Tuesday, 24 November 2015

10th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment – A Short History, Part II

Wednesday 24th November 1915: Here at Colchester – where we form part of 6th (Reserve) Infantry Brigade – we completed our training and have sent out drafts as reinforcements to both 6th and 7th Battalions. One cannot help saying that these drafts have invariably been described by Officers Commanding the Rest Camps where they go prior to joining their new unit as the best they have had sent to them. Similar praise has been received from the Officers Commanding units they have joined and from officers who have returned from the front.

The majority of our men appeared to be Hertfordshire men, towns like Saint Albans, Hertford, Watford and Hitchin being well-represented while Harpenden, Radlett, Buntingford, Letchworth, Berkhamstead etc. have their representatives. Most of the Bedfordshire men come from Bedford and district and Luton but some come from Dunstable, Sandy and villages on the borders of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Huntingdon was well represented and, curiously enough, there was a section from Bristol(1).

A large number of the officers are Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire men, Bedford Grammar School having four representatives and Saint Albans School three and these, not including many who live in the counties, but who were educated outside.

Four officers have been killed – Captain J A Tennant (a nephew of Mr Asquith), Lieutenant J T Adair, Lieutenant W A Leland and Second Lieutenant F C Casswell (who lost his life in the “Royal Edward” Transport)(2). Others from the Battalion have gone to take their places, to carry on the good work they have begun, and to maintain the glorious record which the Bedfordshire Regiment as a whole has earned for itself in this war.

Every encouragement is, and always has been, given to the playing of all games after parade hours. Last year we were unbeaten at hockey; this summer we lost only one match – the first of the season – at cricket, and we beat that side (9th Battalion, Royal West Kents) twice later on in the season. At soccer and hockey we are undefeated this year and although there has only been one rugger match to date the side shows promise of being a good one. It must not be forgotten that, owing to the Battalion being draft-producing, the personnel of the side is constantly changing.

Concerts and entertainments are frequently given in the evenings and they are very popular with all ranks.

The songs we sing on the march naturally change from time to time. At Dovercourt the favourite was, perhaps “Who’s Your Lady Friend?” but other popular ones were “Come on Tommy, Come on Jack” (sung to everybody we passed in mufti(3)), “Hold Your Hand Out Naughty Boy” (for which we had our own verses), “Are we Downhearted? No”. Others were added while at White City and now our repertoire is quite a big one. The song which is most popular with the civilian population is as follows:

We are the Bedford boys,
We are the Bedford boys,
We know our manners,
We spend our tanners,
We are respected wherever we go,
When we’re walking down the broadway lines,
Doors and windows open wide,
We are the boys to drink our ale,
Out of a pint pot or a pail,
We are the Bedford boys.

And then, Mr. Kaiser (to the tune of Mr Cupid) is a good second.

Mr. Kaiser, Mr. Kaiser,
He’s the cause of all our trouble,
Cause of all the crime,
When the Bedfords get to France,
They will make the beggars dance,
Oh! It’s all through Mr. Kaiser every time(4).

Source: Bedfordshire Times 26th November 1915

(1) Nine men from Bristol would die with the 7th Battalion alone during the course of the war.
(2) RMS Royal Edward was sunk on 13th August 1915 by UB-14 off the Greek island of Kandeloussa, 864 men were drowned; John Amherst Tennant died on 22nd August 1915 in Gallipoli attached to 1st Battalion, Border Regiment; John Thomas Adair died on the same day serving with the same regiment. Walter Alfred Leland died in Gallipoli on 4th June 1915 serving with 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
(3) Civilian clothes

(4) 10th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment would move back to Dovercourt in March 1916 and on 1st September be converted into 27th Training Reserve Battalion, later 27th Young Soldier Battalion. From 27th October 1917 it would become 53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

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