Beech Hill troops first to answer riot call?


Men at Biscot camp were not the first to respond to an appeal for soldiers to help control the 1919 Peace Day rioters, according to the Luton Reporter newspaper. It said an officer present outside the burning Town Hall offered to go for help, but, being unfamiliar with the locations of local camps, he arrived at Beech Hill Remount Depot instead of Biscot Camp.

The Reporter said his quest for help proved successful at Beech Hill. His request had the practical sympathy of those in charge of the depot at Beech Hill and to a man a call was answered for volunteers.

They knew neither what they were in for or how long they would be required for duty, said the Reporter article, and they were unarmed - not a rifle among the lot of them. But the spirit of adventure was enough, and merrily they swung off down Dunstable Road, lustily singing.

Going down Upper George Street they opened out into formations of eights and attracted attention with a resonant chorus of "Are we downhearted?" and an even lustier "No".

Firemen at the Town Hall apparently suspected that fresh trouble was approaching, but the presence of officers at the head assured them that the new arrivals were all right, and their progress was unhampered.

Quietly and with perfect order they swung right across the front of the Town Hall and faced the crowd in a crescent formation. Immediately a change came over the whole scene. Their number was sufficient to command respect, and the crowd almost involuntarily began to press back and the throwing of missiles ceased as suddenly as it had begun.

Within half an hour the mob ceased to be a source of difficulty, the crowd appreciably diminshed and the Fire Brigade were given their first chance to fight the flames without the slightest sign of trouble through the night.

The Reporter says the soldiers remained at their post until the arrival of armed Royal Engineers from Bedford, pictured above on Sunday, July 20th.