Tag Archives: Richard Wheeler

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, May 1918

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 1918

The Ampthill Platoon of Volunteers went into camp at Luton Hoo on Saturday, 18 May. The men attending paraded in full kit and entrained at Ampthill Midland Station.

The Military Medal has been awarded to Signaller Charles Tansley (Middlesex Regiment) of Woburn Street. Signaller Tansley, with two comrades, held a forward post for several days against the Germans. This is the fifth Ampthill lad to be awarded the Military Medal, the others being: Corporal Guy S. Martin, Sergeant Richard H. Wheeler, Corporal James Hall and Sergeant Fred Gibbs.

Ampthill Command Depot

About 60 men of the R.A.M.C. are now under canvas in Ampthill Great Park. Dr. Scott and Dr. Glasgow have arrived at the Command Depot to cope with the increasing number of convalescents, and the R.A.M.C. staff have also been augmented.

An exciting cricket match was held on the afternoon of Saturday, 18th May between the Ampthill Command Depot and strong team from the Army Service Corps. The visitors were all out for 57 runs, and the Depot went on to score 64 runs thanks to the all-round excellence of the team’s batting.

That evening Private T. Simpson of the Hertfordshire Regiment was gravely injured when cycling home from the Depot. Private Simpson came down Brewery Lane and lost control of the machine and, gathering speed, it dashed with terrible force into the wall at the other side of Bedford Street. Dr Garner attended the scene. The Park ambulance conveyed the injured man to Kempston Military Hospital where he succumbed on Friday, 24th May to the injuries.

On Saturday, 25th May a draft left the Command Depot for the Front. They were given a hearty send-off by the Command Depot band.

Canadian Forestry Corps

There is news that the Ampthill Mill has claimed a record for cutting more timber than any other Mill of its size in England.

On May 9th a grand concert was given by the “Whizz Bangs” at the Y.M.C.A. Hut on the Pines, which was well-received. The audience joined in by singing “O Canada” and the evening closed with the National Anthem.

The first baseball match to be held in Ampthill took place on Monday, 20th May. The 125th Canadian Forestry Corps arrived from Woburn to take on the 126th Corps in an exciting game. The Ampthill Canadians claimed the victory by 22 tries to 18.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month the war has claimed the lives of six men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.


The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.

Ampthill Parish Magazine
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Red Cross
Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

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)



Next instalment to be published on 31 May 2018….

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.

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.

To remember that amazing day and the memories it went onto craft, here is a free copy of the book “Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints” – click to download.

Continue reading

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

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

September 1915 – Four drafts have already been sent from the Training Depot, numbering 356. The men at the Camp now total almost 1000. Recruits continue to come in and the men have been informed that to encourage personal recruiting the Duke of Bedford will give an extra fee for each fresh recruit procured. The open-air gymnasium has opened and more huts are being put up. Drafts 5, 6 and 7, totalling a further 200 men, are ready for despatch to the Front.

On Thursday, September 2, Major-General E.F. Dixon paid an official inspection to the Ampthill training camp. The General first inspected the recruits’ musketry on the range and a party of men engaged in rapid firing from a trench.

1915.10.8 BT - trench rapid firing

Recruits practice rapid firing

The inspecting officer then went to the trenching ground in Woburn Road. There General Dixon inspected the trenches and observed the relief carried out in a capital time of 35 minutes. Next he observed bomb fighting in the trenches, carried out in accordance to a scheme drawn up by Lieutenant Collisson.

No.6 draft, under Major Young, was exercised in extended order and firing discipline, and also in close order formation. The General also went to see the signalling class, under Sergeant Freemantle, and rapid loading in a trench followed by a bayonet attack in the final assault.

The Cadet Platoon came in for special notice by the General who witnessed the men tackle the obstacle course which has been newly installed to a plan sent from the Royal Engineers Office, Bedford. The General was delighted with all he saw and expressed his satisfaction to the Commanding Officer.

A Colt machine gun and a dummy Maxim have been purchased. Future drafts going to the Front will include detachments trained in the use of these guns.

His Grace has added a hut to the house in Dunstable Street, Ampthill that is rented for use as a V.A.D. Hospital. This new hospital enables men of the Depot to be medically treated without the usual deduction of 7d per dieum for hospital stoppages from their pay.

On Tuesday, September 21, Captain the Hon. Moubray St.John kindly showed our reporter around the trenching ground and minutely explained their construction and uses – read more. The trenches are similar in all respects to the British and German trenches at Ypres.


September 23, 1915

In the Ampthill Parish Magazine the Reverend Walter D. May writes ~
Lady Smith Dorrien has appealed for generous funds to enable the many of the National Service Leave to make Hospital Bags for wounded soldier’s personal effects.

The Headmaster, Mr Searle, has painted a large wooden tablet on the outside of the National School in Bedford Road and written thereon the names of 64 old boys who have joined His Majesty’s Forces. A second tablet names a further 12 former members of the night school.



2016-07-30 15.57.43

The Wooden Tablets erected outside the National School (1918-) Source: Andrew Underwood (1988) “Ampthill in Old Picture Postcards, Volume 1”

What became of the men mentioned in the Bedfordshire Standard?

Second-Lieutenant Evelyn Ernest Arnold Collisson – of Gravenhurst. Joined the 2nd Battalion in the field on the November 24, 1915. On February 23, 1916 after only a few months in the trenches Second-Lieutenant Collisson was killed during a “very quiet”, cold, snowy day. He was originally buried in the Maricourt cemetery but appears to have been moved in the 1920’s and now lies in the Cerisy-Gailly Military cemetery. Evelyn is remembered in Gravenhurst Parish Church where his father was the rector. More about Second-Lieutenant Collison: Bedsatwar

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Banner of Faith
Andrew Underwood (1988) “Ampthill in Old Picture Postcards, Volume 1”

Next installment to be published on 1 April 2016….

Text copyright S.Hartley (2015-)