Wednesday 22 October 2014


Countryside at Rue d'Ouvert

Thursday 22nd October 1914: We hear today from Bury Saint Edmunds Magistrates that a man from Luton serving in the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has been sent to prison. His name is Rudolph R. Baukey and he is a German. He had failed to register as required by the Aliens’ Registration Order 1914. When challenged Baukey said: “I know I have done wrong. I am a German and have not taken out naturalisation papers. I saw about it in the papers and did not like to let the people know I was a German and put it off until it was too late”. As Luton is a centre of the straw hat trade there are a great many Germans in the town and it has not been unusual for them to join the Territorial Army. Baukey is a good clarinet player and was a great addition to the battalion’s band. Baukey pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, half the maximum term for such an offence.
The adjutant of the 1st Bedfords tells us that they have been ordered to move from Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée north-east to Chapelle Saint-Roch and report to 13th Brigade where they will be ordered to assist in an attack on the village of Violaines towards dusk.

Our contact with the battalion has just spoken with us to tell us about an abortive operation which has cost the lives of seventeen men. It appears that the Germans pre-empted our planned attack: “I could just see Germans rushing towards us and off fights going on in various places and shouts of “Don’t fire, we are your own men!” evidently from the Germans”.

“I ran back pursued by a batch of Germans through a barn and came up against a barbed wire fence about seven feet high. I got through this somehow, being pulled from the other side by Company Sergeant Major Sharpe who turned up torn, and torn, bleeding and with all my breeches torn off, got to ground”.

“We collected a party of men and then I made for a cross-roads where I reorganised what was left of the Company and got up to hold the Main Line of Defence. The whole thing was a tremendous muddle but for the time being the Germans never got further than our temporary line”.

“It appears that the Germans had rushed the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment in the darkness and had managed to clear them out of Violaines almost without a shot being fired, as it was done so quickly. Few of the Cheshires got back to us. The Germans had then rushed on to us about a mile back with a few of the Cheshire and were met by our two front platoons”.

“We eventually worked our way collecting stragglers and got a semblance Company back consisting of various units. We then reformed and when we had the men together, started to try and get the trenches back. Of the whole Company I can only muster about forty. Any form of advance was met by appalling fire so we lay low and were eventually relieved by the Manchesters and Worcesters. We then collected as many of the Company as possible, about sixty all told, and got into ditches in support of the Manchesters in the village of Rue d’Ouvert. No appreciable advance was made however”.

Luton News 29th October 1914; X550/2/5; X550/2/7

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