Tag Archives: Ampthill Camp

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, March 1919

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.

March 1919 – this month has been dominated by sale of the Ampthill Camp.

The influenza epidemic is still very bad and there are several cases of pneumonia in the town.

Over 500 ration books have been issued to demobilized soldiers by the Ampthill & Urban District Council.

The Committee of the Ampthill Detachment, 1st Volunteer Battalion (Bedfords’) has sent £11 5s to the St. Dunstan’s Homes for Blinded Soldiers.

There is a proposal to form a Cadet Corps in Ampthill.

Lieutenant Herman L. PORTER (Canadian Forestry Corps), who was in charge of the Y.M.C.A. on The Pines whilst the Canadians were in Ampthill, was in Town for the weekend at the end of March

It has not yet been ascertained to whom the living of Ampthill will be given when it is vacated by the Rev Walter D. May, but the popular opinion is in favour of the Rev.  C.R. Dickinson who has done such good service as Chaplain at the Ampthill Command Depot.

The Ampthill Camp

By coincidence three beds in a hut at the Ampthill Camp were recently occupied by soldiers bearing the names of Grief, Right and Pain.

During the week of 18th March Messrs Swaffield and Son of Ampthill handled the sale of all the camp buildings, equipment and furniture.

The Luton News & Bedfordshire Advertiser March 18th, 1919

The Luton News & Bedfordshire Advertiser      March 13, 1919

The sale lasted 5 days. High prices ruled and there was some spirited bidding. The 2,300 lots included the 35 huts of the camp, the large Olympia Hall, the Recreation Hut, officers’ and other huts, the massage hut, Remedial Treatment Hut, together with the whole of the furniture of the Officers Mess, etc.

Much interest was taken in the sale of the huts which all fetched high prices, between £200 and £400. The huge Olympia Hall was knocked down to Mr Revett, of Olney, for £975, and the Recreation Hut £450. The furniture also fetched good prices, with the exception of the beds, which only fetched a few shillings a piece. No purchases were made by either the County Council or the Luton Corporation, as had been anticipated.

By the month end good progress has been made with dismantling the huts at the Camp, which now looks quite dilapidated.


The Bedfordshire Standard has followed the Ampthill Camp from its establishment back in the October of 1914. The March 21st edition tells the resplendent story of the Camp’s rise and closure.

1919.3.21 BS camp summary

Bedfordshire Standard – March 21, 1919

 

War Memorial

Opinion is very strong in Ampthill that the greater portion of the amount required for the war memorial should be obtained from the tradespeople, who it is alleged, with the local rise in population have made ample profits during the war.

News of Ampthill Boys

A large number of Ampthill men have been demobilized lately, including:

Sergeant E.H. CHITTLEBURGH (Norfolks’)  recently instructor to the Ampthill Volunteers.
Airman William DELLER (R.A.F.) of Dunstable Street.
Sapper William PHILLIPS (6th Royal Engineers) of Park Hill.
Private James WARD (2nd Bedfords’) of Flitwick Road.
Airman Horace WHITE (R.A.F.) of Dunstable Street.

Sergeant Reginald COLES, son of Ampthill’s esteemed postmaster, Mr William Coles, son Signaller Section Royal Engineers attached to 40th Indian Brigade, has been awarded the D.C.M. for services in Palestine. Sergeant Coles was previously mentioned in despatches in connection with the second battle of Gaza. He has been serving since the outbreak of war, and went to the Dardanelles with the 1st/5th Bedfords’. Reginald was subsequently invalided in Egypt with dysentery, and transferred to the R.E. Signals. He has taken part through out the operations in Egypt and Palestine, and was educated at the Bedford Modern School.

Source: 

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

Ancestry.com

The National Archives

British Newspaper Archive

Bedsatwar blog

Bedsathome blog

Red Cross

Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

This is he final installment of The Camp Diary.

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, February 1919

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.

Prisoners of War Dinner

On Tuesday, 4th February about 50 returned prisoners of war were entertained at the Volunteer Drill Hall in Dunstable Street. The guests came from Ampthill and the surrounding villages. Dinner was served at 1 o’clock and it was really quite a triumph in the days of rationing and food restrictions. Beer, minerals and port were kindly provided by Messrs Morris & Co, and concert party entertainment followed.

