Tag Archives: Tommy’s Footprints

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, December 1917

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.

December 1917 – at the Command Depot a cinema has opened for use by the troops. A good show now takes place nearly every night in ‘Olympia.’ Lieutenant HANKINSON operates and Sergeant ALLEN is the engineer.

Three men at the Ampthill Command Depot have been awarded the Military Medal for their gallant actions:

8717 Corporal Frank AVELING (2nd Bedfords’) of Bromley has seen action since 1914. On August 1, 1917 in the Ypres Sector he was in the trenches and received news that several British bombers had been wounded raiding the German line – read war diary. Corporal  Aveling went out alone and rescued nine wounded under heavy fire – the London Gazette.

16359 Private George W. CATLING (7th Bedfords’)  – on May 3, 1917 the British advance was held up by heavy machine gun fire. Private Catling remained with his Lewis gun to cover his comrades during the retreat – the London Gazette.

15115 Sergeant Samuel IMPEY (7th Bedfords’) of Luton – on July 1, 1916 was involved in storming Pomiers Redoubt on the first day of The Somme. With all officers wounded, Sergeant Impey took command of the company, led and succeeded in taking the redoubt, and was wounded – read war diary. The London Gazette announced the award 12 months ago.

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Bedfordshire Standard – December 7, 1917

The Ampthill Platoon of the 1st Bedfordshire Volunteers had a field day on Sunday, December 5th near Bedford. They were joined by the Bedford Volunteers and the Bedford & Modern Schools O.T.C.’s. The Ampthill men formed the third line of attack in a general scheme of operations. Captain SCOTT (Adjutant, 1st Bedfords’) addressed the Volunteers and Cadets, who then re-formed and marched back into Bedford, via Bromham. The Ampthill Platoon returned on the 6.48 train and marched up to Headquarters, where they were finally dismissed by Lieutenant BRADSHAW.

 

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Bedfordshire Standard – December 7, 1917

News of the Canadians

The Forestry Corps detachment is now accommodated in a rustic, hutted camp which has been constructed in a clearing on the Cooper’s Hill Plantation.

Captain SHELLEY, Chaplain to six Canadian lumbering-camps, including Ampthill and the 125th Corps at Woburn, preached at the Union Chapel in Ampthill. Sergeant J.G. GARDEN read the lessons.

Sergeant Garden, with support of the Wesleyan Chapel, has also been making arrangements for placing the Canadian men in Ampthill homes to give them a home-like Christmas.

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December 21, 1917

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

A number of Ampthill boys are home on leave –
60675 Private Walter BARTRAM (Northamptonshire Regiment)
122644 Sergeant Sidney JEFFS (Devonshire Regiment)
37076 Private Arthur PRESSLAND (Bedfords’)
718277 Private George SHOTBOLT (Post Office Rifles)
21756 Private Fred WILCOX (Royal Sussex)
40941 Private James WOOLF (Essex Regiment)
522285 Sapper Fred WOODCRAFT (Royal Engineers)

25873 Private John COPPERWHEAT (Bedfords’) is in the King George Hospital, London recovering from a wound to the lower back. 37175 Lance Corporal Ernest WOODLAND (Bedfords’) is hospitalised in Stockport where he is recovering from five wounds.

Ten Ampthill Camp recruits have been killed in action or have died of wounds this month.

There is tragic news that on 30 December the troop ship S.S. Aragon was torpedoed while entering the Port of Alexandra in Egypt, and sank with the loss of 380 officers and men. Twenty-five Bedfords were among them of which two – Private BEESLEY and Private MINNIS – trained at the Ampthill Camp.

