One of the most interesting branches of war work carried on a Luton was that of the manufacture of aeroplane propellers, at the establishment of Mr Edgar L. Barber, Bury Park Road.
A tour of his premises was extremely instructive, said The Luton News (January 30th, 1919). One saw the whole process, dating from the time the planks of walnut are carried into the shop in the rough state until they emerge again in the form of the finished article.
The introduction of modern machinery always has the effect of ousting the picturesque and beautiful, and we are sorry to hear that an instance of this unfortunate fact will shortly be experienced in Luton, said the Tuesday Telegraph (January 14th, 1919).
Among provincial firms which rendered splendid service to the national cause during the war, the Davis Gas Stove Co, of Dallow Road, Luton, is entitled to rank highly, said an article in The Luton News (February 20, 1919). And the firm are displaying great energy and business acumen in preparing for the trade boom which is commonly anticipated when the national activities have settled down following the transition from a wartime to a peace regime.
A war memorial at Luton Conservative and Unionist Club, Market Hill, was unveiled on May 3rd, 1922, by the Duke of Bedford. It had cost 66 guineas and contained the names of 27 members who had given their lives during World War One.
The memorial was on the wall of the main hall at the foot of a staircase. It was fashioned in English oak with richly carved panels on either side of a representative of a rose, shamrock and thistle, with a centre panel of repousse bronze copper.
The memorial placed in the Wenlock Chapel of Luton Parish Church to the memory of the late Second Lieut Alex Pigott Wernher, Welsh Guards, was unveiled on Saturday, January 18, 1919, by Col Murray Thriepland DSO, Commanding Officer, and dedicated in front of a large congregation.
The Luton Co-operative Society War Memorial that was originally displayed in the New Bedford Road department store was found a new home at the Royal British Legion Club in Marsh Road, Leagrave, in 1993.
The memorial had originally been unveiled in 1946 with the names of Co-op employees from both world wars. It was safely removed following the closure of the store in the 1980s and was eventually found a home with the Royal British Legion. The First World War names on the memorial are (links in yellow offer more detailed information on individuals):
Prominent local businessman and auctioneer Hugh Cumberland unveiled the war memorial at St Matthew's Church, High Town, in November 1921. It was dedicated by the then Vicar, the Rev D. A. Jaquet.
The memorial, containing over 150 names, retains a prominent position of respect in the church. The slideshow, below, includes a picture published in the Tuesday Pictorial of the Rev Jaquet and the memorial following the dedication. The inscription reads:
The Luton Borough Police WW1 memorial, as featured in Tom Madigan's book, The Men Who Wore Straw Helmets (The Book Castle 1993). Unfortunately, the memorial seems to have been lost.
Sixteen members of Luton Borough Police Force saw armed service in World War One. Fifteen returned, some having been wounded, but the sixteenth was L-Cpl James Chandler (P/10790, Military Police Corps), who died on February 26th, 1919, from pneumonia in hospital in Cologne while serving with the army of occupation on the Rhine.
Fifty men employed by the J. W. Green brewery in Luton served in the Army during World War One, of whom eight made the supreme sacrifice. Their names were included on a roll of honour and read out at a welcome home dinner for returning men at the Plait Hall on Saturday, November 22nd, 1919. Contained on the list were the following names (deceased soldiers are highlighted and were included on the firm's war memorial):
The Great War was a conflict like none that had gone before. Mechanisation produced new types of horrors both on the battlefield and at home, where civilians were under attack from the air for the first time and faced the threat of food shortages due to submarine attacks on shipping. Here are examples from the Wardown House Museum collection of posters directed at encouraging economy in the use of food.
On Saturday, July 23rd, 1921, former headmaster Capt Arthur Mander (1910-1915) unveiled the war memorial at Hitchin Road Boys' School in memory of Assistant Master George Wells MM and 79 former pupils who had lost their lives in the Great War.
The Christ Church War Memorial unveiled by the Bishop of St Albans in July 1921. Carved in oak, it stood in the Lady Chapel at Christ Church and was designed by Mr Basil C. Deacon, of Luton. It was created by sculptors Harry Hems & Sons, of Exeter, who also created the lych gate at Holy Trinity Church, Biscot.
Of the 52 members of the Luton Postal staff who served in World War One, six were to make the ultimate sacrifice – Edward Gatward, Amos C. Moody, William Stanford, George T. Janes, Walter F. Phillips and Albert T. Smith.
Their names are inscribed on a memorial that still stands in the Dunstable Road Sorting Office. An accompanying inscription reads: “To the honoured and lasting memory of our comrades who fell in the Great War 1914-1918.”
Many Luton streets during and after World War One had a war shrine to commemorate the men who had once lived there but had died in the conflict.
Many of the shrines were the result of work by church groups, for instance in November 1917 the Church of England Men's Society at Luton Parish Church unanimously decided to place war shrines in every street of the parish and to visit every house to gather the necessary information for them.
From the WW1 collection at Wardown House Museum, an undated photo of a DS&S (Discharged Sailors and Soldiers) float. But a clue may lie in the words above the float - “if you know a better 'ole, go to it”.