Tag Archives: Herbert Cambers

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, April 1917

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 1917 – News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Mr and Mrs William have received tragic confirmation that one of their sons has been killed. In the Somme region on August 9, last 26703 Private Thomas J. Money was reported as missing in action.


Bedfordshire Standard – April 20, 1917

After a quiet Spring the Bedfords’ have seen action in the allied offensive at Arras in France. Eighty-four Ampthill Recruits have been killed – 35 of the boys fell in the April 23rd attack at La Coulotte. One of these chaps – 26708 Private William J. SMITH of Dunstable – was awarded the Military Medal for his galant actions.


Source: The National Archives at Kew

Lieutenant Geoffrey de Cateret Millais survived the action and has been recommended to receive the Military Cross for “cool courage at LA COULOTTE on the 23rd inst. Though lying out in a shell hole all day a short distance from German wire when he was continually fired at with M.G. and Minnenwerfen which became intense and his retiring a problem, he despatched [?] later despite the fact that he knew this would draw attention to his position. One of the men with him was wounded. He also sent back two messages by power buzzer and was unable to withdraw until night” – war diary.

On April 29 ten Ampthill recruits were killed in action with the 4th Bedfords’ at the Battle of Oppywood. The Battalion attacked at dawn & captured its objective, was counter attacked and driven out and recaptured trench and consolidated it about 11.0 A.M. The trench was shelled heavily by German artillery all day – war diary.

Fifty-nine of these 83 Ampthill recruits have no known grave.


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 May 2017….

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.