Tag Archives: Kitchener

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

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

June 1916 – The nature of the Camp has started to shift. The Camp was established to train young, local men who heeded Kitchener’s call to volunteer. In early June more married Derby recruits have come in, and from further afield.

More than 1,000 trained men have been sent to reinforce the various battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment in France, and other drafts are in readiness. On Tuesday, June 7th fifty picked men left the Camp and entrained amid enthusiasm for Liverpool to be attached to the Welsh Border Regiment. The Duke of Bedford addressed them prior to departure, and was loudly cheered.

On Saturdays the men have been rising early for long route marches, headed out by the band. The distance covered was about 15 miles. On Saturday 10th Millbrook and Ridgmont were visited while most of the villagers were still in bed. The march from Woburn through the beautiful Park to Eversholt was greatly appreciated.

Summer games and sports during recreation hours are in full swing, and the Park and Camp surroundings are at their best.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday 13th at the Ampthill Training Camp in memory of the late Lord Kitchener, the Chaplain (the Rev CR. Dickinson) conducting, assisted by the Rev. WD May. At 9am a 1,000 men of the Depot and paraded on the top plateau. Marching in slow time to the cadence of Chopin’s Funeral March, the battalion in columns of fours slowly descended the gorse clad slope to the Lower Parade where it formed into three sides of a square. The Regimental Band played the “Dead March” in “Saul,” and Lord Kitchener’s favourite hymn, “Abide with Me,” was sung during the service which was a most impressive one. At the close the Band played Tchaikovsky’s Funeral March.

On Thursday 22nd the Regimental Band, together with officers and a firing party, took part in the funeral of a Canadian soldier who arrived from the trenches in France at Woburn Abbey Hospital on the morning of Saturday week, and who succumbed to his wounds on Monday.

On Monday 26th fifty men were transferred from the Camp to join the South Wales Borderers.

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June 2, 1916

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June 9, 1916

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June 16, 1916

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June 23, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

June 25 – the 2nd Bedfords carried out a raid on the Enemy’s lines. Ampthill recruits were among the Party. All fifty-one returned safely, capturing one prisoner (wounded). The casualties were: – 6 wounded. 1 shell blindness. 1 soldier accidentally wounded by barbed wire – more.

The Revd. C. L. Matthews, the Rector of Clophill, has written from France where he is serving as a chaplain:

“Funerals are always sad and solemn, but I think the funeral of a man who has given his life for his country is more solemn than any other. The cemeteries are getting very full, some of them, but every grave is carefully marked, and the place is tended with every care. Each grave is marked, first of all by a bottle, containing a paper with the man’s name, number, and regiment, and later on by a plain wooden cross with a metal inscription bearing full particulars.”

Source: Barton Parish Magazine, 18 June 1916 (as republished by Bedsathome blog)

Visit the Bedfordshire Regiment website to read the war diary of each Battalion.

Source:

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
Bedfordshire Regiment

Next installment to be published on 15 August 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

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


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.

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WWI – Book: Ampthill’s Fallen by John Hele (2014)

In 2014 Ampthill historian John Hele published a book called Ampthill’s Fallen. 

The War Memorial - Cooper's Hill, Ampthill

The Town War Memorial – the Alameda, Ampthill

Ampthill’s Fallen is a tribute to the 67 men on the Ampthill Memorials, and to all those who were killed or died as a result of the Great War. John Hele diligently records what is known about each man’s life, service and death. Eight of the men also appear on the Memorial Cross in Ampthill Park because they trained at the Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16). The eight soldiers are:

  • 23071 Private Harry Burt
  • 22809 Private Arthur Gillett
  • 30064 Private Stewart William Hill
  • 23251 Acting Sergeant George Money
  • 26703 Private Thomas Money
  • 23503 Private Richard Putman
  • 23511 Lance Corporal George Thompson
  • 18972 Private Albert Willis

To find out more read Ampthill’s Fallen [ISBN 978-0-9542619-5-5 – 149 pages ~ £13 inc p&p]. To obtain a copy of this excellent book please email John Hele.

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Memorial Cross Bronze Plaques

In 1914 Lord Kitchener (Secretary of State for War) issued a call to arms. The 11th Duke of Bedford was keen to assist the Great War effort and responded by applying to fund and build a training camp in Ampthill Park – the ‘Bedfordshire Training Depot.’ By August 1916 the Depot would train 2,235 infantry soldiers to fight for ‘King and Country.’

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The Warriors Sword

After the war the Duke commissioned a Memorial Cross to remember the soldiers who trained there, the 707 men who died, and the ‘Ampthill Command Depot’ that treated 8369 injured soldiers (1916-19). The Memorial Cross was built in 1919 and incorporates phosphor bronze plaques. The plaques record the history of the Bedfordshire Training Depot and the names of the 707 fallen.

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The phosphor bronze plaques

There were three sets of plaques which faced North, East, South and West. The top tier included three verses of the poem ‘O Valiant Heart.’ The second tier of four bronzes record the history of the Bedfordshire Training Depot. The bottom tier record the names of the 707 soldiers who died.

In March 1970 thirteen of the plaques were stolen. Records were searched to establish what appeared on the plaques and funds were raised to replace them.  In 2013 the Memorial Cross was restored with a complete set of bronze plaques. On 21 September 2013 there was a Service of Re-dedication and Remembrance.

I photographed the Memorial Cross on 13 February 2015. The photographs show the eight bronze plaques of the middle and top tiers.

The middle tier of bronze plaques

Facing South

Facing South

Facing North

Facing North

Facing West

Facing West

Facing

Facing East

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‘The Hollow’  which the East Facing Plaque mentions (Memorial Cross off photograph to the left)

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The top tier of bronze plaques

Three of the plaques are verses from a 19th Century poem which became the hymn ‘O Valiant Hearts.’

Facing

Facing East

Facing

Facing North

Facing

Facing West

Facing

Facing South

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WWI – The Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – Role of Honour

imageIn WWI 2,235 volunteers trained 1914-16 at the Bedfordshire Training Depot. 707 of the chaps died fighting for King and Country. A lone Memorial Cross stands proud in Ampthill Park to remember the horrific loss – here are their names….

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park

In 1914 Lord Kitchener (Secretary of State for War) issued a call to arms. The 11th Duke of Bedford responded by establishing the ‘Bedfordshire Training Depot’ in Ampthill Park to help man the Bedfordshire Regiment. By August 1916 the Depot would train 2,235 infantry soldiers to fight for ‘King and Country.’ A lone Memorial Cross stands proud in Ampthill Park to remember the soldiers who trained there, the 707 men who died, and the ‘Ampthill Command Depot’ that treated 8369 injured soldiers (1916-19).

In 2016 it will be one hundred years since the Bedfordshire Training Depot closed.

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All text and photos copyright Stephen Hartley (2015-)