War Memorial Meeting

A public meeting to consider the provision of a war memorial for Ampthill was held at the County Court Hall on Thursday, 27th February. Mr J.W. Crisp took the chair, and was accompanied by eight members of the Ampthill Urban Council, with Mr F.W. Walker (Surveyor) and Mr W.L. Jones (Deputy Clark). The room was packed to its utmost capacity with townspeople.

Mr J.W. Crisp said that he hoped that what ever was done it would be something permanent and useful to the town for ever. It would be the wish of the men who had fallen that the memorial should take the form of something of use to the town. Mr John B. Hodge said that there was a suggestion abroad that it should take the form of a hall, which could be called the memorial hall. This might contain the roll of honour. Mr Andrew H. Tanqueray (Solicitor) said that a suitable site could be provided free of cost to the ratepayers, and the £2000 erection cost funded by subscription. Mr C.A. Jeffs suggested a public library to support education, with application to the Carnegie Fund for a grant. Mr Richards voiced support for a public hall which was ‘absolutely wanted in the town.’

The chairman then put the proposition that the memorial took the form of a public hall, and the details be arranged by a committee. The following gentlemen were appointed:-

Ampthill Urban & District Council
Messrs J.W. Crisp, T. Izzard, W.T. Sharpe, H.G. Smith, and H. Swaffield.

Ratepayers
Messrs A.H. Wingfield JP, J.B. Hodge, T. Hardwicke, A. Pye Smith JP, and the Rev. Westlake.

On the proposition of Mr W.T. Sharpe, Mr A.H. Tanqueray was unanimously appointed on the committee. Mr F.W. Walker was appointed as Hon. Secretary, Mr W.L. Jones as Legal Adviser, Mr J.B. Hodge as Treasurer, and Miss Wingfield and Mm. Cosier were added to the committee.

War Trophy

The War Office writes that, on recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant, Mr Samuel H. Whitbread, the town has been granted a German Machine Gun (damaged) with ammunition box and belt. The offer has been accepted but it was decided to ask for a field gun as a more ‘worthy’ addition.

The Ampthill Camp

On February 17th His Grace, The Duke of Bedford announced the proposal to erect a memorial to the men who were trained at Ampthill and have lost their lives during the war. A list of 368 names* has been published in the Bedfordshire Standard, and relatives  invited to communicate any omissions to Major A. Nelson (Adjutant), for example men who were transferred to other regiments and whose casualty notifications were not sent to Ampthill.

*707 names were eventually gathered for inclusion on the Ampthill Camp Memorial.

There is also news of His Grace engaging Messrs Swaffield and Son of Bedford Street to sell by auction the whole of the camp buildings, and a large and varied assortment of camp equipment and furniture necessary for the accommodation of 1,000 men. Catalogues and conditions of sale are in preparation and may be obtained shortly. Public Notices has been placed in Bedfordshire newspapers and in the neighbouring counties. The sale is to start on Tuesday, 18th March and will likely take some period of days. 

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Cambridge Independent Press – February 28. 1919

Colour Sergeant Major Instructor Joe SMITH, of the Gymnastics Staff has now left the Command Depot and is at Aldershot awaiting demobilisation.

V.A.D. Hospital closes

The V.A.D. Hospital at Clevedon House, Dunstable Street has closed down. Patients have been at Clevedon since the formation of the Ampthill Camp. The V.A.D. Hospital has done splendid work for some years in caring for the sick from the Command Depot.

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Clevedon (later known as St. George’s)

News of Ampthill Boys

A large number have received their discharge from the forces recently, including –

Private Stanley NEGUS (Royal Signals) of Saunders Piece. 
Lieutenant Norman SHARPE (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) of Woburn Street. 
Private Edgar SKINNER (1st Herts) of Baker Street.
Corporal R. SMITH has arrived back from Egypt where he has been stationed since 1914.
Private Henry STANBRIDGE (52nd Rifles Brigade) of Park Street. 
Private Harry WILDMAN (North Staffs) of Baker Street. 

Death of an Airman

On Wednesday, 12th February 1919 2nd Lieutenant Eustace McGEE (RAF) of Rotherfield took off from an airfield to the north of Gas House Lane in Ampthill. For reasons unknown, his plane entered a spiral nose dive and it crashed near King’s Wood. Eustace (20) sustained a broken neck and died at the scene.

