The Recruiting Committee which organised the recent Territorial boom in South Beds and who managed to draw in enough recruits to bring the local companies of the 5th Battalion, Beds Regiment, almost up to full strength, are now to carry on another campaign in order to gain recruits both for home and foreign service.
To make an early start the Committee were called together by the Mayor (Councillor W. J. Primett) on Tuesday evening [September 1st, 1914], and one very interesting result of the meeting was that Mrs Stuart-Wortley [wife of district troop commander Major-General the Hon E. J. Montagu Stuart-Wortley] undertook to lead lady workers in a recruiting campaign throughout Bedfordshire.
Another very important matter which came before the meeting was the formation of additional Territorial battalions, a matter dealt with in a letter only issued from the War Office the previous day. The Mayor said it was their duty to get all the recruits they possibly could, and he hoped their efforts would be even more successful than in the past.
Some men were beyond the time for service but there were many young men, careless and indifferent to the danger the country was in, and it was time they had a rude awakening. He did not want to see conscription, but he would like to shake some of these young men up and make them take the burden of the country on their shoulders a little more than in the past.
Mrs Stuart-Wortley asked the Committee to avail themselves to the fullest possible extent of the help of ladies in the recruiting movement, because they could work "close to the ground" taking small meetings and addressing women, for it was somewhat due to the women that the men were not coming forward as fast as they might. They might think England had embarked on a sort of Quixotic enterprise in fighting for France and Belgium and that, while this was all very well, it did not concern them very much. They must be made to realise they would be the sufferers in we had not an adequate new Army in training. If women realised it was at their own peril that they kept the men back, they would see the wickedness of doing so.
Following questions about whether recruitment would involve the formation of a 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regt, and whether recruits would be taken either for the Territorials or the Regular Army, Major-General Stuart-Wortley said it had been decided in this serious crisis to ask Territorials if they would volunteer for service abroad. In the Division he had the honour to command 90 per cent had volunteered for foreign service. Those who had not volunteered to do so would return to their headquarters and form the nucleus of fresh battalions not to be raised, while new recruits would be asked whether they would like to go abroad.
When an existing battalion was brought up to war strength and left the country, the new battalion would form a reserve for the unit gone abroad. Even if there was a whole Territorial battalion formed of men who did not wish to go abroad they could enlist another whole battalion of men who would go, and in fact there was no limit to recruiting.
As to recruiting for the Regular Army, Major-General Stuart-Wortley said the first 100,000 had been completed, and he thought it was Lord Kitchener's desire now that recruiting in the Territorial force should be as strong as possible.
It distressed him a great deal to see a lot of able-bodied young men loafing at the street corners, looking on at football matches etc. They waved Union Jacks and sang "Rule Britannia" but that was not much good. They should join the forces.