Tag Archives: 17743

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, September 1918

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.

September 1918 – a war aims meeting was held when a large crowd listened to speeches by several speakers on the Allies’ war aims. Mr A.H. Wingfield presided.

Private Herbert FOSSEY (Middlesex Regiment) has been wounded again in France, and is now in hospital at the base.

Miss Dorothy Long of Avenue House has been home on leave. She is a member of the Ampthill V.A.D., and has been working in one of the Rouen Hospitals for the last two years. Another member, Miss Olive Smith of Chandos Road, has been working in Salonika Hospital for over a year.

The death in action of the Bedfords’ 48016 Private John LANCASTER (30) of Oliver Street has been reported. John was or some years employed by the Midland Railway Co., and he joined up with the Bedfords in the early years of the war, and after a short training was sent to France with his battalion, afterwards being moved to Italy. After some months fighting in the mountains he was sent back to France again, where he was killed in severe fighting late last month.

Ampthill Command Depot

Private Robert H. PACK of Dunstable Street has been promoted to Corporal, whilst serving at the Command Depot with the R.A.M.C.

C.S.M. George BASS, of Saunder’s Piece, has been home on sick leave. He has just been transferred to the Essex Regiment, after over 18 years service with the Bedfords’, with whom he served during the South African War. For some time he was R.S.M. at the Depot, and after some months’ service in France, is now at the V.A.D. Hospital in Bedford.

Lieutenant T.E.P. BOOTH, late of the Bedford Alma team, has been appointed secretary to the Depot Sports Committee for the ensuing season. Sergeant H. HUBBARD, a returned prisoner of war, is acting as captain.

C.S.M. CHITTLEBOROUGH, of the Command Depot, has been detailed from the Eastern Command to act as instructor to the Ampthill Volunteers. C.S.M. CHITTLEBOROUGH belongs to the Norfolk Regiment, and has been wounded three times in action. He also wears the ribbon of the 1914 star.

The Ampthill detachment of the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment have moved their headquarters from the Drill Hall, Market Place, to the Old Territorial Drill Hall in Dunstable Street. A Hotchkiss Gun Section is being formed in connection with the detachment. The new Drill Hall has been occupied by men of the Command Depot until recently, as sleeping quarters.

43419 Private Arthur W. HIPWELL of Ramsey St. Mary who is at Command Depot recuperating from a gunshot wound to the back, has received a postcard from relatives in Blackpool.



Canadian Forestry Corps

The Mill at Ampthill Station has been run for nearly 3 days to clear up odd logs from the bush and construction, and cut 26,302 f.b.m.

On Saturday, 28th September a quiet and pretty wedding was held at St. Peter’s Church, Tempsford, where Private Charles A. Boyce of the Canadian Foresters was married to Miss Ellen M. Smith, a teacher at the Ampthill National Schools. The bride was given away by her father and attended by her sister Miss Florence Smith. Private D. Gillespie acted as best man. The bride was attired in white , with a veil and orange blossom, and carried a bouquet of carnations, roses and sweet peas.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month the war has claimed the lives of 16 men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.


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
Red Cross
Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

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 31 October 2018….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

Ampthill Armistice100

As part of Ampthill Armistice100 join us on 12th or 13th October for the WWI Living History Encampment in Ampthill Great Park.


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Click here to download a copy of the Ampthill Armistice100 programme.

Please email Stephen Hartley if you would like to know more about Ampthill Armistice100 or volunteer.
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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, July 1915

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

This issue contrasts genteel Camp cricket with conditions at the Front where the first draft are sleeping rough within sight of the big guns; there have been casualties.

July 1915 – An open-air gymnasium has been added to the Camp near the bayonet practice area (between the West Car Park and Westminster Pond). Cricket in the evening after drills is very popular. In mid July a week of heavy wind and rain played havoc so tents have been abandoned – the recreation hut has become a large hostel at night time.

The third draft have been warned to be in readiness to depart for the Front. On Saturday, July 24th there was a 12 mile route march in full kit and ready for active service.

On Monday, July 26th the Chaplain Rev. Dickinson conducted a special service. Next day a large company of civilians gave the draft of 60 men a hearty send-off. The Regimental Band played inspiring music as the men marched briskly to be entrained at Ampthill Midland Station.

News from the Front – letters are being received from men who left the Camp last month. Corporal Hart is the first of the draft to get wounded [June 16]. He writes of being shot in the first engagement, charging the German line. Platoon commander Lieutenant Turnbull was killed in a crater alongside. His body has not been found.

George Willsher says that he is billeted with Thomas ‘Tot’ White and Harry Gibbons in the orchard of an empty farm which is within sight of the Front. The big guns flash when they are fired. Some of his pals have been in the trenches for three days, and have also taken part in a bayonet charge. One Ampthill boy is missing.

July 23, 1915


July 30, 1915

In the Ampthill Parish Magazine the Reverend Walter D. May writes ~

And in the Illustrated War News ~

BTD NCO July 1915 001.jpg




What became of the men who are named in the Bedfordshire Standard?


Private 17875 William Hart of Leighton Buzzard – was shot on 16 June 1915 attacking a German trench. He recovered but was injured again in 1916 fighting with the Bedfordshire Regiment 2nd Battalion and died from his wounds on 15 October. His grave is in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe. Private Hart is remembered on the War Memorial in Ampthill Park.

Second Lieutenant Laurence Turnbull – was killed on 16 June 1915 as his platoon [inc Private Hart] attacked the German line. The death was recorded on 18 June in the Bedfordshire Regiment 2nd Battalion Diary. Lieutenant Turnbull has no known grave but is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial to the missing and on the War Memorial in Ampthill Park.

Private 17743 Harry Gibbons of Steppingley – was killed in action on 27 September 1918 fighting with Bedfordshire Regiment 4th Battalion. The 4th Battalion Diary entry for 28 September indicates that Corporal Gibbons was engaged with the objective of capturing the Hiddenburg Support Line. His grave is in Moeuvres Communal Cemetery in France. Corporal Gibbons is remembered on the War Memorial in Ampthill Park and on a plaque in the church of St. Lawrence, Steppingley. Woburn Abbey has published more about the story of Harry Gibbons.


The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Banner of Faith (which contains the Parish Magazines for 1915).
The Illustrated War News.
The Commonwealth war Graves Commission.
The Bedfordshire Regiment.


Next installment to be published on 1 March 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)