E18 Physical Thing

Biscot Church lych gate memorial

The lych gate of Holy Trinity Church, Biscot, bearing testimony to its planned role as a war memorial.

When it was decided in November 1916 that the old lych gate at Biscot Parish Church needed replacing, it was suggested it might double as a memorial to the fallen of Biscot, Limbury and Leagrave in World War One, with a tablet recording their names.

The gate was dedicated on November 4th, 1917, by the Archbishop of Bedford, the Rt Rev Bishop E. N Hodges. It had been erected by Harry Hems and Sons, of Exeter.

Chaul End rail ticket

A third class return ticket which allowed one week's travel between Dunstable and Chaul End on the Great Northern line during World War One. They were available to munition workers at the George Kent Fuse [Fuze] Works at Chaul End, where a temporary halt was erected to cater for them.

Unfortunately, fare dodging had become rife by 1918 and when one lad was taken to court for seeking to evade payment, the railway company's solicitor described “quite an epidemic of these offences”.

Box made by German POW

Among the World War One memorabilia in the possession of Wardown House Museum is this box created by a German prisoner of war at Camp Blandford in Dorset. His name, ornately inscribed on the interior base and covered by glass, was Corporal Walter Döring, dated March 1918 and bearing the number 3810.

It was thought to have been created as a needlework or writing box made largely of wood. It includes an interior tray divided into seven sections. The exterior is decorated with wood inlaid in geometric patterns.

Corporal Döring seems to have been justifiably proud of his work.

Bedfordshire Regiment war memorial, Kempston

The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Michael Furze, consecrating the newly erected memorial to more than 7,000 men of the Bedfordshire Regiment killed in World War One. The ceremony took place on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1921, after the memorial had been unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Samuel Howard Whitbread, and his wife. Many wreaths were then laid, including two by the Mayors of Luton and Dunstable.

With gratitude to Wardown House

This official acknowledgement of the role played by Wardown House in the care given to sick and wounded soldiers during World War One hung near the entrance in the years following the conflict.

In October 1914, the house was taken over and run by the North Midland Division as a hospital for the huge number of men it had brought to Luton for training. In that capacity it accepted its first patient on December 1st, 1914.

Poetry of a Luton sailor

As a person, seaman Austin J. Small seems something of an enigma. But as a poet he had a powerful way with words. He first appeared on the scene in his latter capacity with a poem entitled "Destroyers" which was published in The Luton News on March 15th, 1917. Fifteen months later his moving poem "That Little Wooden Cross" appeared in the newspaper. Both are reproduced above and transcribed below for ease of reading.

Austin James Small served in the Navy from 1913 to 1920, first on destroyers and later on a minesweeper, according to information printed with his poems.

Luton Red Cross Band

Luton has always been proud of its Red Cross Band, said The Luton News (May 31, 1917) in the week it printed pictures of 20 bandsmen who had joined the Colours.

The newspaper featured the Army career of L-Cpl F. W. V. Scott, Royal Irish Rifles (second left, top row). He joined the Luton Territorials in 1910 as a bandsman and was awarded the silver cup for being the smartest recruit. He had also won several prizes for rifle shooting.

'N-T-F' fund-raising journal

N-T-F committee

These are the men who inspired 'N-T-F' - a weekly journal published locally during part of World War One to raise funds to enable parcels to be sent to prisoners of war. They regularly caught the 9.35 pm train from Luton to Harpenden - hence the title 'N-T-F' (Nine-Thirty-Five). The weekly publication, initially sold on Thursdays (later on Wednesdays), carrying features such as 'Munition Girl's Diary' and a serialised story.

Sundon Cement and Lime Works War Memorial


Memorial to the 34 employees of the Sundon Cement and Lime Works who gave their lives in World War One. The memorial is now attached to the exterior of St Mary's Church, Lower Sundon. The men commemorated are:

Sgt William Hyde (7th Beds - July 2nd, 1916)

Cpl William George Bass (7th Bedfords - May 3rd, 1917)

Cpl William Charles Gobby (7th Bedfords - March 22nd, 1918)

L-Cpl Edward Thomas Bushby (8th Bedfords - August 9th, 1916)

L-Cpl Leonard Ballard (8th Leicesters - April 29th, 1917)

Royal letter to repatriated PoWs


This letter was sent from Buckingham Palace in 1918 to a repatriated prisoner of war. It was one of copies that were probably received by thousands of men all over the country.

In this case it was sent to a private in the Worcestershire Regiment who, along with his brother, had been captured by the Germans on March 21st, 1918, the first day of their spring offensive around St Quentin in France. That was to be the last major action of the war launched by the Germans and they made significant territorial gains ahead of full-scale American involvement in the war.

British Gelatine Works Luton


  • British Gelatine Works in New Bedford Road shortly after opening. A Chamber of Commerce report in February 1903 said the works were by then in full swing.


To many people in Luton it may come somewhat in the nature of a surprise to learn that highly important photographic work in the war is dependent in no small degree upon the British Gelatine Works in New Bedford Road, said a report in The Luton News (Thursday, November 23rd, 1916).


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