Tag Archives: Bedsatwar

WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, September 1916

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

September 1916 – Another draft of men have left the Camp to join the British Expedition Force. The Ampthill Camp is starting to feel decidedly empty.

On Thursday, 7th September Major-General Pilcher made an inspection of the camp and watched the cadets go through physical drill and bayonet practice. A number of men back from France, following wounds or illness, are engaged in light duties. This includes agricultural work in fields near the Camp.

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September 8, 1916

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September 15, 1916

Wrest Park Military Hospital

Since the outbreak of war Wrest Park has played a major part in treating the wounded. On Thursday, 14th a convoy train of wounded soldiers were met at Ampthill Station and conveyed to Woburn and Wrest Park Hospitals. Later that day a major fire developed in the East Wing of Wrest Park. Some 160 soldiers were there convalescing at the time. Twice during the night the Ampthill Camp bugle sounded ‘parade at the double.’ The first order of the evening was for all men who had cycles or other ways of getting to Wrest Park quickly, to start off and assist with the fire. The second call came nearer midnight for the men to assist with arrangements for making comfortable about 50 wounded soldiers removed from Wrest House to Woburn Abbey Hospital and to empty huts in the Camp. The recruits also helped with salvaging valuable furniture and paintings.

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The House survived the fire but some parts were gutted. The damage is estimated at £20,000. Thankfully there was no loss of life – read the full newspaper report.

By converting this fine country house into a hospital for wounded soldiers and practically maintaining it for two years at great personal expense, Lord Lucas has rendered great national service, and during the whole time his sister, the Hon. Miss Herbert, devoted herself with loving care and attention to the work of the hospital as Matron. Very few people, indeed, are aware of the great work that has been done at Wrest House, for our wounded heroes brought home from the battlefields.

The authorities have come to the decision that Wrest Park will no longer be used as a military hospital.

Ampthill Camp – more departures

On Friday, 22nd a small group of N.C.O.’s left the camp to join another battalion. Captain Tanqueray who has been heavily engaged with Cadet training, has rejoined the Royal West Sussex Regiment. The following officers have proceeded to France to join the Bedfordshire Regiment: Lieutenants Millars and Blanchard, and 2nd Lieutenants Matson, Sharpen, G.C. Scott, Forbes, Stanton, Piercey, Deacon, Hyde, Hope, Woodford, Hickman, Fletcher, Kingdom, and Booth.

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September 22, 1916

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September 29, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

News has been received of two promising Maulden lads, and flags were flown at half mast.

17743 Private Charles Newman has been missing since the Battle of Loo in September last. The War Office has written to his mother intimating that sadly, death must be assumed.

Mr. and Mrs. Northwood have been notified that on September 3rd their only son, Charles, was killed in an attack on the German trenches. Lieutenant D’Airgdor writes that 17843 Private Newman was “hit by a shell.” There is news that on  July 19th a similar fate befell 22523 Private William J.Shambrook of Ware who was with the 54th Mortar Battery.

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Four hundred and six Bedfords’ have been killed during September. Sixty-two of these men trained at the Ampthill – the Camp’s worst month by a country mile. Most of the Ampthill men were killed in the actions of 15th and 25th September.

September 15th – The Battle of Flers-Courcelette

A grim day for the Bedfords’ – the men were part of the British attack at The Battle of Flers-Courcelette in the Somme region. The 8th Battalion had three waves of infantry in position ready to attack from shell holes. At 06:00 artillery started to lay down a heavy barrage – however, the munitions fell short causing many British casualties. At ZERO Hour [06:20] the companies pushed forwards with support. Depleted in number, the Bedfords’ failed to take their objective. Survivors returned to hold the original trenches and were then relieved. 

One hundred and twenty-four Bedfords’ were killed in the action that day. Thirty-nine of these soldiers trained at the Ampthill Camp.

