Tag Archives: Harry Ansell

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

April 1918 – two wounded, non-commissioned officers who have won gallantry medals are undergoing rehabilitation at the Ampthill Command Depot.

9409 Acting Company Sergeant Major Alfred STRINGER D.C.M. was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in 1915 for his brave actions, and has also won the Russian Cross of St. George.

Alfred (20) joined the Army in January 1909 and was drafted in October 1914. He distinguished himself on May 16, 1915 at Festubert when, in the face of heavy German fire, Alfred Stringer led a small party who rushed a barricade that blocked the road and was hindering the British attack. Two days later when the Bedfords’ again went over the top Stringer, with ten men, reached a German trench in advance of the Battalion and held it against heavy odds until ordered to retire.

On September 30, 1915 Sergeant Stringer won a bar to the D.C.M.  at the Battle of Loos where he led a night bombing raid. The party struggled forwards in the face of fierce resistance and achieved their objective of taking the German trench, and repelled further vigorous counter attacks.

13784 Corporal Ernest W. JONES M.M. was awarded the Military Medal for his brave actions on August 10, 1917 during a British attack on the West Hoek Ridge in the Ypres Sector. Faced with a counter attack the Battalion withdrew and sustained casualties in Glencorse Wood which was being heavily shelled. Corporal Jones advanced into the wood and succeeded in bringing out some of the casualties.

[both of these men survived the war and were discharged from service in 1919].

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Bedfordshire Standard – April 12, 1918

News of the Canadians

The total cut for April amounted to 583,015 F.B.M. This was produced at the Canadian Mill at Ampthill Station and at the Scotch Mill at Clophill. The Canadian Mill lumbered timber from softwood hauled by motor transport from the Flitwick Plantation. The Clophill operation achieved 23 sawing days despite being handicapped by having to log fallen timber and haul it half a mile by horse-drawn wagon across the fields, and being impacted by the Portuguese labour trouble.

A total of 770,219 F.B.M. of sawn timber was consigned from Ampthill Station which is a little lower than in March.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

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

Source: 

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

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
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)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 30 April 2018….

Text and images 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 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.

To remember that amazing day and the memories it went onto craft, here is a free copy of the book “Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints” – click to download.

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

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

September 1915 – Four drafts have already been sent from the Training Depot, numbering 356. The men at the Camp now total almost 1000. Recruits continue to come in and the men have been informed that to encourage personal recruiting the Duke of Bedford will give an extra fee for each fresh recruit procured. The open-air gymnasium has opened and more huts are being put up. Drafts 5, 6 and 7, totalling a further 200 men, are ready for despatch to the Front.

On Thursday, September 2, Major-General E.F. Dixon paid an official inspection to the Ampthill training camp. The General first inspected the recruits’ musketry on the range and a party of men engaged in rapid firing from a trench.

1915.10.8 BT - trench rapid firing

Recruits practice rapid firing

The inspecting officer then went to the trenching ground in Woburn Road. There General Dixon inspected the trenches and observed the relief carried out in a capital time of 35 minutes. Next he observed bomb fighting in the trenches, carried out in accordance to a scheme drawn up by Lieutenant Collisson.

No.6 draft, under Major Young, was exercised in extended order and firing discipline, and also in close order formation. The General also went to see the signalling class, under Sergeant Freemantle, and rapid loading in a trench followed by a bayonet attack in the final assault.

The Cadet Platoon came in for special notice by the General who witnessed the men tackle the obstacle course which has been newly installed to a plan sent from the Royal Engineers Office, Bedford. The General was delighted with all he saw and expressed his satisfaction to the Commanding Officer.

A Colt machine gun and a dummy Maxim have been purchased. Future drafts going to the Front will include detachments trained in the use of these guns.

His Grace has added a hut to the house in Dunstable Street, Ampthill that is rented for use as a V.A.D. Hospital. This new hospital enables men of the Depot to be medically treated without the usual deduction of 7d per dieum for hospital stoppages from their pay.

On Tuesday, September 21, Captain the Hon. Moubray St.John kindly showed our reporter around the trenching ground and minutely explained their construction and uses – read more. The trenches are similar in all respects to the British and German trenches at Ypres.

 

September 23, 1915

In the Ampthill Parish Magazine the Reverend Walter D. May writes ~
Lady Smith Dorrien has appealed for generous funds to enable the many of the National Service Leave to make Hospital Bags for wounded soldier’s personal effects.

The Headmaster, Mr Searle, has painted a large wooden tablet on the outside of the National School in Bedford Road and written thereon the names of 64 old boys who have joined His Majesty’s Forces. A second tablet names a further 12 former members of the night school.


  

 

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The Wooden Tablets erected outside the National School (1918-) Source: Andrew Underwood (1988) “Ampthill in Old Picture Postcards, Volume 1”

What became of the men mentioned in the Bedfordshire Standard?

Second-Lieutenant Evelyn Ernest Arnold Collisson – of Gravenhurst. Joined the 2nd Battalion in the field on the November 24, 1915. On February 23, 1916 after only a few months in the trenches Second-Lieutenant Collisson was killed during a “very quiet”, cold, snowy day. He was originally buried in the Maricourt cemetery but appears to have been moved in the 1920’s and now lies in the Cerisy-Gailly Military cemetery. Evelyn is remembered in Gravenhurst Parish Church where his father was the rector. More about Second-Lieutenant Collison: Bedsatwar

Source:
The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Banner of Faith
Andrew Underwood (1988) “Ampthill in Old Picture Postcards, Volume 1”

Next installment to be published on 1 April 2016….

Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the memorial plate in Ampthill Methodist Church

There are four WWI memorials in Ampthill:

  • In Ampthill Park the Duke of Bedford Memorial Cross remembers the 2,235 local volunteers who trained in Ampthill Park (1914-16) and the 707 who were killed;
  • At the end of the Alameda the Cenotaph remembers the 65 Ampthill men who were killed;
  • In St.Andrew’s Church Yard a Memorial Cross remembers the parishioners who were killed;
  • Inside Ampthill Methodist Church a large, brass wall plate remembers the men connected with the Church and Sunday School who were killed.

On Monday 4, August 2014 to commemorate the outbreak of WWI I photographed three of the memorials.

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Duke of Bedford Memorial Cross, Ampthill Park

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Cenotaph, The Alameda

 

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Memorial Cross, St.Andrew’s Church

On 24, February 2016 Ampthill Methodist Church kindly allowed me to photograph the fourth memorial – a large brass plate Inside the Nave on the East wall.The Memorial Plate is inlaid with enamel and measures about a yard square. It was unveiled on 5, December 1920.

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Memorial Wall Plate, Ampthill Methodist Church

Six of the men are brothers of the Ansell, Cox and Money families. Christopher and Frank Cox were killed a few days apart in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. John Hele’s book ‘Ampthill’s Fallen‘ tells the fate of all twenty-two men. Five of the men are also remembered on the Duke of Bedford War Memorial in Ampthill Park where they trained (1914-16). The five men are:

  • Arthur Gillett
  • Thomas Money
  • George Money
  • Richard William Putman
  • George Thompson

 

Sources
Ampthill’s Fallen (John Hele, 2014)

Content & photographs copyright Stephen Hartley (2015-)