In 1914 Lord Kitchener (Secretary of State for War) issued a call to arms. The 11th Duke of Bedford was keen to assist the Great War effort and responded by applying to fund and build a training camp in Ampthill Park – the ‘Bedfordshire Training Depot.’ By August 1916 the Depot would train 2,235 infantry soldiers to fight for ‘King and Country.’
After the war the Duke commissioned a Memorial Cross to remember the soldiers who trained there, the 707 men who died, and the ‘Ampthill Command Depot’ that treated 8369 injured soldiers (1916-19). The Memorial Cross was built in 1919 and incorporates phosphor bronze plaques. The plaques record the history of the Bedfordshire Training Depot and the names of the 707 fallen.
The phosphor bronze plaques
There were three sets of plaques which faced North, East, South and West. The top tier included three verses of the poem ‘O Valiant Heart.’ The second tier of four bronzes record the history of the Bedfordshire Training Depot. The bottom tier record the names of the 707 soldiers who died.
In March 1970 thirteen of the plaques were stolen. Records were searched to establish what appeared on the plaques and funds were raised to replace them. In 2013 the Memorial Cross was restored with a complete set of bronze plaques. On 21 September 2013 there was a Service of Re-dedication and Remembrance.
I photographed the Memorial Cross on 13 February 2015. The photographs show the eight bronze plaques of the middle and top tiers.
The middle tier of bronze plaques
The top tier of bronze plaques
Three of the plaques are verses from a 19th Century poem which became the hymn ‘O Valiant Hearts.’