Casualties – September 15
22674 Private Horace AMBRIDGE (27) of Barton Killed in Action
22673 Private Albert ASHBY of Barton Killed in Action
17774 Private John ATKINSON (43) of Barford Killed in Action
22269 Private Daniel AUSTIN of Harrowden Killed in Action
20779 Private Horace BATCHELOR (27) of Flamsted Killed in Action
20527 Private Ernest BODSWORTH (25) of Woburn Killed in Action
20619 Private Archibald BONESS of Biggleswade Killed in Action
20896 Private Albert Edward BRIDGES of Hitchin Killed in Action
23247 Private William Charles BUCKINGHAM of Toddington Killed in Action
22917 Private William CAMFIELD (22) of Walsworth Killed in Action
19895 Private Fredrick COOK (22) of Tilbrook Killed in Action
20910 Private William Arthur Leonard DEVEREAUX (24) of Campton Killed in Action
18801 Private James Charles FEARY (39) of St. Ives Killed in Action
18485 Private Arthur Henry FOSTER (44) of Godmanchester Killed in Action
20667 Private William GILKS of Woburn Killed in Action
23599 Private William GODFREY (21) of Hexton Killed in Action
20969 Private William HAILEY (35) of Walsworth Killed in Action
20483 Private Herbert HARE of Old Warden Killed in Action
19546 Private Walter HENMAN of Breachwood Green Killed in Action
20397 Private Edward HORSLER (33) of Streatley Killed in Action
20941 Private Frank IRONS (18) of Wilstead Killed in Action
19498 Private George JACKSON (42) of Dunton Killed in Action
22457 Private William JACKSON (26) of Stevenage Killed in Action
20744 Private Arthur JANES (31) of Hemel Hempstead Missing (presumed dead)
20345 Private John JELLIS (33) of Upper Sundon Killed in Action
20316 Private Richard John LISTER (32) of Needingworth Killed in Action
22504 Private Robert LOVETT (20) of Biggleswade Killed in Action
23270 Private George MARTIN of Barton Killed in Action
20339 Private Alfred C. MILLWARD (40) of Olney Killed in Action
18128 Private Fredrerick PAXTON of Woburn Sands Killed in Action
22395 Private Christopher PERRY (47) of Luton Killed in Action
22746 Private Cyril Albert Bernard PINNOCK (20) of Bedford Killed in Action
20599 Private George Benjamin POULTER (18) of Killed in Action
20298 Private Henry J RANDALL (40) of Marston Church End Killed in Action
22435 Private Ernest William STEVENS (29) of Flamstead Killed in Action
22080 Private Frederick TAYLOR (34) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action
22850 Private Herbert WHITTINGTON (21) of Marston Shelton Killed in Action
23234 Private Charles Henry WILSON (23) of Earith Killed in Action
19593 Lance Corporal Thomas YOUNG of Kempston Killed in Action

Read the war diary for September 15, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/8thbn/8thbtn1916diary.html

September 25th – The Battle of Morval 

The Bedfords’ took part in an attack on German lines between Morval and Les Boeuff. The attack commenced at 12.35.p.m. and the 8th Battalion moved up to original front line when second objective had been taken about 2.35 p.m. Casualties from the enemy barrage very slight. The British attack succeded and many prisoners were taken. At night the 8th Bedfords’ furnished carrying parties to resupply the front line battalion with ammunition and water. C Platoon were detached to 1st London Company of the Royal Engineers as a working party in captured German trenches. C Company suffered very heavily from enemy shell fire.

