Tag Archives: O Valiant Hearts

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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