WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, November 1918

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

November 1918 – the Armistice was signed at 5 o’clock on Monday, November 11th where after the news rippled through Bedfordshire that firing would cease on all fronts at 11am.

In Bedford, immediately afterwards flags were flying all over the town, the church bells rang merry peals, and schools and most of the factories closed down. Soldiers were heartily cheered in the streets and jubilant crowds marched through the principal thoroughfares. The welcome news rippled throughout the County and there were many relieved and joyous scenes – read more.

1918.11.15 BT Armistice

Bedfordshire Times – November 15, 1918

 

How Ampthill received the news

News of the signing of the Armistice reached Ampthill about 10.20 a.m. on Monday, and instantly the flags of bygone days made their appearance one by one, until the town presented a festive appearance. About the largest flag in town was a huge one of the British colours, which hung outside the White Hart Hotel. Workshops and places of business closed and gave their attendants a holiday, and others took it. Those who could not have a flag had bows and enterprising shopkeepers did a good trade. The soldiers from the Camp had leave, and many of them crowded into the centre of the town, singing patriotic songs and making merry. A brewery dray, making its way from Bedford Street, met with an enthusiastic reception from the soldiers, who started to tug at the barrels of beer. The drayman was forced to return for shelter to the brewery premises. The scholars paraded the streets waving flags, singing songs and making an immense salute of noise. The flag on the church tower was hoisted, and the bells pealed out one of the most welcome peals ever heard in Ampthill.

The good old town clock in the market place, which had been silent for some years, took upon itself to send out its familiar chimes at 11 o’clock, causing the ears of the towns people to tingle at the well-remembered sound which had been lacking so long.
At the Parish Church a united public thanksgiving was held at which all classes and conditions were represented, and the Rector led the service. A solemn Te Deum was sung by a large congregation including Lady Ampthill and the Hon. Miss Russell and special thanksgiving hymns and Psalms were sung. Later on the school boys paraded for hours, fondly thumping kettles, pans and drums, and carrying flags, singing patriotic songs. In fact there never was such a commotion in the town, and such a feeling of thankfulness. There were mixed feelings of joy and sorrow in many hearts, especially those who had lost loved ones, but at the same time one and all were thanking that further sacrifice of life was now not necessary. Up to late hours the festive crowd occupied the market place, and the streets were alive with people. Several windows threw out the almost forgotten light.

Ampthill Command Depot

On Tuesday a party of the Royal Engineers from Haynes Park on horseback, paraded the town making merriment. In the evening the drum and fife band of the Command Depot, assisted by a number of men from the Depot, held a torchlight tattoo through the town, and were loudly cheered wherever they went. All the main streets were paraded, whilst the band played lively airs and the torches threw a lurid glare over the whole scene. In conclusion the band, halted in the Market-place and played “He’s a jolly good fellow,” followed by “Rule Britannia” and, as a finale, “God save the King.”

On Sunday, 17th a special thanksgiving service for the victory of the Allies was held at St.Andrew’s Church, when a large congregation was present. Ampthill Urban and District Council, the V.A.D and the uniformed organisations were well-represented. The Rector, Rev Walter D. May, took the service. Afterwards the various bodies formed up outside the church, and marched off to their respective headquarters.

A month of welcome relief

The Ampthill & Urban District Council’s decision to have 30 lamps lit in the town was speedily carried into effect. The dark paint has been removed, and the town presents a cheerful appearance.

The Band of the Bedford Depot, from Kempston Barracks, arrived in Ampthill on the afternoon of  Friday 15th, in motor lorries. It is 36 strong, under Bandmaster BAXTER, and seems to be composed chiefly of lads under military age. They were stationed at “Foulislea” in Church Street, and appear to be quite comfortable in their new quarters. The Band were inspected by Colonel His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G., A.D.C.,

A farewell tea, followed by a musical evening, was given to about 30 work men and staff of the Food Production Department, No. 2 Unit, Ampthill by the Flitt Cycle Company, at the King’s Arms Hotel. The men spent a most enjoyable time, and the military section were sorry to have to return to barracks, owing the scheme closing  down for the winter. No. 2 Unit has ploughed, cultivated or cut approximately 3,600 acres of land. This is really good considering the men were quite inexperienced in that particular work.

The Rev. A. M. RICHIE M.A., of Leicester, took both services at the Union Chapel, on Sunday. He has seen active service on the Western Front with the Y.M.C.A.

There was a good supply of cattle at the Ampthill Emergency Market  on Tuesday 19th. Forty beast and 200 sheep were surplus, and were sent away for distribution to other centres.

That evening the Ampthill Boy Scouts arranged a concert in the Church Room. Mr A. H. Wingfield was in the chair, and the room was crowded out. Mrs Stearn and Miss Collins were the accompanists, and much of the success is due to them. The Troop Funds should benefit by about £9 as a result.

News of Ampthill Boys

Private George DENNIS (Rifle Brigade), Private Edward SINEY (Machine Gun Corps), Private A. CARDINAL (Army Service Corps), Private Charles IZZARD (3rd Buffs) and Lieutenant Thomas Vaughan (Royal Scots Fusiliers) have been home on leave. Private Arthur MOORE (16th Middlesex) is also home on leave recovering from a neck wound.

Lieutenant Alfred WALDRON (Royal Engineers Signals) is now in France and has been laid up with an attack of influenza. Private Robert SHUTLER (Army Veterinary Corps) has been discharged from the Army, and is now home again. He has been looking after wounded horses in France.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

The final month of this torrid war has claimed the lives of 7 men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.

