20th April 1916: The toll of war has been particularly heavy latterly on the 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. They were manning front line trenches on the banks of the Ijser Canal near Ypres when the Germans began to bombard their position. After two hours of this the enemy attacked in force and gained a foothold in the Battalion’s trenches. Most of the position is still held and has been reinforced. Three officers – Captain Quilter, Second Lieutenant Cartwright and Second Lieutenant McMichael are reported killed, three more – Second Lieutenant Vipond, Second Lieutenant Player and Second Lieutenant Charles wounded and Second Lieutenant Squier is missing, presumed killed. 32 other ranks were killed, 97 are reported as missing believed killed and 65 are wounded(1). As the 8th Battalion has now been relieved it is hoped that a counterattack by another battalion will be successful in regaining the lost trenches(2).
We have heard details of the death of one of the men. Private Charles Ellingham from 25 Spring Place, Luton, was the youngest of six sons and his chum, Private J Bransome told us that the dug-out in which Private Ellingham was sheltering received a direct hit and was destroyed during the bombardment(3). In civilian life he was employed by sugar boilers Custance and Sons in Chapel Street.
Sources: X550/9/1; Luton News 11th May 1916
(1) In fact a considerable number of the 97 missing seem to have bene taken prisoner.
(2) 1st King’s Shropshire Light Infantry drove the Germans out of the Bedfords’ former trenches on 21st April.(3) His body was never found and may still lie in the wrecked dug-out.