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The Great War News from Lancaster in 1914

9th October 1914

These pages include reports from the local press in Lancaster and district from October 1914. 

Recruits Wanted

Major Bates’ Fine Appeal

Major Bates and Captain Seward attended at the water polo match on Saturday evening at the Corporation baths, and the former made an appeal for recruits. He said he wanted young men from 18 to 35 years of age to join Kitcherners’ army or the Territorials. They were about to engage in or witness a competition at the baths that would be very strenuous, but the competition for supremacy that was going on in Europe would have far more serious consequences. It was for the liberty of the world, and no merely of England. It was up to the young men of the age he had mentioned whether they would play their part in the game. He, personally, was past the time of life when he could do much real or effective work. When a man reached the half century he could not do much hard work for the army. There were men between 17 and 35 years of age who were fit, and could do the work. It was up to them to do it. “If chaps like you,” said Major Bates surveying the young men at the baths, “don’t do it, then chaps like me must. If you don’t prepare to fight the enemy, then God help this country. I am afraid Germany would never give us a chance of becoming a first class nation again.” He appealed to Englishmen. Now was their chance, and they must not say in future they had never had the opportunity given them. If men were married, they ought to enlist. The time was coming when the best part of the nation might be out of work, and in that event, instead of the men being out of employment they would be serving their country for wages, and their wives and children would be kept from suffering. It was the bounden duty of the men who were not married to take their share in the defence of the country or in fighting against the enemy. If they did not join the Kitchener army, they should join the Territorial Forces. “Now men, play up,” concluded Major Bates. “It’s your last chance. If you miss it, and Germany comes out on top, God help, you!” (Applause).

New King’s Own Commandant

Major Antoine Dominique Thorne, who has been promoted to the command of the 8th Battalion, Royal Lancaster, received his first commission in the regiment exactly 34 years ago. He saw service in the South African war, first during operations in the Transvaal in May and June, 1900, and later in Natal, including the action at Laing’s Nek. He received the Queen’s medal with three clasps. In January 1900, he was promoted to field rank, and retired on retired pay in August, 1906. For a time he was in command of the depot at Bowerham Barracks. His appointment has given general satisfaction.

Internment of Local Territorials

The remains of Privates James Walton and Ernest Halton, the two members of the Garstang detachment of the 5th Battalion Royal Lancaster Regiment, who lost their lives with such tragic suddenness on Wednesday of last week as the result of being knocked down by a train on a length of line which they were guarding close to Steventon level crossing, were interred with military honours on Saturday afternoon in the graveyard attached to the Calder Vale Parish Church.

The unfortunate young men were well known and held in high regard in the village and surrounding districts. The bodies were brought by rail to Garstang and Catterall station the previous night, and were afterwards conveyed to the church, where they lay overnight in readiness for the solemn committal the following day. The village had undergone quite a change from its customary gay appearance, for, from the arrival of the firing party and bearers until their departure almost immediately after the last sad rites, practically every blind was drawn in tribute to the deceased. The church, during a short service held prior to the internment, was crowded, many people desirous of gaining admission having to be turned away disappointed. The coffins, each covered with the Union Jack and several beautiful wreaths, were interred one after the other. Whilst the service was in progress, and during the committal, the firing party was lined up along the path leading to the church porch, afterwards taking up position behind the graves, and firing over them the usual three volleys. The “Last Post” having been sounded on the bugle, the local band, of which Walton was a member, played “St. Cuthbert,” “Lead, kindly Light,” and “Nearer my God to Thee.” Returning to the village, “The Fallen Heroes” was rendered.

The last rites were conducted by the Vicar, Rev G H Wilson.
Amongst those in attendance as representing the army authorities were Major Bates, (present on behalf of the commanding officer, Colonel Lord Richard Cavendish), Captain Wright, (commander of E Company, 5th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, in which deceased were privates); and Captain Hogarth, Captain Seward, and Lieutenant Quartermaster Singleton, of the 5th Reserve Battalion of the same regiment. There was a large number of floral tributes.

Four Kitchener Battalions

Recruiting is proceeding somewhat slowly, but it is expected that in the course of the next few days a draft of about 400 men will be despatched to the 8th (Kitchener) Battalion at Codford. The 9th Battalion has been completed, and when the 8th is full the regiment will have raised four Kitchener battalions. The men will leave Lancaster under the command of Lieutenant Colonel A D Thorne, who has just been appointed to the command of the 8th Battalion. In view of the approach of winter and an expected influx of recruits, tenders has been invited for the erection of hutments in a field adjoining the barracks for the accommodation of the men.

Territorial Developments

Important developments have taken place this week at the Phoenix Street Drill Hall, headquarters of the reserve Territorial battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. The men of the Fleetwood company, numbering between 100 and 200, have been drafted into the town, and the Morecambe company, numbering about 160, is due to arrive on Monday, the total number thus being over 300. In order to provide sleeping quarters for them, arrangements have been made to occupy the whole of the premises between Phoenix Street and Messrs. Waring and Gillows’ works, except the Yorkshire House Hotel. The Centenary Congregational schoolroom, Phoenix Rooms and a large shed at the rear are being fit up as barrack rooms. The cottage adjoining the Phoenix Rooms will be used as guard room and hospital, and the Drill Hall will be used as a dining room etc. The men, however, whose homes are in Lancaster will sleep at home as heretofore. The total strength of the battalion is now between 690 and 700. Twenty men were sent to Didcot on Monday to join the 5th Battalion, which has now struck camp and is being billeted in the town in view of the approach of winter. Recruiting in the district is proceeding slowly, but further additions are hoped for from meetings to be held at Dolphinholme tomorrow, at Blackpool on Tuesday, and at other places in the battalion’s recruiting area yet to be arranged. Phoenix Street has been closed to the public from 6 am to Midnight, and is being protected by armed guards at each end.

Mrs Wigley has this week presented each man with a silk ribbon shoulder knot in royal blue and gold, the regimental colours.
Mr Aldous’ choir gave a concert in the Drill Hall on Wednesday evening before a crowded and enthusiastic “house”. Sir N W Helme, MP, gave a stirring patriotic address.

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