Tag Archives: Loos

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

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

September 1916 – Another draft of men have left the Camp to join the British Expedition Force. The Ampthill Camp is starting to feel decidedly empty.

On Thursday, 7th September Major-General Pilcher made an inspection of the camp and watched the cadets go through physical drill and bayonet practice. A number of men back from France, following wounds or illness, are engaged in light duties. This includes agricultural work in fields near the Camp.

IMG_9694

September 8, 1916

IMG_9703

September 15, 1916

Wrest Park Military Hospital

Since the outbreak of war Wrest Park has played a major part in treating the wounded. On Thursday, 14th a convoy train of wounded soldiers were met at Ampthill Station and conveyed to Woburn and Wrest Park Hospitals. Later that day a major fire developed in the East Wing of Wrest Park. Some 160 soldiers were there convalescing at the time. Twice during the night the Ampthill Camp bugle sounded ‘parade at the double.’ The first order of the evening was for all men who had cycles or other ways of getting to Wrest Park quickly, to start off and assist with the fire. The second call came nearer midnight for the men to assist with arrangements for making comfortable about 50 wounded soldiers removed from Wrest House to Woburn Abbey Hospital and to empty huts in the Camp. The recruits also helped with salvaging valuable furniture and paintings.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The House survived the fire but some parts were gutted. The damage is estimated at £20,000. Thankfully there was no loss of life – read the full newspaper report.

By converting this fine country house into a hospital for wounded soldiers and practically maintaining it for two years at great personal expense, Lord Lucas has rendered great national service, and during the whole time his sister, the Hon. Miss Herbert, devoted herself with loving care and attention to the work of the hospital as Matron. Very few people, indeed, are aware of the great work that has been done at Wrest House, for our wounded heroes brought home from the battlefields.

The authorities have come to the decision that Wrest Park will no longer be used as a military hospital.

Ampthill Camp – more departures

On Friday, 22nd a small group of N.C.O.’s left the camp to join another battalion. Captain Tanqueray who has been heavily engaged with Cadet training, has rejoined the Royal West Sussex Regiment. The following officers have proceeded to France to join the Bedfordshire Regiment: Lieutenants Millars and Blanchard, and 2nd Lieutenants Matson, Sharpen, G.C. Scott, Forbes, Stanton, Piercey, Deacon, Hyde, Hope, Woodford, Hickman, Fletcher, Kingdom, and Booth.

IMG_9691

September 22, 1916

IMG_9695

September 29, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

News has been received of two promising Maulden lads, and flags were flown at half mast.

17743 Private Charles Newman has been missing since the Battle of Loo in September last. The War Office has written to his mother intimating that sadly, death must be assumed.

Mr. and Mrs. Northwood have been notified that on September 3rd their only son, Charles, was killed in an attack on the German trenches. Lieutenant D’Airgdor writes that 17843 Private Newman was “hit by a shell.” There is news that on  July 19th a similar fate befell 22523 Private William J.Shambrook of Ware who was with the 54th Mortar Battery.

IMG_9693

Four hundred and six Bedfords’ have been killed during September. Sixty-two of these men trained at the Ampthill – the Camp’s worst month by a country mile. Most of the Ampthill men were killed in the actions of 15th and 25th September.

September 15th – The Battle of Flers-Courcelette

A grim day for the Bedfords’ – the men were part of the British attack at The Battle of Flers-Courcelette in the Somme region. The 8th Battalion had three waves of infantry in position ready to attack from shell holes. At 06:00 artillery started to lay down a heavy barrage – however, the munitions fell short causing many British casualties. At ZERO Hour [06:20] the companies pushed forwards with support. Depleted in number, the Bedfords’ failed to take their objective. Survivors returned to hold the original trenches and were then relieved. 

One hundred and twenty-four Bedfords’ were killed in the action that day. Thirty-nine of these soldiers trained at the Ampthill Camp.