Casualties – September 25
22594 Private Frederick CHANCE of Toddington Killed in Action
20403 Private William CHATER (22) of Olney Killed in Action
20554 Lance Corporal Arthur HANCOCK (38) of Melchbourne Killed in Action
18874 Lance Corporal Joseph LAW (21) of Sharnbrook Killed in Action
22807 Private Arthur William ODELL (24) of Marston Shelton Killed in Action

Read the war diary for September 25, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/8thbn/8thbtn1916diary.html


Other September Casualties

September 3
17834 Private Charles William NORTHWOOD (21) of Maulden Killed in Action
23256 Private Harry PAGE (23) of Woburn Sands Died of Wounds
18462 Private William WARNER of Biggleswade Died of Wounds

September 4
19846 Private George William HARRIS (28) of Wootton Killed in Action
26270 Private Harold George SAWFORD (23) of Sharnbrook Died of Wounds
20059 Sergeant Walter Frederick SURRIDGE (28) of Bedford Killed in Action

September 5
18957 Private Albert Lewis CATLIN (32) of Stevenage Killed in Action
20704 Private Ernest CLARIDGE (26) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action
20890 Lance Corporal Reginald MANNING (24) of Toseland Killed in Action

September 6
18206 Private Walter Henry COX (27) of Renhold Died of Wounds

September 18
12101 Private Walter ASHWELL (29) of Moggerhanger Died – formerly 27646 Bedfords’

September 22
20266 Private William COOPER  (21) of Luton Died of Wounds
20373 Private George CRANFIELD
(29) of Flitwick Killed in Action on September 22

September 25
29460 Private Harry FINDING (19) of Raunds Killed in Action
29452 Private Christopher Francis SMITH (35) of Ridgmont Killed in Action
19220 Private Walter THOMAS (25) of Wellington Killed in Action

September 26
19477 Private Arthur GILLETT
(32) of Flitwick Killed in Action

September 27
22810 Lance Corporal Charles William CANHAM
(21) of Kettering Killed in Action

September 28
20817 Private Edward HILL of Barton Died of Wounds

Sources:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Bedfordshire Regiment
A history of Silsoe (Roger Bradshaw, 2011
English Heritage

Next instalment to be published on 31 October 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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


BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

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

Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

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

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, August 1916

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

August 1916 – On 26th July Christopher Cox died in Oxford Hospital where he was being treated for serious head and thigh wounds. The funeral took place at Ampthill, with full military honours in the presence of a large and sympathetic congregation. The firing party and band from the Ampthill Camp preceded the procession from his home to the Parish Church. Volleys were fired over the grave, and the “The Last Post ” sounded. Mother, Father and his brothers, Private Josiah- and Edward Cox, were there to mourn the death.

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August 4, 1916

 

On Tuesday, August 8th a local Reporter visited the Ampthill Camp. The writer eloquently describes the tranquil setting and the programme of entertainment the assembly enjoyed that Summer evening.

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Source: The Bedfordshire Standard (August 16, 1916); retyped to aid reading

 

 

On Friday, 11th a small draft of convalescent soldiers left the Camp to continue with Overseas Service. Next day a further three drafts, numbering almost 200 men, left the Camp for the completion of training elsewhere, possibly at Sittingbourne. Included among the drafts were most of the members of the Old Regimental Band. Many of the recruits were disappointed at the early departure, as were their relatives. At the station there were some affecting scenes.

The Bedfordshire Training Depot has lost some of it’s usual humdrum. A number of huts stand empty.

 

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August 18, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

The Somme region claimed the lives of seventeen Ampthill Park recruits this month. Eleven of these boys were killed on August 8/9th while serving with the 6th Battalion at Contalmaison – read war diary.

