Corporate 'lack of tact and sympathy'

Lady Wernher's offer

[Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: July 15th, 1919]

The broad view taken by Lady Wernher – the result of the wide vision which might well have been anticipated – has provided the solution to what looked perilously like an impasse with regard to the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Federation memorial service in tribute to their fallen comrades.

The offer made by Lady Wernher for the use of Luton Hoo for the purpose of the memorial service proposed, opens up another aspect.

With no desire to add to the troubles which the Town Council are experiencing, it does appear to us that something has been lacking in consideration of the whole question.

One does not for a minute suggest that the members of the Corporation or its officers are without personal sympathy for the men who have fallen or with their relatives. The ramifications of the war have been of such widespread character that there is hardly a home in this country against which such a charge could be truly laid.

But corporate sympathy does not appear to have been shown; and so far as we can see, the decision of the Council not to grant the use of Wardown for the Federation's service was based upon a mistaken adherence to precedent. The general view is that this was an occasion when, in view of all that has occurred, precedent did not apply – an opinion which is fully justified, and which we cordially endorse.

The action of the local clergy in co-operating to the fullest extent with the Federation and its Committee was one which might with every advantage have been followed by the civic authority in this instance.

Apart from the question of the actual venue of the memorial service, the regrettable development is that it now appears neither the Federation nor the Comrades will be represented in the town's peace celebrations. This is, in out view, extremely unfortunate, but it is not at all difficult for the men's point of view to be realised and appreciated.

On previous occasions comment has been made – and we ourselves have expressed our opinion when the necessity seemed to have arisen – as to the differences existent between the two organisations named.

We, with others, have deplored the fact that no basis of compromise and co-operation appeared to be possible between two bodies whose ultimate aim was precisely similar. Now, be it noted, they take a stand on common ground.

The Federation, in pursuance of a national policy, had already signified their intention to take no part in the official celebrations; and now the Comrades – holding that those who had been their colleagues in the fighting line have been unjustly treated – have announced their decision to take similar action. Thus the borough's recognition of the termination of war is rendered incomplete by the absence of the men whose gallantry and sacrifice made possible the attainment of peace.

Luton, through its various organisations, has done and is doing its level best on behalf of the men who served, their wives and dependents. No suggestion of apathy has yet been made in this respect, and in view of the fact, we do not think it would have been a difficult matter, given sympathy and tact, to have secured a full measure of co-operation in the peace festivals on the part of the servicemen's organisations.

Lady Wernher has, however, come to the town's rescue. Mourning, as she does, the loss in the country's cause of a dearly-loved son, her outlook was dominated by that touch of fellow feeling which said to make the whole world kin.

The Federation, thanks to her ladyship, will be enabled to hold their service in surroundings which cannot be improved upon – in an atmosphere which, in all sincerity and reverence, is admirably fitted for the occasion.

Lady Wernher has shown the broad and tactful spirit associated with her every action on behalf of the borough. She has demonstrated what can be done by the exercise of the spirit of tact and sympathy.

Is it, even now, too late for the Corporation to “go and do likewise” and secure the adherence of the men's organisations on the great day on Saturday?