Casualties – September 15
22674 Private Horace AMBRIDGE (27) of Barton Killed in Action
22673 Private Albert ASHBY of Barton Killed in Action
17774 Private John ATKINSON (43) of Barford Killed in Action
22269 Private Daniel AUSTIN of Harrowden Killed in Action
20779 Private Horace BATCHELOR (27) of Flamsted Killed in Action
20527 Private Ernest BODSWORTH (25) of Woburn Killed in Action
20619 Private Archibald BONESS of Biggleswade Killed in Action
20896 Private Albert Edward BRIDGES of Hitchin Killed in Action
23247 Private William Charles BUCKINGHAM of Toddington Killed in Action
22917 Private William CAMFIELD (22) of Walsworth Killed in Action
19895 Private Fredrick COOK (22) of Tilbrook Killed in Action
20910 Private William Arthur Leonard DEVEREAUX (24) of Campton Killed in Action
18801 Private James Charles FEARY (39) of St. Ives Killed in Action
18485 Private Arthur Henry FOSTER (44) of Godmanchester Killed in Action
20667 Private William GILKS of Woburn Killed in Action
23599 Private William GODFREY (21) of Hexton Killed in Action
20969 Private William HAILEY (35) of Walsworth Killed in Action
20483 Private Herbert HARE of Old Warden Killed in Action
19546 Private Walter HENMAN of Breachwood Green Killed in Action
20397 Private Edward HORSLER (33) of Streatley Killed in Action
20941 Private Frank IRONS (18) of Wilstead Killed in Action
19498 Private George JACKSON (42) of Dunton Killed in Action
22457 Private William JACKSON (26) of Stevenage Killed in Action
20744 Private Arthur JANES (31) of Hemel Hempstead Missing (presumed dead)
20345 Private John JELLIS (33) of Upper Sundon Killed in Action
20316 Private Richard John LISTER (32) of Needingworth Killed in Action
22504 Private Robert LOVETT (20) of Biggleswade Killed in Action
23270 Private George MARTIN of Barton Killed in Action
20339 Private Alfred C. MILLWARD (40) of Olney Killed in Action
18128 Private Fredrerick PAXTON of Woburn Sands Killed in Action
22395 Private Christopher PERRY (47) of Luton Killed in Action
22746 Private Cyril Albert Bernard PINNOCK (20) of Bedford Killed in Action
20599 Private George Benjamin POULTER (18) of Killed in Action
20298 Private Henry J RANDALL (40) of Marston Church End Killed in Action
22435 Private Ernest William STEVENS (29) of Flamstead Killed in Action
22080 Private Frederick TAYLOR (34) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action
22850 Private Herbert WHITTINGTON (21) of Marston Shelton Killed in Action
23234 Private Charles Henry WILSON (23) of Earith Killed in Action
19593 Lance Corporal Thomas YOUNG of Kempston Killed in Action

Read the war diary for September 15, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/8thbn/8thbtn1916diary.html

September 25th – The Battle of Morval 

The Bedfords’ took part in an attack on German lines between Morval and Les Boeuff. The attack commenced at 12.35.p.m. and the 8th Battalion moved up to original front line when second objective had been taken about 2.35 p.m. Casualties from the enemy barrage very slight. The British attack succeded and many prisoners were taken. At night the 8th Bedfords’ furnished carrying parties to resupply the front line battalion with ammunition and water. C Platoon were detached to 1st London Company of the Royal Engineers as a working party in captured German trenches. C Company suffered very heavily from enemy shell fire.

Casualties – September 25
22594 Private Frederick CHANCE of Toddington Killed in Action
20403 Private William CHATER (22) of Olney Killed in Action
20554 Lance Corporal Arthur HANCOCK (38) of Melchbourne Killed in Action
18874 Lance Corporal Joseph LAW (21) of Sharnbrook Killed in Action
22807 Private Arthur William ODELL (24) of Marston Shelton Killed in Action

Read the war diary for September 25, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/8thbn/8thbtn1916diary.html


Other September Casualties

September 3
17834 Private Charles William NORTHWOOD (21) of Maulden Killed in Action
23256 Private Harry PAGE (23) of Woburn Sands Died of Wounds
18462 Private William WARNER of Biggleswade Died of Wounds

September 4
19846 Private George William HARRIS (28) of Wootton Killed in Action
26270 Private Harold George SAWFORD (23) of Sharnbrook Died of Wounds
20059 Sergeant Walter Frederick SURRIDGE (28) of Bedford Killed in Action

September 5
18957 Private Albert Lewis CATLIN (32) of Stevenage Killed in Action
20704 Private Ernest CLARIDGE (26) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action
20890 Lance Corporal Reginald MANNING (24) of Toseland Killed in Action

