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War Memorial - detailed information
Compiled and copyright © Martin Edwards 2019

Listed here are various extracts transcribed from Local newspapers relating to the war memorial.

Extract from Luton Reporter - Tuesday 16 March 1920


Only four Council and five other members of the Luton War Memorial Committee were present at a meeting presided over by the Mayor at the public library, on Thursday night, and not much progress was made with scheme. In response to the invitation extended by the committee at a previous meeting, Mr. H. C. Fehr, who is executing the Burton-on-Trent memorial, wrote expressing willingness to submit a design and suggested the preparation of a sketch model, but Sir Reginald Blomfield or Sir Ramo Thorneycroft were reported to have declined to enter anything in the nature of a competition. They were, however, willing to associate with one another in the preparation of a design on the basis of a definite commission, the fee quoted being 100 guineas for a sketch drawing, or 125 guineas for a model with the proviso that if the design was carried out the fee would be included as part of the charge for the work.

Councillor Osborne proposed that Sir Reginald Blomfield and Sir Ramo Thorneyoroft be commissioned to submit a model design at a fee of 125 guineas, and urged that if Mr. Fehr went to the trouble of preparing an elaborate design and it was not adopted it would be within the province of the committee to grant him a gratuity for his services. They would be more than justified in doing this because of the additional selection they would have and the local architect invited, Mr. Basil C. Deacon, could be treated on exactly the same principle. This was seconded by Councillor Murry Barford and agreed to, and it was decided to ask that the models be submitted by May 1st.

Messrs. Manning and Steele, another local firm, were reported to have inquired whether they might compete. The Town Clerk said he replied that he had no power to add to the list of names selected, but if the applicants chose they could submit a proposal. This view was endorsed by the committee.

The question of the site again came under discussion, the principal point at issue being the extent to which the memorial would encroach on the Town Hall site. The Town Clerk said there was no doubt whatever that the memorial would encroach on the old Town Hall site; the only question was how much, and that was a matter for the Town Council.

Extract from Luton Reporter - Tuesday 14 February 1922


The Town Council have given the order for the Borough War Memorial to the Luton men who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War.

The Memorial will be erected in front of the Town Hall site, and will consist of a monument of Portland stone, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, R.A., which will be surmounted by a bronze statue, modelled by Sir Hamo Thornycroft, R.A., symbolizing “Courage in Victory.”

The names of all Luton men who fell in the war (so far as can be ascertained) will be incised upon the monument. A draft list of the names has been most carefully compiled from every available source, and will, at an early date, be open to inspection at the Town Clerk’s Office and Public Library.

The cost will be not less than £4,500.

The work will be commenced at an early date, and it is hoped that the unveiling may take place on 4th August next.

A full-sized model of the structure, with a rough silhouette of the statue, has been erected in the chosen position.

I appeal to the inhabitants of Luton to generously contribute to the memorial Fund, and earnestly hope that every householder will subscribe as liberally as circumstances permit in remembrance of our townsmen who died for their country.

Subscriptions may be forwarded to the above address, and will be duly acknowledged.

Collecting cards may be obtained at the Town Clerk’s office.


4, Upper George Street,
Luton. 1st February, 1922.

Extract from Luton Reporter - Tuesday 21 February 1922


There has been such a gratifying response to the Mayor's repeal on behalf of the Luton War Memorial Fund that Coun. Barford was in a position at the tradesmen's association dinner on Wednesday night to announce that the amount received of the promised totalled over £1,700. He expressed gratification at the fact that the Association was proposing to canvass the whole of the shopkeepers in the town and ask them to do something in honour of our dead, remarking that they could be engaged in no better -work than in perpetuating the memory of the 1,300 men from the town who fell in the war. He thought it would be agreed that the model of the monument set up was well worthy of the town, but it could never be worthy of the sacrifice rendered by the men whose names would be inscribed on the pedestal. The monument stood for the sacredness of civilisation, patriotism and the English home, and he asked all to do whatever they could to see that the money for it was forthcoming.

Supplementing this, the Town Clerk said nobody need feel the least bit embarrassed, or afraid of offering the smallest amount to the memorial. There would be no compulsion in connection with it, but he earnestly invited every member of every household in Luton to contribute a small sum if they could not contribute a large one. Let no one be discouraged because they saw somebody had given a large sum. If they did not wish their name to appear in the public subscription list, let it appear in the collecting cards.

