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.
May 1917 – News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front
Mr and Mrs Putman of Park Street, Ampthill have received news that on April 15 their son Richard was seriously injured by a shell burst. Surgeons amputated the shattered leg but on April 26 Richard succumbed at the No.7 General Hospital in St. Omer, France, and is buried close by. 23505 Private Richard Putman had served at the Front for nigh on a year.
There is also news of 27359 Private Percy Robinson (19) of Woburn Street, Ampthill who did his early training at the Ampthill Camp. Percy sustained serious head injuries whilst in the trenches with the Northamptonshire Regiment – he did not regain consciousness. Percy is remembered at St. Andrew’s Parish Church in Ampthill.During May the Ampthill Park recruits have seen more action near Arras. Twenty-five of the boys have fallen or died of wounds.
One lad –19845 Private Edward H. Wiles of Ravensden – was awarded the Military Medal for his brave actions at Gavrelle on April 22/23, and has since died of his wounds.Eight of the twenty-five chaps died on May 3 when the 7th Bedfords’ were part of an attack at Chérisy. Poor light delayed ZERO hour to 4:15am. The barrage commenced badly, being irregular. When the advance started the Battalion soon slightly lost direction the men being extended at about 12 paces could scarcely see each other. Regiments forces to the left also lost direction & crowded to the right, thus confusing the British attack & causing a further loss of direction. Four Tanks were used but these achieved little – two machines broke down and a third turned and came back through the British lines, which added to the confusion. Some Bedfords found themselves stranded in shell holes. In the evening a second attempt was made to attack but this was thwarted by an intense enemy barrage & the wire in front could not be forced. The whole lot fell back to original front line and held that during the night being relieved early in the morning by the Northants taking over. (Source: war diary)
Two boys – 18858 Private Thomas Andrews and 23749 Private Birty Johnson – died at home of their war wounds and are buried in Blighty.
19568 Private Arthur BARRETT of Stanground Died of Wounds on May 1
31166 Private Charles F. ARMER (39) of Ipswich Killed in Action on May 3
30928 Private Claude H. CALVER (28) of Colchester Killled in Action on May 3
26764 Private Sidney CHURCH (22) of Bozeat Killed in Action on May 3
29474 Private Ralph HIGBY (19) of Raunds Killed in Action on May 3
23583 Private Albert G. LOWE (20) of Moggerhanger Killed in Action on May 3
31176 Private Leslie T. REEVE (28) of Lowestoft Killed in Action on May 3
31254 Private William G. TOMPKINS (39) of Hornsey Killed in Action on May 3
19845 Private Edward H. WILES (24) M.M. of Ravensden Died of Wounds on May 3
18858 Private Thomas J. ANDREWS (25) of Westoning Died at Home of Wounds on May 8. Buried in Westoning
2nd Lieutenant John T. RYDE (34) of Woking Died of Wounds on May 8
18184 Private James W. BARTRAM (31) of Kempston Died of Wounds on May 12
30829 Private William SCOTNEY (37) of Elton Died of Wounds on May 15
23749 Private Birty E. M. JOHNSON (25) of Souldrop Died at Home of Wounds on May 16, Buried in Great Creaton
20956 Private Walter SKINNER (28) of Beeston Green Killed in Action on May 16
18607 Private John H. BAKER (34) of Toddington Killed in Action on May 17
28277 Private John BREWER of Shillington Died of Wounds on May 21
17782 Lance Corporal William DRAPER (22) of Thurleigh Killed in Action on May 21
20739 Private George HAYDEN (20) of Bassingbourne Died of Wounds on May 21
28043 Private Percy John PESTELL (28) of Shillington Killed in Action on May 22
23606 Private Arthur W. HOUSDEN (23) of Biggleswade Died of Wounds on May 24
23433 Private Walter R. W. RISEBORO (22) of Hatfield Died of Wounds on May 25 19268 Private George MATTHEWS (25) of Milton Bryan Died of Wounds on May 29
23251 Acting Sergeant George MONEY (22) of Ampthill Killed in Action on May 29
22799 Private Percy O. MASLEN (25) of Bedford Killed in Action on May 31
The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Next installment to be published on 30 June 2017….
Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)
Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.
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