Monday, 23 November 2015

10th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, a Short History, Part I

Tuesday 23rd November 1915: We were born at Dovercourt, Essex, on 31st October 1914, by two companies of the 4th Bedfords being detached “in toto” to form the nucleus of a new Battalion. Most of the men had enlisted in the early part of September and so had undergone a certain amount of training. Some of the officers had also been attached to the 4th Battalion for some little time previous to the formation of the Battalion. We were a part of the Harwich Defence Force and before we left found some of the Guards etc. to relieve the 4th Bedfords. The Dovercourt days were strenuous, for we all were keen and worked hard, and so much useful training was done there.

On November 6th, Lieutenant-Colonel W. B. Piers of the Indian Army was sent to command us and from that day there has been no looking back. We were fortunate, too, in the fact that Lord Salisbury and Captain Wild, who were then the Officer Commanding and Adjutant of the 4th Battalion, were always ready to help us in every way.

The Battalion moved to the White City, London, in the heaviest snowstorm of the winter on January 22nd, 1915 to be with the other Battalions in our Brigade – the 106th Brigade(1). With us were 12th Essex , who also started their experiences at Dovercourt (being an offshoot of their 3rd Battalion). We have been brigaded with them ever since and have maintained the good relations of the Dovercourt days.

At the White City we quickly made an impression, and we were regarded as the show Battalion in our Brigade. We spent many pleasant days in field schemes, manoeuvres, etc. on Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park etc.

We were all looking forward to going out as a Brigade – 11th Glosters, 12th Essex and 13th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were the other Battalions – and it was not until the closing days of March that we learned we were to be – like our parent the 4th Bedfords – a draft-producing Battalion(2). This decision caused much disappointment, but we quickly realised that some Battalions had to be Reserve Battalions and it was the fortune of war that we should be one of them.

On April 29th we bade farewell to White City – most of us without regret – and proceeded to Redhill [Surrey], where the men were very comfortably billeted, the officers taking an empty house and furnishing it. Here we again made an excellent impression and soon made friends with everybody. We came across 8th Battalion Bedfords, who were undergoing some instruction in trench digging there. They were only a few days with us, but long enough for us to see that they were a fine Battalion. Unfortunately, we had no sooner settled down than the order came to move. We learnt that the Brigade was going to to be split up and 12th Essex and ourselves were to go to Colchester. Accordingly, on 17th May, we bade “good-bye” – in the rain – to Redhill, this time with many regrets. On arrival at Colchester we were placed in huts and we had hardly settled down in them when we were moved into Assaye Barracks – used as married soldiers’ quarters in peacetime(3). From there, on September 18th, we were moved to Sobraon Barracks and here we understand we shall remain for the winter(4).

Source: Bedfordshire Times 26th November 1915

(1) 35th Division, later a Bantam division for men under normal height for military service.
(2) 4th Bedfords did see service at the front – with 63rd (Royal Naval) Division from July 1916 onwards.
(3) named after the Duke of Wellington’s first victory – at Assaye in Maharashtra over the Marathas on 23rd September 1803.
(4) named after the Battle of Sobraon (in Punjab) in which, on 10th February 1846, the East India Company under Sir Hugh Gough defeated the Sikhs 

No comments:

Post a Comment