Wednesday, 20 January 2016

3rd/5th Bedfords at Halton Park

Bayonet practice [X550/1/195]

Thursday 20th January 1916: The boys of the third line of the 5th Bedfordshires are spending a healthy and not unhappy time among the hills of Buckinghamshire. The camp is a large one and is situated at Halton Park, the residence of Lord Rothschild. Innumerable wooden huts dot the hillside and accommodation has been found for thousands of men, for other regiments besides the 3rd/5th Beds are quartered there. And there are still lots of vacant beds and plenty of khaki suits that require to be filled. The situation of the camp is beautiful. A great expanse of fair English country stretches away westward and north and south is an encircling arm of hills, beyond one of which is Tring. In the middle distance is Aylesbury and on the left of the picture is Wendover, nestling at the foot of a hill. The palatial mansion of Lord Rothschild stands out boldly against the sky and on a distant hill can be seen the monument to the brave men of Buckinghamshire who fell in the South African war.

It was on a day that was uncommonly like spring that our representative and a colleague, accompanied by Lieutenant R W Lambert paid a brief visit to the camp and were very kindly received by Lieutenant-Colonel R R B Orlebar. We learned that the total strength of the battalion is nearly 600, but this is likely to be increased by arrival, for training, of numbers of Derby recruits(1). The spirit of the men is excellent and the behaviour exemplary. By the kindness of the Acting Adjutant, Lieutenant Rawlings, just returned from Gallipoli, we had an opportunity of seeing a portion of the Battalion at drill and bayonet exercises, the work being very smartly and intelligently performed.

The huts are warm and comfortable and lighted by electricity. Each building contains board beds, with straw palliasses and plenty of blankets. Then there are the baths, a separate cubicle being provided for each man and hot and cold shower baths are much appreciated.

The food is wholesome, varied and plentiful. For instance the following dishes figure in the breakfast menu for the present week: rissoles, bacon and tomatoes, corned beef, boiled bacon, sausages and liver, steaks and onions. Then for dinner, roast or boiled meat or brown stew, potatoes, cabbage, turnips, rice, bread and fruit puddings and fruit salad. Soup is supplied for supper.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 18th February 1916

(1) Lord Derby’s scheme, introduced in Autumn 1915, required men between 18 and 41 not in a reserved occupation to make an attestation at a recruiting office after which they would be put into the reserve in one of 46 groups which would be called when needed, single men, for example, before married men. The scheme was superseded by conscription in March 1916.

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