The Town Clerk added that before the Town Hall fire there was almost a complete record of the names of the men belonging to Luton who gave their lives. Because of that dastardly act for which there was no justification whatever, all that was destroyed, and they had had to build up with very great care and research a new list which was now in print, and would shortly have to be disposed of so that the names might be recorded on the memorial. He wanted everybody who could think of the name or names of anybody bona fide belonging to Luton to interest themselves in seeing that it was included in the list, because when the memorial was up and the names were carved on it there would be no room for additions.

The Luton and District Friendly Societies Council decided on Friday night to subscribe two guineas to the war memorial from their meagre funds, and asked the Secretary to bring the Mayor's appeal to the notice of the various affiliated societies. It was pointed out that as the appeal was going to every householder, it was in a sense a duplication to send it to the Council, as the members would be individually subscribing in their private capacities.

Extract from Luton Reporter - Tuesday 04 April 1922

GREAT WAR 1914-1918

The preliminary ROLL OF HONOUR, recording the name of Luton men who fell in the Great War is open for inspection at the Municipal Offices, 2, Upper george Street, the Public Library (entrance hall) and elsewhere.

The names in the final print of the Roll will appear on the Borough War Memorial.

Person concerned with, or interested in, the Roll are invited to inspect it, and write to me with regard to any omissions, defects or corrections, by not later than SATURDAY 15th APRIL.

W. SMITH, Town Clerk.

31st March 1922.

Extract from Luton Reporter - Tuesday 7 November 1922

We hear that the bronze statue for the Luton war memorial has at last been successfully cast in every particular. It is anticipated that no difficulty will be experienced in getting the entire memorial complete by the end of this month, and it may be that some definite announcement as to the date of the unveiling may be made at the Mayor making proceedings on Thursday.

Extract from Luton Reporter - Tuesday 12 December 1922


“One touch of sorrow makes the whole world kin.” Twas a thought that seemed to involuntarily flash to the brain during the impressive and moving ceremonial associated with the unveiling and dedication of Luton’s magnificent was memorial on Sunday afternoon. Face to face with that fine monument towering to a commanding height of 35ft. and commemorating the name of more than a whole battalion of the town’s honoured heroes whose sacrifice is expressively symbolised in the noble bronzed figure of “Courage bringing victory,” stood two thousand or more of their bereaved relatives. The moistened eyes, the tear stained faces, the choking sobs were more eloquently suggestive than any words of the high courage with which untold numbers were bearing up under a painful ordeal, beset with surging emotions impossible to entirely conceal. And then one turned to the majestic memorial itself and the eye and the mind centred upon the pathetic figure of Lady Ludlow-deep in mourning for her recent bereavement and as truly symbolic as anything could be of the courage and heroism displayed by the women of England during the anxious days of the Great War. It must have been from a sheer sense of duty that Lady Ludlow accepted the invitation to unveil the memorial on behalf of the bereaved mothers of Luton, and the fact that the ordeal proves so distressing to her Ladyship impels a sense of admiration, not to mention sincere sympathy, difficult to put into language.

Clearly as Lady Ludlow delivered her brief and choicely chosen address it was evident how hardly she was battling with emotions before she reached the closing passage, and the Red Cross Band had not played many bars of Chopin’s March Funebre before those emotions got the upper hand. Bravely she struggled to keep back the tears of relief, the Mayor did all that mere man is capable of accomplishing in the role of comforter in such situations, but the climax was the inevitable with the womanly woman-and her Ladyship sank back on the stone step at the base of the memorial and let the tears come. It was an affecting scene. Miss Pryce was quickly at hand to assist and console her Ladyship, a pathetic struggle was waged for some minutes that seemed like hours and then, how bravely lady Ludlow wiped away her tears and braced herself up for the completion of the ordeal. Obviously it cost a tremendous effort, but her Ladyship proved herself equal to it and regained her composure sufficiently before the close of the service to herself deposit on the memorial her massive and magnificent mauve tribute of orchids and foliage of harmonious leaves tied across with mauve silk ribbon inscribed in gold “To the glorious memory of our immortal dead.”

