DS&S Journal reaction to rioting

DS&S reaction to riots

In the DS&S Journal of July 26th, 1919, Editor Herbert Pruden wrote: “It is with the deepest feelings that I commence the Journal today, for as I write it is almost impossible to get the views of the ruins of out Town Hall from my mind.

“It will not come as news to any of our readers to know that on Saturday night, 19th July, on the very day set apart by the country for rejoicings over that Peace for which we have struggled and fought so hard, one of the most terrible and awful disasters has occurred, a disaster which will never be forgotten so long as Luton remains.

“And now comes the question which must be answered. Who is the cause of such wanton destruction, and who are the perpetrators of so awful an outrage? And to this question is most emphatic: The Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association is in no way whatsoever responsible for one piece of such lawlessness.

“True, we asked for the use of Wardown Park for the most sacred cause it is conceivable to imagine; equally true that we were grievously hurt when this was refused, but owing to the extreme kindness of Lady Wernher we had offered to us a park for this occasion hallowed by the memories of her son, who gallantly gave up his life for his country. When this was offered, we accepted it with delight.

“There our controversy happily ended, and when, following this, we learned unofficially that there was likely to be trouble and disorder, we immediately, through the whole of the local Press, called on every man in the Association not only to keep order, but to maintain it.

“On Friday last we issued another statement to the Press of a similar nature, and on Saturday our members of committee did all that was humanly possible, when trouble had commenced to brew, to preserve and maintain the order and discipline which we, as soldiers, had so thoroughly been taught to observe, by speaking at the Town Hall and using every endeavour to persuade our men to keep away from the trouble.

“And finally, what can we say of the members of the regular police, the special constables and the firemen? Only this, that if ever men behaved with patience, dignity and bravery, it is those men whose duty it was on Saturday night to uphold law and order and to battle with the flames.

“Our sincerest and most heartfelt congratulations go out to every one of these brave fellows, and to those were so shamefully and so cruelly ill-treated we offer our deepest sympathy, and we hope they will speedily recover.”