  • Casualties

20603 Private Samuel KING (27) of Coppingford Killed in Action on December 7
18602 Private Harry TITMUS (40) of Sundon Killed in Action on December 9
26665 Private George H. WARREN of Great Berkhamsted Died of Wounds on December 12 and buried in Northolt
23722 Private Charles F. WRIGHT of Stagsden Killed in Action on December 13
203151 Private Alfred STANBRIDGE (38) of Maulden Died of Dysentry on December 14
20150 Private Bert SHERWOOD (33) of Baldock Died of Wounds on December 16
23397 Private Edward G. BEESLEY  (21) of Ramsey Drowned at Sea on December 30
30901 Private Arthur W. MINNIS (27) of Hitchin Drowned at Sea on December 30
23675 Lance Corporal Frederick G. COVINGTON (22) of Guilden Morden Killed in Action on December 31
30064 Private Stewart W. HILL (28) of Ampthill Died of Wounds on December 31

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. 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
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
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)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 January 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, November 1917

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.

November 1917 – on Wednesday, November 14th  Sister Dora NEWMAN (Superintendent) of the Ampthill V.A.D. Hospital was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal (2nd Class) for devoted service rendered to wounded soldiers. Ampthill Park House is one of four residences in town that are providing medical care to support war effort.

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Ampthill Park House (1908)

On November 18th a large number of wounded arrived at Ampthill Station from France and Flanders. There were about fifty cases who were conveyed by motor ambulance for treatment at the two hospitals in Woburn. Most of the men were suffering from being gassed, and a number of them were Canadians and Anzacs.

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Bedfordshire Standard – November 16, 1917

 

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Bedfordshire Standard – November 23, 1917

 

News of the Canadians

Work is underway on Cooper’s Hill to create a camp of rustic, timber huts from from the waste slabs. This will replace the bell tents as winter draws in.

There is news that Private John HAYWARD, one of the railway foreman, has been injured after the brakes failed on a railway car and he was dashed into a closed gate at the bottom of the grade.  Private Hayward sustained serious compound fracture to the right arm. He has been taken to the Duchess of Bedford’s Hospital, at Woburn

Sergeant GARDEN of the Canadian Forestry Corps has been at the Wesleyan School to tell the children of ‘Canada.’ Sergeant Garden took his hearers on an imaginary trip where he described the wonders of Niagra Falls, the Rocky Mountains, and many other sights and scenes of that beautiful country. The headmaster, Mr W.H. CUTLAND, thanked the narrator on behalf of the children.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Thirteen Ampthill Camp recruits have been killed this month of which eight died of battle wounds. Here is what we know of Sergeant George S. BABBINGTON.

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Source: de Ruvignys Roll of Honour vol.3

Private Walter C. PEARCE died at home and has been laid to rest in Hitchin Cemetery.

Source:

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

Ampthill Parish Magazine
de Ruvignys Roll of Honour vol.3
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
Ancestry.com
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

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)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 December 2017….

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.

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, September 1917

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.

September 1917 – on Thursday, 6th an audience of soldiers and civilians packed into the large and conduits Recreation Room at the Depot to be entertained by M Fred Hall’s party from Bedford. The concert opened with a pianoforte selection by Miss Lillie Lee. The boys of rank and file were not slow in taking up the choruses.

Two men – Private Jack Dougherty and Private Joe Galewski amused those assembled with a comic song and mystifying tricks. The singing of the National Anthem brought a very enjoyable evening to a close.

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September 7, 1917

The Pines

The 126th Canadian Forestry Corps has erected a camp of tents on the Cooper’s Hill Plantation. A Captain Kenny is in charge. On September 5th reinforcements arrived in Ampthill which brings the Corps strength up to more than 180 men.

So great was the interest manifest in the operation on Cooper’s Hill that 4 policemen have be continually on the job to chase the people away from the falling trees.

The Corps has taken of the Bird in Hand pub on Park Hill which has bee untenanted for some 3 years. Work is underway to scrub and sweep this picturesque old inn.

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Eight Ampthill Camp recruits are among the casualties this month. Two of the boys – Private RALPH and Private ASHWELL – died in Turkey where they were serving with the 4th Battalion,  South Wales Borderers.

