Tag Archives: Swaffield

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, March 1919

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.

March 1919 – this month has been dominated by sale of the Ampthill Camp.

The influenza epidemic is still very bad and there are several cases of pneumonia in the town.

Over 500 ration books have been issued to demobilized soldiers by the Ampthill & Urban District Council.

The Committee of the Ampthill Detachment, 1st Volunteer Battalion (Bedfords’) has sent £11 5s to the St. Dunstan’s Homes for Blinded Soldiers.

There is a proposal to form a Cadet Corps in Ampthill.

Lieutenant Herman L. PORTER (Canadian Forestry Corps), who was in charge of the Y.M.C.A. on The Pines whilst the Canadians were in Ampthill, was in Town for the weekend at the end of March

It has not yet been ascertained to whom the living of Ampthill will be given when it is vacated by the Rev Walter D. May, but the popular opinion is in favour of the Rev.  C.R. Dickinson who has done such good service as Chaplain at the Ampthill Command Depot.

The Ampthill Camp

By coincidence three beds in a hut at the Ampthill Camp were recently occupied by soldiers bearing the names of Grief, Right and Pain.

During the week of 18th March Messrs Swaffield and Son of Ampthill handled the sale of all the camp buildings, equipment and furniture.

The Luton News & Bedfordshire Advertiser March 18th, 1919

The Luton News & Bedfordshire Advertiser      March 13, 1919

The sale lasted 5 days. High prices ruled and there was some spirited bidding. The 2,300 lots included the 35 huts of the camp, the large Olympia Hall, the Recreation Hut, officers’ and other huts, the massage hut, Remedial Treatment Hut, together with the whole of the furniture of the Officers Mess, etc.

Much interest was taken in the sale of the huts which all fetched high prices, between £200 and £400. The huge Olympia Hall was knocked down to Mr Revett, of Olney, for £975, and the Recreation Hut £450. The furniture also fetched good prices, with the exception of the beds, which only fetched a few shillings a piece. No purchases were made by either the County Council or the Luton Corporation, as had been anticipated.

By the month end good progress has been made with dismantling the huts at the Camp, which now looks quite dilapidated.


The Bedfordshire Standard has followed the Ampthill Camp from its establishment back in the October of 1914. The March 21st edition tells the resplendent story of the Camp’s rise and closure.

1919.3.21 BS camp summary

Bedfordshire Standard – March 21, 1919

 

War Memorial

Opinion is very strong in Ampthill that the greater portion of the amount required for the war memorial should be obtained from the tradespeople, who it is alleged, with the local rise in population have made ample profits during the war.

News of Ampthill Boys

A large number of Ampthill men have been demobilized lately, including:

Sergeant E.H. CHITTLEBURGH (Norfolks’)  recently instructor to the Ampthill Volunteers.
Airman William DELLER (R.A.F.) of Dunstable Street.
Sapper William PHILLIPS (6th Royal Engineers) of Park Hill.
Private James WARD (2nd Bedfords’) of Flitwick Road.
Airman Horace WHITE (R.A.F.) of Dunstable Street.

Sergeant Reginald COLES, son of Ampthill’s esteemed postmaster, Mr William Coles, son Signaller Section Royal Engineers attached to 40th Indian Brigade, has been awarded the D.C.M. for services in Palestine. Sergeant Coles was previously mentioned in despatches in connection with the second battle of Gaza. He has been serving since the outbreak of war, and went to the Dardanelles with the 1st/5th Bedfords’. Reginald was subsequently invalided in Egypt with dysentery, and transferred to the R.E. Signals. He has taken part through out the operations in Egypt and Palestine, and was educated at the Bedford Modern School.

Source: 

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

Ampthill Parish Magazine

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

RBL Roll of Honour

Ancestry.com

The National Archives

British Newspaper Archive

Bedsatwar blog

Bedsathome blog

Red Cross

Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

This is he final installment of The Camp Diary.

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, February 1919

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.

Prisoners of War Dinner

On Tuesday, 4th February about 50 returned prisoners of war were entertained at the Volunteer Drill Hall in Dunstable Street. The guests came from Ampthill and the surrounding villages. Dinner was served at 1 o’clock and it was really quite a triumph in the days of rationing and food restrictions. Beer, minerals and port were kindly provided by Messrs Morris & Co, and concert party entertainment followed.

War Memorial Meeting

A public meeting to consider the provision of a war memorial for Ampthill was held at the County Court Hall on Thursday, 27th February. Mr J.W. Crisp took the chair, and was accompanied by eight members of the Ampthill Urban Council, with Mr F.W. Walker (Surveyor) and Mr W.L. Jones (Deputy Clark). The room was packed to its utmost capacity with townspeople.

