E5 Event

Wardown trophies of war

Luton's tank, presented to the town in recognition of the support accorded to the War Savings movement, is to be placed in Wardown Park in company with a naval gun captured from the Germans in Palestine by the 1/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, reported The Luton News of February 5th, 1920.

These decisions were arrived at on Tuesday evening, when the Town Council met in the Lecture Hall at the Public Library, where the meetings of Council will now be held until such time as a new Town Hall materialises.

Oct 1914 Luton Helps Belgian Refugees

Luton was responding to the plight of Belgian refugees displaced as their homes became swallowed up and often destroyed by the German advance.


  • "These are the times when you find out the folk who have hearts in the right place," said Luton Mayoress Mrs Primett in The Luton News of October 22nd, 1914. And more and more Lutonians were opening up their hearts and their homes to the refugees.


  • Acting medical officer of health Dr Sworder offered a furnished house in Park Street West rent free;


Fight for the Ostend boats

Mr William Weatherhead, an engineer of Dumfries Street, who, with Messrs R. Starke, W. Boyson and W. Breed, went to Ostend on Saturday, had an exciting experience. Rumours were current on Sunday that all English visitors would have to return on the Monday. Visitors arrived from all parts of the country and Switzerland to depart from Ostend for home on Monday.

Meeting with a Belgian Refugee

Luton councillor Murry Barford wrote an article in The Luton News (October 15th, 1914) about an encounter with a Belgian refugee on the 12.15 train from St Pancras on Tuesday.

"It is not war, it is massacre," said the man. He, his brother, a man servant, with two boys of the  tenderest years, were on their way to Derby to receive from some kind-hearted householder asylum and a home, the only gift we Britishers can offer these noble people, bereft of all they once possessed.

Scramble to leave Paris

Mr H. W. Kingston, a director of Messrs Carruthers Bros, manufacturers of Luton, had an unenviable time in getting back from Paris. He was on a continental business journey, and his first call was Paris.

"The city was very excited on Friday night, the night that M Jaures [Jean Jaures, French Socialist leader] was assassinated," he said, "and the boulevards around the offices of Le Matin were absolutely cleared by the authorities.

Tank Bank week

Tanks, the new weapons of war, became new weapons in funding Britain's war effort in the latter stages of the Great War. "Tank Banks" toured towns and cities to persuade residents to do their duty and buy War Savings Certificates or National War Bonds.

Luton received its visit from a "Tank Bank" in July 1918. The aim was to raised £750,000 here, but midway through its week-long stay tank Egbert, a war-battered mascot of the savings movement, had induced townsfolk to invest just £230,000, leaving £520,000 required in two days to hit the target.


I am writing the History of Waste in Luton from 1850 to 2009, which, of course, includes this history during WW1.  I was Head of Waste Management at Luton Borough Council from 1996 until I retired in 2009, having been employed in a wide variety of posts within the Cleansing Division since February 1974.

The aspects of of Luton's waste industry in WW1 that particularly interested me were:

Blast factory inferno survivors' stories

A little group of men stood by the side of a fence near the scene of the Kingsway factory destruction, and it was amongst those that a Telegraph representative discovered some of the survivors of the original explosion.

All of them bore witness to the ordeal through which they had passed. One had his face bandaged; another had his arm dressed; while one of them wore a shirt which was burned into holes.

Ammunition factory explosion sparks inferno

World War One ammunition resulted in a catastrophic explosion that rocked Luton – but it happened 21 months after the Great War had ended.

The events of Saturday, August 14th, 1920, were recorded on the day by the Saturday Telegraph under the multiple headlines: Luton ammunition blaze – Kingsway factory wrecked – Six casualties – Firemen work amid continuous explosions – Millions of rounds involved – Neighbouring works damaged.


Troopship Disaster

Troopship Royal Edward.

Before the Great War, the Royal Edward was launched in 1907 as a service for British mail from Egypt called RMS Cairo.

At the start of the War in 1914, she became a Troopship, initially bringing Canadian troops over to Britain. She was then anchored in Southend and used for some months to hold enemy aliens, after which she was again put into use as a troopship.

August 15, 1915 - a day of fallen heroes

The Gallipoli story compiled by John Buckledee from reports in the Luton News in August and September 1915. Many local men perished or were wounded in a baptism of fire among the small precipitous hills, immense boulders of rock and tangled thickets of scrub on the Turkish-held shores of the Dardanelles.


On Sunday, August 15, 1915, the 5th Bedfordshire Battalion was ordered into action. 'B' Company, under the command of Capt Baker (the son of the Rector of Dunstable), was put on the right flank.

Three Prisoner Brothers

It was reported in the Luton News on 27th February 1919 of one family's unusual experience.

In 1911 Lutonian Albert Barton & his Scottish wife Mary Ann were living at 13 Henry Street.

Their 6 children were also living with them, Susan, 23, was a hat finisher, Daisy was 18 and a hat machinist, both were working in a factory in the town. William, 17, was a brass finisher and 16 year old Edward was assisting in brass moulding. 14 year old twins Albert & Walter were not working.


Taken from Luton News 13th July 1916.  Duke and Duchess Present.  Stirring scenes, illustrative of two sides of the war were witnessed at Ampthill Station on Monday.  The first scene was the departure of 800 brave Bedfordshire lads for the Front, and the other was the arrival of 100 wounded soldiers straight from the Front.  Both events were deeply touching and brought home very closely the realities of war to those who witnessed them.  The men of the Bedfordshires left about 7.30, there being a large crowd at the station.  The Duke and Duchess were among those who bade Godspeed to the men,


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