18312 Private Albert ROLFE of Watbridge Died of Wounds on August 1
18577 Private William BAVISTER (23) of Luton Died of Wounds on August 1
17760 Private George BIGNELL (36) of North Church Died of Wounds on August 4
20618 Private Herbert PARSONS (34) of Tilbrook Killed in Action on August 8
18773 Private John Theodore PRATT (22) of Eaton Bray Died of Wounds on August 8
20576 Private Arthur CONSTABLE 24) of Walsworth Killed in Action on August 9
26355 Lance Corporal Thomas HARRIS (19) of Tempsford Killed in Action on August 9
27305 Private Horace Frederick JACKSON of Redbourn Killed in Action on August 9
26703 Private Thomas John MONEY (23) of Ampthill Killed in Action on August 9
25138 Private Arthur READ (34) of Barham Killed in Action on August 9
22153 Private Albert Edward SKEGGS of Hatfield Killed in Action on August 9
26711 Private Jonah SOLE (27) of Ashwell Killed in Action on August 9
25891 Private Edward STEVENS (19) of Shefford Killed in Action on August 9
27043 Private Ralph Henry TOMPKINS (21) of Bozeat Killed in Action on August 9
26785 Private Albert WILTON (35) of Henlow Killed in Action on August 9
18315 Private Percy Alfred SWAIN (22) of Weston Died of Wounds on August 13
34452 Private Sidney Arthur CUTLER (19) of Kensworth Killed in Action on August 16

Sources:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Bedfordshire Regiment

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

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


BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

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

Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

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

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, June 1916

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

June 1916 – The nature of the Camp has started to shift. The Camp was established to train young, local men who heeded Kitchener’s call to volunteer. In early June more married Derby recruits have come in, and from further afield.

More than 1,000 trained men have been sent to reinforce the various battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment in France, and other drafts are in readiness. On Tuesday, June 7th fifty picked men left the Camp and entrained amid enthusiasm for Liverpool to be attached to the Welsh Border Regiment. The Duke of Bedford addressed them prior to departure, and was loudly cheered.

On Saturdays the men have been rising early for long route marches, headed out by the band. The distance covered was about 15 miles. On Saturday 10th Millbrook and Ridgmont were visited while most of the villagers were still in bed. The march from Woburn through the beautiful Park to Eversholt was greatly appreciated.

Summer games and sports during recreation hours are in full swing, and the Park and Camp surroundings are at their best.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday 13th at the Ampthill Training Camp in memory of the late Lord Kitchener, the Chaplain (the Rev CR. Dickinson) conducting, assisted by the Rev. WD May. At 9am a 1,000 men of the Depot and paraded on the top plateau. Marching in slow time to the cadence of Chopin’s Funeral March, the battalion in columns of fours slowly descended the gorse clad slope to the Lower Parade where it formed into three sides of a square. The Regimental Band played the “Dead March” in “Saul,” and Lord Kitchener’s favourite hymn, “Abide with Me,” was sung during the service which was a most impressive one. At the close the Band played Tchaikovsky’s Funeral March.

On Thursday 22nd the Regimental Band, together with officers and a firing party, took part in the funeral of a Canadian soldier who arrived from the trenches in France at Woburn Abbey Hospital on the morning of Saturday week, and who succumbed to his wounds on Monday.

On Monday 26th fifty men were transferred from the Camp to join the South Wales Borderers.

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June 2, 1916

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June 9, 1916

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June 16, 1916

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June 23, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

June 25 – the 2nd Bedfords carried out a raid on the Enemy’s lines. Ampthill recruits were among the Party. All fifty-one returned safely, capturing one prisoner (wounded). The casualties were: – 6 wounded. 1 shell blindness. 1 soldier accidentally wounded by barbed wire – more.

The Revd. C. L. Matthews, the Rector of Clophill, has written from France where he is serving as a chaplain:

“Funerals are always sad and solemn, but I think the funeral of a man who has given his life for his country is more solemn than any other. The cemeteries are getting very full, some of them, but every grave is carefully marked, and the place is tended with every care. Each grave is marked, first of all by a bottle, containing a paper with the man’s name, number, and regiment, and later on by a plain wooden cross with a metal inscription bearing full particulars.”

Source: Barton Parish Magazine, 18 June 1916 (as republished by Bedsathome blog)

Visit the Bedfordshire Regiment website to read the war diary of each Battalion.

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Bedfordshire Regiment

Next installment to be published on 15 August 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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


BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

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

Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

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

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, July 1916

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

July 1916 – Several drafts have left the Ampthill Training Depot this week for the East Coast. The band marched each draft to the Station, and His Grace was there to see the men entrained. A good many civilian friends gave them a cheery farewell. Recruits have arrived to take the place of those who have left.