September 6
18206 Private Walter Henry COX (27) of Renhold Died of Wounds

September 18
12101 Private Walter ASHWELL (29) of Moggerhanger Died – formerly 27646 Bedfords’

September 22
20266 Private William COOPER  (21) of Luton Died of Wounds
20373 Private George CRANFIELD
(29) of Flitwick Killed in Action on September 22

September 25
29460 Private Harry FINDING (19) of Raunds Killed in Action
29452 Private Christopher Francis SMITH (35) of Ridgmont Killed in Action
19220 Private Walter THOMAS (25) of Wellington Killed in Action

September 26
19477 Private Arthur GILLETT
(32) of Flitwick Killed in Action

September 27
22810 Lance Corporal Charles William CANHAM
(21) of Kettering Killed in Action

September 28
20817 Private Edward HILL of Barton Died of Wounds

Sources:

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
A history of Silsoe (Roger Bradshaw, 2011
English Heritage

Next instalment to be published on 31 October 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.

img_7190

WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – The Steppingley boys

Steppingley is a small, quiet village surrounded by farmland which is part of the Duke of Bedford’ Woburn Estate. In 1914 the Duke established the Bedfordshire Training Depot in nearby Ampthill Park. Steppingley boys heeded the call and were among the first enlist.

Six men are named on the brass WWI Memorial Plaque in St.Lawrence’s Church, Steppingley. Four of these trained at the Ampthill Camp. Most of the boys lived in the Duke’s Cottages along Rectory Road.

steppingley-map-a


On November 9, 1914 Thomas Rogers (Rabbit Warrener) and John Battams (Stockman) enlisted together with John’s younger brother, Walter Battams (Farm Labourer). They were given consecutive service numbers.

17710 Private John William Battams
17711 Private Walter Battams
17712 Private Thomas Rogers

Harry Gibbons (Farm Labourer) enlisted the very next day and was assigned 17743.

The four Steppingley boys would have known each other well. They joined the Ampthill Camp when it first opened and would have used the Warren Woods entrenching ground. In June 1915 the soldiers were drafted to the Front.

Arthur Norris (Railway Porter) joined in January 1916 and was assigned the service number 27675. The 1911 Census shows Arthur residing in Lower Stondon where he had gone for work.

The boys served with the Bedfords’. However, little is known of the specifics because 30 years later many of the British Army service records were destroyed in the Blitz.


17710 Private John William Battams
John Battams trained with No.1 Company at the Ampthill Camp. We know that Private John Battams saw action on September 25, 1915 with the 2nd Bedfords’ at the Battle of Loos. This was the first time that the British Artillery used gas. Sadly, on the first day of battle John (22) was killed by a shell during the British attack on Hulluch. In November 1915 the Battams family attended a memorial at St.Lawrence’s Church. The flag flew at half-mast. John is remembered in Steppingley Church and on the Loos Memorial.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

17711 Private Walter Battams
Walter Battams trained with No.1 Company at the Ampthill Camp. Following training was posted to 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment.

Walter was injured at least twice and gassed. On June 14, 1916 Walter sustained an injury  to the tissue of left hand and was admitted to 1st Service Hospital Rouen – discharged to base depot at Harfleur on June 28, 1916. In May 1918 he was gassed and then on August 7th Walter was shot in the neck.

Walter’s conduct record shows that he was a gallant fellow who was brought to notice on a number occasions. On June 7, 1917 Walter was awarded the Military Medal his brave actions during the taking of Messines Ridge, and in August 1918 was awarded a Bar to the Military Medal. To place Walter’s actions in context only seven of 707 men named on the Duke of Bedford War Memorial were decorated with the Military Medal.

Thankfully, Walter survived the Great War and was demobilized in April 1919, returning to Steppingley. In September 1921 he married Kate Oliver. Kate (52) died in 1950 and is buried in St.Lawrence’s graveyard. In 1983 Walter (88) was buried alongside.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


17712 Lance Corporal Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers was raised to Lance Corporal on February 9, 1915. Posted on June, 22 1915 with the Bedfords’ 2nd Battalion. In Autumn 1915 Thomas was wounded – an ugly gunshot wound to the neck. On July 11, 1916 Thomas saw action with the Bedfords’ at Trone Wood in the Somme region. The wood become the scene of a violent and costly struggle. The war diary reports ‘unexpectedly encountering a trench complex and machine guns.’