The occasion was one that is never likely to fade from the memory of any who were privileged to take the humblest part. Never before has such an enormous crowd been witnessed in Luton. There was not an inch of moving space in George-street right away up to Bute-street, in Manchester-street, Williamson-street, Wellington-street and Upper George-street, the crowd extended as far up as would allow of even a glimpse of what was taking part, and every window-and not a few roofs-that commanded a view was occupied. If it was a magnificent spectacle it was no less an impressive one. The service was of commendably short duration-it began five minutes before time and occupied only 5 minutes over the half hour-and most awe-inspiring and the demeanour of the throng was in entire harmony with it. Not a whisper-not even a shuffle-was discernible during the playing of the funeral march or the rounding of the “Last Post.”

Prior to the service there was a dignified and imposing procession from the Public Library heaed by the police and ex-Services men, some of whom bore floral tributes to their departed comrades, followed by Mr. F. L. Dore, D.L. (representing the contractors who erected the memorial), Sir Hamo Thornycroft, R.A., the sculptor, and Sir Reginald Blomfield, R.A., the architect. After these came the Mayors and Town Clerks of Dunstable and Bedford, with the mace-bearers carrying wreaths. Mr. W. W. Marks (Clerk in the County Council), Major Harold and Lady Zia Wernher, three Red Cross representatives, Lieut.-Col. Clutton, commanding the 5th Batt. Beds and Herts Regt., Lieut.-Col. F. A. D. Stevens, C.B.E., D.L. (Chairman of the Beds Territorial Army Association), Sir John Howett, G.C.S.I., K.B.E., C.I.E., M.P., the High Sheriff, the Vicar of Luton, and Rev. J. H. Cartwright, and then the mace-bearer preceded Lady Ludlow, the Mayor and the Town Clerk, with the Mayoress, Deputy-Mayor and Mayoress, members of the Town Council, and Luton-Council members of the War Memorial Finance Committee, and Miss Pryce and Miss Winsor from Luton Hoo, the rear of the procession being made up of clergy, nonconformist ministers, Salvation Army officers and more police. The local detachment of the 5th Beds and Herts Regt. provided a guard of honour under Capt. A. J. Mander, with Lieut. J. H. Gutteridge bearing the Battalion colours, and a contingent of R.E.’s under Major B. C. Dobson (?), and other local service men were posted around the island site of the memorial.

On the platform erected at the front of the memorial the Mayor took up a central position with Lady Ludlow, the High Sheriff and Col. Clutton on his right, and the Vicar of Luton, |Rev. J. H. Cartwright, the member for Luton, and Col. Stevens on the left, and immediately below the Mayoress, Deputy-Mayor and Mayoress, Town Clerk, mace-bearer, and the designers of the memorial.

The Rev. C. Mollan Williams took the first part of the service, which opened with the singing of “Oh God our help in ages past” to the accompaniment of the Red Cross Band who, under the direction of Mr. Fred Mortimer occupied a position on the library side of the memorial. Heads were bared as the Rev. J. H. Cartwright led in prayers, and after another hymn , “God of our fathers” the Mayor presented Lady Ludlow with a black bound copy, inscribed in gold lettering on the cover, of the roll of honour containing a full and complete list of the 1,284 names of Luton-men who made the great sacrifice. Then the clear voice pf the Rev. J. H. Cartwright rang-out in measured tones, “Let us remember with thanksgiving and with all honour before God and man those who have died, giving their lives in the service of their King and country,” and in the silent pause Lady Ludlow pulled the string which released the Union jack and so unveiled that part of the memorial containing the inscriptions and the names of the men commemorated. The dedication was performed by the Vicar of Luton with the sentences:-“To the glory of God and in grateful memory of these who gave their lives for King and country and a righteous cause, I dedicate this memorial. May all who look upon it realise the peace of sins forgiven, the joy of faithful service and the power the endless life, to which may God vouchsafe and bring us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Lady Ludlow’s address followed:- “I hold it a great privilege,” said Lady Ludlow, “ to have been invited to unveil this memorial to our gallant dead, Although I am here as a bereaved mother, I feel that in a way I stand for all the yearning and sorrow and heartbreak which the war has brought to you people in Luton. Whatever the nature of your bereavement there is the same link of sorrow between us, and I feel a pride which is mingled with some sadness that you should have deemed me worthy to represent you today. There are 1,284 men of Luton on the roll of honour and this beautiful memorial which you have erected is a tribute worthy of their memory. With its handsome and commanding figure of courage bringing victory by the hand is symbolical of that quality of our men which won the war and of the reward which crowned their supreme sacrifice. It is very fitting that it stands on a central thoroughfare where men and women have the opportunity of paying homage as they pass by day-by-day. The beauty of its conception and structure will gladden their eyes and the remembrance of their beloved dead will uplift their hearts in their daily duties. To me this is not an occasion for many words. The men to whom we are doing honour were known by their deeds and not their words. Their memory and their country is glorified by their noble acts of self-sacrifice. Theirs was a gallantry without self-glorification and a valour without vain glory. Can any words of ours add one iota to their heroism or magnificent spirit of service? They would not have had us extol their gallant deeds nor would they, I think, have had us sit still and mourn. Their message to us, as I read it, is just to show our remembrance of them and reverence for their memory by griding ourselves with their splendid spirit of service and by living up to the ideal for which they died-to make this world a better place to live in for all generations.