Mr J.W. Crisp said that he hoped that what ever was done it would be something permanent and useful to the town for ever. It would be the wish of the men who had fallen that the memorial should take the form of something of use to the town. Mr John B. Hodge said that there was a suggestion abroad that it should take the form of a hall, which could be called the memorial hall. This might contain the roll of honour. Mr Andrew H. Tanqueray (Solicitor) said that a suitable site could be provided free of cost to the ratepayers, and the £2000 erection cost funded by subscription. Mr C.A. Jeffs suggested a public library to support education, with application to the Carnegie Fund for a grant. Mr Richards voiced support for a public hall which was ‘absolutely wanted in the town.’

The chairman then put the proposition that the memorial took the form of a public hall, and the details be arranged by a committee. The following gentlemen were appointed:-

Ampthill Urban & District Council
Messrs J.W. Crisp, T. Izzard, W.T. Sharpe, H.G. Smith, and H. Swaffield.

Ratepayers
Messrs A.H. Wingfield JP, J.B. Hodge, T. Hardwicke, A. Pye Smith JP, and the Rev. Westlake.

On the proposition of Mr W.T. Sharpe, Mr A.H. Tanqueray was unanimously appointed on the committee. Mr F.W. Walker was appointed as Hon. Secretary, Mr W.L. Jones as Legal Adviser, Mr J.B. Hodge as Treasurer, and Miss Wingfield and Mm. Cosier were added to the committee.

War Trophy

The War Office writes that, on recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant, Mr Samuel H. Whitbread, the town has been granted a German Machine Gun (damaged) with ammunition box and belt. The offer has been accepted but it was decided to ask for a field gun as a more ‘worthy’ addition.

The Ampthill Camp

On February 17th His Grace, The Duke of Bedford announced the proposal to erect a memorial to the men who were trained at Ampthill and have lost their lives during the war. A list of 368 names* has been published in the Bedfordshire Standard, and relatives  invited to communicate any omissions to Major A. Nelson (Adjutant), for example men who were transferred to other regiments and whose casualty notifications were not sent to Ampthill.

*707 names were eventually gathered for inclusion on the Ampthill Camp Memorial.

There is also news of His Grace engaging Messrs Swaffield and Son of Bedford Street to sell by auction the whole of the camp buildings, and a large and varied assortment of camp equipment and furniture necessary for the accommodation of 1,000 men. Catalogues and conditions of sale are in preparation and may be obtained shortly. Public Notices has been placed in Bedfordshire newspapers and in the neighbouring counties. The sale is to start on Tuesday, 18th March and will likely take some period of days. 

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Cambridge Independent Press – February 28. 1919

Colour Sergeant Major Instructor Joe SMITH, of the Gymnastics Staff has now left the Command Depot and is at Aldershot awaiting demobilisation.

V.A.D. Hospital closes

The V.A.D. Hospital at Clevedon House, Dunstable Street has closed down. Patients have been at Clevedon since the formation of the Ampthill Camp. The V.A.D. Hospital has done splendid work for some years in caring for the sick from the Command Depot.

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Clevedon (later known as St. George’s)

News of Ampthill Boys

A large number have received their discharge from the forces recently, including –

Private Stanley NEGUS (Royal Signals) of Saunders Piece. 
Lieutenant Norman SHARPE (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) of Woburn Street. 
Private Edgar SKINNER (1st Herts) of Baker Street.
Corporal R. SMITH has arrived back from Egypt where he has been stationed since 1914.
Private Henry STANBRIDGE (52nd Rifles Brigade) of Park Street. 
Private Harry WILDMAN (North Staffs) of Baker Street. 

Death of an Airman

On Wednesday, 12th February 1919 2nd Lieutenant Eustace McGEE (RAF) of Rotherfield took off from an airfield to the north of Gas House Lane in Ampthill. For reasons unknown, his plane entered a spiral nose dive and it crashed near King’s Wood. Eustace (20) sustained a broken neck and died at the scene.

An inquest has been held at the Guard Room, Ampthill Park. Mr H.J. Webb (Deputy Coroner) presiding recorded a verdict of Accidental Death. Eustace’ coffin was borne on an R.A.F. motor, draped with a Union Jack, for burial at St. Andrew’s Church. A firing party of 22 RAF men was in attendance.

 

Source: 

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

Ampthill Parish Magazine

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

RBL Roll of Honour

Ancestry.com

The National Archives

British Newspaper Archive

Bedsatwar blog

Bedsathome blog

Red Cross

Ampthill’s Fallen – by John Hele (2014)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 March 2019….

Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)

Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.