Ex-servicemen groups condemn the rioting

The local branches of the Federation of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers and the Comrades of the Great War both issued statements condemning the Peace Day violence.

In The Tuesday Telegraph of July 22nd, 1919, Mr H. C. Cooper, Secretary of the DS&S, issued a disclaimer that the branch was in any way responsible for the display of lawlessness which had been seen during the previous weekend.

DS&S appeal for orderIn a statement he said: "The possibility of any disturbances on Saturday was considered at several meetings of the executive committee and, acting on their behalf, I first of all made a public announcement in The Luton News and other papers to the effect that, although the Federation members were taking no official part in connection with peace celebrations, they would be no parties to to any conduct other than that in keeping with the behaviour of men who had done their bit for their country during the war.

"Although these announcements were made, we heard on Thursday that there were further rumours of impending trouble, so a further announcement was made on Friday evening in the local Press urging everyone to refrain from doing anything whereby a breach of the peace might be occasioned.

"On Saturday afternoon it came to the notice of the committee that certain disturbances had in fact arisen at the Town Hall, and the Chairman (Mr Clay) was asked by one of the magistrates to go to the Town Hall to interview him and others. With other officers of the Federation, Mr Clay went to the Town Hall and addressed the crowd from the Town Hall steps. He appealed to the public to maintain order, particularly during the later hours of the day, for the sake of their noble dead, and in his attempt to dissuade the public he was well received.

"Later we were again informed that rioting was taking place, so several of our committee went down to see whether we could render the authorities any assistance in restoring and maintaining order. Mr Clay and others were quite ready to try and make another public appeal for good order and self-restraint, even though at that stage such an appeal might have involved the speakers in a position which might have not a little personal risk, but the police advised that it was too late for any useful purpose to be served by such an appeal, as the crowd was by that time entirely out of hand.

"We did all we could to prevent any trouble arising, and nobody can regret more than the Association the disaster to the town that has been caused.

"My committee particularly ask me to express their sympathy with the members of the police force and special constabulary, and of the Fire Brigade, who acted so bravely and who were injured in the performance of their duties."


On July 21st, a special meeting of the Comrades of the Great War was held at which the weekend rioting was discussed. It was unanimously decided that the following statement should be issued to the Press via Secretary Mr N. Shepherd.

"While not agreeing with the decision of the Town Council in refusing the use of Wardown Park to discharged soldiers, the Comrades decided to take part in the Peace celebration as a fitting recognition of the glorious victory achieved by our sailors and soldiers of the Empire, and while pressing the claim of those who have suffered for fair and just treatment, they wished at the same time to recognise and show their appreciation of the glorious deeds of the men who fought for this victory.

"The Comrades deprecate the riotous and unlawful action of the mob, and sympathise with the Police and Fire Brigade in their thankless task of doing their duty under such trying circumstances.

"The Comrades intend to continue their active campaign on behalf of disabled men and dependents of the fallen and ask the support of the Council and police in this effort.

"Captain Donald Simson, the honorary chief organiser from London, attended the meeting, and it was decided to call another meeting at an early date, to place the whole problem in front of the recognised authorities in Luton, realising the citizens' wish to do justice to the men who served the Empire."

[Tuesday Telegraph, July 22nd, 1919]