Tag Archives: Ampthill

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. 

BL_0000418_19190228_067_0002

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).

 

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

November 1918 – the Armistice was signed at 5 o’clock on Monday, November 11th 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.

1918.11.15 BT Armistice

Bedfordshire Times – November 15, 1918

 

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.

Ampthill Command Depot

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.

A month of welcome relief

The Ampthill & Urban District Council’s decision to have 30 lamps lit in the town was speedily carried into effect. The dark paint has been removed, and the town presents a cheerful appearance.

The Band of the Bedford Depot, from Kempston Barracks, arrived in Ampthill on the afternoon of  Friday 15th, in motor lorries. It is 36 strong, under Bandmaster BAXTER, and seems to be composed chiefly of lads under military age. They were stationed at “Foulislea” in Church Street, and appear to be quite comfortable in their new quarters. The Band were inspected by Colonel His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G., A.D.C.,

A farewell tea, followed by a musical evening, was given to about 30 work men and staff of the Food Production Department, No. 2 Unit, Ampthill by the Flitt Cycle Company, at the King’s Arms Hotel. The men spent a most enjoyable time, and the military section were sorry to have to return to barracks, owing the scheme closing  down for the winter. No. 2 Unit has ploughed, cultivated or cut approximately 3,600 acres of land. This is really good considering the men were quite inexperienced in that particular work.

The Rev. A. M. RICHIE M.A., of Leicester, took both services at the Union Chapel, on Sunday. He has seen active service on the Western Front with the Y.M.C.A.

There was a good supply of cattle at the Ampthill Emergency Market  on Tuesday 19th. Forty beast and 200 sheep were surplus, and were sent away for distribution to other centres.

That evening the Ampthill Boy Scouts arranged a concert in the Church Room. Mr A. H. Wingfield was in the chair, and the room was crowded out. Mrs Stearn and Miss Collins were the accompanists, and much of the success is due to them. The Troop Funds should benefit by about £9 as a result.

News of Ampthill Boys

Private George DENNIS (Rifle Brigade), Private Edward SINEY (Machine Gun Corps), Private A. CARDINAL (Army Service Corps), Private Charles IZZARD (3rd Buffs) and Lieutenant Thomas Vaughan (Royal Scots Fusiliers) have been home on leave. Private Arthur MOORE (16th Middlesex) is also home on leave recovering from a neck wound.

Lieutenant Alfred WALDRON (Royal Engineers Signals) is now in France and has been laid up with an attack of influenza. Private Robert SHUTLER (Army Veterinary Corps) has been discharged from the Army, and is now home again. He has been looking after wounded horses in France.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

The final month of this torrid war has claimed the lives of 7 men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.

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
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 December 2018….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

The Armistice ~ as reported by the Bedfordshire Standard, Friday 15 November 1918

THE ARMISTICE SIGNED
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Rejoicings in Bedford and County
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Solemn Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Bedford
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From time to time, during the whole course of the war, the Central News has telephoned to the offices of this paper, 103 High Street, the great happenings in the military and diplomatic fields, and many an historic message has been displayed on our windows. It has been a long campaign of varying fortune, of mighty deeds, which will pondered on and wondered at in the ages that lie before, and great hope and, at times, of great depression, but never a thought of anything except ultimate triumph for the cause of Right over Might. Generations unborn will thrill at the sublime self-sacrifice and heroism of British soldiers, sailors and aviators in the great fight that set mankind free from the most awful disaster that ever threatened humanity.

And now it is over. At 11 a.m. on Monday the “Cease Fire” sounded on all the battle-fronts, and heavy clouds which had darkened the world for four and a-half years were lifted and white-winged peace reined where war and black death so recently held sway. Immediately after the official announcement was made in London the news reached our office, and the message was posted in our window, reading:-

“Official message, by telephone. The Armistice was signed at 5 o’clock this morning, and firing ceased on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day.”

Immediately afterwards, flags were flying all over town, the church bells rang out merry peals, and most of the factories closed down. Soldiers were heartily cheered in the streets, and jubilant crowds marched through the principal thoroughfares. At 2.30 a military band paraded the High-street, playing inspiring music. Although the rejoicing was universal there was no attempt at maffiking, and the genera feeling was one of deep thankfulness that the bloodshed and the suffering had temporarily ceased.

