The Great War News from
Lancaster in 1914
14th August 1914
These pages include reports from the local press in Lancaster and
district from August 1914.
For Foreign Service
5th Battalion King’s Own
Widespread interest was manifested on Tuesday when it became known in
Lancaster that the 5th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment had
volunteered for duty wherever required by the war authorities. The
battalion, it will be remembered, was despatched to Barrow last week,
and it was believed the officers and men would proceed to Ireland. The
changed conditions in that country, however, led to a change of plans,
and the battalion was engaged on guard duty in Barrow and on the Furness
Railway. On Tuesday volunteers were asked for garrison duty, and
practically the whole battalion responded to the call amid a scene of
great enthusiasm. It was at first expected that the battalion would
return to headquarters at once, and large numbers of people were in the
streets on Tuesday evening, especially in the vicinity of the drill
hall. Even up to midnight groups of people congregated, in the
expectation of the battalion’s return. They discussed the situation and
amongst the women there were signs of grief as they conjured up doleful
visions of what the offer of the battalion meant. “Will it mean they are
going to Germany to fight?” Anxiously inquired on woman. “Oh, my lads;”
exclaimed another, with a sob in her voice; whilst a third tried to
remove the sad feeling by remarks about “soldiers doing their duty and
the women folk being brave.” A kindly soldier explained that the
situation would not require the 5th Battalion to proceed at once to the
fighting line; that until the regular and reserve battalions had done
some fighting and needed the ranks filling up the Territorials would not
be called upon to fight; and that in all likelihood the officers and men
would be sent to do garrison duty in Great Britain and so set free some
The battalion, which is now at full strength, reached Lancaster on
Wednesday afternoon. Lord and Lady Ashton were at the Castle Station,
and shook hands with the officers. The battalion, with band and drums,
marched straight away to the Wagon Works. The men looked fit and well.
Their week’s work in the open-air had worked wonders upon many of them,
and instead of pale faces every man was well tanned and looked in the
pink of condition. Few people were about the streets, and there was no
In anticipation of their return the Wagon Works have been taken over as
a temporary barracks and Major Bates and other officers with squads of
men had prepared the place for the men’s reception. There is ample room
for sleeping and exercise, and the mss house is peculiarly suitable for
feeding the men. They will sleep in blankets on the floor, under cover,
and will be fairly comfortable until the time arrives when they will be
called upon for particular service. They will be kept “fit” by proper
exercise and drills.
Interesting Local Items
A Morecambe Man Shot
Lancaster people have displayed much calmness and fortitude during the
week , and there has been a gratifying absence of anything untoward.
Behind the outer calmness, however, there is earnestness and
determination, and a loyal and patriotic spirit that can not be too
highly commended. Whilst there is no “jingoism” of a base kind, there
have been spontaneous outbursts of loyalty. At the places of
entertainment, for instance, when the orchestras have struck up the
National Anthem, audiences have risen to their feet, and insisted on
singing at least one verse of the national song, and this has been
followed by cheering. Groups of children have paraded home-made banners,
and their cheerful optimism has been infectious. Many people have
already began to wear patriotic favours, and motorists have attached
small union jacks to their cars. The occupants of motor chars-a-banc
arriving in the town from Blackpool this week have also waved small
flags en route. News of a definite character is eagerly sought, and
there is great expectation that something decisive will soon be made
Local War Items
Mr Eric Bardsley, son of the Vicar of Lancaster, has volunteered for
service as a motor cyclist despatch carrier.
A number of Lancaster motorists have volunteered for service with their
cars, while many others have placed the service of their cars and
chauffeurs at the disposal of the military authorities.
Out of the 52 lads enrolled in the Lancaster Parish Church company of
the Church Lads’ Brigade (1906 to 1909) during the incumbency of the
late Ven. Archdeacon Bonsey, three have joined the army, 21 the
Territorial Forces, and one has joined the navy.
Lancaster has been made a centre for the collecting of army remounts
under Major Goring. Large numbers of horses are being impressed into the
service from the district. The officials of the remount department will
visit Bentham this (Friday) morning for the purpose of purchasing
On a number of farms in Lancaster and the north there is a scarcity of
labour. Many Irishmen have left the fields, and some labourers have
enlisted or been called up. The corn harvest is proceeding in and around
Lancaster, and the crops are being secured. Tomorrow the Lancaster
Farmers’ Association will meet to arrange a scheme of providing
assistance for all short of labour.
Major F D Bell TD who retired from the 5th Battalion King’s Own two
years ago, has during the past fortnight rendered valuable assistance to
the battalion at the drill hall, assisting in registering recruits, and
making arrangements for the despatch of the Territorials after
mobilisation, as well as helping to get the Wagon Works put into order
for the reception of the men on their return on Wednesday.
Morecambe Man Shot: Consequences of failure to answer
Another shooting tragedy was reported on Wednesday from the Liverpool
district, William Robert Dawson (62) a pedlar, of Cross Street,
Morecambe, was killed at Maghull, near Ormskirk, through failing to
respond to a sentry’s challenge. The scene of the incident was a bridge
over the river Alt, on the main road, two miles from Liverpool. Two
sentries had been on duty in the vicinity for over a week, and when
Dawson attempted to cross the bridge at midnight on Tuesday he was
immediately challenged by a private in the Special Reserve of the East
Lancashire Regiment. Although it is stated, the challenge was issued
three times, not answer was received. Thereupon the sentry called “Hands
up!” and it is stated that he saw Dawson put his hand in his pocket, and
also, it is alleged, heard a threatening reply. The sentry fired, and
the bullet passed through the abdomen of Dawson, who was only twenty
yards away. The body was conveyed to the Maghull Epileptic Home close
by, but death ensured in a few minutes.
Local Medical Men’s Generosity
At a meeting of the Lancaster Medical Book Club on Tuesday, the members
– who include all the medical practitioners in Lancaster – undertook to
attend, free of charge, the wives and dependents of Territorials and
reservists who have been called up for service, or who may be called
At a meeting last evening it was decided to devote the entire funds of
the club, amounting to about £30, to the Prince of Wales’ Fund.
The rooms of the YMCA in China Street are open for soldiers,
Territorials etc., who will find notepaper, envelopes, and other
stationery provided for them as well as refreshments, free. A branch of
the YMCA had been opened at the temporary barracks.
Departure of Reservists
About 140 reservists of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment left on
Friday night, and were given a hearty send off. Fog signals were
discharged at the Castle Station and Dog Kennel Lane.
Some 1,200 or 1,300 reservists left Lancaster in two sections on
Saturday evening. The men were in splendid spirits and infected the
crowds of people who lined the streets with their enthusiasm. They
marched with a fine swing and sang “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and
other popular songs on their way to the Castle Station, where they were
“seen off” by the Mayor and Mayoress. About 1,800 reservists left
Lancaster during the last four days of last week.
Vale of Lune FC Well Represented.
Eleven members of the Vale of Lune FC, players and officials, are
already on active service with the regulars and Territorials. Mitchell,
Lindsay, Garraghty and Hall with the line battalion of the King’s Own;
George Webster with the Cameron Highlanders; Captain C F Seward,
Lieutenant R J H Preston, Lieutenant E M Lloyd Evans, Dr George, Regan,
Carney and Corless with the Territorials.
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