9th Jan 1915. The Billeting of Soldiers in Rugby

THE TROOPS AND EARLY CLOSING OF PUBLIC HOUSES.

Superintendent Clarke said that on December 31st Captain Murray called upon him, and said he wished him to get billets for 2,000 or 3,000 soldiers, who were expected to arrive at Rugby on the 10th inst. The men would have little to do, and there might be a temptation to drinking ; and he, therefore, thought it was only right that the public-houses in the town should be closed an hour earlier-10 p.m instead of 11 o’clock.

The Chairman intimated that the application would be granted, and he asked Superintendent Clarke to report on the conduct in the town ; and if it was found the time limit was not sufficient to make a further application. The restriction would be in force so long as 500 soldiers were billeted in the town.

The order will affect clubs as well as public houses.

Superintendent Clarke said he understood the soldiers would come to the town together, and would also leave in a similar way.

The Chairman said some of the soldiers might go away before the others, but so long as 500 remained the order would be in force. The Bench hoped the licensed victuallers would assist the police in preventing drunkenness. The order would come into force from the date the soldiers arrived ; but there must be a special meeting of the Justices for endorsing it, and this would be held on Tuesday next.

THE BILLETING OF SOLDIERS IN RUGBY.

The response to the invitation to Rugby householders to provide billets for the troops expected next week from India has been very gratifying. The staff of the Urban District Council have in hand the arrangements, and in making their enquiries they have had the assistance of a number of voluntary workers. In the majority of cases the soldiers will be billeted in couples, but some residents are providing accommodation for four or six, and there is one case in which eight soldiers will live together under the same roof. The allowance is 2s 6d a day for each man, 17s 6d per week, which should be sufficient to make the billeting worth while from the landlady’s point of view. Exactly what the regulation rations are has not yet been disclosed, but it is expected that the N.C.O’s when the troops arrive, will supply lists of the provisions required to those who are providing homes for the solders during their sojourn in the town. From our report of the Petty Sessions on Tuesday it will be seen that during the time the troops are in the neighbourhood the public-houses of the town will be closed at 10 p.m in the interests of sobriety and general good order.

A telegram was received on Sunday evening stating that billets would also be required at Rugby for a third battalion-the Inniskilling Fusiliers, bringing up the number to 2,400.

Not only are arrangements being made to house the soldiers comfortably, but, as in other towns under similar circumstances, clubrooms are to opened in different parts of the town, where the soldiers can write letters, read the daily papers, obtain light refreshments, and enjoy quiet games.

A small committee has been busy looking out for suitable premises in different parts of the town, and the result of their enquires has been most encouraging. It is proposed, we understand, to work the refreshment buffet from a central committee, but to empower the committees who will work at the different centres to obtain what provisions are needed and report periodically to the central organisation. The scheme is, of course, still incomplete, and various matters of detail have yet to be decided, but it is hoped to secure as social dubs for the soldiers-the-Chester Street Mission Room, Cambridge Street Wesleyan Schoolroom, Grosvenor Road Hall, the Corn Exchange, the Friends’ Meeting House in Moat Street, Wood Street Mission Room, the Howitzer battery, the Church House, and the St Matthew’s Club, and no doubt other places will be available if required.

Another proposal is to have an Entertainment Committee, so that if a concert has to be arranged at short notice no difficulty will be experienced in securing artistes and helpers.

As will be understood, these plans, in addition to the billeting, have placed an enormous amount of work on the Urban District Council and their officials, but all an are working energetically, and no doubt when the troops arrive the arrangements for their accommodation and entertainment will prove equal to the emergency.

So far as the facilities for the bileting of the troops is concerned, the officials in change have limited their enquiries to the Parish of Rugby, it being the town and not adjacent places that had applied for soldiers to be sent-and by Thursday they had the satisfaction of knowing that accommodation had been found for the whole of the 2,400 men. Indeed, so general has been, the response to the invitation to provide homes, that more accommodation than is for the present required has been found, and in case there might be future requirements, a waiting list has-been prepared.

Exactly when the troops will arrive has not yet been ascertained. Monday or Tuesday are now mentioned as the possible days, but those who are providing billets are advised not to get in food until the soldiers actually arrive, as there is just the possibility of this event coming later still in the week.

The Officers’ quarters will be at the Royal George Hotel, the Three Horse Shoes Hotel, and the Grand Hotel, but an officer will reside in each section of the town in which the men are billeted.

To the Editor of the Advertiser.

DEAR SIR,-I have again to trespass upon the generosity of the inhabitants of Rugby. We have some 2,500 troops coming into our town, and it is felt that it is our duty to make their stay here as comfortable as possible.

A committee has been formed to provide amusements for the men in their leisure hours and to provide also facilities for reading and writing in various parts of the town. To equip these centres properly we shall need money, and I ask those interested to send their donations to Mr Sam Robbin’s, Auctioneer’s Office, Albert Street. I feel sure Rugby will be as loyal in the matter as other towns.-Yours truly,

J J Mckinnell

Chairman, Rugby Urban District Council.

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