As the day wore on the intensity of the general rejoicing became more and more manifest. In every avenue, road, and street flags of every description were flying from the windows, fluttering on the flagstaffs or lines were stretched across the roads, the Tricolour of France flew side by side with the Standard of England, the Stars and Stripes of America, the flags of Italy, Portugal, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, Serbia, Russia, and Roumania, and one wondered where all the banners which went to make up this kaleidoscopic display of colour and beauty came from. But one has only to recall the lines of the Bedford School song to realise it, and to remember that

O north and south, and east and west,
Where’er you roam o’er the worlds wide breast,
You’ll find the lads of the Eagle Crest
From Bedford by the river.

That is the explanation; Bedford’s sons have travelled the world o’er, and the flags that floated triumphantly in all parts of the borough have been brought from foreign lands, and rested in the halls and rooms of Bedford’s people ready to be brought out on the great day. The flags of the Dominions were displayed at 24, Ashburnham-road. Hanging on the front of the Conservative Club were the flags of all the Allies, and streamers were stretched across the road.

Large Streams of People.
From the suburbs poured large streams of people, towards the main thoroughfares, intent on keeping general holiday, and all seemed bent upon reading the glad tidings for themselves, so that hour after hour there was a packed throng round the message in the window of the “Bedfordshire Standard” Office. Deep into the public mind the great news sunk; the spirits of the people, at first subdued in realisation of the fact that the inevitable had happened, that they were standing on the threshold of the dawn of England’s greatest glory, gradually rose as the extent of the triumph revealed itself, and many gave way to rapturous delight, signing, cheering, waving flags, and wearing rosettes and other appropriate favours. The joy of the children, freed from school duties, knew no bounds, and with the miniature instruments of “music” were in great favour, and none stopped to question the quality of the “melodies.”

Band and Bells.
An excellent military band paraded the streets, another played martial airs near the Swan Hotel, and the bells from all the churches rang out merry peals. Freely interspersed with the crowds were khaki-clad British and Colonial soldiers, sturdy land lasses, and uniformed “Queen Mary” girls. The mast and gaff at the Queen’s Engineering Works was gaily decorated with large flags of all the allies, surmounted with a huge Union Jack, and the employees were addressed by Mr W.H. Allen, whose remarks were received with loud cheers. The Recreation Club at the Works had a “joy day” on Wednesday. There was a ladies’ football match on the private recreation ground in the morning, followed in the afternoon by a match by Works and Queen’s Park Rangers, and in the evening a social and dance was held in the ladies’ dining room at the Works.

Flags and Fireworks.
There were many amusing incident, and in the middle of the crowded High-street a party of Colonials swarmed onto the roof of a passing cab, and from that point of vantage waved flags and snag to their hearts’ content, whilst the crowds set up cheery cheers. As the evening drew on, the crowds became still more dense, and the lights of Bedford shone out in direct contrast to the subdued glimmer which had prevailed for three years. The shops were closed, of course, but the great electric arc lights illuminated a never-to-be-forgotten scene. The bang and flash of fireworks recalled a shadowy past, when every public celebration was accompanied by brilliant pyrotechnic displays, and although fireworks were somewhat limited on Monday evening there seemed no limit to these tokens of exuberant spirits on Tuesday night, when the celebrations were continued with more gusto than ever. The fine band of the Salvation Army stood on the Market-place, with the Union jack waving above it, and played grand old British airs, the crowds joining heartily in singing the words of several of these, whilst many in the crowd sang the Marseilles in French to a most admirable rendering by the band.

Thanksgiving Services.
To the various places the devout thronged in large numbers, and the Church of England and Free Church ministers had made special preparations for exceptionally big congregations, but even when the sacred buildings were taxed to their utmost capacity, and crowds, unable to gain admission, swarmed in the entrances and waited till the close, listening to the singing of hymns of thankfulness. All the entrances to St. Paul’s Church were crowded, the throngs reaching up the pathways to the very gates.
During Monday evening the main terms of the armistice were received at our office, and posted in the window. They were recognised as overwhelming evidence of the completeness of the Allie triumph, and the vindication of all for which our bravest and best have fought and died.