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July 14, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

A subdued letter has been received from Joseph Bilcock who trained at the Ampthill Camp. Joseph is now attached to the Royal Engineers, serving at the Front. He dreams of a decent meal, duck and green peas….. The uncertainty and conditions are taking their toll.
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*18308 Private Bilcock would serve with the British Expeditionary Force for a further 15 months. Joseph was wounded and sadly on October 28, 1917 succumbed to his wounds…..

The Battles of the Somme

The ‘Big Push’ in the Somme Region has seen 520 Bedfords’ killed this month. Sixty-nine of these soldiers trained at the Ampthill Camp. Most of the deaths arose from four British attacks:

July 1916 – Ampthill recruits killed or who died of wounds


July 1st – First Day of The Somme

On 1 July 1916 the British Expeditionary Force commenced a major offensive at the Somme. Ampthill recruits in the Bedfords’ 7th Battalion (C & D Company) were in frontline trenches, and went over the top. 19,240 British soldiers were killed on that infamous day. Ninety-five Bedfords were among them – ten of these men trained at the Ampthill Camp:

Many more soldiers were wounded. The Bedfordshire Regiment 7th Battalion War Diary provides an account  of what happened on 1 July 1916 –more.

 July 11th – Trônes Wood

The Bedfords’ 2nd Battalion saw action on 11 July at Trones Wood – map. The war diary reports ‘unexpectedly encountering a trench complex and machine guns’ that were concealed by the heavy undergrowth.

1916.7.21 BS Trones Wood

Bedfordshire Standard – July 21, 1916

Sixteen Ampthill recruits who were killed that day. A further two men died on 12 July of their wounds – more about the Bedfords’ in Trônes Wood:

July 27th – Longueval

The 1st Bedfordshire supported the 1st Norfolks in attacking the village of Longueval – map. A 2 hour bombardment preceded ZERO HOUR (7.10 A.M).

The Report on Operations indicates that the Bedfords’ encountered significant resistance as they entered the village. This took the form of heavy machine gun fire and a German counter attack that halted the advance. Casualties were heavy. Ten Ampthill recruits were killed in the action.

Read the Bedfordshire Regiment 1st Battalion War Diary

July 30th – Maltz Horn Farm

The 2nd Battalion was engaged in an attack at Maltz Horn Farm – map. At ZERO HOUR 3:30am “A” Company attacked in two extended lines, capturing the farm and trench. 70-80 Germans were killed in the Maltz Horn German Trench and one prisoner taken. The Farm itself was found not to be held. “A” Company rejoined the Battalion in its original front line and suffered about 30 Casualties in the whole operation.

The Battalion was to move up into their positions in the Trenches just South of Trones Wood. The attack was severely hampered by a dense fog that caused the attacking Battalions to lose touch. Orders were given for “B” and “C” Companies to move up in support and reinforce the 19th and 20th Kings Liverpool Regiment. Thwarted by communication difficulties the companies dug in and excavated a new trench 300 yards long. The whole position was heavily shelled throughout the day.

Nine Ampthill recruits were killed in the operation.

