The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot from 1914-16. Based on newspaper reports of the time.
December 1915 – The number of recruits received at the Ampthill Camp practically doubled during the month which placed a burgeoning pressure on the sleeping quarters. Some additional buildings have been completed and others are in the course of erection to provide for all comers. In the Ampthill Parish Magazine the Reverend Walter May writes ~
The rush is probably a response to Lord Derby’s recruiting scheme – December 15th was the final date for registration.
On Thursday, December 2nd some of the recruits have also taken part of a night attack. Weekend leave for recruiting was granted. The men using the railways marched in large companies to Ampthill Midland Station and Millbrook – such a splendid sight. On Friday, 21st there was a route march for Companies 1, 2 and 3 as far as Wootton.
News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front
Letters have been received recruits who have been posted to the Front. These are posted in the Camp “Rec” Hut.
19067 Private Arthur W. Bacchus – has written home about the Ampthill Park boys of the 2nd Battalion who saw action at the Battle of Loos. He states that he, with many other Ampthill Camp lads of the 2nd Battalion, was in in the battle, and although terrible losses were sustained they all did their bit, and not a single one flinched from their duty to King and country. Private Bacchus was hit by a bullet in the left arm, and is suffering from a compound fracture.
18641 Lance Corporal George E. Peters – left the camp last July for France and writes “The draft remained at the base a week, attached to the 4th Entrenching Battalion, At first we had four hours a day trench digging, and afterwards eight hours daily tree felling, wiring, etc., with a few fatigues thrown in. We were billeted in a wood, twelve of us in a bell tent. The circumstances were often full of difficulties but the boys all worked with a will, and remembered the Duke’s parting words, ‘Don’t Grumble.'” The writer goes on to state that they have been in the trenches a number of times. Speaking of the future he says “We all recognise that we have a very enemy to contend with, but that doesn’t disconcert us in the least. We are all prepared for a smack at Fritz, and he will have to be up early in the morning to catch the Ampthill boys. Thanks to the splendid training at the camp, we can hold our own with any draft we have seen, and we have been complimented on our smartness.”
- Killed in Action
19024 Private Charles BETTLES of Eaton Socon on December 1
Captain Rupert Harold GRETTON (30) of Cowes on December 17
- Died of Wounds
22053 Private William Cyril PERKINS (28) of Weston Underwood on December 3
18030 Lance Corporal Leonard Edwin PETTIT (25) of Bletsoe on December 28
What became of the men who are named in the Bedfordshire Standard?
18641 Sergeant George E. Peters of Baldock – trained in Ampthill Park and in July 1915 was draft to the Front to serve with the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. Peters was promoted to Sergeant. On April 23, 1917 he was recorded missing in action, presumed dead. Sergeant Peters was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial.
19067 Corporal Arthur W. Bacchus of Luton – trained in Ampthill and was drafted in June 1915 to fight with the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. Promoted to Corporal, Arthur Bacchus survived the war and in March 1991 was discharged to the Class Z Army Reserve. Arthur was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Next installment to be published on 15 May 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)