Source: 

The Bedfordshire Standard; Bedfordshire Times. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Red Cross
Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

 

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 December 2018….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.

The Armistice ~ as reported by the Bedfordshire Standard, Friday 15 November 1918

THE ARMISTICE SIGNED
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Rejoicings in Bedford and County
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Solemn Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Bedford
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From time to time, during the whole course of the war, the Central News has telephoned to the offices of this paper, 103 High Street, the great happenings in the military and diplomatic fields, and many an historic message has been displayed on our windows. It has been a long campaign of varying fortune, of mighty deeds, which will pondered on and wondered at in the ages that lie before, and great hope and, at times, of great depression, but never a thought of anything except ultimate triumph for the cause of Right over Might. Generations unborn will thrill at the sublime self-sacrifice and heroism of British soldiers, sailors and aviators in the great fight that set mankind free from the most awful disaster that ever threatened humanity.

And now it is over. At 11 a.m. on Monday the “Cease Fire” sounded on all the battle-fronts, and heavy clouds which had darkened the world for four and a-half years were lifted and white-winged peace reined where war and black death so recently held sway. Immediately after the official announcement was made in London the news reached our office, and the message was posted in our window, reading:-

“Official message, by telephone. The Armistice was signed at 5 o’clock this morning, and firing ceased on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day.”

Immediately afterwards, flags were flying all over town, the church bells rang out merry peals, and most of the factories closed down. Soldiers were heartily cheered in the streets, and jubilant crowds marched through the principal thoroughfares. At 2.30 a military band paraded the High-street, playing inspiring music. Although the rejoicing was universal there was no attempt at maffiking, and the genera feeling was one of deep thankfulness that the bloodshed and the suffering had temporarily ceased.

As the day wore on the intensity of the general rejoicing became more and more manifest. In every avenue, road, and street flags of every description were flying from the windows, fluttering on the flagstaffs or lines were stretched across the roads, the Tricolour of France flew side by side with the Standard of England, the Stars and Stripes of America, the flags of Italy, Portugal, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, Serbia, Russia, and Roumania, and one wondered where all the banners which went to make up this kaleidoscopic display of colour and beauty came from. But one has only to recall the lines of the Bedford School song to realise it, and to remember that

O north and south, and east and west,
Where’er you roam o’er the worlds wide breast,
You’ll find the lads of the Eagle Crest
From Bedford by the river.

That is the explanation; Bedford’s sons have travelled the world o’er, and the flags that floated triumphantly in all parts of the borough have been brought from foreign lands, and rested in the halls and rooms of Bedford’s people ready to be brought out on the great day. The flags of the Dominions were displayed at 24, Ashburnham-road. Hanging on the front of the Conservative Club were the flags of all the Allies, and streamers were stretched across the road.

Large Streams of People.
From the suburbs poured large streams of people, towards the main thoroughfares, intent on keeping general holiday, and all seemed bent upon reading the glad tidings for themselves, so that hour after hour there was a packed throng round the message in the window of the “Bedfordshire Standard” Office. Deep into the public mind the great news sunk; the spirits of the people, at first subdued in realisation of the fact that the inevitable had happened, that they were standing on the threshold of the dawn of England’s greatest glory, gradually rose as the extent of the triumph revealed itself, and many gave way to rapturous delight, signing, cheering, waving flags, and wearing rosettes and other appropriate favours. The joy of the children, freed from school duties, knew no bounds, and with the miniature instruments of “music” were in great favour, and none stopped to question the quality of the “melodies.”

Band and Bells.
An excellent military band paraded the streets, another played martial airs near the Swan Hotel, and the bells from all the churches rang out merry peals. Freely interspersed with the crowds were khaki-clad British and Colonial soldiers, sturdy land lasses, and uniformed “Queen Mary” girls. The mast and gaff at the Queen’s Engineering Works was gaily decorated with large flags of all the allies, surmounted with a huge Union Jack, and the employees were addressed by Mr W.H. Allen, whose remarks were received with loud cheers. The Recreation Club at the Works had a “joy day” on Wednesday. There was a ladies’ football match on the private recreation ground in the morning, followed in the afternoon by a match by Works and Queen’s Park Rangers, and in the evening a social and dance was held in the ladies’ dining room at the Works.

Flags and Fireworks.
There were many amusing incident, and in the middle of the crowded High-street a party of Colonials swarmed onto the roof of a passing cab, and from that point of vantage waved flags and snag to their hearts’ content, whilst the crowds set up cheery cheers. As the evening drew on, the crowds became still more dense, and the lights of Bedford shone out in direct contrast to the subdued glimmer which had prevailed for three years. The shops were closed, of course, but the great electric arc lights illuminated a never-to-be-forgotten scene. The bang and flash of fireworks recalled a shadowy past, when every public celebration was accompanied by brilliant pyrotechnic displays, and although fireworks were somewhat limited on Monday evening there seemed no limit to these tokens of exuberant spirits on Tuesday night, when the celebrations were continued with more gusto than ever. The fine band of the Salvation Army stood on the Market-place, with the Union jack waving above it, and played grand old British airs, the crowds joining heartily in singing the words of several of these, whilst many in the crowd sang the Marseilles in French to a most admirable rendering by the band.

