Tag Archives: Ypres

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

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

May 1916 – On Friday, April 29 a draft of 130 men left camp for the Front to reinforce the Bedfordshire Regiment, 6th and 8th Battalions. The Duke of Bedford addressed the men that morning and, with the Duchess, saw them off at night. The men were marched to the Station and enjoyed the usual big send-off.

A further draft of 130 men left on Friday, May 5 to join the 6th Bedfords’. Having wished them well the Duke went on to inspect the entire Camp; upwards of a thousand recruits turned out. Rumours were rife that the bulk of the soldiers in Camp would be sent away to finish their training and so make room for Derby recruits.

On Friday 19th a draft of 50 smart young fellows left Camp to join the 8th Bedfords’ in France. The Duke and Duchess were present to wish them farewell. In late May a fair number of married man have come to the Camp through joining up before their group calls.

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May 5, 1916

 

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May 12, 1916

 

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May 26, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

There have been more letters from men of the Bedfords’ 8th Battalion who were involved in the big scrap on 19/20 April at the Ijser Canal Bank near Ypres.

Thursday 4th May 1916: Private W. Horley, a bomb thrower in the 8th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, is home convalescing. His is another hair-raising story resultant from the attack on the battalion on 19th April. He was in the trenches at Ypres when his trench was bombarded by the Germans and nearly demolished, a dug-out was shattered and several of his mates were buried. Horley, with others, removed the debris with their hands and got them out. One of them, a sergeant, was badly hurt, and as it was cold, Horley returned to the ruins to fetch his overcoat. At that moment a shell came over and finished the destruction of the dug-out and he was buried, pinned by the legs and wounded in the neck by shrapnel. The Germans took the trench and held it for two days, until it was retaken by then Bedfordshire Regiment and Shropshire Light Infantry. He endured this tomb for seven days when he was fortunate enough to attract the attention of a sergeant of the Buffs, who had him released. He was removed to the base hospital in a very exhausted condition and from thence brought to Saint John’s Wood Hospital, where he remained for four weeks. He is at home at Hockliffe on ten days’ leave and will then return to his regiment, with the hope of “getting his own back”. His confinement was really his salvation. Had he been in the trench when it fell he would have shared the fate of his comrades, who were either killed or taken prisoners.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard June 16, 1916 (as republished by Bedsatwar blog)

Private Dick Bryant writes from Herne Bay Hospital. Bryant was formerly an Ampthill Camp recruit and in the big scrap on April 19th he sustained 13 wounds and narrowly escaped with his life, a Bible and a tobacco box in his breast pocket being much damaged. He says: “I am lucky to be alive. Sometimes out there you wish anything, but I have wished ever so many times they had not hit me, for it has been a very queer two or three days. I began to think my leg was going the wrong way, but I am going on alright today. It is lovely weather here and I long to get out in the air. I asked the doctor if I could go out and they are going to wheel me out this afternoon. I have got to be operated on, a bit of bone has to come out. He said if he did not do it I shall be six or seven months and then not right.”

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle June 26, 1916 (as republished by Bedsatwar 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

Next installment to be published on 1 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 – the Burr boys

Stanley Burr came from the village of Holwell which is a couple of miles north of Hitchin. He was one of seven children. Each of the six Burr boys served in WWI, three of them with the Bedfords.

Stanley (22017) and his younger brother Hedley (22013) both enlisted at Bedford, probably on the same day. The boys trained at the Bedfordshire Training Depot and were drafted to reinforce the Bedfords’ 8th Battalion at the Front.

On April 15, 1916 at Ypres the company took their turn in the trenches of Yser Canal Bank between bridges No.2 and 4 – map. On the night of 19/20 April, after 2 hours of heavy bombardment, the German infantry attacked with bomb and bayonet, and gained a footing in the British front-line trenches. The Bedfords resisted but sustained heavy casualties and lost ground. The two brothers were reported as ‘missing.’ With all six sons serving with the British Army their parents George and Sarah’s wait for news doesn’t bear thinking about.

Records show that at least twenty-one Ampthill Park recruits were killed at Ypres that night. Stanley Burr (20) was one of them – he has no known grave.

Stanley is remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial where 40,500 British soldiers are named. Hedley Burr survived the action but little is known about what happened to him. Hedley (21) died on 14 November 2018 a few days after the Armistice. He is buried in Cologne. The timing and location of Hedley’s death suggest he was a prisoner-of-war. Four of the brothers – Herbert, Arthur, Sidney, and Alfred Burr – survived the Great War.

Stanley and Hedley Burr are remembered in St.Peter’s Church, Holwell and on the Duke of Bedford War Memorial in Ampthill Great Park.

Source:

The Bedfordshire Standard. The original broadsheet is part of the Bedfordshire & Luton Archive.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Bedsatwar blog
Bedsathome blog
Bedfordshire Regiment: 8th Battalion War Diary
Ancestry.com

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, April 1916

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

April 1916 – in early April the passes for weekend leave were withheld, there being a case of measles in camp. With the advent of some real spring weather, sports have been well to the fore. Football is very popular and a keen match was played by companies 1 and 2 on Saturday, April 8.

In mid April a draft representing the machine section left the Ampthill Camp for further training elsewhere. The regimental band accompanied them to Ampthill Midland Station, and the men had a cheery send-off from their comrades an civilians as they passed through the town.

Meanwhile on April 13 at the Ampthill Workhouse the Board of Governors met to consider whether any of the inmates were fit enough to earn their keep and assist the war effort by working on the land – more.

On Thursday, 27th the Camp broke up with the men getting leave until the Tuesday. Several men who trained at Ampthill have been invalided home from France and are back at the camp on light duty.

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April 7, 1916

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April 14, 1916

April 1916

April 28, 1916

 

News of Ampthill Park recruits at the Front

Private C. Lees, writing from the Front says: “We are attached to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion – 35 of us from the last draft from Ampthill – but we are not certain how long we will be here, as we have to join our regiment, the 8th Bedfords, as soon as they want us. We are at present stationed about four miles from the firing line at Ypres, marching up to the reserve trenches in the morning, then back again in the afternoon. German big shells and shrapnel have been bursting in the next field to where we have been working today, so you can guess that it has been a bit exciting. There is not much danger here, unless, of course, we happen to get in the way of these shells. We have to wash in a brook that runs near the camp. It is a lot different from good old Ampthill Camp out here, but not at all bad considering we are in Belgium”.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 7th April 1916 (as republished by Bedsatwar blog)

On April 15 at Ypres the Ampthill recruits took their turn in the trenches of Yser Canal Bank between bridges No.2 and 4 – map. On the night of 19/20 April, after 2 hours of heavy bombardment, the German infantry attacked with bomb and bayonet, and gained a footing in the British front-line trenches. The Bedfords resisted but sustained heavy casualties and lost ground. Killed – Capt Quilter, 2Lt Cartwright, 2Lt McMichael. Wounded 2Lt Vipond, 2Lt Harry Player, 2Lt William Eugene Charles. Missing 2Lt Squier. Other Ranks – Killed 32, Missing believed Killed 97, Wounded 65. At least nineteen Ampthill Park recruits were killed that day; others would have been among the wounded.

The Bedfords were relieved by men of the 2nd Yorkshire- and the Lancaster Regiment. The trenches were retaken next day.

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: 8th Battalion War Diary

Next installment to be published on 15 July 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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