Tag Archives: Gravenhurst

WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – 2nd Lieutenant Collisson

Evelyn E. A. Collisson (1893-1916) was born in the village of Haynes in Bedfordshire. In 1896 the family moved to The Rectory in Gravenhurst. His father, Cambridge University scholar the Rev. Thomas Collisson, was Rector of St. Mary’s Church, Lower Gravenhurst and Vicar of St. Giles’ Church, Upper Gravenhurst.


The Collisson Family (1905)

After being educated at the Boxgrove School, Guildford and at Aldenham School Evelyn chose to enter business life over University. He joined the firm of Gibbs & Sons and was sent to Valparais in Chile. Evelyn had been a Sergeant in the Army Officer Training Corps. On the outbreak of war he volunteered for service and made his way by mule back across the Andes to Buenos Aires. From there Evelyn travelled home aboard the Nelson Line’ Highland Rover. The steamer docked on December 28th, 1914 at the Port of London.

On February 13, 1915 Evelyn joined the Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park as a 2nd Lieutenant where he trained with the recruits.


In November 1915 2nd Lieutenant Collisson was posted to join the 2nd Bedfords’ at the Front. He was to receive a Headquarters Staff appointment.

Evelyn served with ‘A’ Company in the Somme region near Maricourt. Wednesday, February 23rd 1916 was a cold, snowy day. At 12:15pm he was killed in action by a single sniper round to the head, and died instantly. Evelyn (22) was buried in the Maricourt in France, the officiating priest being the Rev. G.R. Vallings, Chaplain of the 1/7th Gordon Highlanders. His resting place was marked with an iron cross with a Bedfords’ badge attached to it. Here is the list of personal effects:

E.Collisson telegram



Peronal Effects

On the afternoon of Friday, March 10th the Rev. C. Dickenson, Chaplain to the Duke of Bedford’s Ampthill Camp, led a memorial service at St. Giles’ Church. The mourners included the Rev. T. and Mrs. Collisson, family, friends and parishioners. The Duke of Bedford, twenty of the officers including Majors Nelson, Stevens and Young, Dr Garner, ten non-commissioned officers, and men from the Ampthill Camp attended to pay their respects. The Union Jack flew at half-mast from the Church tower, and a muffled peal on the bells was rung at the close of the service.


March 17, 1916

The impact and strain on the Rev. and Mrs. Collisson are unimaginable. How to support parishioners in difficult times when their son had been killed by the very same? In July 1916 the Collisson family moved to the village of Swyre, much of which was owned by the Duke of Bedford – more.

Lieutenant Collisson was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

On August 10, 1917 Evelyn’s fellow officers and friends gathered to unveil and dedicate a memorial window and a brass plate at St. Mary’s Church, Lower Gravenhurst. The window which is a fine piece of art representing “War and Peace” is the work of Messrs. Hall and Sons of St.Pancras in London. Evelyn is also remembered in Upper Gravenhurst on the War Memorial in St. Giles’ Churchyard. Evelyn’s grave was consolidated to the Cerisy-Gailly Military cemetery.


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The Rev. Thomas Collisson (1852-1921) died in the Dorset village of Swyre, where he is buried. Evelyn’s mother Florence (1856-1942) and his sister each returned to Bedfordshire. Winifred (1900-1993) is buried in St. Mary’s graveyard.


St. Mary’s Church, Lower Gravenhurst
The Bedfordshire Standard
Bedfordshire & Luton Archive Service
National Archive
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
bedfordshire regiment

© S.Hartley (2015-)






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

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

February 1916 – early this month a “spring clean” has been going on, and the whole of the huts have been cleansed and cleaned. Firing at the Milbrook Range continues most days.

RAF Aerial Photograph (1947)

The recruits are being regularly entertained with a fest of concerts by Mr Stewardson’s Bedford party, the Camp String Band, and “The Sandbags.”

Another four drafts – totalling about 480 men – have been picked out for active service. The Regimental Band gave each draft a hearty send-off. The Band journeyed into London with the third contingent and marched the Bedfords to Waterloo Station.

In a Luton a Tribunal has heard the cases of a number of conscientious objectors who asked to be excused from military service rather than enlist as required by the Derby Scheme.

Sad news has been received of 2nd Lieutenant Collisson who was formerly at Ampthill Camp to assist with training. At noon on February 23rd Lieutenant Collisson was shot by a sniper and he died instantly. Rector Collisson and the village of Gravenhurst have sustained a great loss.

Second Lieutenant Collisson

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

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 15 June 2016….

Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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.