Thanksgiving Services.
To the various places the devout thronged in large numbers, and the Church of England and Free Church ministers had made special preparations for exceptionally big congregations, but even when the sacred buildings were taxed to their utmost capacity, and crowds, unable to gain admission, swarmed in the entrances and waited till the close, listening to the singing of hymns of thankfulness. All the entrances to St. Paul’s Church were crowded, the throngs reaching up the pathways to the very gates.
During Monday evening the main terms of the armistice were received at our office, and posted in the window. They were recognised as overwhelming evidence of the completeness of the Allie triumph, and the vindication of all for which our bravest and best have fought and died.

St. Paul’s Church, Bedford.
Long before the hour appointed – 8 o’clock – every seat was occupied in St. Paul’s Church, where a thanksgiving service had been arranged to be held on Monday evening. The service was deeply impressive, and it was evident from the demeanour of the people that a congregation with full hearts had assembled in their thankfulness for the termination of the war. As the Town Council and officials, together with the vicar (Canon Speck) and choir, processed up the nave, the National Anthem was sung, and the service opened with the hymn “Rejoice, the Lord is King,” and the heartiness of the singing by the crowded congregation was a marked feature of the service. The special Psalms were the 148th and 150th, and the General Thanksgiving was fervently recited by the whole congregation. The choir, with Dr. Harding at the organ, then gave a fine rendering of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

The Vicar, the Rev. Canon Speck, who had read the service, then gave a short address from the chancel. His theme, that afternoon would be two words that were spoken in a London Law Court by a judge who, after reading out to the Court the fact that the armistice had been signed, said “Thank God.” Those two words inspired that service, and that congregation, and would, please God, inspire the people right through the days of reconstruction until the final terms of the peace had been arranged. Meanwhile they thanked God for the cessation of hostilities, for the prevention of further bloodshed and loss of life, for the indomitable men and heroic women who had written this glorious and tragic page in the annals of English tradition. They could thank God with the deepest reverence for those whose names were written on the Roll of Honour, who had fought their fight and made the great sacrifice for God and king and country. They thanked God that their prayers had been heard, that the organised forces of unrighteousness and hypocrisy had been laid low, and that the God of righteousness proclaimed His sovereign will among the nations. Day by day their prayers had been offered unceasingly for the restoration to home and fatherland of their dear ones, and they thanked God for answering that prayer. They would now endeavour to show forth their praise not only with their lips, but in their lives, by giving themselves to God’s service.
The choir then sang Te Deum with splendid effect, the setting being Huntley in B flat.
Bedford School Chapel.

A service of thanksgiving was held in the Bedford School Chapel on Tuesday morning, at which all the instructors and School servants, as well as the boys and masters, were present. After the boys were seated the choir entered by the west door, singing the hymn “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven,” to Goss’s tune, followed by the masters and the headmaster. The order of service was as follows; 1st lesson, Exodus xv., 1-18; psalms cxliv. And cl.; 2nd lesson, Romans viii, 23 and 31 to end; hymn, “Hail the Lord’s Anointed”: versicles and responses and prayers; hymn, “All people that on earth do dwell”; the Blessing; Te Deum Laudamus. The service was, what all services ought to be, and especially on such an occasion, of such a kind that the congregation could take their full share, the hymns being set to well-known tunes of moderate compass, and the Te Deum being sung to a familiar chant. The first lesson was read by the Vice-Master (Mr E.H. Dasent), and the second by the Headmaster. The service lasted a little over half an hour, and the rest of the day was observed as a holiday.

All Saint’s, Queen’s Park.
On Monday evening All Saint’s, Queen’s Park, Bedford was filled with a devout and thankful congregation, when a thanksgiving service was held. The Vicar (the Rev. Ramsey Murray) officiated. The services, which throughout was of an impressive nature, commenced with the rendering on the organ of “The Marseillaise” by Mr Slaughter, the organist, and the hearty singing of the National Anthem by the congregation. The service took the form of shortened evensong, and the hymns sung included the Old Hundredth and “Now thank we all our God.” At the conclusion of the prayers the Vicar read from the chancel steps the names of those on the Roll of Honour of the parish, including those who have made the supreme sacrifice. The service concluded with the signing of a solemn Te Deum.

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The glad news of the cessation of hostilities came to Kempston on Monday morning, and very shortly afterwards flags were hoisted from public and private buildings. There was much hearty handshaking and congratulations, and the soldiers billeted in the district and civilians made merry.

Enthusiasm at the Barracks.
The fact that the armistice had been signed became known unofficially at Kempston Barracks between 9 and 10 a.m. Spontaneously the pent-up feelings of a couple of days’ duration on the part of many at the Depot broke loose in an uncertain manner, and some memorable scenes were enacted. Exactly at 11 o’clock a new Union Jack and the black and amber flag of the Bedfordshire Regt. (both of which had been acquired in readiness for the celebration of the event) were hoisted on the tower at the entrance to the Barracks and facing Bedford-road, to the accompaniment of cheers from hundreds of soldiers, the Royal Engineers being at that time on parade in the recreation ground adjoining the Barracks. The troops simultaneously surged onto the barrack square, and with members of the Depot staff continued vociferously cheering for some time, after which three buglers of the Bedf. Regt. Sounded the “Cease Fire, amid tense silence. The crowd then gave way to merriment in no half-hearted manner, and all work at the Depot was suspended. In the various institutions connected with the Barracks there were scenes of greatest rejoicing. Flags were displayed outside the military hospital, and the convalescent patients took their share in the celebration. The Depot band, under the conductorship of Bandmaster Baxter, played selections on the square, a popular sergeant attached to one of the Labour Corps proving himself an accomplished drummer. The troops and members of the N.A.C.B. and Q.M.A.A.C. located at the Barracks had their full share of the enjoyment in the joy of tripping the light fantastic on the square to the accompaniment of the band. Shortly after mid-day the Engineers left Barracks, not in matching style, but a jolly, happy and contented throng. Headed by an N.C.O. with a Union Jack, attached to his rifle and fixed bayonet, and a drummer and a bugler, they marched towards Bedford, singing patriotic songs, a large number of boys and girls, carrying Union Jacks, bringing up the rear. During the morning a large crowd assembled outside the Barrack gates watching the “frolics” of those inside. The pupils of the Garrison School were given a half-day’s holiday, which was greatly appreciated.