St. Paul’s Church, Bedford.
Long before the hour appointed – 8 o’clock – every seat was occupied in St. Paul’s Church, where a thanksgiving service had been arranged to be held on Monday evening. The service was deeply impressive, and it was evident from the demeanour of the people that a congregation with full hearts had assembled in their thankfulness for the termination of the war. As the Town Council and officials, together with the vicar (Canon Speck) and choir, processed up the nave, the National Anthem was sung, and the service opened with the hymn “Rejoice, the Lord is King,” and the heartiness of the singing by the crowded congregation was a marked feature of the service. The special Psalms were the 148th and 150th, and the General Thanksgiving was fervently recited by the whole congregation. The choir, with Dr. Harding at the organ, then gave a fine rendering of the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

The Vicar, the Rev. Canon Speck, who had read the service, then gave a short address from the chancel. His theme, that afternoon would be two words that were spoken in a London Law Court by a judge who, after reading out to the Court the fact that the armistice had been signed, said “Thank God.” Those two words inspired that service, and that congregation, and would, please God, inspire the people right through the days of reconstruction until the final terms of the peace had been arranged. Meanwhile they thanked God for the cessation of hostilities, for the prevention of further bloodshed and loss of life, for the indomitable men and heroic women who had written this glorious and tragic page in the annals of English tradition. They could thank God with the deepest reverence for those whose names were written on the Roll of Honour, who had fought their fight and made the great sacrifice for God and king and country. They thanked God that their prayers had been heard, that the organised forces of unrighteousness and hypocrisy had been laid low, and that the God of righteousness proclaimed His sovereign will among the nations. Day by day their prayers had been offered unceasingly for the restoration to home and fatherland of their dear ones, and they thanked God for answering that prayer. They would now endeavour to show forth their praise not only with their lips, but in their lives, by giving themselves to God’s service.
The choir then sang Te Deum with splendid effect, the setting being Huntley in B flat.
Bedford School Chapel.

A service of thanksgiving was held in the Bedford School Chapel on Tuesday morning, at which all the instructors and School servants, as well as the boys and masters, were present. After the boys were seated the choir entered by the west door, singing the hymn “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven,” to Goss’s tune, followed by the masters and the headmaster. The order of service was as follows; 1st lesson, Exodus xv., 1-18; psalms cxliv. And cl.; 2nd lesson, Romans viii, 23 and 31 to end; hymn, “Hail the Lord’s Anointed”: versicles and responses and prayers; hymn, “All people that on earth do dwell”; the Blessing; Te Deum Laudamus. The service was, what all services ought to be, and especially on such an occasion, of such a kind that the congregation could take their full share, the hymns being set to well-known tunes of moderate compass, and the Te Deum being sung to a familiar chant. The first lesson was read by the Vice-Master (Mr E.H. Dasent), and the second by the Headmaster. The service lasted a little over half an hour, and the rest of the day was observed as a holiday.

All Saint’s, Queen’s Park.
On Monday evening All Saint’s, Queen’s Park, Bedford was filled with a devout and thankful congregation, when a thanksgiving service was held. The Vicar (the Rev. Ramsey Murray) officiated. The services, which throughout was of an impressive nature, commenced with the rendering on the organ of “The Marseillaise” by Mr Slaughter, the organist, and the hearty singing of the National Anthem by the congregation. The service took the form of shortened evensong, and the hymns sung included the Old Hundredth and “Now thank we all our God.” At the conclusion of the prayers the Vicar read from the chancel steps the names of those on the Roll of Honour of the parish, including those who have made the supreme sacrifice. The service concluded with the signing of a solemn Te Deum.

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The glad news of the cessation of hostilities came to Kempston on Monday morning, and very shortly afterwards flags were hoisted from public and private buildings. There was much hearty handshaking and congratulations, and the soldiers billeted in the district and civilians made merry.