An inquest has been held at the Guard Room, Ampthill Park. Mr H.J. Webb (Deputy Coroner) presiding recorded a verdict of Accidental Death. Eustace’ coffin was borne on an R.A.F. motor, draped with a Union Jack, for burial at St. Andrew’s Church. A firing party of 22 RAF men was in attendance.

 

Source: 

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

Ancestry.com

The National Archives

British Newspaper Archive

Bedsatwar blog

Bedsathome blog

Red Cross

Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 March 2019….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, January 1919

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.

January 1919 – A number of Ampthill girls have received their discharge from the Luton Munitions Works and quite a number have returned to their former employment as machinists. More are out of work and report daily to the local Labour Exchange and receive each week the Government allowance of 25′. The general opinion is that the girls will not return to service.

Corporal J. SMITH has ably organized a social in aid of the 1st Battalion, Beds Volunteer Regiment, Ampthill Detachment at the Drill Hall. Dancing commenced at 8pm and the evening closed at 1.30am. The music was provided by Mr. Norman Walker (violin) and Miss Walker (sister), piano. Further attractions were games and musical items. During the interval Lieutenant F.W. BRADSHAW made reference to Captain Howard SPENSLEY (of Westoning Manor) who was seriously injured on Thursday, January 16th when cycling to Ampthill and struck by a oncoming motor car, and everyone expressed hopes of his early recovery. Most of the Volunteers were present in full uniform.

On Monday, 27th the Volunteers were disbanded and all of their equipment was called in.

Rumours are current in town that it is contemplated shortly to form a German prisoner of war camp on the site of the Pine Woods. At the month end we clarified that the prisoners are to be held at the Bird in Hand Pub on Park Hill as the Canadian Camp has been taken over by the Board of Trade

Ampthill Command Depot

We understand that in all probability men at the Command Depot for treatment will be leaving at the end of the month. The staff will be staying on for a while, but there is no doubt that the end of the Command Depot is in sight, and the camp will soon be broken up. Allied to that, it has been requested that all accounts due by the Ampthill Command Depot be sent at once to the President of the Regimental Institutes, Ampthill Command Depot. It will not be long before a man in khaki will be quite a rare avis in Ampthill.

On the afternoon of Saturday, 4th January the Command Depot Football Team played ‘C’ Depot, Royal Engineers from Bedford. Corporal H. SMITH, Corporal WILKINSON and Private CHAPMAN all scored for the home side. The Royal Engineers also scored twice, and the whistle went leaving the Ampthill team the winners by 3 goals to 2. The Command Depot Football Team is now second down the league list.

On Thursday, 23rd the Command Depot Concert gave its last show. All concerts are now to be held in the Recreation Room instead of the Olympia Hall which is much too large for the small number of men who are still at the Depot. There are only about 60 men left at the Depot now.

News of Ampthill Boys 

Bandmaster T.M. TUNBRIDGE, son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. A. Stanbridge of Melvern Villa in Ampthill, writes from Cambrai that he is well, and states that recently he took a walk amidst the ruins some miles from the town when he encountered an English nurse. By a strange coincidence it happened to be Nurse Mabel GASCOMBE, of Ampthill, who has for some years been engaged as a nurse in France. She was stationed at a military hospital in the neighbourhood.

Private A. BASS (Middlesex Regiment) who was in charge of the Drill Hall for some years during the existence of the Ampthill Training Depot, has had an eventful career. Joining up at the commencement of the war, he served for some time at the Ampthill Camp, and went out to France with an early draft. He came home wounded and was then transferred to the Middlesex Regiment. He was sent to India on board the transport “Tyndareus,” which was torpedoed off the East of Africa, and has been cited as a parallel to the historic “Birkenhead.” After some months service at Singapore, he was sent to Russia, and we now have news of him as part of Colonel John Ward‘s propaganda battalion in Russia

Private Claude FOSSEY (Middlesex Regiment) of Saunders Piece is home from Germany where he has been held as a prisoner of war for some time. Claude is one of five brothers serving with the forces, and has been wounded in action.