Upon receiving the news at Cranfield on Monday at 11 a.m. that an armistice had been signed, the Union Jack was hoisted on the church tower, and the bells were kept ringing during the rest of the day.

News that hostilities were at an end reached the village of Ridgmont early on Monday, and many evidences of excitement and relief were prevalent everywhere.
At Elstow there was much rejoicing and thankfulness when the news of the signing of the armistice was known. Flags appears as if by magic. The flag was hoisted to the church tower, and merry peals were rung throughout the day. At the Parch Church a thanksgiving service was held at 6:30 p.m. The service commenced with the singing of the National Anthem and “Now thank we all our God.” The lesson was taken from the fourth chapter of Phillippians. The followed Te Deum, suitable prayers, and the hymn “Father of all.” The address was given by the vicar and the service was brought to a close by signing hymns “For all the saints who from their labours rest” and “All people who on earth do dwell.” For simplicity and unanimity, and as an expression of deep popular feeling – a people’s thanksgiving – it is impossible to speak too highly.

The first at Biggleswade to receive the news that the armistice had been signed was Colonel French, D.S.O., the O.C. of the local Signal Depot, and before 9:30 a.m. this as well known on Monday morning throughout the town. The good news was received with great joy and much enthusiasm. The Parish Church bells, the fire bell, and several hooters announced the fact, and the Fire Brigade members paraded the town with their steam engine, carrying the Boy Scouts bugle band, who gave the “All Clear” sound in all the streets of the town. A special thanksgiving service was held at 12 o’clock at the Parish Church, which was crowded for the happy occasion. The clergy taking part were the Rev. G.H. Strange, M.A., and the Rev. Douglas Hoole, C.F., and the Rev. R.S. Strong. The hymns included “The old hundredth,” and “O God our help in ages past,” and the National Anthem.

When the news arrived at Potton that the armistice had been signed and the fighting had ceased, people were at first silent with joy, and as the great fact began to dawn upon them and they realised that it was really true, great animation prevailed. Flags appeared from the windows of many houses, and the town soon presented a festive appearance. To instil into the minds of the rising generation the importance of the events which have happened, Mr F.W. Braybrooks J.P., lighted upon the happy idea of giving all the children a tea. No sooner was the idea thought of than it was put into operation, and with the help of a number of ladies the provisions were got together, and through the generosity of Mr and Mrs Braybrooks, all the school children were regaled with tea in the Central Hall. Mr Braybrooks afterwards spoke to the children of the importance of that day, explaining what the armistice meant, and what the great victory would mean to them in days to come. Cheers (such as only children can give) were given for the King and Government, and lastly for the kind and thoughtful host. The National Anthem was sung lastily before dispersing. At 7:30 the Free Churches held a united service in the Congregational Church, which was largely attended. The service was inspiring, and full of praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for all the mercies and goodness bestowed upon our land and our Allies during the four years of war, culminating in the greatest victory which was being celebrated that day. Touching tribute was also paid to all those who had fallen in the war, with special prayers for the bereaved. The Rev. J. Phelps, Pastor, presided over the service, Mr. Jones (Wesleyan) read the lessons, Captain Smith (Salvation Army), and Mr G. Woodman (Baptist) offered prayer, and the Rev. G. Whelpton (Wesleyan) and Mr F.W Braybrooks, J.P. (Congregational) gave addresses. Suitable hymns were heartily sung, finishing with “God bless our native land,” and the Benediction brought a memorable service to a close.

The joyful news of the signing of the armistice received a hearty welcome in the parish of Moggerhanger on Monday morning. The church and school bells were rung for half an hour, and in the evening a thanksgiving service was held in the Parish Church, which was largely attended. An appropriate sermon was approached by the Vicar.

The welcome news was received at Stevington with every manifestation of thankfulness and joy. The church bells rang merrily throughout Monday, and on Wednesday evening there was a largely attended service of thanksgiving at the Parish Church.

When the news became known a Campton work in most cases was suspended for the remainder of the day. Flags were displayed and favours worn. The church bells, silent since 1914, rang out a merry peal, and thankfulness was expressed on all sides.

Circumstantial rumours that the Germans had agreed to the Allies conditions for an armistice reached Leighton Buzzard about 11 o’clock on Monday morning, but in view of the premature rejoicings on Thursday, these were very calmly received. Flags began to appear at upper windows soon after, and when, about 11.45, official confirmation of the rumour was given by the postal authorities, there was quiet but genuine enthusiasm. The steam whistles of local munition works made the news widely known, and crowds of munition workers and school children soon thronged the High-street.

