Luton 1914-1919

Britain was shocked to find itself at war in 1914, especially when it was realised by the more thoughtful that it would be a long and bitter struggle. Luton men were mostly drafted into the Bedfordshire Regiment to begin their training. In early 1915, they made a brief return to the town as part of a march around the county, before departing for Gallipoli.This disasterous campaign lead to the most serious loss of lives that Luton has ever experienced in any war, and these were young men that the town could ill afford to lose.

Throughout the war, there were large army camps at Stockwood Park (Army Veterinary Corps), Biscot Mill (Royal Field Artillery) and Luton Hoo; with many smaller units cropping up in schools and other public buildings. At any one time, there were estimated to be 25'000 soldiers billeted in town, living in private houses with their owners.

Old Contemptables March

The wounded and dying were also accommodated in town, with a large Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) Hospital being set up in Wardown House, and the cemetaries at Rothesay Road and Crawley Green Road being the final resting place for many soldiers.

Large factories were built in Luton to cater for war demand, and this spurred the towns future as an industrial powerhouse, including the National Fuse Filling Works at Chaul End, and the expansion of Kents works.

Every piece of content on this site relates to Luton and its Great War, as told by its people; and is accessible in multiple ways. You can browse a map that links everything together, a timeline of happenings; or just plain and simple lists of objects and places, people and events.


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