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The Great War News from Lancaster in 1914

28th August 1914

Lancaster and the War

Wagon Works As A Place of Detention

Recruiting at the Barracks

Nothing of special character has occurred since our last issue of a local nature. The relief committees have been formed, and cases are being inquired into. The local contributions to the National Relief Fund are coming in generously, and there is an evident desire to do all that is possible to relieve distress. The Mayoress’s working parties have thronged the Town hall again this week, and many garments have been made. The brief announcement that there were 2,000 casualties amongst the Allies as the result of the fighting near Mons at the week end has “speeded-up” the preparation of hospital garments, for it is felt that local soldiers may be amongst those wounded. The “list of casualties” is awaited with eagerness and some apprehension. Members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment have continued their practical training at the Old Town Hall and at the Infirmary, and have shown a very commendable desire to fit themselves for any duty they may be called upon to perform. Three days work at the principal industries has been possible this week, and it is announced that work will not be resumed until Wednesday next week.

The Mayoress’ Sewing Parties

We are requested to state that the Mayoress will hold sewing meetings at the Town Hall on Wednesdays and Fridays only in future. No meeting will be held on Tuesday.

Local Territorial Officers

On Monday, Mr Noel Briggs, (son of the Mayor and Mayoress), Mr Harold Bell and Mr W Wolfendale, who have received commissions in the 5th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, left Lancaster, along with about fifty recruits to join the battalion.

Another Honour for the King’s Own

The King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment had the honour of providing the first “Kitchener” battalion. On Friday it had enrolled strength of 800, several companies being over strength.

Major Creagh Osborne

It is reported that Major Creagh Osborne, who was recently in command of the depot, has been appointed to command the new service battalion of the King’s Own at Salisbury Plain. The appointment will be a popular one, for the gallant officer was exceedingly well liked in Lancaster, and he did all he could to popularise the army amongst the civil population. He has seen much military service. He served in the Nile Expedition in 1898, and was present at the battle of Atbara and Khartoum. He was awarded the Egyptian medal with two clasps.

Special Service for Recruits

A special service for the recruits at present stationed at the barracks was held at the YMCA on Sunday evening. Over 200 were present, and the coffee and biscuits which were provided through the kindness of friends proved acceptable. An address was given by the secretary, Mr S Clapperton. The majority of the soldiers were also present at the Town Mission service which was held earlier in the evening.

Corporation Officials Give Part of Their Salaries

At a largely attended meeting of Corporation officials last evening, it was unanimously decided to make a contribution each month (during the continuance of the war) to the Mayor’s local relief fund. The promises already received amount to over £52 per month, and there ware other promises still to come in.
A similar scheme is being organised by Corporation workmen; and the police have already formulated their scheme.

Commission for a Local Non-Com

It was announced on Tuesday that Quarter-Master Sergeant A Wingfield Morrell of Ulster Road, Lancaster, one of the staff officers at Bowerham Barracks, belonging to the 3rd (or Special Reserve) Battalion of the King’s Own – has been appointed quartermaster to the battalion, with the honorary rank of lieutenant. Lieutenant Morrell is well known in Lancaster, especially in cricket circles, and has a host of friends, who will be pleased to know that he has been given a commission.

Recruits at Bowerham Barracks

The Bowerham barracks are crowded this week to an extent which has not occurred for many years past. Over 1,400 recruits are at present stationed there fore preliminary training, and when it is realised that considerably more than half of these are the “rough diamonds” drawn from the slums of London the worry engendered upon the officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, may perhaps be appreciated. The authorities in the Metropolis have no room for these men, and have not the time, whatever their desire, to train men whose military knowledge and discipline is nil, and therefore turn them over to the smaller depots to have the corners rubbed off. Only those with some semblance of discipline, the better class labouring and working classes, are retained at the central stations. Bowerham School has been taken over by the military authorities and provides sleeping accommodation for a large number. The question of rations has caused considerable trouble, though with the ordinary soldier it would not be so difficult, but the Cockney recruits not only are ready and willing to eat two meals in one, but actually do so despite the vigilance of the officers. This results in some getting practically nothing, whilst the others get more than their share. The offenders are, of course, severely reprimanded when caught, and this is gradually having the desired effect. But though their manners are not of the drawing room, the majority of the men are at bottom the real thing from which British army moulds some of the best fighters in the world. The boisterous humour of the men is really surprising. The number at the barracks was too many to deal with comfortably, and on Tuesday a detachment of 100 was forwarded to Carlisle.

It was reported yesterday that recruiting for the King’s Own still continues brisk, and some 1,500 men are now houses at the barracks, although drafts have been sent to the 3rd Battalion. Besides utilising the Bowerham school the barracks purposes, two large marquees have been erected for sleeping and canteen accommodation. There is some complaint that the arrangements for providing meals for the recruits are not quiet satisfactory. It is reported that batches of recruits arriving from London in the evening after been seven hours in the train without food, find that no meal is prepared for them here, and they are compelled to stay the night without food. This may only have occurred in isolated instances, and be due to the abnormal conditions that now prevail.

Mr H L Storey has provided a marquee at Bowerham barracks and the YMCA has equipped it with materials and reading matter for the use of troops.

The Wagon Works As A Place of Detention

The Wagon Works has this week been occupied as a place of detention for German aliens and other prisoners. The place has been fitted up for the purpose intended, and being pretty extensive, affords plenty of accommodation. The barbed wire entanglements are a great feature, and every precaution has been taken to make the premises secure. The first batch of prisoners arrived on Monday from Liverpool, the train being run alongside and partly into the works. A company of the Cheshire Regiment formed the armed guard accompanying the prisoners. Later another batch arrived from Hull, and during the week there have been additions. The prisoners were searched on arrival and medically examined. The military guard is a Special Reserve Company of the Welsh Fusiliers.

War prisoner’s daily rations have been fixed by the War Office, viz:- Bread 1 1/2 lb or biscuit 1 lb; meat 8 oz, or preserved meat, half-ration; fresh vegetables, 8 oz; butter or margarine, 1 oz; condensed milk, one-twentieth of 1lb tin; tea 1/2 oz, or coffee 1 oz; sugar 2 oz; salt 1/2 oz.

The War Office on Tuesday issued the following communication: “In order to dispel misunderstandings, it is notified that the assertion that prisoners of war are being better fed than his Majesty’s soldiers is without foundation.”

It may be interesting to state, in regard to the prisoners interned at the Wagon Works, that “prisoners of war” belong to the Government and not to individuals. They must be humanely treated. They may retain their personal belongings, except arms, horses and military papers. They may be interned in any locality within fixed limits, but can only be confined as an indispensable measure of safety. The State may employ the labour of prisoners of war, other than officers, according to their rank and capacity, and prisoners may be authorised to work for the public service, private persons, or on their own accounts, but the tasks must have nothing to do with military operations. They must be paid for their work; it is done for the State at the rates paid to soldiers, otherwise at rates settled in agreement with the military authorities. Pay must be used to improve their positions; the balance, after deducting costs of maintenance will be paid on release.


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