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.
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.
- Killed in Action
April 19, 1916
18830 Private Horace LOVELL (19) of Emberton
20043 Private Archidale Saunders ROBINSON (20) of Great Barford
20172 Private Albert George COX of Sundon
20281 Private Arthur BUSBY of Marston Shelton
20323 Private Ernest ANNIS (24) of Kimbolton
20532 Private John HOLDING (41) of Alconbury
20584 Private George James HOWARD (27) of Little Wymondley
20892 Private Samuel CHALKLEY (39) of Hitchin
20983 Private William BRUNT (24) of Upper Caldecotte
22034 Private Samuel HEDGE (29) of Toseland
22216 Private Reginald Charles EATON (19) of Oakley
22277 Private William Henry ATKIN of Bedford
22462 Private Charles ELLINGHAM (35) of Luton
22463 Private Walter Reginald GATWARD (30) of Royston
22505 Private Walter Ernest GORE (27) of Luton
- April 20, 1916
17322 Private Arthur John BIRD of Walthamstow
18576 Private Horace SARGENT (18) of Turvey
20426 Private Bert WARD (21) of Olney
22017 Private Stanley BURR of Holwell – more about the Burr brothers
- April 27, 1916
16555 Private Frederick WHITE (39) of Shefford
- April, 29 1916
Died of Wounds
20256 Private Alfred James TWO of Marston
Died at Home
22921 Private Henry WHITBY (16) of Pidley
The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
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.
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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.
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