Enthusiasm at the Barracks.
The fact that the armistice had been signed became known unofficially at Kempston Barracks between 9 and 10 a.m. Spontaneously the pent-up feelings of a couple of days’ duration on the part of many at the Depot broke loose in an uncertain manner, and some memorable scenes were enacted. Exactly at 11 o’clock a new Union Jack and the black and amber flag of the Bedfordshire Regt. (both of which had been acquired in readiness for the celebration of the event) were hoisted on the tower at the entrance to the Barracks and facing Bedford-road, to the accompaniment of cheers from hundreds of soldiers, the Royal Engineers being at that time on parade in the recreation ground adjoining the Barracks. The troops simultaneously surged onto the barrack square, and with members of the Depot staff continued vociferously cheering for some time, after which three buglers of the Bedf. Regt. Sounded the “Cease Fire, amid tense silence. The crowd then gave way to merriment in no half-hearted manner, and all work at the Depot was suspended. In the various institutions connected with the Barracks there were scenes of greatest rejoicing. Flags were displayed outside the military hospital, and the convalescent patients took their share in the celebration. The Depot band, under the conductorship of Bandmaster Baxter, played selections on the square, a popular sergeant attached to one of the Labour Corps proving himself an accomplished drummer. The troops and members of the N.A.C.B. and Q.M.A.A.C. located at the Barracks had their full share of the enjoyment in the joy of tripping the light fantastic on the square to the accompaniment of the band. Shortly after mid-day the Engineers left Barracks, not in matching style, but a jolly, happy and contented throng. Headed by an N.C.O. with a Union Jack, attached to his rifle and fixed bayonet, and a drummer and a bugler, they marched towards Bedford, singing patriotic songs, a large number of boys and girls, carrying Union Jacks, bringing up the rear. During the morning a large crowd assembled outside the Barrack gates watching the “frolics” of those inside. The pupils of the Garrison School were given a half-day’s holiday, which was greatly appreciated.

Upon receiving the news at Cranfield on Monday at 11 a.m. that an armistice had been signed, the Union Jack was hoisted on the church tower, and the bells were kept ringing during the rest of the day.

News that hostilities were at an end reached the village of Ridgmont early on Monday, and many evidences of excitement and relief were prevalent everywhere.
At Elstow there was much rejoicing and thankfulness when the news of the signing of the armistice was known. Flags appears as if by magic. The flag was hoisted to the church tower, and merry peals were rung throughout the day. At the Parch Church a thanksgiving service was held at 6:30 p.m. The service commenced with the singing of the National Anthem and “Now thank we all our God.” The lesson was taken from the fourth chapter of Phillippians. The followed Te Deum, suitable prayers, and the hymn “Father of all.” The address was given by the vicar and the service was brought to a close by signing hymns “For all the saints who from their labours rest” and “All people who on earth do dwell.” For simplicity and unanimity, and as an expression of deep popular feeling – a people’s thanksgiving – it is impossible to speak too highly.

The first at Biggleswade to receive the news that the armistice had been signed was Colonel French, D.S.O., the O.C. of the local Signal Depot, and before 9:30 a.m. this as well known on Monday morning throughout the town. The good news was received with great joy and much enthusiasm. The Parish Church bells, the fire bell, and several hooters announced the fact, and the Fire Brigade members paraded the town with their steam engine, carrying the Boy Scouts bugle band, who gave the “All Clear” sound in all the streets of the town. A special thanksgiving service was held at 12 o’clock at the Parish Church, which was crowded for the happy occasion. The clergy taking part were the Rev. G.H. Strange, M.A., and the Rev. Douglas Hoole, C.F., and the Rev. R.S. Strong. The hymns included “The old hundredth,” and “O God our help in ages past,” and the National Anthem.

When the news arrived at Potton that the armistice had been signed and the fighting had ceased, people were at first silent with joy, and as the great fact began to dawn upon them and they realised that it was really true, great animation prevailed. Flags appeared from the windows of many houses, and the town soon presented a festive appearance. To instil into the minds of the rising generation the importance of the events which have happened, Mr F.W. Braybrooks J.P., lighted upon the happy idea of giving all the children a tea. No sooner was the idea thought of than it was put into operation, and with the help of a number of ladies the provisions were got together, and through the generosity of Mr and Mrs Braybrooks, all the school children were regaled with tea in the Central Hall. Mr Braybrooks afterwards spoke to the children of the importance of that day, explaining what the armistice meant, and what the great victory would mean to them in days to come. Cheers (such as only children can give) were given for the King and Government, and lastly for the kind and thoughtful host. The National Anthem was sung lastily before dispersing. At 7:30 the Free Churches held a united service in the Congregational Church, which was largely attended. The service was inspiring, and full of praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for all the mercies and goodness bestowed upon our land and our Allies during the four years of war, culminating in the greatest victory which was being celebrated that day. Touching tribute was also paid to all those who had fallen in the war, with special prayers for the bereaved. The Rev. J. Phelps, Pastor, presided over the service, Mr. Jones (Wesleyan) read the lessons, Captain Smith (Salvation Army), and Mr G. Woodman (Baptist) offered prayer, and the Rev. G. Whelpton (Wesleyan) and Mr F.W Braybrooks, J.P. (Congregational) gave addresses. Suitable hymns were heartily sung, finishing with “God bless our native land,” and the Benediction brought a memorable service to a close.