Captain Frank Sloan MC, one of the training staff at the Ampthill Training Depot, was also posted to the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. He was present at the battle for Trones Wood and later wrote to the Duke of Bedford describing aspects of the battle.

‘We had a terrific struggle in the Bois de Trones. I saw no mention of it in the papers. One reads glowing accounts of the 7th Royal West Kents in the wood. Our battalion reached the north end of the wood three days before at a time when there wasn’t a British position or a British soldier in the wood. 1100yds long our battalion attacked the wood alone on the morning of the 10th in four waves and we held it until we were relieved 48 hours after. We suffered heavily, 376 men and 5 officers. We were the first to get to a 9.2 howitzer gun in the north of the wood and the name of the regiment is carved on it, we may get it for the town.”

As published by Woburn Abbey (February 2014)

Sixteen Ampthill recruits who were killed that day – more. Thomas (34) was one of the casualties. He left a wife, Fanny, and three young children, Mabel, Horace and Ruby. After Thomas was killed the family wore black for 6 weeks to mourn his death. Thomas is buried in the Dive Copse Cemetery and remembered in Steppingley Church.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photographs used with kind permission of A.T. Rogers (Grandson)


25675 Serjeant Arthur Frederick Owen Norris

In 1914 Arthur Norris was living away in Lower Stondon. On January  26, 1916 Arthur joined the Ampthill Camp and was posted to No.3 Company. On completion of training he was drafted to join the 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. We know that in April 1917 Arthur sustained gun shot wounds to the left leg and was admitted to hospital in St Omer. Arthur recovered and was returned to active service.

Serjeant Arthur Norris (23) served with in the 4th Bedfords’ at the Second Battle of Ypres and on October 30, 1917 was killed in action. Arthur made Battlefield Will leaving his money in the Post Office Savings Bank and all of his possessions to his mother, Kate Norris, of Flitwick Lodge. Arthur is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, in St.Lawrence’s Church and on the Flitwick War Memorial.

flitwick-wm1

Flitwick War Memorial


17743 Corporal Harry Gibbons

We know that Private 76192 Harry Gibbons was with the Middlesex Regiment before he joined the Bedfords’. Harry was given a new service number, 17743, and was at the Training Depot for nearly seven months, assigned to No.1 Company. On June 9, 1915 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment in France. Whilst with this Battalion he was admitted to hospital twice. The first time Harry was suffering with bronchitis. On September 3, 1916 he then received a gunshot wound to the back.

On his return from hospital in Bologne Harry  transferred to the 4th Battalion. Harry went into battle at Moeuvres, France, during the Hundred Day Offensive in 1918. On September 27th the Allied Forces advanced towards the Hindenburg support Line – the last major defensive position taken up by the German Army in the war. In capturing their objective Corporal Harry Gibbons (23) was killed. He is buried at Moeuvres Cemeterymore.


Two other Steppingley boys are named on the memorial plate in St.Lawrence’s Church.

G/60786 Private Herbert Brightman

Herbert Brightman lived at No. 57 Duke’s Cottages, Steppingley. His trade was a Hatblocker. Herbert attested on May 11, 1916 and joined the Royal Fusiliers (London Regiment). We know that a H.Brightman trained at the Ampthill Camp but this is a different soldier – 23316 Private Herbert Brightman – who came from Dunstable.

Private Herbert Brightman (29) was killed in action on March 28, 1918. Herbert is buried in  the Mesnil Communal Cemetry, France.

____________________________

242223 Private Hector Stanley Warner

Stanley Warner lived at No.31 Duke’s Cottages, Steppingley.  He was a farm labourer. Hector attested on September 27, 1916 and joined the Sherwood Foresters (Nottingham & Derby) Regiment. We know that Hector served with the 24th Battalion.

Private Hector Warner (20) was killed in action on October, 17 1918 just three weeks before the Armistice. Hector is buried in the Busigny Communal Cemetry, France.

 

img_8123

Sources:

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
Flitwick: A story of Two World Wars (Phillip Thompson, 2014)
Thank you to Angela & Terry Hughes, Tony & Joan Rogers, Ian Church, Steve Fuller and Nicola Evans.

©S.Hartley (2016-)