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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 regular soldiers.
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 demonstration.
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.

The War
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 public.

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 horses.

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 challenge.

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 upon.
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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