The joyful news of the signing of the armistice received a hearty welcome in the parish of Moggerhanger on Monday morning. The church and school bells were rung for half an hour, and in the evening a thanksgiving service was held in the Parish Church, which was largely attended. An appropriate sermon was approached by the Vicar.

The welcome news was received at Stevington with every manifestation of thankfulness and joy. The church bells rang merrily throughout Monday, and on Wednesday evening there was a largely attended service of thanksgiving at the Parish Church.

When the news became known a Campton work in most cases was suspended for the remainder of the day. Flags were displayed and favours worn. The church bells, silent since 1914, rang out a merry peal, and thankfulness was expressed on all sides.

Circumstantial rumours that the Germans had agreed to the Allies conditions for an armistice reached Leighton Buzzard about 11 o’clock on Monday morning, but in view of the premature rejoicings on Thursday, these were very calmly received. Flags began to appear at upper windows soon after, and when, about 11.45, official confirmation of the rumour was given by the postal authorities, there was quiet but genuine enthusiasm. The steam whistles of local munition works made the news widely known, and crowds of munition workers and school children soon thronged the High-street.

The first intimation that the armistice dad been duly signed was received at Turvey about 10.30 on Monday morning, when a telephone message was received at “Chantry House” by Mrs Higgins from her son Brig-General T.C. Higgins, from his headquarters. The news was quickly dispatched the Rectory and was soon spread all over the village. The schools were at once informed, and the children sung lustily the National Anthem and cheers were given for the King. The children were at once dismissed for a holiday. Several of the elder children went with the Rector to the belfry of the Parish Church and began to ring the bells as best they could, but soon the usual ringers arrived and enlivened the village with merry peals throughout the day, the fine peal of eight bells being never more appreciated. Nearly every house in the village displayed its flags, and at the Chantry House and the Laws House there were brilliant displays. During the afternoon little Miss Susan (the eight-year-old daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Lannowe) rode through the village on small Welsh pony, which was decked with garlands of flowers, accompanied by collectors to give the Turvey soldiers a special present on their return home, the sum of £5 18s. 3d. being realised. In the evening a special service of praise and thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church, conducted by the Rector, and consisted of the singing of the Doxology, the 118th and 130th Psalms, the Te Deum, and the National Anthem, with some short prayers and the general thanksgiving. There was a large congregation of all denominations. The church clock, which had been silent for three years, was again set free to tell out the passing hours.

After holding a premature praise service in the Parish Church, Husborne Crawley, on Friday, the news of the signing of the armistice on Monday morning was received with great joy. Flags appeared at numerous cottage windows, and the Vicar soon had the large flag flying from the church tower. In the evening the church bells rang out merrily for a couple of hours. On Tuesday the Council Schools were closed for the afternoon for the honour of the event.

The news of the signing of the armistice was made known at Henlow by an official telegram exhibited at the Post Office window, and glad tidings quickly spread through the village. Very quickly spread through the village. Very quickly the houses were decorated with flags, giving a suspicion that these had been kept in readiness for some time past. A service of thanksgiving was held at the Parish Church in the evening, preceded by the joyous peals from the bells.

A large congregation attended to join in thankfulness for the close of the Great War. The Vicar officiated at the service and preached from the words “If the Lord Himself had been on our side,” recalling the many occasions during the war on which we had specials reasons for gratitude. Great excitement prevailed throughout the village of Riseley on Monday, when it became known that the armistice had been signed and hostilities had ceased. The flags were hoisted, the church bells rang, and the children marched through the streets with drums, bells, etc. At 7 o’clock a thanksgiving service was held at the Parish Church.

