A ceremony took place at Biscot in the presence of No 6 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, on December 15th, 1918, when the Distinguished Conduct Medal was presented to former Gunner Arthur Atterbury (41358, Machine Gun Corps), of 52 Alma Street, Luton.
L-Cpl George Bavister, M2/049276, Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport), wrote to his wife at 7 Crescent Road, Luton, that he had been awarded the Italian Croce di Guerre (Cross of War) for work done during the last big Italian offensive of the war.
The Luton News of December 19, 1918, recorded “a murder as foul as any that has stained the dark pages of this war”. The victim was Pioneer James Baxter, a prisoner of war whose home was in Great Northern Road, Dunstable.
It was announced in the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph on December 14th, 1918, that L-Cpl Leonard Henry Slough, 25903, 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
His military record shows that he gained the medal at Umbrella Hill on July 27th, 1917, during the Palestine Campaign. He had joined the colours in February 1915 and trained at Landguard, Felixstowe, before being drafted to Egypt with the Beds Regiment in March 1916.
It had been seven years since Luton and South Beds went to the polls in a Parliamentary election – in that case for a by-election won by Liberal Cecil Harmsworth. The Harmsworth majority was just 613 over a Conservative opponent. Would the participation of the Labour Party and women voting for the first time have a dramatic effect over past elections on December 14, 1918, or would the Lib-Con Coalition vote swell the Harmsworth majority?
With the end of hostilities, prisoners of war were repatriated and began to tell their stories, including this one told in the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph on December 14, 1918, by a Lutonian who had been captured by the Turks.
Indescribable horrors have been suffered by Sgt Frederick Cleaver (Bedfordshire Regiment), who is on two months leave at his home, 47 May Street, Luton, after an absence on service of three and a half years, in the hands of the Turks as a prisoner.
The terrible sufferings of British prisoners of war, especially on their release from German camps, was described to the Luton News (December 12th, 1918) by a Lutonian who had shared them. Pte William Hardwick (47929, 2/8th Lancashire Fusiliers), of 33 Cowper Street, arrived home on December 1st, following his capture at Hargicourt in France on March 21st, 1918, the opening day of the German spring offensive that year.
A wounded Luton hero awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal was Pte Arthur Brandon (pictured), 47750, the 15th Welsh Regiment. Agnes (nee Lawrence), his wife of five years, lived at 57 Cromwell Road and his parents at 848 Hitchin Road, Round Green.
The expense of fighting the Great War curtailed development and public expenditure, and the influx of munition workers and others into Luton placed a strain on existing facilities, not least housing. There was talk in 1918 of a need for 1,000 new houses in the town, and some existing areas were described as slums. Board of Guardians member Violet Lewis, in an article in the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph of December 14, 1918, saw a need for new housing, but, equally important, homes that were family dwellings fit to live in comfortably. Her article read:
Remarkable acts of daring in September 1918 earned Sgt Joseph Henry Barford from Luton the Distinguished Conduct Medal, awarded the following November. The Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph of December 7th, 1918, recorded his exploit.
“One day in September he led a party and killed six German machine gunners and captured the guns and put them our of order.
In 1918, women aged over 30 had at last won the right to vote. Two years later the first Luton women eligible to sit on a jury at Assizes or Quarter Sessions were named. There were 112 of them, half being widows and most in business. On October 7th, 1920, the Luton News published the following list of the 112:
ABELL: Mrs H. M., draper, 56 Stuart Street.
ARNOLD: Mrs A. E., widow, publican, 96 New Town Street.
AUSTIN: Miss E., draper, 49a Stuart Street.
BALDWIN: Miss R., confectioner, 90 Wellington Street.
Allied warships anchored off Constantinople in November 1918. Photo from London Illustrated News.
On October 30th, 1918, the Armistice of Mudros brought hostilities between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies to an end as of noon the following day. The agreement was reached on board the British battleship HMS Agamemnon, a ship with two Lutonians among its crew.