A further four were killed in action on September 20. We know that the 2nd Bedfords’ were in the trenches at Ypres. A party of fifty Bedfords took part in an early hours raid on the German line. The Commanding Officer’s report gives an account of what happened:

On the morning of 20th September 1917, Zero hour 5.40 a.m. the Battalion carried out 2 minor operations in conjunction with a general advance of the 2nd and 5th Armies. 

Captain William J. HOLBROOK MC and 2nd Lieutenant Thomas G. SEARLE MC were in command of a party consisting of 50 Other ranks, with orders to raid the Centre of Movement at O.12.c.25/70 for the purpose of collecting information, capturing Prisoners, Machine Guns and damaging Dug-outs. They were accompanied by a party of 8 Royal Engineers with blasting charges. The party on nearing their objective were fired on heavily both with Machine Guns and Rifles. This fire, so intense, and the wire discovered to be uncut, made further advance and return impossible. The party, among whom were several wounded, remained in shell-holes during the whole day and returned about 9 p.m. to our own line. Much valuable information was collected from this enterprise.” 

The Nominal Roll of Captain Holbrook names two Ampthill recruits – Private Charles ARNOTT and Private Alfred GREEN both of ‘A’ Company – who were killed during the raid.

Source: Bedfordshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion War Diary for September 20, 1917

  • Casualties

19714 Private Walter HUDSON (30) of Earith Killed in Action on September 14
12138 Private Victor J. RALPH of Christchurch Died in Turkey on September 16
12101 Private Walter ASHWELL (29) of Moggerhanger Died in Turkey on September 18
18932 Private Charles ARNOTT (24) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action on September 20
18721 Private Alfred GREEN (21) of Huntingdon Killed in Action on September 20
18024 Private Cecil R. HOLMES (24) of Bletsoe Killed in Action on September 20
23605 Private John R. NEWBURY (29) of Woburn Killed in Action on September 20
26786 Private Albert LANE (23) of Toddington Killed in Action on September 22

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

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)

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

#IWMSTORIES

Next instalment to be published on 31 October 2017….

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.

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, June 1917

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.

June 1917 – on Tuesday, June 12 the Ampthill Command Depot played an enjoyable game of cricket against Ampthill. A collection was also held in aid of the British Red Cross.

1917.06.15 BS ACD

Bedfordshire Standard – June 15, 1917

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

This month eight Ampthill Camp boys have died at the Front.

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

Next installment to be published on 31 July 2017….

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.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Private Walter L.J. Sawyer

Walter Leslie James Sawyer came from the Bedfordshire village of Little Barford. One of four children, Walter was a farm labourer.

Walter enlisted in St.Neots and arrived at Ampthill Training Camp on the May 21, 1915. He was assigned 20643 Private W.L.J. Sawyer and posted to No.1 Company at the training camp. On August, 25 Walter transferred to No.2 Company. In the October Walter and Ada J. Norman married in St.Neots.

Private Sawyer was drafted to join the 6th Bedfordshire Regiment. On July 15, 1916 Walter (23) was killed in action at The Somme, possibly at the Battle of Bazentin Ridge. The Bedfordshire Regiment War Diary for that day states:

15 Jul 1916 – Attack on POZIERES by 112th Bde. from trenches S. of CONTALMAISON, Bde. held up by hostile machine guns, established itself about 100 yds from the lisiere [comment; 200 yards south of the Pozieres village boundary] & dug in. Casualties (3 Offs Killed, 32 O.R. Killed) (25 missing) (9 Offrs. Wounded, 174 O.R. Wounded). 

Records show that the battalion sustained 330 casualties that day, once the final reckoning was concluded. Source: Bedfordshire  Regiment War Diary

Walter had been married for barely nine months and much of this would have been spent abroad.

Walter was awarded three campaign medals: the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

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WWI Campaign Medals (typical)

20643 Private W.L.J. Sawyer is buried at the Pozieres British Cemetery in the Somme Region of France. Walter is also remembered at St. Deny’s Church, Little Barford. The Parish Roll shows that twenty-nine men served in the Great War; seven did not return.