The first intimation that the armistice dad been duly signed was received at Turvey about 10.30 on Monday morning, when a telephone message was received at “Chantry House” by Mrs Higgins from her son Brig-General T.C. Higgins, from his headquarters. The news was quickly dispatched the Rectory and was soon spread all over the village. The schools were at once informed, and the children sung lustily the National Anthem and cheers were given for the King. The children were at once dismissed for a holiday. Several of the elder children went with the Rector to the belfry of the Parish Church and began to ring the bells as best they could, but soon the usual ringers arrived and enlivened the village with merry peals throughout the day, the fine peal of eight bells being never more appreciated. Nearly every house in the village displayed its flags, and at the Chantry House and the Laws House there were brilliant displays. During the afternoon little Miss Susan (the eight-year-old daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Lannowe) rode through the village on small Welsh pony, which was decked with garlands of flowers, accompanied by collectors to give the Turvey soldiers a special present on their return home, the sum of £5 18s. 3d. being realised. In the evening a special service of praise and thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church, conducted by the Rector, and consisted of the singing of the Doxology, the 118th and 130th Psalms, the Te Deum, and the National Anthem, with some short prayers and the general thanksgiving. There was a large congregation of all denominations. The church clock, which had been silent for three years, was again set free to tell out the passing hours.

After holding a premature praise service in the Parish Church, Husborne Crawley, on Friday, the news of the signing of the armistice on Monday morning was received with great joy. Flags appeared at numerous cottage windows, and the Vicar soon had the large flag flying from the church tower. In the evening the church bells rang out merrily for a couple of hours. On Tuesday the Council Schools were closed for the afternoon for the honour of the event.

The news of the signing of the armistice was made known at Henlow by an official telegram exhibited at the Post Office window, and glad tidings quickly spread through the village. Very quickly spread through the village. Very quickly the houses were decorated with flags, giving a suspicion that these had been kept in readiness for some time past. A service of thanksgiving was held at the Parish Church in the evening, preceded by the joyous peals from the bells.

A large congregation attended to join in thankfulness for the close of the Great War. The Vicar officiated at the service and preached from the words “If the Lord Himself had been on our side,” recalling the many occasions during the war on which we had specials reasons for gratitude. Great excitement prevailed throughout the village of Riseley on Monday, when it became known that the armistice had been signed and hostilities had ceased. The flags were hoisted, the church bells rang, and the children marched through the streets with drums, bells, etc. At 7 o’clock a thanksgiving service was held at the Parish Church.

The glad tidings reached Silsoe soon after noon on Monday. Munition workers set free for a couple of days’ rest hurried out with the news, which seemed to take most people by surprise. The Union Jack and other flags soon appeared from the windows of cottages, and workmen from Wrest Park and elsewhere were quickly homeward bound for the rest of the day. The school front was soon made gay with bunting suspended from the flag staff, and much cheering was indulged in. As soon as ringers could be procured the church bells rang out with a merry peal, the first since the autumn of 1914. In the evening some ventured to show bright lights, and youngsters paraded the streets with bugles and gave tattoos on metal trays. A special service of thanksgiving will be held on Sunday next.

The news of the signing of the armistice was received with great delight in Stagsden, the church bells rang out merry peals in the evening, and the boys organised a tin kettle band and paraded the streets with great glee.

The news of the signing of the armistice and the cessation of hostilities were received with much gladness at Aspley Guise, and a good assortment of flags was soon displayed from windows and flagstaffs. The church bells rang out merrily in the evening. A service was held on Wednesday evening and was largely attended.

The welcome news of the cessation of hostilities was first announced at Goldington by the ringing of school bells, the church bells being afterwards chimed. The school children sang the National Anthem and gave ringing cheers. A thanksgiving service was held in the Bunyan Meeting.

At Ampthill – the church bells were rung on Monday afternoon and Tuesday evening in honour of the Allied victory. The town was plentifully bestrewed with flags, several streets having quite a fine display. About the largest flag in town was a huge one of the British colours, which hung outside the White Hart Hotel. On Tuesday evening the drum and fife band of the Command Depot, assisted by a number of men from the Depot, held a torchlight tattoo through the town, and were loudly cheered wherever they went. All the main streets were paraded, whilst the band played lively airs and the torches threw a lurid glare over the whole scene. In conclusion the band, halted in the Market-place and played “He’s a jolly good fellow,” followed by “Rule Britannia” and, as a finale, “God save the King.”

At Sherington, to celebrate the signing of the armistice, the school children were dismissed for a half-holiday after singing the National Anthem. A large Union Jack was flying from The Knoll, and various other flags appeared in the village. A united service of thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church on Tuesday evening.

The church bells rang merrily on Monday afternoon and evening at Renhold to celebrate the fact that hostilities had come to an end, and many flags were hoisted.

On Monday evening a merry peal was rung on the Maulden church bells when it became known that the hostilities had ceased.

One of the most impressive services ever held in Shillington Church took place on Monday evening to give thanks for the conclusion of hostilities. The ancient screen was draped with the flags of the Allies, and the church was ablaze with the light of lamps and candles, and joyous peals rang out from the belfry. In spite of influenza raging in the village, the church was filled with worshipers, who joined reverently and heartily in the thanksgivings and hymns of praise. The Vicar (Rev. Lagdale H. Postgate) gave a short address, in which he ascribed the great deliverance of the glorious tricolour – the red and the thin line of, our brave soldiers, the brave old British bull-dog breed, of which we were so proud; the blue, the gallant Navy; and the white the company of angels who stemmed the tide at Mons. Some time ago he was asked when the war would end, and he replied that end would come when our men met at Mons once more the guardian angels of Victory, and so it was. They thanked God from the bottom of their hearts, and those who made the supreme sacrifice. They were also extremely grateful for the wonderful way in which womanhood of the nation had risen to the occasion. Towards the close of the service the Te Deum was solemnly sung before the altar, and was followed by the National Anthem, during which the children of the congregation waved flags. The collection, amounting to £3 1s. 6d., was for the restoration of the south chapel in memory of the fallen. The service will long be remembered.