“Forget them not, oh land for which they fell
May it go well with England still go well.
Keep her bright banners without spot or stain
Lest they should dream that they have died vain.”

Chopin’s March Funebre was played by the Red Cross Band and then there was an address by the Mayor of Luton.

After thanking Lady Ludlow in the name of the citizens of Luton and all others present for the service she had performed with such grace, the Mayor said the stone column with the noble figure at the head were the outward and visible expression of feelings that were beyond the reach of words or of symbolism, but so far as those feelings could be expressed through the arts of architecture and sculpture they were more than satisfied with the result before them. The expression they had been able to embody in the monument was the design of an eminent gentleman high in his profession and the symbolism of the figure was one of which they might all be justly proud. The monument had been erected upon the exact spot where many of the men bade farewell to the town of their birth or adoption and where it would be associated in the centuries to come with the civic and commercial activities of the borough. It was fitting that as men and women passed to their daily business or to their worship every seventh day they should have in remembrance the sacrifices of those to whom they did honour that day. Many of the men in that great assembly were associated in arms with the men whose names were there recorded. They knew them as loyal comrades and with them shared the privations, disappointments, aspirations and victories of war, and as they passed that spot their minds would go back to that foreign field where, side by side. They shared a common danger and they would remember that one was taken and the other left. To those who had a greater tie than that of comradeship he offered a town’s tribute to the memory of their beloved, be he father, son, husband or brother. With them they mourned. Their kinsmen did so much and did it so bravely and well. They faced the perils of the act, the air, the trenches and the open field. They bore the torrid heat of the equatorial zone and piercing cold of the northern winds. They put up an unflinching front when the air was heavy with poisonous smoke and blackened by bursting shell. They with their comrades held back the would be invaders of our island home and saved us from the heel of crushing ambition that would have left our beloved Briton to languish in the chains of oppression and would have shattered our Empire. What was it that upheld these men in their noble career? It was a sense of duty. Duty was their watchword – duty to a high ideal, their kindred and their King, and through their duty to their earthly ruler they aspired to and performed that greater duty which had given them the crown eternal. Of each we might with reverence say “he gave the most that man can give-life itself for God, for King and country, for loved ones, home and Empire, for the sacred cause of justice and the freedom of the world.”

The hymn “Abide with me,” the pronouncement of the Blessing by the Vicar, the solemn piercing bugle notes of the “Last Post,” and the singing of the National Anthem brought to a close a memorable service, and the Mayor laid at the base of the memorial facing george-street an enormous oval wreath of choice white flowers and evergreens, in the middle of which was a card bearing the borough arms and the inscription: “Borough of Luton. In grateful remembrance of the Luton men who died in or in consequence of the Great War. From the Mayor, Aldermen and burgesses of the borough.” Lady Ludlow deposited her beautiful offering on the Upper George-street side, and within a minute there was such a shower of floral offerings that the stewards were well-nigh overcome.

For some minutes the crowd in the immediate vicinity of the memorial was so dense thatit was impossible to move one way or the other, but order was quickly evolved out of chaos and the foot of the memorial began to present a wonderful picture. There was a constant stream of offerings for more than half an hour and others followed in driblets. They came from various firms and local organisations as well as from bereaved relatives, and many were of picturesque resign (sic). Every part of the base of the memorial was covered and as soon as the work of arranging the floral display had been completed a system was devised for enabling the public to view the memorial and flowers at close quarters under conditions of comfort. Such was the interest aroused that queues were in evidence almost as long as the light lasted.

Nothing was wanting throughout in the effective arrangements made for a memorable event in the history of Luton, and a special word of appreciation is due to the Chief Constable, the police and the many ex-Service men who co-operated as stewards for the enormous part they played in the handling of no light a task.

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