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Walter’s family received a memorial bronze plate. In November 2016 I happened on the memorial plate which came with its original cardboard box and letter from the King.

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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
Ian Church

Www.bedfordshireregiment.co.uk

©S.Hartley (2016-)


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 Christmas gift.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

Tommy’s Footprints – Armistice Day 2016

On 11 November the Alameda Middle School gathered at The Cenotaph in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

Mrs Harvey (Head of History) read out the names of service men who lost their lives in the First World War who have a family connection to pupils or staff at the school. A bugle sounded “The Last Post” and more than 700 people observed the 2 minute silence in the woodland glade.

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Watch the YouTube videoclip

It was a glorious Autumn day and so I visited Ampthill Great Park to see the Duke of Bedford Memorial and Tommy’s Footprints, and then onto the memorial in St. Andrew’s Churchyard.

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Please visit Ampthill Great Park (6-20 November) and see Tommy’s Footprints for yourself. In the days that follow Tommy’s Footprints will quietly fade into the ground, and disappear…

© S.Hartley (2015-)

Tommy’s Footprints | Remembering WWI in Ampthill Great Park

A hundred years ago local men volunteered in droves to train at the Duke of Bedford’s camp in Ampthill Great Park. The recruits had top notch huts and facilities, paid for by the Duke.

By August 1916 the Ampthill Camp had trained 2,235 local men to fight for ‘King and Country.’ One third of these men – 707 – did not return to their families.

November 2016 – WWI centenary art provides a focus to remember the men who trained at the Ampthill Camp, and those who were injured or killed in the Great War.

The centrepiece is Tommy’s Footprints – a column of 707 footprints flanked by poppies in the hollow of Ampthill Great Park where the men once marched. The 180 metre long column will glimpse the terrible loss.

After months of planning, on Saturday, 5 November Tommy’s Footprints became a reality. Volunteers took their turn to stencil the column of footprints and plant the field of poppies – a cross for each fallen man.

Here are some photos of the stencilling.

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Please visit Ampthill Great Park (6-20 November) and see Tommy’s Footprints for yourself. In the days that follow Tommy’s Footprints will quietly fade into the ground, and disappear…

WWI – Ampthill Command Depot in Ampthill Park – the Camp Diary, October 1916

-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.

October 1916 –The Bedfordshire Training Depot has now, after 2 years, been converted into a Command Depot. The original object of the camp was to allow men, under the voluntary system of enlistment, to do their training in their own county until they were fit to join friends and relatives fighting in the Regular and Service Battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment in France.

The camp commenced with 140 men. The men and Camp rapidly rapidly increased until at one moment over 1,600 men were accommodated. Over 2,000 men, all of whom joined under the voluntary system, have been trained at Ampthill, and have proceeded overseas.

Two of the men have received the Military Medal for distinguished and gallant service in the field. The casualties have been heavy, four officers and 155 men having been killed in action.

Bedfordshire Command Depot

The Ampthill Camp has been converted to fulfil a new role, with the Duke of Bedford and his senior staff continuing in command.

stevens-nelson

Major Stevens                             Major Nelson

Combatant Staff Officers

  • Duke of Bedford K.G. A.D.C. – Commanding Officer
  • Major Frank A.D. Stevens – Second in Command
  • Major Arthur Nelson – Adjutant

Medical Officers

  • Lieut Holmes – Royal Army Medical Corps
  • Dr. William Garner (of The Limes, Ampthill)

The Command Depot at Ampthill will be for the non-commissioned officers and men of No.9 Group Regimental District, which comprises eight counties, and for officers who have trained at Ampthill and returned home wounded or invalided from the Front.