The people of Harrold on hearing that the armistice had been signed expressed great gratification in many ways. The church bells rang out merrily (the first time for years), and flags seemed to fly out of every window. Children paraded the streets with flags and a few old guns, dressed in soldiers’ old coats, etc. The village blacksmith brought out the old cannon, but could not manage to fire it off: it was, however, dragged around the village. A thanksgiving service was held in the Parish Church on Tuesday evening, when there was a large congregation. The Vicar, the Rev. Percy Leakey, conducted the service.
On Monday morning the glorious news arrived at Sandy that the armistice had been signed. There was no shouting; all that many could say, with full hearts, was “Thank God it is all over, and we have won.” Gradually one after another flags began to peep out of the upper storey windows and from the public buildings, until there was quite a brave display in the town From the church tower the flags of our Allies were hoisted, surmounted by a handsome new Union Just presented to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Marshall, of Manor Farm. The children coming home from school were the first to do the shouting, and they made the air ring with their merry singing and shouting. The bells rang joyfully to summon the people to come and offer thanks to God at a service in the evening, which was conducted by the Rector.

A united service of thanksgiving was held in St. Neots Church on Wednesday evening.


Source: The Bedfordshire Standard, Friday 15 November 1918 (retyped to ease reading)
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Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.

EXT038_18 Ampthill Armistice 1x3m PRESS.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

The Armistice – Ampthill, 1918

Monday, 11th November – the Armistice was signed at 5 o’clock where after the news rippled through Bedfordshire that firing would cease on all fronts at 11am.

In Bedford, immediately afterwards flags were flying all over the town, the church bells rang merry peals, and schools and most of the factories closed down. Soldiers were heartily cheered in the streets and jubilant crowds marched through the principal thoroughfares. The welcome news rippled throughout the County and there were many relieved and joyous scenes – read more.

How Ampthill received the news

News of the signing of the Armistice reached Ampthill about 10.20 a.m. on Monday, and instantly the flags of bygone days made their appearance one by one, until the town presented a festive appearance. About the largest flag in town was a huge one of the British colours, which hung outside the White Hart Hotel. Workshops and places of business closed and gave their attendants a holiday, and others took it. Those who could not have a flag had bows and enterprising shopkeepers did a good trade. The soldiers from the Camp had leave, and many of them crowded into the centre of the town, singing patriotic songs and making merry. A brewery dray, making its way from Bedford Street, met with an enthusiastic reception from the soldiers, who started to tug at the barrels of beer. The drayman was forced to return for shelter to the brewery premises. The scholars paraded the streets waving flags, singing songs and making an immense salute of noise. The flag on the church tower was hoisted, and the bells pealed out one of the most welcome peals ever heard in Ampthill.

The good old town clock in the market place, which had been silent for some years, took upon itself to send out its familiar chimes at 11 o’clock, causing the ears of the towns people to tingle at the well-remembered sound which had been lacking so long.

At the Parish Church a united public thanksgiving was held at which all classes and conditions were represented, and the Rector led the service. A solemn Te Deum was sung by a large congregation including Lady Ampthill and the Hon. Miss Russell and special thanksgiving hymns and Psalms were sung. Later on the school boys paraded for hours, fondly thumping kettles, pans and drums, and carrying flags, singing patriotic songs. In fact there never was such a commotion in the town, and such a feeling of thankfulness. There were mixed feelings of joy and sorrow in many hearts, especially those who had lost loved ones, but at the same time one and all were thanking that further sacrifice of life was now not necessary. Up to late hours the festive crowd occupied the market place, and the streets were alive with people. Several windows threw out the almost forgotten light.

On Tuesday a party of the Royal Engineers from Haynes Park on horseback, paraded the town making merriment. In the evening the drum and fife band of the Command Depot, assisted by a number of men from the Depot, held a torchlight tattoo through the town, and were loudly cheered wherever they went. All the main streets were paraded, whilst the band played lively airs and the torches threw a lurid glare over the whole scene. In conclusion the band, halted in the Market-place and played “He’s a jolly good fellow,” followed by “Rule Britannia” and, as a finale, “God save the King.”

On Sunday, 17th a special thanksgiving service for the victory of the Allies was held at St.Andrew’s Church, when a large congregation was present. Ampthill Urban and District Council, the V.A.D and the uniformed organisations were well-represented. The Rector, Rev Walter D. May, took the service. Afterwards the various bodies formed up outside the church, and marched off to their respective headquarters.

Source: The Bedfordshire Standard, 15th November 1918

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Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.

EXT038_18 Ampthill Armistice 1x3m PRESS.pdf

 

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, October 1918

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

October 1918 – the Scouts have sent off 20 sacks of waste paper to the Prince of Wales’ Fund.

Ampthill Command Depot

Influenza has claimed a victim in Drummer COLEMAN of the Ampthill Command Depot Band, who died soon after admittance to the V.A.D. Hospital on the night of 22-23 October.

During a football match on the afternoon of Saturday, 26th October between the Command Depot and Marston Juniors, Private JEEVES sustained a broken leg.

Canadian Forestry Corps

Influenza has claimed the life of 2005068 Private Avard L. DIMOCK (Forestry Corps) who wed Ampthill girl (Rose Ellen Wootton) back in June. Private Dimock (20) died at the Military Hospital in Thetford which is where the 126th Corps are now stationed. His body is to be brought back to Ampthill for burial.

