Cycling munition girl in fatal collision

Digest of stories from the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: March 23rd, 1918.

Chaul End munition works remanents 1933

  • Remnants in 1933 of the Chaul End Munition works where Emily Ruffett was employed in WW1.

A terrible accident, resulting in the death of a young woman working at Chaul End occurred yesterday about midday. It appears that Mrs Emily Ruffett, living at Moat Cottages, Biscot, and working at Chaul End, was riding a cycle out of the side lane on to the main road, when a motor lorry was being driven in the direction of Dunstable. Mrs Ruffett's cycle and the lorry collided with great violence, and the unfortunate woman was badly crushed and sustained terrible injuries and shock.

First aid was rendered to Mrs Ruffett by others from Chaul End, and she was then removed with all possible speed in Messrs Kent's ambulance to the Bute Hospital. The injuries necessitated an immediate and grave operation at the hospital. The shock of the accident was too great for the unfortunate woman, and she died at 1.30 this morning. An inquest will be held.

A very pathetic feature is that the husband of the deceased woman is a sergeant at present serving in Italy, and there are two young children, aged four and three, left.

[Emily Catherine Ruffett, aged 22, had married Albert George Ruffett, of the Army Service Corps, at Biscot in 1911. She was living with her farm worker father Harry Hyde and mother Emily while Albert was serving abroad.]

  • A serious fire occurred on Thursday afternoon in a stockyard at Marsh Farm, Leagrave, as a result of which much valuable produce, including stacks of wheat, clover seed and hay were destroyed. Sparks from these ignited a shed containing much valuable agricultural machinery. A military traction engine had been working a baler, and in all probability the sparks from this were carried on the wind to the stacks nearby. Two A.S.C. soldiers succeeded in removing the traction engine to avoid the boiler exploding from water being poured on it. Firemen from Leagrave and Luton prevented the blaze spreading to the house and stables. The Marsh Farm is owned by Cart's Charity, Dunstable, and was formerly in the occupation of Mr E. W. Lee, who died last year. The amount of damage done has not yet been ascertained, but it will doubtless run into thousands. It is, however, covered by insurance.

  • A military policeman saw Pte W. Mead driving a tramcar in Luton on Thursday, and on questioning him received the reply that Mead was on leave. Taken to his home, Mead admitted that he had overstayed his leave from the 21st Sussex Yeomanry by five and a half days, and said the reason was because his mother was ill. Mead was charged before a special sitting at the Luton Police Court yesterday and was handed over to the military.

  • The many friends of Mr Walter Blundell, one of the directors and secretary of the well-known Luton firm of Blundell Bros Ltd, are pleased to see him home on leave. Mr Blundell has been serving with the French Red Cross in France, driving his own car. He is expected to return to France shortly.

  • Last night there was a good attendance at the annual meeting of the Dallow Road Co-operative Allotments Association, held at the Dallow Road Adult School Institute. The meeting was told that the Association had increased in membership from 144 to over 300. They began tilling 13½ acres and had now reached 35 acres, carrying the allotments on a co-operative system. The Chairman announced that they had received a silver cup for competition, to be won for the best allotment, and the committee would hold a show during the season, and the best all-round allotment would secure the Powdrill Challenge Cup.

  • At the County Police Station at Luton last night, a pleasant little function was carried out by the members of the special constabulary. Supt S. A. E. Sandys presented a large framed photograph of the Luton Division Special Constabulary to ex-Special Supt J. Waldron Swan. Mr Swan had volunteered as a Special Constable in 1914 and was recommended as successor to Mr Haytread when he resigned.

  • Summer time will come into force in Great Britain and Ireland at 2 o'clock tomorrow morning. Clocks and watches should be put forward one hour before you go to bed tonight.

  • A strong Luton Town team suffered their first home defeat of the season this afternoon, losing 4-1 to Hitchin Signal Depot of the Royal Engineers, on paper a team that did not have a super-abundance of football talent. W. Jones scored Luton's goal in the second half, but the visitors' Hope became the first player to score a hat-trick against the Blues this season.

'Great offensive' news

  • Above was how the Saturday Telegraph broke the news to its Luton readers of the German Spring Offensive begun two days earlier, on March 21st, 1918. Boosted by huge numbers of troops available from the Eastern Front, the Germans made one last gamble to win the war ahead of substantial American involvement. The ' Kaiserschlacht,' spearheaded by German storm troopers who were lightly armed for speed and mobility, enjoyed considerable initial success on the Western Front. But a failure to keep the offensive supplied meant it was a gamble destined to fail - at a huge cost in human lives.