Autograph Book from 45 Crawley Road

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Current Location

Wardown Park Museum
Old Bedford Road
United Kingdom



Museum Collection , 7th May 2014
Page from Guestbook showing Royal Field Artillery crest

A family member found this book online from their home in Sydney Australia and contributed lots of new material.

D. Rickard, aged 8, who drew the handsome WW2 era bomber in the front of this autograph book (the book lasted from WW1 - WW2). Identified himself as Doug Rickard from Austraila via the Great War Forum and provided superb background.

I think I can add a lot to this forum as I am the 'D. Rickard Aged 8' who drew the WW2 bomber in the Autograph Book.  I am Doug Rickard, born in Luton in 1935 and, since 1961, has been living in Sydney, Australia.

The Autograph Book belonged to Arthur E Rickard who in 1944 was living in Biscot Road Luton opposite the Commer Cars factory.  A V2 hit the canteen of the factory on 6th November 1944.  As a result his house was demolished and his wife, my Aunt Sarah (Sis), who was looking out of the front bedroom window at the time, was killed.  Having lost his house Arthur came to live with my family in Chatsworth Road Luton until late 1945.  I remember going with Arthur to help rummage through the wreckage of his house and salvage what little was left. The Autograph Book was one of the things he recovered.  I think that many of the entries in the book were made by friends of Arthur and his wife.  However I would not be surprised if some of the military entries were made by Arthur's tank crew in France in WW1.

I was in Miss William's class at Maidenhall Road School at the time that the V2 hit the Commer cars factory.  I clearly remember seeing it fall, the flash as it detonated and, a short while later, the sound of the explosion.


This book was in the home of A. E. Rickard during WWI, at 45 Crawley Road, Luton. Judging via the entires within, 45 Crawley Road was used as a billet during WWI.

A billet is an ordinary private house that is being used to house (billet) service personnel.

The military authorities would pay the owners a rent in exchange for board and lodging for the soldiers staying in that property.

This guestbook is full of notes, drawings, paintings, poems and other messages from men who were posted to Biscot Camp in Luton. It provides a fascinating insight into the minds of the men who were stationed in Luton, who came from elsewhere in the UK.

The full scanned guestbook can be downloaded from the media menu on the left in .pdf format. The document has not been transcribed, so feel free to use the comments space below (if you are registered and logged in) to record any transcriptions you may do.

Object Location

Page from Guestbook showing Royal Field Artillery crest

Author: David

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