Men on discharge from hospital proceed on ten days’ furlough, and the rejoin a Command Depot, the objective of which is to restore wounded and invalided men to a state of military and physical efficiency by a careful system of physical and military training. At a Command Depot the men lead the ordinary life of a soldier in barracks or in huts – route marching, drill, bombing, musketry, physical drill, and trench warfare all being part of the course. In addition there is a special establishment for those requiring massage and electrical treatment, which will be under the supervision of the medical staff attached to the Command Depot.

October 27, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Twenty-eight Ampthill recruits have been killed in the Somme region this month. Eleven of these men fell on October 12 when the Bedfords’ 2nd Battalion attacked the German frontline at the Battle of Le Transloy. The weather and ground conditions were atrocious. Few yards were gained for the British lives lost.

Read the war diary for October 12, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/2ndbn/2ndbtn1916diary.html

Sources:

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 30 November 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 – the Camp Diary, September 1916

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

September 1916 – Another draft of men have left the Camp to join the British Expedition Force. The Ampthill Camp is starting to feel decidedly empty.

On Thursday, 7th September Major-General Pilcher made an inspection of the camp and watched the cadets go through physical drill and bayonet practice. A number of men back from France, following wounds or illness, are engaged in light duties. This includes agricultural work in fields near the Camp.

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September 8, 1916

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September 15, 1916

Wrest Park Military Hospital

Since the outbreak of war Wrest Park has played a major part in treating the wounded. On Thursday, 14th a convoy train of wounded soldiers were met at Ampthill Station and conveyed to Woburn and Wrest Park Hospitals. Later that day a major fire developed in the East Wing of Wrest Park. Some 160 soldiers were there convalescing at the time. Twice during the night the Ampthill Camp bugle sounded ‘parade at the double.’ The first order of the evening was for all men who had cycles or other ways of getting to Wrest Park quickly, to start off and assist with the fire. The second call came nearer midnight for the men to assist with arrangements for making comfortable about 50 wounded soldiers removed from Wrest House to Woburn Abbey Hospital and to empty huts in the Camp. The recruits also helped with salvaging valuable furniture and paintings.

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The House survived the fire but some parts were gutted. The damage is estimated at £20,000. Thankfully there was no loss of life – read the full newspaper report.

By converting this fine country house into a hospital for wounded soldiers and practically maintaining it for two years at great personal expense, Lord Lucas has rendered great national service, and during the whole time his sister, the Hon. Miss Herbert, devoted herself with loving care and attention to the work of the hospital as Matron. Very few people, indeed, are aware of the great work that has been done at Wrest House, for our wounded heroes brought home from the battlefields.

The authorities have come to the decision that Wrest Park will no longer be used as a military hospital.

Ampthill Camp – more departures

On Friday, 22nd a small group of N.C.O.’s left the camp to join another battalion. Captain Tanqueray who has been heavily engaged with Cadet training, has rejoined the Royal West Sussex Regiment. The following officers have proceeded to France to join the Bedfordshire Regiment: Lieutenants Millars and Blanchard, and 2nd Lieutenants Matson, Sharpen, G.C. Scott, Forbes, Stanton, Piercey, Deacon, Hyde, Hope, Woodford, Hickman, Fletcher, Kingdom, and Booth.

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September 22, 1916

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September 29, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

News has been received of two promising Maulden lads, and flags were flown at half mast.

17743 Private Charles Newman has been missing since the Battle of Loo in September last. The War Office has written to his mother intimating that sadly, death must be assumed.

Mr. and Mrs. Northwood have been notified that on September 3rd their only son, Charles, was killed in an attack on the German trenches. Lieutenant D’Airgdor writes that 17843 Private Newman was “hit by a shell.” There is news that on  July 19th a similar fate befell 22523 Private William J.Shambrook of Ware who was with the 54th Mortar Battery.

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Four hundred and six Bedfords’ have been killed during September. Sixty-two of these men trained at the Ampthill – the Camp’s worst month by a country mile. Most of the Ampthill men were killed in the actions of 15th and 25th September.