Avard Dimock a (3)

Private Avard L. DIMOCK (126th Canadian Forestry Corps)

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month the war has claimed the lives of 8 men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.

Source: 

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Red Cross
Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

 

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 30 November 2018….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.


Ampthill Armistice100

November 2018 – it will be one hundred years since news of The Armistice rippled through Bedfordshire, and was welcomed with thankful relief. Hostilities ceased but the war continued to shaped Ampthill in ways which have passed out of living memory.

Ampthill Town Council is leading preparations to build on Tommy’s Footprints and mark the Armistice centenary.

The focal point is Ampthill Armistice100 – a programme of events that build to and align with the nation’s tribute of Battle’s Over which is on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November.

 

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Please email Stephen Hartley if you would like to know more about Ampthill Armistice100 or volunteer.
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WWI – Ampthill – the Camp Diary, September 1914

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

September – a list of  His Majesty’s Forces in which members of the St. Andrew’s congregation and other from Ampthill are serving, has been placed in the Church Porch.

As at September 5th the Ampthill & District News believe the following to be the names:

Regulars                                           Yeomanry                                   Terriorials
Arthur ANSELL                                Edward LETTS                            Walter ANSELL
Charles BUNKER                              Bruce TUFFNELL                        Harry ATHEWS
Frank COX                                                                                                 Tom BURRIDGE
Christopher COX                                                                                      Ernest BURGE
Edward DAVIS                                                                                          Reginald COLES
Frederick DILLINGHAM                                                                         Herbert COLE
Ernest HARLOW                                                                                       Arthur GARDNER
LAMBERT                                                                                                   Harry KING
McCARTY                                                                                                    John LOWE
MARTIN                                                                                                      Jack ROBINSON
Charles PALMER                                                                                       James RANDALL
Arthur PRESSLAND                                                                                  George SHARP
Percy STANBRIDGE                                                                                  Reginald SHOTBOLT
Sidney THOROUGOOD                                                                             Jack SUGARS
Robert SHUTLER
Alfred WALDREN
Ernest WALTON
Horace WHITE
Cecil WHITEMAN
Ernest WOODLAND

 

Should anyone wish to add to the list will they please write the name of the Battleship or Regiment, together with the name of the sailor or soldier on a slip of paper and place it the box in the porch, marked “For Intercessions.” (Ampthill Parish News)

Source: 

The Bedfordshire Standard; Ampthill & District News. The original broadsheets are part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Home Rule for Ampthill – Andrew Underwood (1974)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

 

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.


Ampthill Armistice100

As part of Ampthill Armistice100 join us on 12th or 13th October for the WWI Living History Encampment in Ampthill Great Park.

 

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Click here to download a copy of the Ampthill Armistice100 programme.

Please email Stephen Hartley if you would like to know more about Ampthill Armistice100 or volunteer.
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WWI – Ampthill – the Camp Diary, August 1914

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

Saturday, 25th July 1914  – the 5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment arrived in Ashridge Park for 15 days training. On the morning of Thursday, 30th July a hundred men from the Brigade received orders to leave the camp at short notice, their destination being unknown. Twenty-five men from the Battalion under Lieutenant Forrest, of Ampthill, were included in the number.

War arrives
At 6.16 p.m. on the evening of Tuesday, 4th August the Chief Constable of Bedford, Major Stevens,  received a telegram from the Under Secretary at the Home Office ordering instant mobilization of the Special Reserve and Territorials.

“His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to direct by proclamation that the Army Reserve be called up on permanent service. All Regular Reservists are required to report themselves at one at their place of joining in accordance with the instructions on their identity certificates for the purpose of joining the Army.”

“All Special Reservists are required to report themselves on such date and at such place as them may be directed to attend  for the purpose of joining the Army. If they have not received any such directions or if they have changed their address since last attendance at drill or training, they will report themselves at once by letter to the Adjutant of their Unit or depot. The necessary instructions as to their joining will then be given.”

“His Majesty the King, having been graciously pleased to order by proclamation that directions be given by the Army Council for embodying the Territorial Force all men belonging to the said Force are required to report themselves immediately at their Headquarters.”

The military authorities at the Kempston Barracks and the Territorial Headquarters, who had been expecting the order all day, were immediately hard at work sending out notices to the men, and within a few hours a large proportion of Bedford’s able-bodied population were ready to take their place in the line of defence.

A large gang of men was busily engaged with constructing a huge platform in the Ballast Pits Siding near the Kempston-road junction of the Midland Railway, for the entrainment of soldiers and guns in readiness for five special trains to leave on the Saturday morning.

In Ampthill
On the morning of Wednesday, 5th August Bugler Harry King (5th Bedfords’) was ordered to sound the fall-in (click to listen) at the Drill Hall on Dunstable Street. About fifty Territorials of the Ampthill Company reported and then left for Headquarters at Bedford, in charge of Colour Sergeant Bunker. The Ampthill Town Band accompanied them to the station, and a large crowd gave them a hearty send-off, and all of the men went off in good spirits. Whilst the men were entraining the Band played “Auld Lang Syne.”

On arrival at Bedford the Ampthill Company, with those from Luton, Dunstable and Biggleswade, were accommodated at the Roise-street Schoolroom and the Goldington Council School where most of the furniture was turned out into the school yard to make space. By the evening the whole of the men, to the number of about 950, were in town.