Read the Bedfordshire Regiment 2nd Battalion War Diary


July 1916 – other Ampthill recruits who were killed or died

19447 Private Frederick CAIN (26) of Hitchin – Killed accidentally on July 2
22501 Private William WALDOCK of St Albans – Died of Wounds on July 3
20973 Private Walter DAWSON (19) of Stow – Died of Wounds on July 4
22385 Private Frederick CHASE of Hockliffe – Killed in Action on July 10
20859 Private William REYNOLDS of Stotfold Killed in Action on July 10
19108 Lance Corporal Frank THORNTON (27) of Ascott-under-Wychwood – Died of Wounds on July 10
22170 Private Ernest Edward AMBROSE (19) of Wallington – Died of Wounds on July 13 – more
22940 Private Cecil Sydney ROE (19) of Huntingdon – Field accident on July 14
20528 Private Charles Henry LUDGATE (20) of Woburn – Killed in Action on July 15 – more
22178 Private Robert POINTER (39) of St Albans – Killed in Action on July 15 – more
20643 Private Walter Leslie James SAWYER (23) of Little Barford – Killed in Action  on July 15 – more
18510 Private Joseph PAYNE – Died of Wounds on July 16
18294 Corporal Walter James BIRD (37) of Baldock – Died of Wounds on July 17
22523 Private William Joseph SHAMBROOK of Sharnbook – Killed in Action on July 19
18526 Lance Corporal John RAINSDEN (33) of St Albans – Died of Wounds on July 22
27407 Private John William GREEN of Wymington – Killed in Action on July 23
20056 Private Harry Edward HARPER (21) of Leighton Buzzard – Died of Wounds on July 23
19449 Private John W. HILLYARD (40) of Westoning – Killed in Action on July 24
22051 Private Charles BUSHBY (29) of Harlington – Killed in Action on July 28
18182 Private Rufus Ernest BOWYER (18) of New Harrowden – Died of Wounds on July 30
20228 Private Ernest John ENDERSBY (36) of Sandy – Killed in Action on July 31

Sources:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Bedfordshire Regiment
Daily Mail Online

Next installment to be published on 31 August 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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


BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

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

Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

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

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, May 1916

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

May 1916 – On Friday, April 29 a draft of 130 men left camp for the Front to reinforce the Bedfordshire Regiment, 6th and 8th Battalions. The Duke of Bedford addressed the men that morning and, with the Duchess, saw them off at night. The men were marched to the Station and enjoyed the usual big send-off.

A further draft of 130 men left on Friday, May 5 to join the 6th Bedfords’. Having wished them well the Duke went on to inspect the entire Camp; upwards of a thousand recruits turned out. Rumours were rife that the bulk of the soldiers in Camp would be sent away to finish their training and so make room for Derby recruits.

On Friday 19th a draft of 50 smart young fellows left Camp to join the 8th Bedfords’ in France. The Duke and Duchess were present to wish them farewell. In late May a fair number of married man have come to the Camp through joining up before their group calls.

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May 5, 1916

 

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May 12, 1916

 

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May 26, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

There have been more letters from men of the Bedfords’ 8th Battalion who were involved in the big scrap on 19/20 April at the Ijser Canal Bank near Ypres.

Thursday 4th May 1916: Private W. Horley, a bomb thrower in the 8th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, is home convalescing. His is another hair-raising story resultant from the attack on the battalion on 19th April. He was in the trenches at Ypres when his trench was bombarded by the Germans and nearly demolished, a dug-out was shattered and several of his mates were buried. Horley, with others, removed the debris with their hands and got them out. One of them, a sergeant, was badly hurt, and as it was cold, Horley returned to the ruins to fetch his overcoat. At that moment a shell came over and finished the destruction of the dug-out and he was buried, pinned by the legs and wounded in the neck by shrapnel. The Germans took the trench and held it for two days, until it was retaken by then Bedfordshire Regiment and Shropshire Light Infantry. He endured this tomb for seven days when he was fortunate enough to attract the attention of a sergeant of the Buffs, who had him released. He was removed to the base hospital in a very exhausted condition and from thence brought to Saint John’s Wood Hospital, where he remained for four weeks. He is at home at Hockliffe on ten days’ leave and will then return to his regiment, with the hope of “getting his own back”. His confinement was really his salvation. Had he been in the trench when it fell he would have shared the fate of his comrades, who were either killed or taken prisoners.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard June 16, 1916 (as republished by Bedsatwar blog)

Private Dick Bryant writes from Herne Bay Hospital. Bryant was formerly an Ampthill Camp recruit and in the big scrap on April 19th he sustained 13 wounds and narrowly escaped with his life, a Bible and a tobacco box in his breast pocket being much damaged. He says: “I am lucky to be alive. Sometimes out there you wish anything, but I have wished ever so many times they had not hit me, for it has been a very queer two or three days. I began to think my leg was going the wrong way, but I am going on alright today. It is lovely weather here and I long to get out in the air. I asked the doctor if I could go out and they are going to wheel me out this afternoon. I have got to be operated on, a bit of bone has to come out. He said if he did not do it I shall be six or seven months and then not right.”

