WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, December 1916

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.

December 1916 – it is barely two months since the Command Depot was established. In that short space of time occupancy has rapidly risen to about 1,000 convalescent soldiers. More buildings are being put up.

A number of men at the Depot have been awards medals for their bravery and gallant actions at the Front:

  • Sergeant O.G. Avis of the 1/4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment – the Distinguished Conduct Medal for taking up a platoon as support under heavy fire at Loos in February 1916
  • 7942 Lance-Corporal Harry Steele of the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment – the Military Medal for gallant actions as a stretcher-bearer during a fight for a crater at Rocklincourt in June.
  • 24954 Private Abraham M. Brunning of the 7th Battalion Suffolk Regiment – the Military Medal for working 36 hours under heavy fire at The Somme as a stretcher-bearer bringing in the wounded.

Pte Abraham Brunning (c1914) – used with kind permission

These three men were subsequently joined the ‘Class P Reserve‘ because their services were deemed to be ‘temporarily of more value to the country in civil life rather than in the Army.’ The three men survived the Great War.

The Ampthill Volunteer Training Corps has increased to nearly 70. Their headquarters in town are not large enough for drill, and so the largest Camp hut, known as “Olympia,” has been placed at Corps’ disposal for training on certain nights.

As we approach Christmas a Memorial Service has been held at St. Andrew’s Church where prayers were offered for those fighting for King and Country, and on behalf of those mourning the loss of loved relatives.



December 22, 1916


December 22, 1916


December 15, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front 

Mrs C.Smith (of Preston, Hitchin) has received a Christmas postcard from her son Leonard [18677 Private L.C. Smith] who left the Camp in October 1915 to serve with the Bedfords’ at the Front.

News has been received about Arthur Day (of Lilley) who trained at the Ampthill Camp and has been at the Front since July. On November 2nd Private Day was wounded in the back. He has been cleared back to Newcastle-on-Tyne War Hospital and is recuperating.

There is also news about 23246 Private Henry Diggins (of Maulden). Sadly, Private Diggins was killed by a shell. The family await official confirmation.


December 1, 1916


December 15, 1916


December 22, 1916

  • Casualties 

20585 Sergeant Charles CHANDLER (30) of Hertford Killed in Action on December, 1
18529 Private Edmund ALLEN of Alconbury Weston Died of Wounds on December, 12
G60150 Private John WILMOT of Welwyn Died of Wounds on December, 19
18860 Private Henry E. CLARKE (33) of Kensworth Died at Home on December, 20



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


Next installment to be published on 31 January 2017….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

BUY: Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints

This 48 page book tells the story of how Tommy’s Footprints came about and notes the many people who have contributed and connected. There are just 150 individually numbered books. A unique Christmas gift.

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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.

£6 (inc p&p). Please email hartleyhare135@gmail.com to order by PayPal or BACS transfer. The book is also available from Ampthill Town Council, The Hub and The Stationery Boutique in Ampthill while stocks last.


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