Tag Archives: Albert Willis

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

October 1916 –The Bedfordshire Training Depot has now, after 2 years, been converted into a Command Depot. The original object of the camp was to allow men, under the voluntary system of enlistment, to do their training in their own county until they were fit to join friends and relatives fighting in the Regular and Service Battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment in France.

The camp commenced with 140 men. The men and Camp rapidly rapidly increased until at one moment over 1,600 men were accommodated. Over 2,000 men, all of whom joined under the voluntary system, have been trained at Ampthill, and have proceeded overseas.

Two of the men have received the Military Medal for distinguished and gallant service in the field. The casualties have been heavy, four officers and 155 men having been killed in action.

Bedfordshire Command Depot

The Ampthill Camp has been converted to fulfil a new role, with the Duke of Bedford and his senior staff continuing in command.


Major Stevens                             Major Nelson

Combatant Staff Officers

  • Duke of Bedford K.G. A.D.C. – Commanding Officer
  • Major Frank A.D. Stevens – Second in Command
  • Major Arthur Nelson – Adjutant

Medical Officers

  • Lieut Holmes – Royal Army Medical Corps
  • Dr. William Garner (of The Limes, Ampthill)

The Command Depot at Ampthill will be for the non-commissioned officers and men of No.9 Group Regimental District, which comprises eight counties, and for officers who have trained at Ampthill and returned home wounded or invalided from the Front.

Men on discharge from hospital proceed on ten days’ furlough, and the rejoin a Command Depot, the objective of which is to restore wounded and invalided men to a state of military and physical efficiency by a careful system of physical and military training. At a Command Depot the men lead the ordinary life of a soldier in barracks or in huts – route marching, drill, bombing, musketry, physical drill, and trench warfare all being part of the course. In addition there is a special establishment for those requiring massage and electrical treatment, which will be under the supervision of the medical staff attached to the Command Depot.

October 27, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Twenty-eight Ampthill recruits have been killed in the Somme region this month. Eleven of these men fell on October 12 when the Bedfords’ 2nd Battalion attacked the German frontline at the Battle of Le Transloy. The weather and ground conditions were atrocious. Few yards were gained for the British lives lost.

Read the war diary for October 12, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/2ndbn/2ndbtn1916diary.html


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
Bedfordshire Regiment

Next installment to be published on 30 November 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

This special postcard commemorates the centenary of the WWI Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16). Limited edition: 500

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.

£2 (inc p&p). Please email hartleyhare135@gmail.com to order by PayPal or BACS transfer.


WWI – Book: Ampthill’s Fallen by John Hele (2014)

In 2014 Ampthill historian John Hele published a book called Ampthill’s Fallen. 

The War Memorial - Cooper's Hill, Ampthill

The Town War Memorial – the Alameda, Ampthill

Ampthill’s Fallen is a tribute to the 67 men on the Ampthill Memorials, and to all those who were killed or died as a result of the Great War. John Hele diligently records what is known about each man’s life, service and death. Eight of the men also appear on the Memorial Cross in Ampthill Park because they trained at the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16). The eight soldiers are:

  • 23071 Private Harry Burt
  • 22809 Private Arthur Gillett
  • 30064 Private Stewart William Hill
  • 23251 Acting Sergeant George Money
  • 26703 Private Thomas Money
  • 23503 Private Richard Putman
  • 23511 Lance Corporal George Thompson
  • 18972 Private Albert Willis

To find out more read Ampthill’s Fallen [ISBN 978-0-9542619-5-5 – 149 pages ~ £13 inc p&p]. To obtain a copy of this excellent book please email John Hele.