From the creator of Tommy’s Footprints. November 2017 – we remembered how Canadian troops changed the face of Ampthill a hundred years ago.
In Autumn 1917 the 126th Canadian Forestry Corps was deployed to fell trees in Ampthill and the surrounding district to support the war effort. The activity threatened the Victorian beauty spot of Cooper’s Hill and attracted considerable discontent among the town’s folk. The Canadian troops assisted by Portuguese labourers cleared a large swathe of mature pine trees, and shipped them off by rail for use at the Front.
Despite this, the Canadian troops developed a warm bond with the people of Ampthill by taking part in local activities and themselves providing concerts at the Y.M.C.A. hut. A year on the Forestry Corps departed as friends and Sgt Herman Porter wrote of the experience. Herman’s book provides a fascinating insight – click to read.
The Alameda Walk was spared the axe and Cooper’s Hill has gone onto regenerate as a tranquil heath that we now hold dear.
In November 2017 we remembered the 126th Canadian Forestry Corps by stencilling Tommy’s Footprints on The Alameda. A permanent Canadian’s Interpretation Board has also been installed by The Cenotaph.
One of the Canadian Foresters died of influenza in 1918 and is buried in St. Andrew’s Churchyard. Simon Peacock (Ampthill Town Mayor) has researched Private Avard Dimock and worked with Neville Funeral Services to have the gravestone repaired. On Sunday 12, November after the Act of Remembrance there was a short service at St.Andrew’s to re-dedicate Avard’s grave – click to watch.
There were two complementary opportunities to hear about the Canadians:
Friday, 17th November – an illustrated talk by Kevan Fadden and Stephen Hartley at 7:30pm in Parkside Hall, Ampthill MK45 2HX.
Our special guests, Ampthill Town Band, opened the evening with a splendid programme of WWI music – listen.
Sunday, 19 November – we gathered at The Hub Cafe in Ampthill Great Park to depart at 2pm. The walk finished at St. Andrew’s Church in time to watch the Christmas Lights switch-on.
Flitwick Library by Steve Fuller
5 November – Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints on The Alameda
11 November – One minute silence at 11am in the Town Square
12 November – Remembrance Sunday Parade from St. Andrew’s Church
17 November – WWI Talk: Canadian Troops in Ampthill + our special guests,
The Ampthill Town Band, at 7:30pm in Parkside Hall
19 November – Guided Walk: WWI Canadian Troops in Ampthill at 2pm from The Hub