September 15th – The Battle of Flers-Courcelette

A grim day for the Bedfords’ – the men were part of the British attack at The Battle of Flers-Courcelette in the Somme region. The 8th Battalion had three waves of infantry in position ready to attack from shell holes. At 06:00 artillery started to lay down a heavy barrage – however, the munitions fell short causing many British casualties. At ZERO Hour [06:20] the companies pushed forwards with support. Depleted in number, the Bedfords’ failed to take their objective. Survivors returned to hold the original trenches and were then relieved. 

One hundred and twenty-four Bedfords’ were killed in the action that day. Thirty-nine of these soldiers trained at the Ampthill Camp.

Casualties – September 15
22674 Private Horace AMBRIDGE (27) of Barton Killed in Action
22673 Private Albert ASHBY of Barton Killed in Action
17774 Private John ATKINSON (43) of Barford Killed in Action
22269 Private Daniel AUSTIN of Harrowden Killed in Action
20779 Private Horace BATCHELOR (27) of Flamsted Killed in Action
20527 Private Ernest BODSWORTH (25) of Woburn Killed in Action
20619 Private Archibald BONESS of Biggleswade Killed in Action
20896 Private Albert Edward BRIDGES of Hitchin Killed in Action
23247 Private William Charles BUCKINGHAM of Toddington Killed in Action
22917 Private William CAMFIELD (22) of Walsworth Killed in Action
19895 Private Fredrick COOK (22) of Tilbrook Killed in Action
20910 Private William Arthur Leonard DEVEREAUX (24) of Campton Killed in Action
18801 Private James Charles FEARY (39) of St. Ives Killed in Action
18485 Private Arthur Henry FOSTER (44) of Godmanchester Killed in Action
20667 Private William GILKS of Woburn Killed in Action
23599 Private William GODFREY (21) of Hexton Killed in Action
20969 Private William HAILEY (35) of Walsworth Killed in Action
20483 Private Herbert HARE of Old Warden Killed in Action
19546 Private Walter HENMAN of Breachwood Green Killed in Action
20397 Private Edward HORSLER (33) of Streatley Killed in Action
20941 Private Frank IRONS (18) of Wilstead Killed in Action
19498 Private George JACKSON (42) of Dunton Killed in Action
22457 Private William JACKSON (26) of Stevenage Killed in Action
20744 Private Arthur JANES (31) of Hemel Hempstead Missing (presumed dead)
20345 Private John JELLIS (33) of Upper Sundon Killed in Action
20316 Private Richard John LISTER (32) of Needingworth Killed in Action
22504 Private Robert LOVETT (20) of Biggleswade Killed in Action
23270 Private George MARTIN of Barton Killed in Action
20339 Private Alfred C. MILLWARD (40) of Olney Killed in Action
18128 Private Fredrerick PAXTON of Woburn Sands Killed in Action
22395 Private Christopher PERRY (47) of Luton Killed in Action
22746 Private Cyril Albert Bernard PINNOCK (20) of Bedford Killed in Action
20599 Private George Benjamin POULTER (18) of Killed in Action
20298 Private Henry J RANDALL (40) of Marston Church End Killed in Action
22435 Private Ernest William STEVENS (29) of Flamstead Killed in Action
22080 Private Frederick TAYLOR (34) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action
22850 Private Herbert WHITTINGTON (21) of Marston Shelton Killed in Action
23234 Private Charles Henry WILSON (23) of Earith Killed in Action
19593 Lance Corporal Thomas YOUNG of Kempston Killed in Action

Read the war diary for September 15, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/8thbn/8thbtn1916diary.html

September 25th – The Battle of Morval 

The Bedfords’ took part in an attack on German lines between Morval and Les Boeuff. The attack commenced at 12.35.p.m. and the 8th Battalion moved up to original front line when second objective had been taken about 2.35 p.m. Casualties from the enemy barrage very slight. The British attack succeded and many prisoners were taken. At night the 8th Bedfords’ furnished carrying parties to resupply the front line battalion with ammunition and water. C Platoon were detached to 1st London Company of the Royal Engineers as a working party in captured German trenches. C Company suffered very heavily from enemy shell fire.

