Event date

23rd August 1914 to 24th August 1914

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Marching troops

Luton is now not so full of Territorial visitors for some thousands marched out during the weekend for fresh quarters at Harpenden, but there are still sufficient remaining here for the streets to continue to be unusually crowded in the evening hours.

The men are still undergoing a most rigorous training and are to be seen going out in shirt sleeves for their long marches, not only the men but some of the officers as well abandoning their tunics while the weather is so warm.

Those who left during the weekend for Harpenden were the companies billeted in Wellington Street, Buxton Road and other roads in that neighbourhood. They seemed to be very satisfied with the treatment they had received in Luton, and a happy little incident occurred as they were marching up London Road. As they approached the Mayor's residence the band suddenly stopped the tune they were playing and struck up "Auld Lang Syne".

The Mayor met the troops as he was walking down to the Town Hall and one of the officers stopped, shook hands with him and said they regretted leaving a town where they had been so hospitably received. In this respect it was one of the best towns they had been in, and the officer said he thought the Mayor ought to be proud to preside over such a town.

The impressions made upon the men by their reception in Luton may interest our readers. A "Tiger's" account as sent home has been handed to us, and in this he says:

"We feel like schoolboys again. We are so used to going to school, and we don't like schools much because the floors compare very unfavourably with the hardest of mattresses. Still, we don't grumble much, unless some careless chum walks over our shins with his ammunitions on.

"I believe some of the boys have learned to play the piano since we have been called up. In most of the schools there is at least one piano, and the worst players generally choose the time to practice just as one is puzzling one's brain to find out how to make out an Army pay sheet, or studying an ordnance map.

"Our headquarters was the workhouse, but we fared better than the usual caller. But the greatest asset we have is the certainty of never going short of food, because everybody seems to be vying with each other to make you comfortable, from the richest to the very poor. For instance, the Baths were opened to the troops, and after parading in the hot sun with your pack on your back and 130 rounds of ammunition in your pouches, you can understand what a boon it is to stand under a spray or have a plunge in clean, cool water. The attendants treated 'the boys' as if we were conferring the favour, and not them. On another occasion you will see the 'guard' enjoying a jug of tea and some cake or bread and butter supplied by the missus next door."

The writer goes on to describe incidents which happened on the way to Luton, and the generous manner in which the people on the route gave them refreshments. Then he says:

"Here we are at chapels and billeted at private houses, On various doorways you can see mysterious figures and signs which, interpreted by the officer who is responsible for the billets, means one house will take two men or more, another will take officers and another NCOs.

"Here the people are just the same. They don't like having their meals and seeing the youngsters without pudding. I went to the gate of the chapel where we were billeted and the members of the guard were making a large plum pie look very small, also jam tarts and slabs of pudding, all brought across to them by the kindly neighbours. Some of us were invited out to tea by strangers, their excuse being: 'Well, we feel you boys are giving up a lot of comfort for us who are unable to join any force. We are your debtors, not you ours.'

"At our billet the accommodation is inadequate for cooking, so out cook makes a fire in the gutter and cooks our meals. Of course, the smell of burning wood and the smoke going into houses is not as agreeable as it might be, but as they say: 'It is war, and all the fault of the Kaiser'."

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Marching troops

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