Private Arthur OSBORNE (King’s Rifles) of Saunders Piece is home after being kept as a prisoner-of-war. His 22 year old brother, Lance Corporal Leonard OSBORNE (London Regiment) has been missing since March 1918.

Private Sidney STAPLETON (Sherwood Foresters) of Woburn Street is home on leave recovering from a wound.

Private James UNDERWOOD (Machine Gun Corps) of Park Hill, who was formerly a member of the Ampthill Training Depot band and went to France in February 1918, has been appointed to the bagpipe band of the 2nd Battery M.G.C., now on the Rhine.

Lance Corporal Ernest WOODLAND (Bedfordshire Regiment) of Dunstable Street, who has been stationed at the Command Depot for some time, has received his discharged from the Army and is now at home. He went through the Dardanelles Campaign with the 1/5th Bedfords’ and was badly wounded in France. He has been playing in the Command Depot Olympia Hall Cinema Bijon Orchestra.

The following Ampthill boys have been discharged from the army:

  • Private Sydney H. LAKE (R.A.M.C.) of Park Street
  • Private Thomas A. LAMBERT (Bedfordshire Regiment)
  • Private Arthur G. ROBINSON M.M. (Hertfordshire Regiment) of Oliver Street
  • Private William A. STANBRIDGE (Bedfordshire Regiment) of Park Street
  • Private Charles P. STAPLES (Suffolk Regiment) of Arthur Street 

Source:

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
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
British Newspaper Archive
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 28 February 2019….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

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.

Source: 

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
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
British Newspaper Archive
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Red Cross
Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

 

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

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).

 

The Armistice – Ampthill, 1918

Monday, 11th November – the Armistice was signed at 5 o’clock where after the news rippled through Bedfordshire that firing would cease on all fronts at 11am.

In Bedford, immediately afterwards flags were flying all over the town, the church bells rang merry peals, and schools and most of the factories closed down. Soldiers were heartily cheered in the streets and jubilant crowds marched through the principal thoroughfares. The welcome news rippled throughout the County and there were many relieved and joyous scenes – read more.

How Ampthill received the news

News of the signing of the Armistice reached Ampthill about 10.20 a.m. on Monday, and instantly the flags of bygone days made their appearance one by one, until the town presented a festive appearance. About the largest flag in town was a huge one of the British colours, which hung outside the White Hart Hotel. Workshops and places of business closed and gave their attendants a holiday, and others took it. Those who could not have a flag had bows and enterprising shopkeepers did a good trade. The soldiers from the Camp had leave, and many of them crowded into the centre of the town, singing patriotic songs and making merry. A brewery dray, making its way from Bedford Street, met with an enthusiastic reception from the soldiers, who started to tug at the barrels of beer. The drayman was forced to return for shelter to the brewery premises. The scholars paraded the streets waving flags, singing songs and making an immense salute of noise. The flag on the church tower was hoisted, and the bells pealed out one of the most welcome peals ever heard in Ampthill.

The good old town clock in the market place, which had been silent for some years, took upon itself to send out its familiar chimes at 11 o’clock, causing the ears of the towns people to tingle at the well-remembered sound which had been lacking so long.

At the Parish Church a united public thanksgiving was held at which all classes and conditions were represented, and the Rector led the service. A solemn Te Deum was sung by a large congregation including Lady Ampthill and the Hon. Miss Russell and special thanksgiving hymns and Psalms were sung. Later on the school boys paraded for hours, fondly thumping kettles, pans and drums, and carrying flags, singing patriotic songs. In fact there never was such a commotion in the town, and such a feeling of thankfulness. There were mixed feelings of joy and sorrow in many hearts, especially those who had lost loved ones, but at the same time one and all were thanking that further sacrifice of life was now not necessary. Up to late hours the festive crowd occupied the market place, and the streets were alive with people. Several windows threw out the almost forgotten light.

On Tuesday a party of the Royal Engineers from Haynes Park on horseback, paraded the town making merriment. In the evening the drum and fife band of the Command Depot, assisted by a number of men from the Depot, held a torchlight tattoo through the town, and were loudly cheered wherever they went. All the main streets were paraded, whilst the band played lively airs and the torches threw a lurid glare over the whole scene. In conclusion the band, halted in the Market-place and played “He’s a jolly good fellow,” followed by “Rule Britannia” and, as a finale, “God save the King.”

