Tag Archives: Christmas

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, December 1918

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

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

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

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

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

There have been khaki weddings:

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

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

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

General Election

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

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

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

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

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

Ampthill Command Depot

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

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

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

News of Ampthill Boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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




Next instalment to be published on 31 January 2019….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

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

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

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


WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, December 1916

The ‘Camp Diary’ provides an insight into the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16) and No.9 Command Depot (1916-1919) that followed. Based on newspaper reports of the time.

December 1916 – it is barely two months since the Command Depot was established. In that short space of time occupancy has rapidly risen to about 1,000 convalescent soldiers. More buildings are being put up.

A number of men at the Depot have been awards medals for their bravery and gallant actions at the Front:

  • Sergeant O.G. Avis of the 1/4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment – the Distinguished Conduct Medal for taking up a platoon as support under heavy fire at Loos in February 1916
  • 7942 Lance-Corporal Harry Steele of the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment – the Military Medal for gallant actions as a stretcher-bearer during a fight for a crater at Rocklincourt in June.
  • 24954 Private Abraham M. Brunning of the 7th Battalion Suffolk Regiment – the Military Medal for working 36 hours under heavy fire at The Somme as a stretcher-bearer bringing in the wounded.

Pte Abraham Brunning (c1914) – used with kind permission

These three men were subsequently joined the ‘Class P Reserve‘ because their services were deemed to be ‘temporarily of more value to the country in civil life rather than in the Army.’ The three men survived the Great War.

The Ampthill Volunteer Training Corps has increased to nearly 70. Their headquarters in town are not large enough for drill, and so the largest Camp hut, known as “Olympia,” has been placed at Corps’ disposal for training on certain nights.

As we approach Christmas a Memorial Service has been held at St. Andrew’s Church where prayers were offered for those fighting for King and Country, and on behalf of those mourning the loss of loved relatives.



December 22, 1916


December 22, 1916


December 15, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front 

Mrs C.Smith (of Preston, Hitchin) has received a Christmas postcard from her son Leonard [18677 Private L.C. Smith] who left the Camp in October 1915 to serve with the Bedfords’ at the Front.

News has been received about Arthur Day (of Lilley) who trained at the Ampthill Camp and has been at the Front since July. On November 2nd Private Day was wounded in the back. He has been cleared back to Newcastle-on-Tyne War Hospital and is recuperating.

There is also news about 23246 Private Henry Diggins (of Maulden). Sadly, Private Diggins was killed by a shell. The family await official confirmation.


December 1, 1916


December 15, 1916


December 22, 1916

  • Casualties 

20585 Sergeant Charles CHANDLER (30) of Hertford Killed in Action on December, 1
18529 Private Edmund ALLEN of Alconbury Weston Died of Wounds on December, 12
G60150 Private John WILMOT of Welwyn Died of Wounds on December, 19
18860 Private Henry E. CLARKE (33) of Kensworth Died at Home on December, 20



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 31 January 2017….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

BUY: Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints

This 48 page book tells the story of how Tommy’s Footprints came about and notes the many people who have contributed and connected. There are just 150 individually numbered books. A unique Christmas gift.

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

£6 (inc p&p). Please email hartleyhare135@gmail.com to order by PayPal or BACS transfer. The book is also available from Ampthill Town Council, The Hub and The Stationery Boutique in Ampthill while stocks last.