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle June 26, 1916 (as republished by Bedsatwar blog)

Visit the Bedfordshire Regiment website to read the war diary of each Battalion.

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

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

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


BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

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

Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

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

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, April 1916

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

April 1916 – in early April the passes for weekend leave were withheld, there being a case of measles in camp. With the advent of some real spring weather, sports have been well to the fore. Football is very popular and a keen match was played by companies 1 and 2 on Saturday, April 8.

In mid April a draft representing the machine section left the Ampthill Camp for further training elsewhere. The regimental band accompanied them to Ampthill Midland Station, and the men had a cheery send-off from their comrades an civilians as they passed through the town.

Meanwhile on April 13 at the Ampthill Workhouse the Board of Governors met to consider whether any of the inmates were fit enough to earn their keep and assist the war effort by working on the land – more.

On Thursday, 27th the Camp broke up with the men getting leave until the Tuesday. Several men who trained at Ampthill have been invalided home from France and are back at the camp on light duty.

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April 7, 1916

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April 14, 1916

April 1916

April 28, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Private C. Lees, writing from the Front says: “We are attached to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion – 35 of us from the last draft from Ampthill – but we are not certain how long we will be here, as we have to join our regiment, the 8th Bedfords, as soon as they want us. We are at present stationed about four miles from the firing line at Ypres, marching up to the reserve trenches in the morning, then back again in the afternoon. German big shells and shrapnel have been bursting in the next field to where we have been working today, so you can guess that it has been a bit exciting. There is not much danger here, unless, of course, we happen to get in the way of these shells. We have to wash in a brook that runs near the camp. It is a lot different from good old Ampthill Camp out here, but not at all bad considering we are in Belgium”.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 7th April 1916 (as republished by Bedsatwar blog)

On April 15 at Ypres the Ampthill recruits took their turn in the trenches of Yser Canal Bank between bridges No.2 and 4 – map. On the night of 19/20 April, after 2 hours of heavy bombardment, the German infantry attacked with bomb and bayonet, and gained a footing in the British front-line trenches. The Bedfords resisted but sustained heavy casualties and lost ground. Killed – Capt Quilter, 2Lt Cartwright, 2Lt McMichael. Wounded 2Lt Vipond, 2Lt Harry Player, 2Lt William Eugene Charles. Missing 2Lt Squier. Other Ranks – Killed 32, Missing believed Killed 97, Wounded 65. At least nineteen Ampthill Park recruits were killed that day; others would have been among the wounded.

The Bedfords were relieved by men of the 2nd Yorkshire- and the Lancaster Regiment. The trenches were retaken next day.

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Bedfordshire Regiment: 8th Battalion War Diary

Next installment to be published on 15 July 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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


BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard

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

Proceeds will help to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp ~ profits to benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.

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

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

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

October 1915 –An excellent spirit pervades the Camp – members of the Bedford Junior Unionist Association were entertained at the Sergeants’ Mess. Bandmaster Mr HE. Easton kindly arranged a capital programme of music.

Early on Saturday, October 2nd the Duke and Duchess of Bedford were in attendance to address the fifth draft. His Grace made a short speech counselling words of advice and encouragement. The 80 men, led by the Regimental Band, then passed through the ranks of their comrades amidst loud cheers and onto Ampthill Midland Station. The draft is enroute to Southampton and then France. Four hundred and thirty-six local men have now passed out of the Camp to do their duty for King and Country.

