Luton soldiers were party to the unofficial Christmas truce that here and there produced a rare few hours of Anglo-German peace amid the carnage on the western front in 1914.
Driver W. Messenger, of C Company, 2nd Bedfordshires, wrote to his parents Mr and Mrs H. Sills, of 115 Park Street, Luton: "We had a better Christmas than I thought we should. On Christmas morning the Germans shouted "Happy Christmas" to us, and we wished them one back.
In the midst of war, Luton received a Royal visit on Monday, April 10th, 1916, when Princess Victoria Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, opened the YMCA hut for troops at Biscot Camp.
In keeping with the times, said The Luton News, the visit was devoid of pomp and splendour but it was of paramount importance to Luton. The townsfolk forsook the counting-houses and workshops and their domestic affairs for a glimpse of Royal flesh and blood.
The players of the Luton Town Football Club have given a fine lead to the members of the other professional clubs throughout the country. Eight of the Luton men have joined the Footballers' Battalion of the new Army - a number which is larger than that of any other club except Clapton Orient.
The Luton players who have enlisted are: John Dunn (full back), Robert Frith (centre half), T. T. Wilson (half back), Hugh Roberts (outside right), Arthur Wileman and Arthur Roe (inside rights), Ernest Simms (centre forward) and Frank Lindley (outside left).
By November 11th, 1914, the full horror and tragedy of world war had become only too evident. The hoped-for quick end to conflict was obviously not going to materialise and it would be another four dour years before hostilities would cease formally at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.
It was reported in The Luton News on 26th August 1915, that cousins Pte Aubrey Frederick M2/054102 & Cpl 29620 Reginald Pryer Godfrey had had an eventful time of it at the front, but despite some terrible injuries, they both survived the war.
Aubrey Frederick Godfrey was born in November 1895 in Luton, only son of Frederick Ernest & Martha.
By far the most realistic work that the soldiers stationed in and around Luton have experienced in their present training took place last week, culminating in a big battle at dawn on Friday.
The operations were on a very large scale. It was no afternoon picnic. It was three days of very hard work, but nevertheless it was an experience which the majority of the men at any rate would not have missed for worlds.
A special edition of The Luton News was printed on Friday, September 18th, 1914, following an unannounced visit by King George V to inspect troops at Luton Hoo that day. No Press photographers were present.
His Majesty King George visited Luton Hoo this morning and inspected a representative body of Territorials from the North Midland Brigade, now in training in Luton and district.
Events have moved with appalling swiftness during the past week. Austria is at war with Servia [Serbia], Germany is at war with Russia and France, and we ourselves are on the very verge of war with Germany. We are confronted in Europe with a situation that has no parallel since the first Napoleon was at the height of his career of almost world-wide conquest.
In Park Square, Luton, a crowd of about 3,000 gathered on Thursday evening around the platform from which speeches were made urging eligible men to respond to the appeal for recruits for the Bedfordshire Territorials. While the chief speakers were coming from an earlier meeting in the country, the Luton Red Cross Band played selections.
Luton is now not so full of Territorial visitors for some thousands marched out during the weekend for fresh quarters at Harpenden, but there are still sufficient remaining here for the streets to continue to be unusually crowded in the evening hours.
The men are still undergoing a most rigorous training and are to be seen going out in shirt sleeves for their long marches, not only the men but some of the officers as well abandoning their tunics while the weather is so warm.
Mr F. R. Cook, of 74 Ashburnham Road, Luton, has just arrived home after a most exciting voyage from Malta. Mr Cook, who is well known in Luton and St Albans, left for a business trip in the Mediterranean, and three weeks ago got back to Malta after visiting Egypt, Cyprus and various places in the Levant. When war was declared he was just about to return to England.
The Engineering Section of the Luton Chamber of Commerce have decided to request all the members of the section to act in conformity with the following resolution:
"That a payment should be made to the wives of all men called up on active service of seven shillings per week and one shilling for each child under 14 years of age, with such modifications as may be deemed advisible in each particular case. The following firms have signified their adhesion to the resolution:
An entry into Switzerland riding on the step of a railway goods waggon is one of the Rev H. C. Mander's reminiscences of this summer's holidays. Mr Mander, who is a brother of Mr E. A. Mander, the Luton borough accountant, and also one of the Nonconformist ministers at Swansea, reached Luton with Mrs Mander, Mrs Hunt and Mr Clifford Hunt a few days ago, after a somewhat exciting and trying continental trip.
At a meeting of the Bleachers and Dyers Section of the Luton Chamber of Commerce held on Monday, the position of the industry under the present war conditions was carefully considered, and at a general meeting of the industry convened by the section yesterday (Wednesday) the following statement was confirmed and signed by the various firms: