Tag Archives: Millbrook

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

July 1917 – news has been received the Government proposes to acquire and fell timber in the locality. The Government has selected the Coopers Hill Plantation which is fondly known and enjoyed as ‘The Pines,’ together with areas in the Millbrook district and 500 acres near Aspley Heath.

The Pines – Victorian beauty spot

Mr Charles P. Hall, the agent to the Duke of Bedford, regretfully confirmed that the news is true; it also affects His Grace who is being pressed to supply extremely large quantities on the grounds of ‘national necessity.’

A special meeting of Ampthill Urban District Council was convened and unanimously resolved to protest strongly against the felling of The Pines on the grounds that it is one of the main features and chief attractions of the town, and provides the only open space in proximity to the town, to which the public have open access; and also on the grounds of the health-giving properties of the pines, particularly in cases of pulmonary affection, which has made Ampthill for many years a health resort for numberous visitors.

The Council also resolved to implore Local Members of Parliament to use their influence, and a petition will be opened for signature by the ratepayers.

1917.07.13 BS CFC

Bedfordshire Standard – July 13, 1917


News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month 12 Ampthill recruits have been killed in action or died of their battle wounds. Three of the boys – Privates Bransome, Elsdon and Ball – come from Luton. Private Stocker trained with the Bedfords’ and was killed serving with the 21st Machine Gun Gorps.

  • Casualties

23490 Private Percy A. REEVE (21) of Watford Killed in Action on July 5
20674 Private Arthur H. BUTCHER (24) of Milton Keynes Died of Wounds on July 6
19569 Private Sidney READ (22) of Orton Waterville Died of Wounds on July 7
22530 Private Joseph BRANSOME (33) of Luton Died of Wounds on July 8
18971 Private Ernest ELSDON (20) of Luton Killed in Action on July 12
22801 Lance Corporal Walter GOODMAN (32) of Marston Church End Killed in Action on July 16
23136 Private George A. KILBY (23) of Ramsey Hollow Killed in Action on July 16
30779 Private George HILLS (31) of Beechwood Green Killed in Action on July 20
18459 Private Robert W. AMBROSE (22) of Earith Killed in Action on July 28
22996 Private Alfred BALL (21) of Luton Killed in Action on July 29
18476 Private Frank JEFFS of Fenstanton Killed in Action on July 29
21602 Private Robert W. STOCKER (21) of Biggleswade Killed in Action on July 31

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

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

Next installment to be published on 31 August 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.

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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.

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

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

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.

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

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

November  1915 – Since the Depot opened this time last year 6 drafts, some 500 well-drilled local men have been sent to the Front. In early November another 100 recruits* were accepted which is very encouraging and brings the Camp to 1050 strong. To accommodate the burgeoning number two large structures have been provided at Ampthill Park. The Wesleyan Church Council of Ampthill have most patriotically placed the large room of their Institute at the disposal of the Commanding Officer of the Training Depot to accommodate some of the men, and His Grace has gratefully accepted the offer. Further buildings are being added, the latest being a tailor’s shop.

At the Millbrook Range rifles are now fitted with telescopic sights (the Aldis Telescope and the Gibbs Magnifier) and the latest type of periscope.

On Wednesday, November 24th a number of staff officers of the 59th (North Midland) Division visited the Camp anxious to see the training facilities which exist at the Depot. The squads under instruction at Machine Gun Drill (Maxim and Colt) were first inspected. The staff officers next witnessed recruits at drill and physical training and then passed on to the Miniature Range, the Rapid Loading and Firing Trench and the Obstacle Course. Meanwhile the Signallers under instruction had been engaged in laying telephone wire with Buzzer instruments from the Orderly Room to the Entrenching Ground, a mile distant. When the officers reached the ground the relief of the trenches was carried out. The various kinds of entrenchments, as well as the loopholed parapet and entanglements were visited in turn, great interest being taken in the method used for extending the trenches by sapping. Several of the staff officers had lately been in the trenches at the Front, and it was satisfactory to hear them say that the entrenchments thoroughly up to date in every respect, and in the matter of construction they were far superior to any trenches at the front.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 26th November 1915

*The surge in volunteers may be an early reaction to The Derby Scheme which came in from 16 October 1915. The Derby Scheme was intended increase the number of British fighting men – it moved voluntary enlistment towards compulsory conscription.

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November 12, 1915

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November 26, 1915


News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

 

In the Ampthill Parish Magazine the Reverend Walter D. May writes ~

Thirty stretched bearers have been trained. These local people assist at Ampthill Midland Station by helping to remove the wounded from train to ambulances for despatch to Wrest Park Hospital.

 Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Bedsatwar blog

Banner of Faith

Next installment to be published on 1 May 2016….
Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – the Firing Ranges

The Bedfordshire Training Depot used two firing ranges. In Ampthill Park there was a 30 yard miniature range where the recruits practiced with reduced calibre .22 Lee-Enfield Rifles. The musketry instructor was Second-Lieutenant HL. Farnell.

1915.10.8 BT - miniature range

The miniature range, Ampthill Park

 

Ampthill Park – the remains of the miniature range firing butt (2016)

 

The main firing range was at Millbrook and dates from the 1870s. It is likely the range was upgraded to meet the 1908 British Army standard. In the aerial photograph the butts are clearly visible (centre left). Recruits went on to use this range once they mastered the basics of weaponry. Millbrook Proving Ground now occupies the land.

RAF aerial photograph (1947)


 

Sources:
The Bedfordshire Standard. The Bedfordshire Times & Independent. These original broadsheets are part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Central Bedfordshire Council, Historic Environment Record

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.

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