WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, October 1917

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 1917 – more men who are recuperating at the Ampthill Command Depot have been awarded gallantry medals.

18257 Private Herbert W. FISH of the 7th Bedfords’ has been awarded the *Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Russian Cross of St. George. In 1916 near Mametz Private Fish’ prompt action helped to extricate 3 wounded officers who were buried alive after their dugout was blown in by a shell. In the July Private Fish saw action at Pomieres Redoubt. The British advance was held in open land while a barrage pounded the redoubt. A German machine gun opened up on the flank causing many casualties. Private Fish volunteered to help bomb the gun out of action, and was successful.


1917.10.05 BS
October 5, 1917

(* The official  Citation records Private Fish as being awarded the D.C.M. rather than M.M.)


D.C.M. Citation

13538 Serjeant Reginald SHELFORD  of the 11th Suffolk Regiment. Awarded the Military Medal for his leadership on April 9, 1917 when commanding a platoon during the British attack at Arras, and for his continuouse good work and devotion to duty. Wounded in May 1917 at Rouex and invalided back to Blighty.

325105 Serjeant Jack SHELTON of Whittlesey – 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. On July 31, 1917 Serjeant Shelton was part of an attack at St. Julien. He took command of the company after senior officers were wounded and killed, and led his men to achieve all of their objectives. In August 1917 when in the trenches Serjeant Shelton was wounded, and sent to England.

Private CHAPPELL of the 7th Bedfordshire Regiment. During an attack on the vilage of Chrisy the battalion was held up by a strong enemy post on the left flank. Private Chappell took his Lewis gun and crawled from shell hole to shell hole, and suceeded in reaching a position from which he was able to enfilade the German post and force their retirement.

1917.10.12 BS a

October 12, 1917

News of the Canadians

The Wesleyan Church has welcomed the Canadian Forestry Corps by placing three rooms at their disposal, where the man can spend a quiet and sociable time in the evenings.

However, the Canadian’s developing relationship with Ampthill Urban District Council remains fractious. The Council thought that it had obtained an agreement to spare a belt of trees. By the time Mr Dawson of the Timber Supply Department attended the Council meeting the trees in question were already down, which the Members considered very discourteous.

Writing in the Ampthill Parish Magazine, the Rev D. May tried to set matters in context

“The ravaging of woods, by our own hands, needs to be thought of by contrast with the ravaging of hearths and homes by the enemy; then we gain a sense of proportion.”

On October 3 the laying of rail for a narrow gauge railway started from Ampthill Station towards Breakheart Hill (to the West of Fordfield Road in Ampthill).

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Five hundred and fifty Ampthill recruits have lost their lives since our brave volunteers completed their training from May 1915 to July 1916 and were drafted to the Front.

During October 1917 twenty nine Ampthill Recruits have been killed or have died of their wounds. One of the men is John AYLOTT (37) of Bedford who earlier in summer was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in bringing in wounded under fire.

18171 Aylott 1917

Twelve of these chaps fell on 30 October while serving with the Bedfords’ 4th Battalion near Ypres. The Bedfords attacked at dawn but were held up by very heavy and boggy ground surrounding the Paddebeek and a total advance of about 150-200 yards only was made. Eleven of the twelve have no known grave. Click – to read the war diary of October 30, 1917.

  • Casualties

20862 Private James W. TRIPLOW (27) of Stotfold Died of Wounds on October, 4
20650 Private Samuel RANDALL (34) of Houghton Regis Killed in Action on October, 6
23638 Private Sidney TAYLOR of Ramsey Killed in Action on October 7
28935 Private George W. DAWES (32) of Kettering Killed in Action on October 8
27349 Private Edwin HARRIS (28) of Bozeat Killed in Action on October, 8
17924 Private Albert SPURR (32) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action on October, 9
30902 Private Charles H. WILKINSON (21) of Cheshunt Killed in Action on October, 9
32610 Private Thomas STOKES (24) of Earith Killed in Action on October, 11
20782 Private Jack KINGSLEY (23) of Hitchin Killed in Action on October, 18
4626 Private Bertrand W. BLAND (26) of Meppershall Died of Wounds on October 21
18171 Private John AYLOTT M.M. (37) of Bedford Killed in Action on October, 23
23316 Private Herbert BRIGHTMAN of Dunstable Killed in Action on October, 25
23488 Private Bertie EKINS (24) of Riseley Killed in Action on October, 26
18309 Private Joseph BILCOCK (38) of Biggleswade Died of Wounds on October, 28
26509 Private Ernest H. JOHNSON (28) of Kettering Died of Wounds on October, 28
20279 Lance Corporal Frank ASHPOLE (19) of Wootton Died of Wounds on October, 29

23181 Private Oscar J. BOON (20) of Bedford Killed in Action on October, 30
26761 Private William C. CAKEBREAD (22) of Meppershall Killed in Action on October, 30
23647 Corporal George HORSLER (27) of Bramingham Killed in Action on October, 30
23335 Private Alfred H. LEONARD (21) of Guilden Morden Killed in Action on October, 30
18552 Private Joseph W. LISTER (28) of St. Ives Killed in Action on October, 30
23515 Private Frederick LITTLE (34) of Biggleswade Killed in Action on October, 30
23605 Private Wilmot LORTON (21) of Little Brickhill Killed in Action on October, 30
23720 Private Edgar MASSEY (23) of Wilbourn Sands Killed in Action on October, 30
23336 Private Albert J. MURRER (26) of Woburn Killed in Action on October, 30
26777 Private Alfred PAGE of Bozeat Killed in Action on October, 30
23429 Private Herbert PAINE of Gamlingay Killed in Action on October, 30
20589 Private Herbert WILLSHER (21) of Caldicote Killed in Action on October, 30
19848 Private Jesse WRIGHT (33) of Connington Fen Died of Wounds on October, 31



The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

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)



Next instalment to be published on 30 November 2017….

Text and images 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 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.

To remember that amazing day and the memories it went onto craft, here is a free copy of the book “Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints” – click to download.

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