Vicar’s fears as spies are shot

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Fears of the threat of spies dragged a former Luton vicar into the First World War.

The Rev E Deakin, vicar of Shefford and formally senior curate at Luton Parish Church had just returned from Germany after a nerve wracking experience, the Luton News reported in 1914.

Rev Deakin had gone out as English chaplain to Bad Kissingen before the outbreak of war, but once hostilities had been declared he found himself under attack from villagers and unable to get back because the military had commandeered the trains.

A week after war was declared orders came out for all English men between the ages of 19-45 to be detained. The vicar was arrested and told the paper he was panicking because across the river from where he was staying 12 people had already been shot as spies.

His cloth was not respected, he said, because two Russian spies had been found disguised as monks!.

He was eventually released and made his way back to England.

Joseph Rose, a corporal, was charged with a very serious offence against a little girl at Luton Borough Court. The Mayor and other members of the council had received a good many complaints about the rise of immorality in the town. The town clerk urged mothers to make sure their daugheters were in early.

One of the first to return home on account of wounds sustained in the great 36 hour battle of Charleroi between British and German forces was Mr Albert Sparry of the Royal Field Artilley, son of Mr and Mrs Arthur Sparry of Borman Road, Luton.

He arrived n Luton on Friday night and was then taken to Bedford military hospital. During the battle a piece of shell struck the ground in front of him causing serious damage to his left arm.

Territorial private Benjamin Headley Seabrook of West Street, Dunstable, was killed by a train in an accident while on sentry duty at Cattawade on the borders of Suffolk. The 18 year old had enlisted with his younger brother in June. He worked as a cycle maker on High Street North, Dunstable.

An inquest heard he had gone to look at a leaving train, leaned too far over the track and was hit by an incoming train.

He was given a military funeral at Dunstable cemetery.

Twenty two men from the principal Luton engineering works have signed up together for Kitchener’s Army.