the rest camp, where we fully enjoyed our rest. Then came the train journey up the country, which was very tiring to the troops, who were packed like sardines, and the journey lasted three days.
A few days ago it was announced that the Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, which has its headquarters in Grove Road, Luton, had vacancies for 22 well-educated men for water duties with the various units composing the Eastern Mounted Brigade, which is at present at its war station somewhere in East Anglia.
These men have already been obtained and once again the Field Ambulance, as well as the new reserve unit formed since the commencement of the war, is in a position to state that no more recruits are required.
On Thursday 45 men of the Luton company which was formed as a reserve of the original Luton company of the East Anglian Divisional Royal Engineers left the home service unit here and joined the foreign service unit at Bury St Edmunds. The men, who were under the command of Lieut Barltrop, were:
The number of Territorials being treated was putting pressure on the Bute Hospital both in terms of beds and finances.The quarterly meeting of the hospital's Management Committee heard that 296 people had been under treatment in the three months ended September 30th and the large increase was due to the fact that 142 soldiers stationed in Luton had been received into the institution.
Even the grim reality of war couldn't suppress the British sense of humour. Cartoonists used the conflict to raise a few smiles and to suggest that our troops could take things on the chin and not be diverted from taking everything in their stride, whether under fire, performing tasks in the trenches, or even wounded.
News often travelled slowly during World War One, especially when it came in letters home from soldiers and sailors on active service. They not only had to find time to write but it also took a while for their letters to arrive.