L-Cpl Percy Ledsham Lee, 71624, 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, received a personal message from Commanding Officer Major-General Sydney Lawford (41st Division) on being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
While returning POWs frequently had stories of cruelty and near starvation in German hands, L-Cpl Bertie Perkins (266268, Yorkshire Regiment) was one who confessed to “a fairly good time,” although he had sad stories of cruelty to British prisoners working close up to the German lines.
He reached home at 3 Cumberland Street, Luton, on December 2nd, 1918, after arriving back in England at Hull on the SS Porto on November 22nd. He was enjoying two months' leave.
On Saturday, December 7th, 1918, the Luton branch of the National Federation of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers (DS&S) formally opened their newly acquired HQ, the Ivy Leaf Club in Park Street. The premises had previously been used by Volunteers and Territorials as their headquarters for many years.
L-Cpl Sidney William Barford (pictured), Royal Marines, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in November 1918 for sinking a German U-boat off the United States coast the previous August. He was serving in the mercantile marine as a gunner to combat submarines.
The incident was not mentioned in British newspapers at the time of the sinking, but an American journal gave a full account of the incident. This account was eventually reproduced in the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph on December 7th, 1918, following the announcement of the award of the DSM.
A Luton soldier who had taken part in the battle of the River Piave in June 1918 that threw the Austrians out of occupied Italy described what he had gone through, and vented his anger on men in Britain who had gone on strike while he and his comrades were fighting. In a letter reproduced in the first edition of the 'N-T-F & Tuesday Telegraph' of December 3rd, 1918, Pte W. H. Darby wrote to his employer, Mr F. C. Bailey, of Williamson Street:
Stoker Petty Officer Reginald George Smith, K3252, Royal Navy, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal after assisting the captain of the stricken warship HMS Raglan, sunk off the Dardanelles on January 20th, 1918.
In January 1916, the arrival at the Royal Field Artillery's Biscot Camp of Lieut F. H. Howell saw the formation of the Biscoteers Concert Party. Dressed as pierrots, they used their talents, both musical and comic, to entertain and raise funds. And they became perhaps the most popular entertainment troupe in the town during World War One.
After several months in German captivity, Pte William Stanley Ward [3296, 21st Battalion Middlesex Regiment], son of the New Bedford Road lodge-keeper at Wardown Park, was welcomed home on Monday evening, wrote the Tuesday Telegraph of December 3rd, 1918. The article went on:
Remains of the Chaul End munition works photographed in 1933.
The following verses, the composition of Lieut Burnham, a member of the staff of Messrs George Kent Ltd, were recited at the victory celebration at Chaul End last week [wrote the N-T-F & Tuesday Telegraph of December 3rd, 1918].
On Saturday [November 30th, 1918], the Fuze Department of Vauxhall Motors Ltd ran a very successful farewell evening in the form of a whist drive and dance. It was originally intended to have this on November 2nd, but it had to be postponed on account of the influenza epidemic. As the cessation of hostilities intervened and will mean the closing down of the Department, it now took the form of a farewell evening.
The Omnia Works of Hewlett & Blondeau Ltd at Oak Road, Leagrave, were to close down in the course of a few weeks, wrote the Luton Reporter on September 7th, 1920. On inquiry at the works, the newspaper's representative was informed that no statement could be officially issued on the subject at that stage, as the legal winding up of the concern had yet to take place.
Mr George Tuffnell, of Stopsley, received news of his son Horace Tuffnell, who was a trooper in the 8th Hussars in India when the war broke out and had been at the front since. Horace wrote that he had been wounded and was in an Egyptian hospital.
On December 14, 1918, Britain's voters went to the polls for the first General Election in eight years, or in Luton's case since a by-election in 1911 which saw Cecil Harmsworth narrowly hold the South Bedfordshire seat for the Liberals. But there was one significant change in 1918 from earlier Parliamentary elections – woman - those aged over 30, at least – would have the right to vote. And that more than doubled the number of electorate in the constituency.
The King on Saturday [November 23th, 1918] conferred 280 decorations at an investiture at Buckingham Palace, and among the recipients were Dr Bell (Military Cross), of Luton, and Capt Paul Ward Spencer Bulman, R.A.F. (son of the Vicar of St Paul's, the Rev Thomas Bulman), who received the Air Force Cross.