Yellow Devils recruiting rally

Event date

2nd October 1915


Entity info.
Recruiting rally, Oct 1915


"Luton has done well, but can do better." This message, emblazoned across the front of the Town Hall, is what today's great military demonstration has sought to impress upon the men of Luton and district.

The demonstration had as its starting point the East Ward Recreation Ground, and the programme provided for units taking part in the parade of the town to assemble there at 2.15 and march off at 2.30. But considerably before two o'clock the Park Street part of the town was all alive.

There were not many flags out, it is true - not so many as when the 1/5th marched through some time ago [in June]. But the essential fact was that the people were there. They lined the streets thickly, and the procession moved out of the Recreation Ground to begin its tour of the town between packed lines of people.

The procession made its way up Park Street to the stirring strains of the Salvation Army bands. All along the sides of the carriages were men of the 3/5th with fixed bayonets.

The Boy Scouts made a good show and were carrying an ample supply of recruiting literature, while recruiting sergeants were busy among the crowd distributing reading material calculated to stir up a man and make him join.

There was a banner, "We are the 3/5th," carried before this detachment, and before the recruits in mufti there was an enormous banner in black and amber, inscribed "Fall in behind and join the Yellow Devils. We have."

From Park Street the procession went by way of Park Road West [now Strathmore Avenue] and Albert Road into Hibbert Street. When the head of the procession reached Chapel Street a halt was called and a brief meeting held, the speakers including Sgt Matthews, wearing his tropical helmet and just returned from the Dardanelles.

Moving on, further brief meetings were held, including at the corner of Hibbert Street and Albert Road, opposite Christ Church, and outside the Gas Works in Dunstable Road.

The order of the procession was: Mounted police, Salvation Army No 1 Band, Carriage with speakers, Artillery with two 4.7 guns, East Anglian Royal Engineers unit (with Epsom unit), 3rd Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance R.A.M.C., St John Ambulance Brigade, Luton Volunteer Bugle Band, Luton Volunteer Corps, 3rd Monmouth's band, Colour party 5th Beds Regt, carriages with civic representatives, Salvation Army No 2 Band, Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, Ancient Order of Foresters, Hearts of Oak, Luton and District Trades and Labout Council, Luton Temperance Federation, Boy Scouts, carriage with speakers, recruits in mufti, Luton Red Cross Band.

Chief Constable Teale was chief marshal of the mile-long procession, and the military units were under command of Major Gregg, of the Artillery Training School, now located at the Biscot Mill camp.

Speakers included Councillor Murry Barford, who acted as chairman at meetings along the route, Mr McAllen, of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, and Sgt Matthews, of the 1/5th Bedfords, who was with the Battalion when it received its baptism of fire in Gallipoli and had since been invalided home and put on recruiting work.

The artillery in the procession were from No 9 Territorial Field Artillery Training School at Biscot Camp. The Royal Engineers were the 3/2nd Field Company, East Anglian Divisional Engineers, who hav their headquarters at Biscot Road, Luton, while the R.A.M.C. unit was from the 3rd Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, which has its headquarters at Grove Road, Luton.

A vast crowd and great enthusiasm marked the scene outside the Town Hall, where the 5th Bedfords' colour party formed up in front of the platform, and stood at the salute while the National Anthem was impressively rendered by the massed bands, under the conductorship of Mr Fred Gostelow.

The motto which confronted the huge crowd in front of the Town Hall, "Luton has done well, but can do better still," was fastened upon by the Mayor (Councillor Walter Primett) as his text in opening the meeting. The Bedfordshires, he said, had done nobly and well, both in Flanders and in Turkey, and were a credit to us, to the County and to their King and country.

"We are proud of our Bedfords, both our regulars and the Territorial Force, and we want the eligible young men who are still in Luton to show that they also love their country, and come forward at this critical moment and join the Colours, and so do their bit."

Other speakers included Sgt Alfred Birley, one of two British soldiers who had succeeded in escaping from a German prisoner of war camp, Major Orlebar, Commanding Officer of the 3/5th Bedfords in training at Windsor to replace losses suffered by the 1/5th Bedfords, and MPs Mr A. Shirley Benn (Plymouth) and Mr Cecil Harmsworth (South Beds, including Luton).

[The Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: October 2nd, 1915, and The Luton Reporter: Monday, October 4th, 1915]


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Author: Deejaya

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