The following letters passed between the Federation and Town Clerk William Smith after the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers were asked to take part in the Peace Procession.
July 5th, Federation to the Town Clerk:
Dear Sir, I have to acknowledge and thank you for your letter of the 3rd inst re Peace Celebrations, and am directed to inform you that the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers at their conference recently decided to take no part in Peace Celebrations as a protest against the unemployment existing among discharged and demobilised men and the inadequate compensation to widows and dependents.
This Association will therefore respectfully withdraw from the local peace rejoicings, having in view also the fact that our brothers are still fighting and dying for this country.
Yours faithfully, H. C. Cooper, on behalf of Luton and District Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association.
The Association had decided to take steps to hold a memorial service at the first opportunity after peace was declared and so sent, with the above letter, the following to the Town Clerk:
Dear Sir, I am directed by my Committee to make application for the use of Wardown Park and bandstand on Sunday afternoon, July 20th, for a public drumhead memorial service.
His Worship the Mayor has expressed every sympathy with this object and instructed us to apply to you for the use of the park. The service is being supported by all the clergy of the town, their choirs, and the bands of the town. I am also directed to extend a cordial invitation to the Mayor and Council to take part in the proceedings, which will be as follows:
2 pm - Muster of serving and ex-service men (preceded by the Mayor and Council, in the event of your accepting the invitation).
2.30 - March to Wardown Park.
3 pm - Drumhead memorial service.
I shall esteem it a favour if you will reply at your earliest in order to complete the final arrangements.
Yours faithfully, H. C. Cooper.
July 8th, Town Clerk to Federation:
Dear Sir, In reply to your letter of the 5th inst, I am empowered to authorise you to to use either the Moor, New Bedford Road, or Pope's Meadow, Old Bedford Road, for drumhead memorial service, on Sunday, July 20th, at 3 pm, and shall be glad to learn as soon as possible which you may select. The Council are unable to permit you to use Wardown Park for the purpose.
The Council regret that it will not be practical for them to take part in your procession.
Yours faithfully, W. Smith, Town Clerk.
The Association, which had apparently been granted an interview by the Mayor, discussed the situation again, and then replied to the Town Clerk on July 9th.
Dear Sir, With reference to your letter of yesterday's date containing the Council's refusal to sanction the use of Wardown Park for the drumhead memorial service arranged by this Association, and also the interview which the Mayor granted to two representatives of the Association.
It was stated that as a matter of principle the use of the Park could not be granted as refusals had already been given to other societies.
I am directed to suggest that comparison between the objects for which other applications had been tendered for the use of the Park, and the memorial service, we submit, can in no sense be justified. My Committee consider that Wardown Park, for reasons of organisation etc, is the most public and suitable situation for the service, and the refusal of the Council to grant the use ot it for that purpose is very regrettable and totally unjustified.
My Committee wish me to say that a refusal by the Council was not contemplated, and we are surprised at the lack of sympathy expressed by their action, and trust that the Council were not biased by the fact that we are not taking part in the Peace Celebrations, the reasons for which you not doubt are fully aware.
The Committee, making Wardown their objective, have already made arrangements and had matter printed, etc, and I am directed to respectfully ask if the Council will see their way clear to reconsider the matter and grant this Association the use of the Park on Sunday, July 20th.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully, H. C. Cooper.
To this the Town Clerk replied on July 10th:
Dear Sir, I have received your letter of the 9th inst, and will at once, assure you that there is no lack of sympathy by the Council to the proposed drumhead memorial service, nor are they prejudiced in the matter because your Association have withdrawn from the official Peace Celebration.
The decision not to permit you to hold the service is Wardown Park is definite and cannot be reconsidered.
Please therefore inform me, by the 14th inst, whether you wish to use either the Moore, New Bedford Road, or Pope's Meadow, Old Bedford Road.
Yours faithfully, W. Smith, Town Clerk.
The Federation replied:
Dear Sir, I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of date, and note that the Council's decision not to permit us to hold the service in Wardown Park is definite and cannot be reconsidered. My Committee are sorry to have this news, and at their further direction I will inform you before the 14th inst in which place they select between the Moor and Pope's Meadow.
Yours faithfully, Hy Chas Cooper.
Luton Hoo Park offer:
The unexpected impasse was finally resolved by Lady Wernher, who had herself lost a son in the war and had a track record throughout the war of supporting servicemen and their dependents. Through her Steward, James Baker, she offered the use of Luton Hoo Park for the drumhead service, probably by telephone, based on the Federation letter sent to Mr Baker.
Dear Sir, With reference to your call today, and Lady Wernher's splendid offer to allow us the use of the Luton Hoo Park for our Memorial Service on the 20th. I am directed by my Committee to offer Her Ladyship their most sincere thanks and appreciations, and to say that the offer has been accepted with enthusiasm.
New arrangements have been made as far as the procession is concerned, and I am to ask if my select committee may come along on Thursday evening next to view the proposed site in the Park, so as to assist them, the more satisfactorily to complete the final arrangements.
We happen to be in a difficulty to secure a Union Jack, with pulley, and we are desirous of leaving the old flag at half mast during the service, are wondering if we might ask for a flag and mast to be pitched on the selected site.
With renewed thanks and appreciation for her Ladyship's kind interest, I am, Sir, yours faithfully, H. Chas Cooper, Hon Sec, Ivy Leaf Club, Park Street, Luton.
The delighted Federation members were able to write to the Town Clerk:
Dear Sir, In reply to your communication of the 10th inst, I am directed by my Committee to inform you that they respectfully decline the Council's offer of the use of the Moor or Pope's Meadow for their Drumhead Memorial Service on the 20th inst, and to say that Lady Wernher has most graciously offered the use of Luton Hoo Park for the purpose. Her Ladyship's kind offer has been enthusiastically accepted.
Yours, for and on behalf of, Luton and District Discharged Sailors and Soldiers Association, H. Chas Cooper, Hon Sec.
To wind up the correspondence, the Town Clerk replied:
Dear Sir, I have received your letter of the 15th inst, and observe that you do not desire to use either the Moor or Pope's Meadow for your Drumhead Memorial Service on the 20th inst.
I regret that any difficulty has arisen in regard to the place at which the service is to be held, and earnestly hope that the service may be most successful.
[In fact the Drumhead Memorial Service at Luton Hoo Park was postponed until Sunday, July 27th. Several members of the Council, who had previously indicated they would in other capacities attend a service at Wardown Park, did attend. But Mayor Henry Impey and the Town Clerk were notable absentees at the Hoo Park.]