Tag Archives: Albert Two

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

December 1918 – The Ampthill Volunteer Machine Gun Team has resumed their course of instruction under Corporal C.F. WOOD of Bedford.

The Town Band, which has been reformed, gave an excellent concert on the evening of Saturday, December 8th in The Market Place. Mr W. N. Walker and Sergeant Drummer A. PEPPER acted as co-directors, and collections were taken in aid of the band funds.

Dr. K. Roberts (Ministry of Health), for the Ampthill Rural District, reports that the influenza epidemic has abated.

On Sunday, 22nd a memorial service was held at St. Andrew’s Church to those who had fallen in the war, and the names of some 40 men of the parish were recited. A very impressive sermon was preached by the Rector, the Rev. Walter D. May from John xv.13 “Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” In the course of the sermon the Rector referred to the provision of a permanent memorial of those who had fallen in the war, and said that he considered no more fitting one could be chosen than that of a large stone Churchyard cross – the sign of Christ’s own sacrifice – at the foot of which should be inscribed the names of all in the parish who had offered their lives for their country and their friends.

There have been khaki weddings:

On Christmas Day at the Wesleyan Chapel the wedding of Miss Ethel Barker of  Dunstable Street and Sergeant George H. GOODWIN (126th C.F.C.) who is now stationed at Brandon. Upon return to Canada Sergeant GOODWIN anticipates taking up his engineering work at Revelstoke in British Columbia.

On 28th December at the Wesleyan Chapel Miss Florence Sugars wed Sergeant Frederick T. SUDBURY (126th C.F.C.) of Ontario.

Also on 28th December at the Wesleyan Chapel in Streatham Miss Emmie Prior (V.A.D. Nurse, British Red Cross Hospital, Streatham) to Private Clement HARDWICK (Suffolks). They are taking up residence at ‘Homeleigh’ on Chandos Road, Ampthill.

General Election

On Saturday, 14th the two Polling Stations at Ampthill were kept throughout the day. Voters No.1 to 599 voted at the National School (Presiding Officer: Mr H. Robinson) and voters 600 to 1,215 for Ampthill and all Millbrook voters at the Wesleyan Schools (Presiding Officer: Mr H. Webber). It is believed that about 700 voted, and of these about 400 are women. This is not a bad total when the 240 absent uniformed voters are allowed for. The Deputy Returning Officer is Mr W.F.A. Fletcher (Under Sheriff) of Biggleswade.

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The votes of men on service were handled separately at Shire Hall and in unexpected numbers. The total absent voters polling strength is 18,966, but of course many have died since the lists were prepared and many are too off to vote and have not taken advantage of their right to appoint a proxy.

The General Election result was declared on 28th December. The counting of the Mid Bedfordshire ballot papers took place at the County Court Hall in Ampthill, under the supervision of Mr Howard Spensley (High Sheriff). Among those present  were Sir Arthur W. Black and Lady Black, and Mr and Mrs Max G. Townley, with their agents. At one o’clock the High Sheriff proceeded to the steps of the County Court Hall where the poll result was officially announced as:

Mr Max G. Townley (Coalition Union)   9,073
Sir Arthur W. Black (Liberal)                  7,352
Majority                                                       1,712

Nationally, it was a landslide victory for the coalition government of David Lloyd George – read more.

Ampthill Command Depot

The Ampthill Command Depot Football Team served an overwhelming victory on Saturday, 7th afternoon, when playing the Army Service Corps in Ampthill Park. The whistle went leaving Ampthill the winners by 11 goals to none.

Private A.V. COOTE (Machine Gun Corps), late of the Command Depot, who has been a prisoner of war for sometime, has now been released and is back in England.

A grand victory ball was held in the Olympia Hall, in the Park, on Boxing Night.

News of Ampthill Boys

The Military Medal has been awarded to 202116 Private Arthur LOWE M.M. (1/7th Middlesex) of Bedford Street. he is the eighth Ampthill boy to win the M.M. and it is in all probability the last award made in the war. The news was received in a letter from his officer, B.E.F. France, which stays:

“As the officer commanding No.6 Platoon, it became necessary for me to change my servant at a minute’s notice on the night of the 6th November, as we were leaving a village in France to proceed to our “jumping off” place for what proved to be the last burst of the war. My choice of servant fell upon your son, who has served with me for some time, and from that moment until the declaration of the armistice he carried on in the double capacity of my batman and platoon runner, with a remarkable devotion to duty, and to myself personally. For three nights and until we were relieved on the fourth day we had a very trying and at times dangerous time, with practically no sleep. Your son was invariably very willing and unquenchably cheerful, and exceed his duty in many respects. He was particularly good in carrying messages, both under fire and otherwise.”

Source: Bedfordshire Time & Independent (December 13th, 1918)

Lieutenant Ernest CHIVERS, who has been the Garrison Engineer at Hyderabad for some months, has been promoted to Captain, and is in charge of the military works at Karachi.

