Bedfordshire at War: October 1914

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Bedfordshire and Luton Archive Service is producing two blogs covering the First World War day by day from August 4, 1914 to November 11, 1918.

It will be drawing on local Bedfordshire newspapers such as the LBO and material held at Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service.

Here’s a round-up of some of the incidents for October 1914.

See also and

Troops Arrive At Leighton Buzzard , Tuesday, October 6, 1914: 
Soldiers from Lord Kitchener’s Army have now arrived in Leighton Buzzard and the townspeople are making every effort to provide them with comfort and amusement.

A concert is being given each evening at the Town Hall, which is also providing reading, writing and games facilities for the troops.

A reading table has been stocked with magazines and newspapers, and paper and writing materials are available for the soldiers’ 

The temporary hospital at the Corn Exchange is now treating 20 soldiers, all suffering from minor illnesses such as rheumatism, bronchitis, influenza and chills.

They are being well looked after by the local branch of the British Red Cross Society who are all providing their services on a voluntary basis.

Tonight the men have been promised an entertainment arranged for them by local artistes including Miss Dunford, Miss M. Halford, Miss K. Halford, Miss Hayhoe, Mrs M. Gurney, Mr M. Gurney and Mr W. E. Durrell.

Those who are well enough have been passing the time playing games of draughts and dominoes, lent by local residents who have also provided gifts of nourishing food for the hospital.

Recruitment in Bedfordshire, Friday, October 9, 1914:

Recruiting for both the 5th Bedfordshire Battalions – for Foreign Service and Home Service – continues very satisfactory.

For the Home Service Battalion the recruits are being trained at Luton, Leighton, Dunstable and Bedford and any fine morning the Bedford contingent can be seen drilling and training with evident enjoyment in Bedford Park.

With the exception of the Colonel (the Hon. Victor Russell), no officer for the Home Service Battalion has yet been gazetted, but several prospective officers have already taken up their duties of training recruits.

As soon as the full complement of officers is gazetted and the staff appointed, arrangements will be made for bringing this Battalion up to full strength, probably by means of recruiting meetings in the areas of those Companies not up to strength. With those coming from the Foreign Service Battalion, and the recruits, there are at present upwards of 600 men towards the 1,000 required.

Recruits are also being drafted from the Gwyn Street depot, clothed and equipped, to the Foreign Service Battalion.

This depot, which has been under the command of Lieutenant R. O. Webb, has had a busy time since the Battalion left, for upon it has fallen the work of clothing and equipping recruits for the Foreign Service Battalion as well as enlisting and training men for the Home Service Battalion.

The temporary headquarters of the Home Service Battalion are at 13 Hassett Street.

Death of Lieutenant Downes of Aspley Guise, Tuesday, October 20, 1914: 

It was just a month ago that we received a letter from Lieutenant Villiers Chernocke Downes of the 1st Bedfords.

Today we have the sad task of reporting that he has died.

A telegram arrived at Aspley House yesterday evening containing the tragic news that he had died of wounds on the battlefield on Sunday.

An earlier wire on Saturday gave the gallant young officer as wounded. The worst news came as a profound shock to the village and district.

Lieutenant Downes was the eldest surviving son of the late Colonel C. Villiers Downes and was heir to the Aspley House Estate.

The coming of age celebration was observed with a gathering of the tenantry and a presentation about two years ago in the Parish Hall.

Although most of his life has been spent away from home at school and college, Mr Downes has taken a great interest in village life.

He was largely responsible for the formation of the Church Lads Brigade in the village and from its inception was Lieutenant of the Brigade. The lads were greatly attached to him and considered it was mainly due to his fine work on their behalf that they won the cup during one of their summer camps. He was also connected with the Rifle Club. The death of this fine young officer is deeply deplored and the greatest sympathy is felt for Mrs Downes and her family in their grief.

The only surviving son, Mr Archer Chernocke Downes, Lieutenant in the Cheshires, has just left the country, also for the front, with his regiment.

Preparations for Belgian Refugees, Wednesday 28th October 1914: 

Letters have been sent from towns and villages across Bedfordshire to the Relief of Distress Committee in response to the committee’s inquiry into the provision being made for Belgian refugees.

The replies give an indication of the generosity with which the people of the county are responding to the desperate situation in which so many Belgians have found themselves. This example from Hockliffe is typical:

“A vacant cottage has been taken – a good double cottage with good sanitary arrangements.

“It has quite recently been done up and distempered and there is ample room to accommodate two married couples with two children each.

“Furniture has been given and sufficient funds subscribed voluntarily for the maintenance of this number.

“The nearest Roman Catholic Church is at Leighton Buzzard 3½ miles distant and Major Haines has promised to make arrangements for the refugees to be taken there to attend Divine Service at least once a week.”

The names of those soldiers from Leighton-Linslade who died during the First World War are being acknowledged during services at All Saints Church to coincide with the 100th anniversary of their death. Here’s the names of the fallen from September and October 1914.

14/09/1914: BOLTON, Albert. Private, 7729, 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment. Died of wounds Monday, September 14 1914 in France & Flanders. Born and enlisted Leighton Buzzard. Commemorated on LA FERTE-SOUS-JOUARRE MEMORIAL, Seine-et-Marne, France.

14/10/1914: TURNEY, Bert either [Henry] Bert TURNEY. Private 9021, 1st Battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). Died of wounds Wednesday, October 14, 1914 in France & Flanders. Age 27. Born and enlisted Leighton Buzzard. Son of Robert and Ellen Turney, of 16, Soulbury, Leighton Buzzard. Commemorated on PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium. Panel 2.

28/10/1914: TEW, Edward John. Private 8109, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. Killed in action Wednesday, October 28, 1914 in France & Flanders. Age 30. Born Liddington, Beds, enlisted Bedford, resident Little Billington. Son of Emma Tew of Billington Crossing, Leighton Buzzard, Beds, and the late Henry Tew. Commemorated on LE TOURET MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France. Panel 10 and 11.

28/10/1914: PHILIPS, Frank Charles [This memorial has his surname as PHILLIPS]: Guardsman 8249, Scots Guards. Killed in action October 28, 1914 in France & Flanders. Born Leighton Buzzard, enlisted Leeds, Yorkshire. Son of David Perry, of 11, Queen Street, Leighton Buzzard. Commemorated on HELLES MEMORIAL, Turkey. Panel 54 and 218. See also Beaudesert School.

No date of death but on Leighton’s war memorial:

ADAMS , Frederick: Private, No further information.

ATKINS , R: Private. No further information.

BAKER, Stanley W: Private. No further information.

GIRLING , L: Trooper. No further information.

JANES , George Alma: Lance Sergeant 15875, 20th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. Son of Mr and Mrs Janes of Lake Street Leighton Buzzard. Husband of A. Janes, of 4, Haverstock St., Chalk Farm, London. Buried in PHILOSOPHE BRITISH CEMETERY, MAZINGARBE, Pas de Calais, France. Grave I. G. 34

PANTLING, Sidney J: Private. No further information. See also Beaudesert School.

PHILLIPS, R E: Private. No further information.

TOWERS, G L: Corporal. No further information.