Casualties – September 25
22594 Private Frederick CHANCE of Toddington Killed in Action
20403 Private William CHATER (22) of Olney Killed in Action
20554 Lance Corporal Arthur HANCOCK (38) of Melchbourne Killed in Action
18874 Lance Corporal Joseph LAW (21) of Sharnbrook Killed in Action
22807 Private Arthur William ODELL (24) of Marston Shelton Killed in Action

Read the war diary for September 25, 1916: http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk/8thbn/8thbtn1916diary.html


Other September Casualties

September 3
17834 Private Charles William NORTHWOOD (21) of Maulden Killed in Action
23256 Private Harry PAGE (23) of Woburn Sands Died of Wounds
18462 Private William WARNER of Biggleswade Died of Wounds

September 4
19846 Private George William HARRIS (28) of Wootton Killed in Action
26270 Private Harold George SAWFORD (23) of Sharnbrook Died of Wounds
20059 Sergeant Walter Frederick SURRIDGE (28) of Bedford Killed in Action

September 5
18957 Private Albert Lewis CATLIN (32) of Stevenage Killed in Action
20704 Private Ernest CLARIDGE (26) of Hemel Hempstead Killed in Action
20890 Lance Corporal Reginald MANNING (24) of Toseland Killed in Action

September 6
18206 Private Walter Henry COX (27) of Renhold Died of Wounds

September 18
12101 Private Walter ASHWELL (29) of Moggerhanger Died – formerly 27646 Bedfords’

September 22
20266 Private William COOPER  (21) of Luton Died of Wounds
20373 Private George CRANFIELD
(29) of Flitwick Killed in Action on September 22

September 25
29460 Private Harry FINDING (19) of Raunds Killed in Action
29452 Private Christopher Francis SMITH (35) of Ridgmont Killed in Action
19220 Private Walter THOMAS (25) of Wellington Killed in Action

September 26
19477 Private Arthur GILLETT
(32) of Flitwick Killed in Action

September 27
22810 Lance Corporal Charles William CANHAM
(21) of Kettering Killed in Action

September 28
20817 Private Edward HILL of Barton Died of Wounds

Sources:

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
A history of Silsoe (Roger Bradshaw, 2011
English Heritage

Next instalment to be published on 31 October 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 – the Camp Diary, July 1916

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

July 1916 – Several drafts have left the Ampthill Training Depot this week for the East Coast. The band marched each draft to the Station, and His Grace was there to see the men entrained. A good many civilian friends gave them a cheery farewell. Recruits have arrived to take the place of those who have left.

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July 14, 1916

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

A subdued letter has been received from Joseph Bilcock who trained at the Ampthill Camp. Joseph is now attached to the Royal Engineers, serving at the Front. He dreams of a decent meal, duck and green peas….. The uncertainty and conditions are taking their toll.
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*18308 Private Bilcock would serve with the British Expeditionary Force for a further 15 months. Joseph was wounded and sadly on October 28, 1917 succumbed to his wounds…..

The Battles of the Somme

The ‘Big Push’ in the Somme Region has seen 520 Bedfords’ killed this month. Sixty-nine of these soldiers trained at the Ampthill Camp. Most of the deaths arose from four British attacks:

July 1916 – Ampthill recruits killed or who died of wounds


July 1st – First Day of The Somme

On 1 July 1916 the British Expeditionary Force commenced a major offensive at the Somme. Ampthill recruits in the Bedfords’ 7th Battalion (C & D Company) were in frontline trenches, and went over the top. 19,240 British soldiers were killed on that infamous day. Ninety-five Bedfords were among them – ten of these men trained at the Ampthill Camp:

Many more soldiers were wounded. The Bedfordshire Regiment 7th Battalion War Diary provides an account  of what happened on 1 July 1916 –more.

