WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, April 1916

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot from 1914-16. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

April 1916 – in early April the passes for weekend leave were withheld, there being a case of measles in camp. With the advent of some real spring weather, sports have been well to the fore. Football is very popular and a keen match was played by companies 1 and 2 on Saturday, April 8.

In mid April a draft representing the machine section left the Ampthill Camp for further training elsewhere. The regimental band accompanied them to Ampthill Midland Station, and the men had a cheery send-off from their comrades an civilians as they passed through the town.

Meanwhile on April 13 at the Ampthill Workhouse the Board of Governors met to consider whether any of the inmates were fit enough to earn their keep and assist the war effort by working on the land – more.

On Thursday, 27th the Camp broke up with the men getting leave until the Tuesday. Several men who trained at Ampthill have been invalided home from France and are back at the camp on light duty.

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April 7, 1916

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April 14, 1916

April 1916

April 28, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Private C. Lees, writing from the Front says: “We are attached to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion – 35 of us from the last draft from Ampthill – but we are not certain how long we will be here, as we have to join our regiment, the 8th Bedfords, as soon as they want us. We are at present stationed about four miles from the firing line at Ypres, marching up to the reserve trenches in the morning, then back again in the afternoon. German big shells and shrapnel have been bursting in the next field to where we have been working today, so you can guess that it has been a bit exciting. There is not much danger here, unless, of course, we happen to get in the way of these shells. We have to wash in a brook that runs near the camp. It is a lot different from good old Ampthill Camp out here, but not at all bad considering we are in Belgium”.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 7th April 1916 (as republished by Bedsatwar blog)

On April 15 at Ypres the Ampthill recruits took their turn in the trenches of Yser Canal Bank between bridges No.2 and 4 – map. On the night of 19/20 April, after 2 hours of heavy bombardment, the German infantry attacked with bomb and bayonet, and gained a footing in the British front-line trenches. The Bedfords resisted but sustained heavy casualties and lost ground. Killed – Capt Quilter, 2Lt Cartwright, 2Lt McMichael. Wounded 2Lt Vipond, 2Lt Harry Player, 2Lt William Eugene Charles. Missing 2Lt Squier. Other Ranks – Killed 32, Missing believed Killed 97, Wounded 65. At least nineteen Ampthill Park recruits were killed that day; others would have been among the wounded.

The Bedfords were relieved by men of the 2nd Yorkshire- and the Lancaster Regiment. The trenches were retaken next day.

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Bedfordshire Regiment: 8th Battalion War Diary

Next installment to be published on 15 July 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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


BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

This special postcard commemorates the centenary of the WWI Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16). Limited edition: 500

Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

£2 (inc p&p). Please email hartleyhare135@gmail.com to order by PayPal or BACS transfer

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