On Sunday, 17th a special thanksgiving service for the victory of the Allies was held at St.Andrew’s Church, when a large congregation was present. Ampthill Urban and District Council, the V.A.D and the uniformed organisations were well-represented. The Rector, Rev Walter D. May, took the service. Afterwards the various bodies formed up outside the church, and marched off to their respective headquarters.

Source: The Bedfordshire Standard, 15th November 1918

#IWMSTORIES

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

EXT038_18 Ampthill Armistice 1x3m PRESS.pdf

 

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

December 1917 – at the Command Depot a cinema has opened for use by the troops. A good show now takes place nearly every night in ‘Olympia.’ Lieutenant HANKINSON operates and Sergeant ALLEN is the engineer.

Three men at the Ampthill Command Depot have been awarded the Military Medal for their gallant actions:

8717 Corporal Frank AVELING (2nd Bedfords’) of Bromley has seen action since 1914. On August 1, 1917 in the Ypres Sector he was in the trenches and received news that several British bombers had been wounded raiding the German line – read war diary. Corporal  Aveling went out alone and rescued nine wounded under heavy fire – the London Gazette.

16359 Private George W. CATLING (7th Bedfords’)  – on May 3, 1917 the British advance was held up by heavy machine gun fire. Private Catling remained with his Lewis gun to cover his comrades during the retreat – the London Gazette.

15115 Sergeant Samuel IMPEY (7th Bedfords’) of Luton – on July 1, 1916 was involved in storming Pomiers Redoubt on the first day of The Somme. With all officers wounded, Sergeant Impey took command of the company, led and succeeded in taking the redoubt, and was wounded – read war diary. The London Gazette announced the award 12 months ago.

1917.12.7 BSa

Bedfordshire Standard – December 7, 1917

The Ampthill Platoon of the 1st Bedfordshire Volunteers had a field day on Sunday, December 5th near Bedford. They were joined by the Bedford Volunteers and the Bedford & Modern Schools O.T.C.’s. The Ampthill men formed the third line of attack in a general scheme of operations. Captain SCOTT (Adjutant, 1st Bedfords’) addressed the Volunteers and Cadets, who then re-formed and marched back into Bedford, via Bromham. The Ampthill Platoon returned on the 6.48 train and marched up to Headquarters, where they were finally dismissed by Lieutenant BRADSHAW.

 

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Bedfordshire Standard – December 7, 1917

News of the Canadians

The Forestry Corps detachment is now accommodated in a rustic, hutted camp which has been constructed in a clearing on the Cooper’s Hill Plantation.

Captain SHELLEY, Chaplain to six Canadian lumbering-camps, including Ampthill and the 125th Corps at Woburn, preached at the Union Chapel in Ampthill. Sergeant J.G. GARDEN read the lessons.

Sergeant Garden, with support of the Wesleyan Chapel, has also been making arrangements for placing the Canadian men in Ampthill homes to give them a home-like Christmas.

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December 21, 1917

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

A number of Ampthill boys are home on leave –
60675 Private Walter BARTRAM (Northamptonshire Regiment)
122644 Sergeant Sidney JEFFS (Devonshire Regiment)
37076 Private Arthur PRESSLAND (Bedfords’)
718277 Private George SHOTBOLT (Post Office Rifles)
21756 Private Fred WILCOX (Royal Sussex)
40941 Private James WOOLF (Essex Regiment)
522285 Sapper Fred WOODCRAFT (Royal Engineers)

25873 Private John COPPERWHEAT (Bedfords’) is in the King George Hospital, London recovering from a wound to the lower back. 37175 Lance Corporal Ernest WOODLAND (Bedfords’) is hospitalised in Stockport where he is recovering from five wounds.

Ten Ampthill Camp recruits have been killed in action or have died of wounds this month.

There is tragic news that on 30 December the troop ship S.S. Aragon was torpedoed while entering the Port of Alexandra in Egypt, and sank with the loss of 380 officers and men. Twenty-five Bedfords were among them of which two – Private BEESLEY and Private MINNIS – trained at the Ampthill Camp.

