It is one hundred years since the Bedfordshire Training Depot closed in 1916. Ampthill Town Council is leading preparations to remember the WWI soldiers who trained at The Camp, and those who died or were injured.
The centrepiece will be Tommy’s Footprints – a poignant art installation flanked by poppies in the hollow of Ampthill Great Park. This is where, upon completion of training, the recruits passed on their way to entrain at Ampthill Midland Station for the fight in France and Belgium.
Attend the illustrated talk or own your piece of Ampthill’s WWI history.
BUY: Ampthill’s Fallen (by John Hele, 2014)
In 2014 Ampthill historian John Hele published Ampthill’s Fallen. The book 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).
To find out more read Ampthill’s Fallen [ISBN 978-0-9542619-5-5 – 149 pages ~ £8 + p&p]. To obtain a copy of this excellent book please email John Hele.
BUY: Armistice100 bottled beer
Ampthill-based Kelchner Brewery has designed 3 limited edition bottles to support Ampthill Armistice100 . The artwork is splendid. The bottle ale is available from Cambridge Wines, Wrest Park and direct from the Kelchner Brewery.
BUY: Luton and its people in the Great War (by Stuart Smith, 2018)
A special WWI centenary from Luton historian and author, Stuart Smith. The book mentions some of the men who trained at the Ampthill Camp.
Drawn from contemporary reports in the local papers, during and after the conflict, from personal accounts of living relatives and from historical accounts of the war it details the exploits of Luton men and women who volunteered for war service.
Chapters deal with all of the major land, sea and air campaigns that featured local men, from the outbreak of war and the rush of men of all ages to join the colours and one aspect of the book is the publication of the many letters sent home from soldiers at the front telling of experiences gained during the various battles, large and small, telling of amusing and more often than not of tragic circumstances that the writer had faced. The winning of gallantry awards and the circumstances of the action are given. In excess of 350 men from Luton and its close environs are mentioned by name, whether killed, wounded, missing in action or as a prisoner of war with some graphic accounts of life in the camps.
Luton life during the war years details the various industries that took on war work, the difficulties of the hat industry, the VAD Hospital at Wardown, the task of the Luton Fire Brigade fighting major factory fires that were engaged in war work, the manufacturing of munitions and the part played by the Luton Town Football Club and those players who went off to fight, some never to return are all covered as are the issues surrounding billeting, especially in the early months of the war, and criminal activities dealt with on a day-to-day basis by the courts.
The book does not finish with the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918 – the final chapter follows on through to the early post-war days and the rise of feelings of consciences with the establishment of many Rolls of Honour, placed within the factories, schools and in some cases on the walls of houses in humble town centre streets from where men had left and gone off to do their duty. The accumulation of all of this grief and mourning came on 10 December 1922 when Lady Ludlow of Luton Hoo unveiled and dedicated a memorial in memory of her fallen son, followed later in the day by the unveiling and dedication of the town memorial in George Street.
This book is no lightweight, coming in at A4 format, 687 pages and weighing an incredible 2.3 kg. It contains over 250 photographs, many of local men who went off to serve in the various armed forces, many not to return home. Over 350 men from Luton are mentioned by name, often with the names of parents and siblings left behind in the town, making this book an ideal research tool for genealogists and history buffs alike. Above all it is a cracking good read.
Price £15 (usually £17.99 + p&p)
Order direct from the Stuart Smith (01582-584367; email@example.com) who delivers free in Bedfordshire during October and November 2018.
SOLD OUT: Tommy’s Footprints Coaster
This coaster has been specially commissioned for Tommy’s Footprints.
Edition strictly limited to 120 – £4
Only available from Number 14 in Ampthill
50p of each coaster is donated to charity
SOLD OUT: Tommy’s IPA
Limited edition centenary ale for Tommy’s Footprints.
Edition strictly limited to 450 bottles – £2.75
Available from Saturday, 29 October at the Ampthill Brewhouse in Ampthill.
Opening hours: Thursday (9am-4pm and Saturday 10am-noon).
BUY: Ampthill Camp WWI Centenary Postcard
This special postcard commemorates the centenary of the WWI Bedfordshire Training Depot (1914-16). Limited edition: 500
£2 (inc p&p).
BUY: Stencilling Tommy’s Footprints
This book tells the story of Tommy’s Footprints and how we made it a reality…..
Edition strictly limited to 150 copies – £6 (inc p&p)
A5 book. 48 pages
Published on 1 December 2016 – just in time for Christmas!
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.
These limited edition books and postcards will become very collectible. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to order by PayPal or BACS transfer.
Proceeds have helped to fund a book about the Ampthill Camp and benefit the charity Combat Stress which was founded in 1919 to help WWI veterans deal with shell shock.