On Saturday 19th had a route march out via Ridgmont and Steppingley. Then on Thursday the chaps played football against the 2/1st Herefords. The Camp won this enjoyable game by 5-0. The game was not nearly so one-sided as the score might suggest.

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October 1, 1915

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October 8, 1915

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October 25, 1915

News from the Front

News full of encouragement continues to reach the Camp from the former drafts who are in France. They have been in the thick of the recent fighting near Loos.

The Battle of Loos, Belgium – for four days our big guns bombarded a six-and-half mile front. Then on September 25, 1915 the British Expeditionary Force released an fearful cloud of gas and engaged in a major assault, supporting a larger French action to the South. The 2nd Bedfords were part of the ‘Big Push,’ intent on breaking through the German lines. Ampthill Park chaps were in the action – reports are starting to filter through. 

Supporting the first attack, the 2nd Battalion moved across and over the former enemy front line with few casualties. B Company was on the left and D Company to the right, C Company in support, and A Company in reserve. The Bedfords began to advance across open ground behind the German frontline and came under a very heavy rifle fire. The Battalion now suffered severely but continued to rush forwards in small parties. Two platoons got a hundred yards in front of the Gun Trench, but being unsupported had to fall back in ones and twos. Second-Lieutenant Forward was killed and 7 officers wounded. Captain Hutchinson died from wounds later in the day. Casualties of other Ranks during 25.9.15 – 1.10.15. KILLED 45; MISSING 40; WOUNDED 270 – 355. Ampthill Park boys are among the dead and wounded; others have been gassed.


A Funeral –
on Wednesday, October 27th mourners gathered at Bedford Cemetery to lay Lance Corporal Southgate to rest. Walter was among the first men to join the Ampthill Camp in December 1914. In August he was drafted to the Front and was badly wounded at Loos on his first day in the trenches. Walter was cleared back to Folkestone Hospital where he succumbed four weeks later.

The Ampthill Camp was represented at the Funeral by 119 men, including a firing party, under the command of Captain Hon. Moubray St.John. The non-commissioned officers present included Company Sergeant Major Roberts, Company Quarter Master Sergeant Burke, Sergeant Norman and Sergeant Allen. There were many old comrades and friends of No. 2 Company in the ranks.

The coffin, which was drawn on a gun carriage, was draped with the Union Flag and was covered with wreathes. It was preceded by the Battalion Band who played a somber Dead March in “Saal”. The Rev. Canon Speck conducted an impressive service at the cemetery, where a large crowd gathered to pay a last tribute to a brave soldier and a beloved friend.

Source: Bedfordshire Times (October 22, 1915) as republished by Bedsatwar

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The Bedfordshire Regiment 2nd Battalion War Diary provides a contemporary account of the Battalion at the Battle of Loos. The key dates are 25 September to 15 October 1915.

Loos was the first time the British used poison gas – 140 tonne of chlorine – which formed a blanket that lingered and drifted in no-man’s-land hampering the attack and contributing to British casualties.

Many of the Ampthill Park recruits would have been in action for the first time – imagine the men advancing into the dank cloud of gas each protected by a primitive hood, excitement mixed with fear. Emerging from the cover, German machine guns swept eagerly across the British line, the sound, the grim reality….

There were 61,000 British casualties at Loos; of these 7,766 men died. The British death toll exceeded any previous WWI battle. More about the Battle of Loos.

At the time family and friends back home would have heard little about what was happening at the Front. The Defence of The Realm Act 1914 meant that soldier’s letters home were censored and the Government only permitted a select few ‘accredited’ reporters access to the front. More about censorship.

Sources:
The Bedfordshire Standard. The Bedfordshire Times & Independent. These original broadsheets are part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Imperial War Museum
Bedfordshire Regiment 2nd Battalion War Diary
Longlongtrail.co.uk/the-battle-of-loos
Bedsatwar blog

Next installment to be published on 15 April 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)