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1st September 1914

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The Recruiting Committee which organised the recent Territorial boom in South Beds and who managed to draw in enough recruits to bring the local companies of the 5th Battalion, Beds Regiment, almost up to full strength, are now to carry on another campaign in order to gain recruits both for home and foreign service.

To make an early start the Committee were called together by the Mayor (Councillor W. J. Primett) on Tuesday evening [September 1st, 1914], and one very interesting result of the meeting was that Mrs Stuart-Wortley [wife of district troop commander Major-General the Hon E. J. Montagu Stuart-Wortley] undertook to lead lady workers in a recruiting campaign throughout Bedfordshire.

Another very important matter which came before the meeting was the formation of additional Territorial battalions, a matter dealt with in a letter only issued from the War Office the previous day. The Mayor said it was their duty to get all the recruits they possibly could, and he hoped their efforts would be even more successful than in the past.

Some men were beyond the time for service but there were many young men, careless and indifferent to the danger the country was in, and it was time they had a rude awakening. He did not want to see conscription, but he would like to shake some of these young men up and make them take the burden of the country on their shoulders a little more than in the past.

Mrs Stuart-Wortley asked the Committee to avail themselves to the fullest possible extent of the help of ladies in the recruiting movement, because they could work "close to the ground" taking small meetings and addressing women, for it was somewhat due to the women that the men were not coming forward as fast as they might. They might think England had embarked on a sort of Quixotic enterprise in fighting for France and Belgium and that, while this was all very well, it did not concern them very much. They must be made to realise they would be the sufferers in we had not an adequate new Army in training. If women realised it was at their own peril that they kept the men back, they would see the wickedness of doing so.

Following questions about whether recruitment would involve the formation of a 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regt, and whether recruits would be taken either for the Territorials or the Regular Army, Major-General Stuart-Wortley said it had been decided in this serious crisis to ask Territorials if they would volunteer for service abroad. In the Division he had the honour to command 90 per cent had volunteered for foreign service. Those who had not volunteered to do so would return to their headquarters and form the nucleus of fresh battalions not to be raised, while new recruits would be asked whether they would like to go abroad.

When an existing battalion was brought up to war strength and left the country, the new battalion would form a reserve for the unit gone abroad. Even if there was a whole Territorial battalion formed of men who did not wish to go abroad they could enlist another whole battalion of men who would go, and in fact there was no limit to recruiting.

As to recruiting for the Regular Army, Major-General Stuart-Wortley said the first 100,000 had been completed, and he thought it was Lord Kitchener's desire now that recruiting in the Territorial force should be as strong as possible.

It distressed him a great deal to see a lot of able-bodied young men loafing at the street corners, looking on at football matches etc. They waved Union Jacks and sang "Rule Britannia" but that was not much good. They should join the forces.

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New recruitment campaign begins

Re. photograph that accompanies this Luton News article from 1st September 1914. I have a large framed original copy of this photograph which belonged to my grandfather, Harold Charles Squires. It was taken on the platform of Luton railway station, and the men in the photograph have signed the picture frame. They were on their way to St Albans, where they signed up on 1st/2nd September to the 24th Battalion, London Regiment (The Queen's). I have managed to identify most of their names and army service numbers from the signatures. At least two of the men in the picture were killed, and several more were wounded (my grandfather included) when the 24th Battalion took part in their first action at Givenchy on the night of 25th/26th May 1915. This action was reported in detail in local and national newspapers, including the Daily Express. I am curious to know why this group of men decided to join a London regiment rather than the Bedfordshires, and whether they were 'pals' who knew each other beforehand, e.g. members of local football or cricket clubs (my grandfather was a keen sportsman who played for St Matthew's teams).

This is fantastic information

This is fantastic information to have, to add to the photograph. If you'd like to share this, then comment here, and I'll add the info to the main article OR add the image as an object in the database, and write a short piece about it.

Photo

Thanks for your reply David. Since posting my comment on the article I have found the answer to my question elsewhere on the site - the weekly blog page for 3rd September 1914 lists the names of the men who signed my grandfather's photograph. As I suspected, many of them were from local sports clubs. I will post a copy of the photograph in the Objects section and write a short piece to accompany it.