  • Casualties

20603 Private Samuel KING (27) of Coppingford Killed in Action on December 7
18602 Private Harry TITMUS (40) of Sundon Killed in Action on December 9
26665 Private George H. WARREN of Great Berkhamsted Died of Wounds on December 12 and buried in Northolt
23722 Private Charles F. WRIGHT of Stagsden Killed in Action on December 13
203151 Private Alfred STANBRIDGE (38) of Maulden Died of Dysentry on December 14
20150 Private Bert SHERWOOD (33) of Baldock Died of Wounds on December 16
23397 Private Edward G. BEESLEY  (21) of Ramsey Drowned at Sea on December 30
30901 Private Arthur W. MINNIS (27) of Hitchin Drowned at Sea on December 30
23675 Lance Corporal Frederick G. COVINGTON (22) of Guilden Morden Killed in Action on December 31
30064 Private Stewart W. HILL (28) of Ampthill Died of Wounds on December 31

Source:

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

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
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)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 January 2018….

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.

 

 

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

September 1917 – on Thursday, 6th an audience of soldiers and civilians packed into the large and conduits Recreation Room at the Depot to be entertained by M Fred Hall’s party from Bedford. The concert opened with a pianoforte selection by Miss Lillie Lee. The boys of rank and file were not slow in taking up the choruses.

Two men – Private Jack Dougherty and Private Joe Galewski amused those assembled with a comic song and mystifying tricks. The singing of the National Anthem brought a very enjoyable evening to a close.

1917.09.07 BS

September 7, 1917

The Pines

The 126th Canadian Forestry Corps has erected a camp of tents on the Cooper’s Hill Plantation. A Captain Kenny is in charge. On September 5th reinforcements arrived in Ampthill which brings the Corps strength up to more than 180 men.

So great was the interest manifest in the operation on Cooper’s Hill that 4 policemen have be continually on the job to chase the people away from the falling trees.

The Corps has taken of the Bird in Hand pub on Park Hill which has bee untenanted for some 3 years. Work is underway to scrub and sweep this picturesque old inn.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Eight Ampthill Camp recruits are among the casualties this month. Two of the boys – Private RALPH and Private ASHWELL – died in Turkey where they were serving with the 4th Battalion,  South Wales Borderers.

A further four were killed in action on September 20. We know that the 2nd Bedfords’ were in the trenches at Ypres. A party of fifty Bedfords took part in an early hours raid on the German line. The Commanding Officer’s report gives an account of what happened:

On the morning of 20th September 1917, Zero hour 5.40 a.m. the Battalion carried out 2 minor operations in conjunction with a general advance of the 2nd and 5th Armies. 

Captain William J. HOLBROOK MC and 2nd Lieutenant Thomas G. SEARLE MC were in command of a party consisting of 50 Other ranks, with orders to raid the Centre of Movement at O.12.c.25/70 for the purpose of collecting information, capturing Prisoners, Machine Guns and damaging Dug-outs. They were accompanied by a party of 8 Royal Engineers with blasting charges. The party on nearing their objective were fired on heavily both with Machine Guns and Rifles. This fire, so intense, and the wire discovered to be uncut, made further advance and return impossible. The party, among whom were several wounded, remained in shell-holes during the whole day and returned about 9 p.m. to our own line. Much valuable information was collected from this enterprise.” 

The Nominal Roll of Captain Holbrook names two Ampthill recruits – Private Charles ARNOTT and Private Alfred GREEN both of ‘A’ Company – who were killed during the raid.

Source: Bedfordshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion War Diary for September 20, 1917

  • Casualties

19714 Private Walter HUDSON (30) of Earith Killed in Action on September 14
12138 Private Victor J. RALPH of Christchurch Died in Turkey on September 16
12101 Private Walter ASHWELL (29) of Moggerhanger Died in Turkey on September 18
18932 Private Charles ARNOTT (24) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action on September 20
18721 Private Alfred GREEN (21) of Huntingdon Killed in Action on September 20
18024 Private Cecil R. HOLMES (24) of Bletsoe Killed in Action on September 20
23605 Private John R. NEWBURY (29) of Woburn Killed in Action on September 20
26786 Private Albert LANE (23) of Toddington Killed in Action on September 22

Source:

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

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 October 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.

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.