 July 11th – Trônes Wood

The Bedfords’ 2nd Battalion saw action on 11 July at Trones Wood – map. The war diary reports ‘unexpectedly encountering a trench complex and machine guns’ that were concealed by the heavy undergrowth.

1916.7.21 BS Trones Wood

Bedfordshire Standard – July 21, 1916

Sixteen Ampthill recruits who were killed that day. A further two men died on 12 July of their wounds – more about the Bedfords’ in Trônes Wood:

July 27th – Longueval

The 1st Bedfordshire supported the 1st Norfolks in attacking the village of Longueval – map. A 2 hour bombardment preceded ZERO HOUR (7.10 A.M).

The Report on Operations indicates that the Bedfords’ encountered significant resistance as they entered the village. This took the form of heavy machine gun fire and a German counter attack that halted the advance. Casualties were heavy. Ten Ampthill recruits were killed in the action.

Read the Bedfordshire Regiment 1st Battalion War Diary

July 30th – Maltz Horn Farm

The 2nd Battalion was engaged in an attack at Maltz Horn Farm – map. At ZERO HOUR 3:30am “A” Company attacked in two extended lines, capturing the farm and trench. 70-80 Germans were killed in the Maltz Horn German Trench and one prisoner taken. The Farm itself was found not to be held. “A” Company rejoined the Battalion in its original front line and suffered about 30 Casualties in the whole operation.

The Battalion was to move up into their positions in the Trenches just South of Trones Wood. The attack was severely hampered by a dense fog that caused the attacking Battalions to lose touch. Orders were given for “B” and “C” Companies to move up in support and reinforce the 19th and 20th Kings Liverpool Regiment. Thwarted by communication difficulties the companies dug in and excavated a new trench 300 yards long. The whole position was heavily shelled throughout the day.

Nine Ampthill recruits were killed in the operation.

Read the Bedfordshire Regiment 2nd Battalion War Diary


July 1916 – other Ampthill recruits who were killed or died

19447 Private Frederick CAIN (26) of Hitchin – Killed accidentally on July 2
22501 Private William WALDOCK of St Albans – Died of Wounds on July 3
20973 Private Walter DAWSON (19) of Stow – Died of Wounds on July 4
22385 Private Frederick CHASE of Hockliffe – Killed in Action on July 10
20859 Private William REYNOLDS of Stotfold Killed in Action on July 10
19108 Lance Corporal Frank THORNTON (27) of Ascott-under-Wychwood – Died of Wounds on July 10
22170 Private Ernest Edward AMBROSE (19) of Wallington – Died of Wounds on July 13 – more
22940 Private Cecil Sydney ROE (19) of Huntingdon – Field accident on July 14
20528 Private Charles Henry LUDGATE (20) of Woburn – Killed in Action on July 15 – more
22178 Private Robert POINTER (39) of St Albans – Killed in Action on July 15 – more
20643 Private Walter Leslie James SAWYER (23) of Little Barford – Killed in Action  on July 15 – more
18510 Private Joseph PAYNE – Died of Wounds on July 16
18294 Corporal Walter James BIRD (37) of Baldock – Died of Wounds on July 17
22523 Private William Joseph SHAMBROOK of Sharnbook – Killed in Action on July 19
18526 Lance Corporal John RAINSDEN (33) of St Albans – Died of Wounds on July 22
27407 Private John William GREEN of Wymington – Killed in Action on July 23
20056 Private Harry Edward HARPER (21) of Leighton Buzzard – Died of Wounds on July 23
19449 Private John W. HILLYARD (40) of Westoning – Killed in Action on July 24
22051 Private Charles BUSHBY (29) of Harlington – Killed in Action on July 28
18182 Private Rufus Ernest BOWYER (18) of New Harrowden – Died of Wounds on July 30
20228 Private Ernest John ENDERSBY (36) of Sandy – Killed in Action on July 31

Sources:

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
Daily Mail Online

Next installment to be published on 31 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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