February 1919 – the Duke of Bedford announced the proposal to erect a memorial to the men who trained at Ampthill and lost their lives during the Great War. Woburn published a list of 368 names in the Bedfordshire Standard, and relatives were invited to communicate any omissions to Major A. Nelson (Adjutant), for example men who were transferred to other regiments and whose casualty notification did not reach Ampthill.
At the time 707 names were eventually gathered for remembering on The Ampthill Camp War Memorial but we now know of at least five more.
Cecil G. Hare (Architect), J. Corby & Son, and John P. White & Sons Ltd of the Pyghtle Works in Bedford were engaged to work on the memorial for Ampthill Great Park. William Stephens of J.P. White supervised the stonemasonry.
Bronze plaques were commissioned to tell the story of the Ampthill Camp, and the crusader sword in Temple Church in London likely provided inspiration for the top of the memorial. In June 1920 The Ampthill Camp Memorial Cross was unveiled, remembering the 2,235 soldiers who trained at the Ampthill Camp, those who were destined not to return, and the Ampthill Command Depot that treated 8,369 injured soldiers.
707 officers and men are remembered on the war memorial. Most of these were killed or died of wounds in France and Flanders. Roughly half (363) have no known grave and are remembered on memorials such as The Menin Gate in Ypres. Twenty-eight recruits were brought back to British soil where they succumbed to their battle wounds and are buried in local graveyards. Eight of the Ampthill Camp recruits came from Ampthill and so are also remembered on the other war memorials in Town: The Cenotaph, St. Andrew’s Church and Ampthill Methodist Church.
On 17th May 1921 Queen Victoria’s daughter, HRH The Princess Beatrice, visited Ampthill to unveil The Cenotaph.
At the conclusion of the service HRH asked to see The Ampthill Camp Memorial.
Thursday, 26th March 1970 – thirteen bronze plaques were riven from The Ampthill Camp Memorial and stolen. It was 2006 before the master list of 707 names was discovered in the Woburn Archive.
On Saturday, 21st September 2013, thanks to the dedication of Ian Church and others, the plaques were replaced and the memorial re-dedicated – video of the Service thanks to Ampthill TV. Lord James Russell, whose Great Great Grandfather built the training camp and the memorial, attended on behalf of The Woburn Estate.
Ampthill’s Fallen (John Hele, 2014)
Ampthill Town Council
The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
British Newspaper Archive
Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints – free download (Stephen Hartley, 2016)
Walking in Tommy’s Footsteps (Ian Church, 2008)
Content & photographs copyright Stephen Hartley (2015-)