The glad tidings reached Silsoe soon after noon on Monday. Munition workers set free for a couple of days’ rest hurried out with the news, which seemed to take most people by surprise. The Union Jack and other flags soon appeared from the windows of cottages, and workmen from Wrest Park and elsewhere were quickly homeward bound for the rest of the day. The school front was soon made gay with bunting suspended from the flag staff, and much cheering was indulged in. As soon as ringers could be procured the church bells rang out with a merry peal, the first since the autumn of 1914. In the evening some ventured to show bright lights, and youngsters paraded the streets with bugles and gave tattoos on metal trays. A special service of thanksgiving will be held on Sunday next.

The news of the signing of the armistice was received with great delight in Stagsden, the church bells rang out merry peals in the evening, and the boys organised a tin kettle band and paraded the streets with great glee.

The news of the signing of the armistice and the cessation of hostilities were received with much gladness at Aspley Guise, and a good assortment of flags was soon displayed from windows and flagstaffs. The church bells rang out merrily in the evening. A service was held on Wednesday evening and was largely attended.

The welcome news of the cessation of hostilities was first announced at Goldington by the ringing of school bells, the church bells being afterwards chimed. The school children sang the National Anthem and gave ringing cheers. A thanksgiving service was held in the Bunyan Meeting.

At Ampthill – the church bells were rung on Monday afternoon and Tuesday evening in honour of the Allied victory. The town was plentifully bestrewed with flags, several streets having quite a fine display. About the largest flag in town was a huge one of the British colours, which hung outside the White Hart Hotel. On Tuesday 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.”

At Sherington, to celebrate the signing of the armistice, the school children were dismissed for a half-holiday after singing the National Anthem. A large Union Jack was flying from The Knoll, and various other flags appeared in the village. A united service of thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church on Tuesday evening.

The church bells rang merrily on Monday afternoon and evening at Renhold to celebrate the fact that hostilities had come to an end, and many flags were hoisted.

On Monday evening a merry peal was rung on the Maulden church bells when it became known that the hostilities had ceased.

One of the most impressive services ever held in Shillington Church took place on Monday evening to give thanks for the conclusion of hostilities. The ancient screen was draped with the flags of the Allies, and the church was ablaze with the light of lamps and candles, and joyous peals rang out from the belfry. In spite of influenza raging in the village, the church was filled with worshipers, who joined reverently and heartily in the thanksgivings and hymns of praise. The Vicar (Rev. Lagdale H. Postgate) gave a short address, in which he ascribed the great deliverance of the glorious tricolour – the red and the thin line of, our brave soldiers, the brave old British bull-dog breed, of which we were so proud; the blue, the gallant Navy; and the white the company of angels who stemmed the tide at Mons. Some time ago he was asked when the war would end, and he replied that end would come when our men met at Mons once more the guardian angels of Victory, and so it was. They thanked God from the bottom of their hearts, and those who made the supreme sacrifice. They were also extremely grateful for the wonderful way in which womanhood of the nation had risen to the occasion. Towards the close of the service the Te Deum was solemnly sung before the altar, and was followed by the National Anthem, during which the children of the congregation waved flags. The collection, amounting to £3 1s. 6d., was for the restoration of the south chapel in memory of the fallen. The service will long be remembered.

The people of Harrold on hearing that the armistice had been signed expressed great gratification in many ways. The church bells rang out merrily (the first time for years), and flags seemed to fly out of every window. Children paraded the streets with flags and a few old guns, dressed in soldiers’ old coats, etc. The village blacksmith brought out the old cannon, but could not manage to fire it off: it was, however, dragged around the village. A thanksgiving service was held in the Parish Church on Tuesday evening, when there was a large congregation. The Vicar, the Rev. Percy Leakey, conducted the service.
On Monday morning the glorious news arrived at Sandy that the armistice had been signed. There was no shouting; all that many could say, with full hearts, was “Thank God it is all over, and we have won.” Gradually one after another flags began to peep out of the upper storey windows and from the public buildings, until there was quite a brave display in the town From the church tower the flags of our Allies were hoisted, surmounted by a handsome new Union Just presented to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Marshall, of Manor Farm. The children coming home from school were the first to do the shouting, and they made the air ring with their merry singing and shouting. The bells rang joyfully to summon the people to come and offer thanks to God at a service in the evening, which was conducted by the Rector.

A united service of thanksgiving was held in St. Neots Church on Wednesday evening.


Source: The Bedfordshire Standard, Friday 15 November 1918 (retyped to ease reading)
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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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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