200 hundred horses were entrained at Ampthill next morning.

In Ampthill four Boy Scouts were requested to report themselves to the Police Superintendent at 10 a.m. on Friday for messenger service. Four more at 2 p.m., and four more at 6 p.m. Those with bicycles to take them.

Writing in the Ampthill Parish News, the Rev Walter D. May said:

1914.09 APN (2)a

Ampthill Parish News (September 1914)


Horses
In the days to follow the roads and lanes of Bedfordshire echoed with the clop-clop of big country horses as they proceeded in strings to the seat of war. By mid-August the county was literally ransacked for equine. It was particularly hard on the baker or grocer, whose horse and trap is the sole means of conveyance to a wide circle of villages. In the extreme north of Bedfordshire, farmers, travelling drapers, and others to whom horses are very necessary were in considerable trepidation. One farmer took matters philosophically, and offered to sacrifice his old cockerel ‘if it was any use to the Government.’

1914.08.15 ADN (2)

Ampthill & District News (August 15, 1914)


British Red Cross Society
The Lady Margaret Ampthill has published a list of generous offers of support which the Bedfordshire Branch of the British Red Cross Society had . The offers include buildings promised as temporary hospitals, accommodation and convalescent homes

1914.08.21 BS

Bedfordshire Standard – August 21, 1914

 

Read September 1914

Source: 

The Bedfordshire Standard; Ampthill & District News. The original broadsheets are part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Home Rule for Ampthill – Andrew Underwood (1974)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

 

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.


Ampthill Armistice100

As part of Ampthill Armistice100 join us on 12th or 13th October for the WWI Living History Encampment in Ampthill Great Park.

 

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Click here to download a copy of the Ampthill Armistice100 programme.

Please email Stephen Hartley if you would like to know more about Ampthill Armistice100 or volunteer.
Continue reading

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, September 1918

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

September 1918 – a war aims meeting was held when a large crowd listened to speeches by several speakers on the Allies’ war aims. Mr A.H. Wingfield presided.

Private Herbert FOSSEY (Middlesex Regiment) has been wounded again in France, and is now in hospital at the base.

Miss Dorothy Long of Avenue House has been home on leave. She is a member of the Ampthill V.A.D., and has been working in one of the Rouen Hospitals for the last two years. Another member, Miss Olive Smith of Chandos Road, has been working in Salonika Hospital for over a year.

The death in action of the Bedfords’ 48016 Private John LANCASTER (30) of Oliver Street has been reported. John was or some years employed by the Midland Railway Co., and he joined up with the Bedfords in the early years of the war, and after a short training was sent to France with his battalion, afterwards being moved to Italy. After some months fighting in the mountains he was sent back to France again, where he was killed in severe fighting late last month.

Ampthill Command Depot

Private Robert H. PACK of Dunstable Street has been promoted to Corporal, whilst serving at the Command Depot with the R.A.M.C.

C.S.M. George BASS, of Saunder’s Piece, has been home on sick leave. He has just been transferred to the Essex Regiment, after over 18 years service with the Bedfords’, with whom he served during the South African War. For some time he was R.S.M. at the Depot, and after some months’ service in France, is now at the V.A.D. Hospital in Bedford.

Lieutenant T.E.P. BOOTH, late of the Bedford Alma team, has been appointed secretary to the Depot Sports Committee for the ensuing season. Sergeant H. HUBBARD, a returned prisoner of war, is acting as captain.

C.S.M. CHITTLEBOROUGH, of the Command Depot, has been detailed from the Eastern Command to act as instructor to the Ampthill Volunteers. C.S.M. CHITTLEBOROUGH belongs to the Norfolk Regiment, and has been wounded three times in action. He also wears the ribbon of the 1914 star.

The Ampthill detachment of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment have moved their headquarters from the Drill Hall, Market Place, to the Old Territorial Drill Hall in Dunstable Street. A Hotchkiss Gun Section is being formed in connection with the detachment. The new Drill Hall has been occupied by men of the Command Depot until recently, as sleeping quarters.

43419 Private Arthur W. HIPWELL of Ramsey St. Mary who is at Command Depot recuperating from a gunshot wound to the back, has received a postcard from relatives in Blackpool.

 

 

Canadian Forestry Corps

The Mill at Ampthill Station has been run for nearly 3 days to clear up odd logs from the bush and construction, and cut 26,302 f.b.m.

On Saturday, 28th September a quiet and pretty wedding was held at St. Peter’s Church, Tempsford, where Private Charles A. Boyce of the Canadian Foresters was married to Miss Ellen M. Smith, a teacher at the Ampthill National Schools. The bride was given away by her father and attended by her sister Miss Florence Smith. Private D. Gillespie acted as best man. The bride was attired in white , with a veil and orange blossom, and carried a bouquet of carnations, roses and sweet peas.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month the war has claimed the lives of 16 men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.

Source: 

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Red Cross
Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

Report on the Activities of the 126 Company Canadian Forestry Corps. Ampthill 1917-18 (K.Fadden)
A Review of Activities with the 126th Company Canadian Forestry Corps while stationed at Ampthill, Bedfordshire, Eng. (Sgt H. Porter, 1918)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 October 2018….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.


Ampthill Armistice100

As part of Ampthill Armistice100 join us on 12th or 13th October for the WWI Living History Encampment in Ampthill Great Park.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click here to download a copy of the Ampthill Armistice100 programme.

Please email Stephen Hartley if you would like to know more about Ampthill Armistice100 or volunteer.
Continue reading