Tag Archives: Royal British Legion

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

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

June 1916 – The nature of the Camp has started to shift. The Camp was established to train young, local men who heeded Kitchener’s call to volunteer. In early June more married Derby recruits have come in, and from further afield.

More than 1,000 trained men have been sent to reinforce the various battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment in France, and other drafts are in readiness. On Tuesday, June 7th fifty picked men left the Camp and entrained amid enthusiasm for Liverpool to be attached to the Welsh Border Regiment. The Duke of Bedford addressed them prior to departure, and was loudly cheered.

On Saturdays the men have been rising early for long route marches, headed out by the band. The distance covered was about 15 miles. On Saturday 10th Millbrook and Ridgmont were visited while most of the villagers were still in bed. The march from Woburn through the beautiful Park to Eversholt was greatly appreciated.

Summer games and sports during recreation hours are in full swing, and the Park and Camp surroundings are at their best.

A memorial service was held on Tuesday 13th at the Ampthill Training Camp in memory of the late Lord Kitchener, the Chaplain (the Rev CR. Dickinson) conducting, assisted by the Rev. WD May. At 9am a 1,000 men of the Depot and paraded on the top plateau. Marching in slow time to the cadence of Chopin’s Funeral March, the battalion in columns of fours slowly descended the gorse clad slope to the Lower Parade where it formed into three sides of a square. The Regimental Band played the “Dead March” in “Saul,” and Lord Kitchener’s favourite hymn, “Abide with Me,” was sung during the service which was a most impressive one. At the close the Band played Tchaikovsky’s Funeral March.

On Thursday 22nd the Regimental Band, together with officers and a firing party, took part in the funeral of a Canadian soldier who arrived from the trenches in France at Woburn Abbey Hospital on the morning of Saturday week, and who succumbed to his wounds on Monday.

On Monday 26th fifty men were transferred from the Camp to join the South Wales Borderers.

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June 2, 1916

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June 9, 1916

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June 16, 1916

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June 23, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

June 25 – the 2nd Bedfords carried out a raid on the Enemy’s lines. Ampthill recruits were among the Party. All fifty-one returned safely, capturing one prisoner (wounded). The casualties were: – 6 wounded. 1 shell blindness. 1 soldier accidentally wounded by barbed wire – more.

The Revd. C. L. Matthews, the Rector of Clophill, has written from France where he is serving as a chaplain:

“Funerals are always sad and solemn, but I think the funeral of a man who has given his life for his country is more solemn than any other. The cemeteries are getting very full, some of them, but every grave is carefully marked, and the place is tended with every care. Each grave is marked, first of all by a bottle, containing a paper with the man’s name, number, and regiment, and later on by a plain wooden cross with a metal inscription bearing full particulars.”

Source: Barton Parish Magazine, 18 June 1916 (as republished by Bedsathome blog)

Visit the Bedfordshire Regiment website to read the war diary of each Battalion.

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
Bedfordshire Regiment

Next installment to be published on 15 August 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.

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – Tommy’s Footprints….

In 1914 Lord Kitchener (Secretary of State for War) issued a call to arms. The 11th Duke of Bedford responded by establishing the ‘Bedfordshire Training Depot’ in Ampthill Park to help man the Bedfordshire Regiment. By August 1916 the Depot would train 2,235 infantry soldiers to fight for ‘King and Country.’ A lone Memorial Cross stands proud in Ampthill Park to remember the soldiers who trained there, the 707 men who died, and the ‘Ampthill Command Depot’ that treated 8369 injured soldiers (1916-19).

In 2016 it will be one hundred years since the Bedfordshire Training Depot closed. Ampthill Town Council is leading preparations to remember the volunteers who trained at the Bedfordshire Training Depot, and those who died or were injured. The project will involve local people, community organisations and schools – it will help to improve our knowledge about Ampthill’s role in WWI.

The centrepiece will be Tommy’s Footprints – a poignant art installation in the hollow of Ampthill Great Park where the soldiers passed.

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Tommy’s Footprints will be installed in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday (13 November 2016). Further details will be on the Ampthill Town Council website and in the newsletter Around the Pump. To find out more please contact the Town Council on 01525-404325 or send an email.

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WWI – Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Park – Artist’s Impression of Tommy’s Footprints

This is an early pencil sketch of how Tommy’s Footprints will look in November 2016 when the column of footprints are installed in Ampthill Park.

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Copyright: S.Hartley (2015) – all rights reserved

We are looking to commission an artist’s impression of what Tommy’s Footprints will look like in the hollow of Ampthill Park. Please reply or email if you are interested to sketch this work.

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 Service of Re-dedication and Rememberance

In 2013 the Memorial Cross was cleaned and restored. Thirteen phosphor bronze plaques were cast to replace those stolen in 1970. On 21 September 2013 local people, the Royal British Legion and dignitaries gathered by the Memorial Cross in Ampthill Park for a Service of Re-dedication and Remembrance. Here is the Order of Service –

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