7029 Lance Corporal John ODELL D.C.M. (Seaforth Highlanders) who has been a prisoner of war for sometime in Germany, has returned home to Oliver Street.

60688 Sergeant Harry STAPLETON (R.A.M.C.) of Arthur Street has been returned from Germany, where has been a prisoner for some time.

Mrs M. A. Two of Oliver Street has heard that her son 30431 Private Albert E. TWO (75th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C.) who has been missing since March, is presumed killed in action.

9400 Private William STANBRIDGE (1st Bedfords’) of The Alameda has received his discharge from the Army. William was in the Regular Army, and previous to the outbreak of war was stationed in South Africa, cam over in 1914, and went to France in October 1914.

149453 Private James DAVIS (Labour Corps) of Park Hill has been discharged.

26765 Private Arthur ROBINSON M.M. has also been discharged and is now at home in Woburn Street.


The Bedfordshire Standard; Bedfordshire Times. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
British Newspaper Archive
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Red Cross
Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)




Next instalment to be published on 31 January 2019….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

24 February 2019 – Guided Walk to revisit the WWI Trenching Ground

A guided walk to discover what remains of the Trenching Ground in Steppingley Woods.

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Starts: 2pm
Venue: Please gather in Ampthill Great Park, West Car Park (map) by A507 to depart at 2pm.
Detail: 2-3 miles. Please wear stout shoes and warm clothing. Child and dog friendly. We should be back in Ampthill Great Park for 4pm.
Cost: £3 on the day (no need to pre-book).


WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, September 1915

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

September 1915 – Four drafts have already been sent from the Training Depot, numbering 356. The men at the Camp now total almost 1000. Recruits continue to come in and the men have been informed that to encourage personal recruiting the Duke of Bedford will give an extra fee for each fresh recruit procured. The open-air gymnasium has opened and more huts are being put up. Drafts 5, 6 and 7, totalling a further 200 men, are ready for despatch to the Front.

On Thursday, September 2, Major-General E.F. Dixon paid an official inspection to the Ampthill training camp. The General first inspected the recruits’ musketry on the range and a party of men engaged in rapid firing from a trench.

1915.10.8 BT - trench rapid firing

Recruits practice rapid firing

The inspecting officer then went to the trenching ground in Woburn Road. There General Dixon inspected the trenches and observed the relief carried out in a capital time of 35 minutes. Next he observed bomb fighting in the trenches, carried out in accordance to a scheme drawn up by Lieutenant Collisson.

No.6 draft, under Major Young, was exercised in extended order and firing discipline, and also in close order formation. The General also went to see the signalling class, under Sergeant Freemantle, and rapid loading in a trench followed by a bayonet attack in the final assault.

The Cadet Platoon came in for special notice by the General who witnessed the men tackle the obstacle course which has been newly installed to a plan sent from the Royal Engineers Office, Bedford. The General was delighted with all he saw and expressed his satisfaction to the Commanding Officer.

A Colt machine gun and a dummy Maxim have been purchased. Future drafts going to the Front will include detachments trained in the use of these guns.

His Grace has added a hut to the house in Dunstable Street, Ampthill that is rented for use as a V.A.D. Hospital. This new hospital enables men of the Depot to be medically treated without the usual deduction of 7d per dieum for hospital stoppages from their pay.

On Tuesday, September 21, Captain the Hon. Moubray St.John kindly showed our reporter around the trenching ground and minutely explained their construction and uses – read more. The trenches are similar in all respects to the British and German trenches at Ypres.


September 23, 1915

In the Ampthill Parish Magazine the Reverend Walter D. May writes ~
Lady Smith Dorrien has appealed for generous funds to enable the many of the National Service Leave to make Hospital Bags for wounded soldier’s personal effects.

The Headmaster, Mr Searle, has painted a large wooden tablet on the outside of the National School in Bedford Road and written thereon the names of 64 old boys who have joined His Majesty’s Forces. A second tablet names a further 12 former members of the night school.



2016-07-30 15.57.43

The Wooden Tablets erected outside the National School (1918-) Source: Andrew Underwood (1988) “Ampthill in Old Picture Postcards, Volume 1”

What became of the men mentioned in the Bedfordshire Standard?

Second-Lieutenant Evelyn Ernest Arnold Collisson – of Gravenhurst. Joined the 2nd Battalion in the field on the November 24, 1915. On February 23, 1916 after only a few months in the trenches Second-Lieutenant Collisson was killed during a “very quiet”, cold, snowy day. He was originally buried in the Maricourt cemetery but appears to have been moved in the 1920’s and now lies in the Cerisy-Gailly Military cemetery. Evelyn is remembered in Gravenhurst Parish Church where his father was the rector. More about Second-Lieutenant Collison: Bedsatwar

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Banner of Faith
Andrew Underwood (1988) “Ampthill in Old Picture Postcards, Volume 1”

Next installment to be published on 1 April 2016….

Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)