Tag Archives: Constance Russell

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

July 1918 – the Ampthill Volunteers had an interesting lecture on ‘Outpost Duties’ by C.S.M. Simpson of the Ampthill Command Depot.

On Tuesday, 30th July a concert was given by children of the National School in aid of the Blind Soldiers Children Fund. There was a good attendance which included Lady Ampthill, the Hon. Constance and Romola Russell. A good programme of songs, recitations, and drills had been arranged, and was admirably carried out by the children, for which Mr W. Searle (Headmaster) and the teachers are to be congratulated.

Ampthill Command Depot

On the afternoon of Tuesday, 2 July the Command Depot Sports were held before a large attendance. The sports were held in a large roped-in enclosure just off the Woburn-road (by kind permission of Colonel His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G., A.D.C.).

Whilst the sports were in progress an excellent programme of music was rendered by the Northants Regimental Band, from the Depot at Northampton, and by the Command Depot Drum and Fife Band. Lieutenant Deacon, C.S.M.I Smith, C.S.M.I. Bruce, and Sergeant Easter made excellent clowns.

Sergeant W. Allen was the Hon. Secretary of the Sports Committee, and the various officials were as follows: –

President of Sports Committee – Rev.  C.R. Dickinson (C.F.C.);
Course stewards –  Lieutenant Forbes, Sergeants Green and Traylen;
Starter – Colour Sergeant Parker;
Timekeeper – Lieutenant Mallet;
Clerk of the course – Regimental Sergeant Major Clarke;
Recording clerk – Private Richards;
Referee-  Captain Durrant;
Stewards – the Gymnasium Staff;
Judges – the officers of the Command Depot, with Lance Corporal Asker and Privates Butcher, Holdsworth and Thompson.

The visitors included Lady Ampthill, the Hon. Constance Russell, the Misses Wingfield, the Rev. C.R. Dickinson (Chaplain), Major & Mrs A. Nelson, Major Holmes (Senior Medical Officer), Captain the Hon. Moubray St. John, the officers of the Command Depot,  Miss M. Osborne, Mrs E. Cosler, Miss Newman, and Dr R. Ambler.

1918.7.5 BS (4) .jpg

Her Grace the Duchess of Bedford attended to present the prizes to the successful competitors, and she was accompanied on the platform by Colonel His Grace the Duke of Bedford K.G., A.D.C., Lady Ampthill, Major G.B. Young (President of the Regimental Institute), Major A. Nelson (Adjutant), Major Holmes, Captain the Hon. M. St. John, and the officers of the Command Depot, with the Rev C.R. Dickinson (President of the  Sports Committee), and Sergeant W.J.C. Allen (Hon. Secretary).

Drowned in Ampthill Reservoir – 41278 Private Francis T. BULL, formerly of the Sherwood Foresters, was serving with the Suffolks’ 2nd Battalion and recuperating at the Command Depot. On Wednesday, 31st July 1918 Francis (26) was in the Rezzy training for the swimming sports which was to be held the next today. An eye witness recalls Private Bull ‘entered the water all right, but got into difficulty and sank before they could reach him.’ The Command Depot Sports Day was postponed as a mark of respect. An inquest is to be held.


Canadian Forestry Corps

The total production for July was 513,704 f.b.m. made from 641 logs which was principally hardwood, oak and chestnut from the Flitwick Plantation. 120,145 f.b.m. of sawn timber has been shipped which more than twice the previous month. The shipments were principally to Northampton and consisted of 2″ and 3″ plank.

The number of men parading sick this month averaged between eleven and twelve per day but reached as high as 33 which is 15% of the detachment. This large number was largely due to the epidemic of Spanish influenza at the start of the month.

No.2 Flitwick detachment is nearly at the end of its task and will shortly be withdrawn.

Work is underway to transfer the main operation to No.3 Brandon in Thetford Forest where work is underway where work is underway to clear the right of way for the narrow gauge railway and prepare the proposed mill site.

On Saturday, 27th July Miss Annie Dennis, of Brewery Lane, was married to Private Arthur Cotton (126th C.F.C.) at the Wesleyan Chapel. The bride was attired in a pretty cream dress with matching hat, and was given away by her farther, Mr T. Dennis, with Private J. O’Dell (Bedfords’) as the best man. The happy couple are spending their honeymoon in Rushden.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month the war has claimed the lives of 6 men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.


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

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

Report on the Activities of the 126 Company Canadian Forestry Corps. Ampthill 1917-18 (K.Fadden)
A Review of Activities with the 126th Company Canadian Forestry Corps while stationed at Ampthill, Bedfordshire, Eng. (Sgt H. Porter, 1918)



Next instalment to be published on 31 August 2018….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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

Ampthill Armistice100

November 2018 – it will be one hundred years since news of The Armistice rippled through Bedfordshire, and was welcomed with thankful relief. Hostilities ceased but the war continued to shaped Ampthill in ways which have passed out of living memory.

Ampthill Town Council is leading preparations to build on Tommy’s Footprints and mark the Armistice centenary.

The focal point is Ampthill Armistice100 – a programme of events that build to and align with the nation’s tribute of Battle’s Over which is on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November.

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Click here to download a copy of the programme.

Please email Stephen Hartley if you would like to know more about Ampthill Armistice100 or volunteer.
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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, November 1915

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

November  1915 – Since the Depot opened this time last year 6 drafts, some 500 well-drilled local men have been sent to the Front. In early November another 100 recruits* were accepted which is very encouraging and brings the Camp to 1050 strong. To accommodate the burgeoning number two large structures have been provided at Ampthill Park. The Wesleyan Church Council of Ampthill have most patriotically placed the large room of their Institute at the disposal of the Commanding Officer of the Training Depot to accommodate some of the men, and His Grace has gratefully accepted the offer. Further buildings are being added, the latest being a tailor’s shop.

At the Millbrook Range rifles are now fitted with telescopic sights (the Aldis Telescope and the Gibbs Magnifier) and the latest type of periscope.

On Wednesday, November 24th a number of staff officers of the 59th (North Midland) Division visited the Camp anxious to see the training facilities which exist at the Depot. The squads under instruction at Machine Gun Drill (Maxim and Colt) were first inspected. The staff officers next witnessed recruits at drill and physical training and then passed on to the Miniature Range, the Rapid Loading and Firing Trench and the Obstacle Course. Meanwhile the Signallers under instruction had been engaged in laying telephone wire with Buzzer instruments from the Orderly Room to the Entrenching Ground, a mile distant. When the officers reached the ground the relief of the trenches was carried out. The various kinds of entrenchments, as well as the loopholed parapet and entanglements were visited in turn, great interest being taken in the method used for extending the trenches by sapping. Several of the staff officers had lately been in the trenches at the Front, and it was satisfactory to hear them say that the entrenchments thoroughly up to date in every respect, and in the matter of construction they were far superior to any trenches at the front.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 26th November 1915

*The surge in volunteers may be an early reaction to The Derby Scheme which came in from 16 October 1915. The Derby Scheme was intended increase the number of British fighting men – it moved voluntary enlistment towards compulsory conscription.


November 12, 1915


November 26, 1915

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front


In the Ampthill Parish Magazine the Reverend Walter D. May writes ~

Thirty stretched bearers have been trained. These local people assist at Ampthill Midland Station by helping to remove the wounded from train to ambulances for despatch to Wrest Park Hospital.


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

Banner of Faith

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