Monday, 3 April 2017

A New Adjutant, A New Commanding Officer and A New Ally?

Lord Ampthill [X550/1/82]

Tuesday 3rd April 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, Lieutenant G A Anstee has been admitted to hospital, sick. The new acting adjutant is Lieutenant L A L Fink MC. This afternoon the battalion left its billets in Bailleulmont heading for Blaireville. This place is quite close to Agny, where the battalion has been for much of the year. Both Agny and Blaireville are south-west of the town of Arras.

The 8th Battalion are in the front line near Loos. They came under intense bombardment for about ten minutes at 10 o’clock this morning and braced themselves for an enemy raid or attack – but nothing happened. They lost one man killed and thirteen wounded. The adjutant noted wryly that it was as if it was a fanfare to welcome their new commanding officer, none other than Lord Ampthill, cousin to the Duke of Bedford. He is a thoroughly familiar figure to many of the men, who undertook their training at Ampthill Camp where he was commandant. It is understood that he has been desperate to command one of “his” battalions at the front and so one peer of the realm succeeds another (Lord Henry Scott) as the 8th Battalion’s commander. He is expected to assume his duties tomorrow once he has “learned the ropes”.

Undoubtedly the biggest news out here, however, comes from our former colonies in North America. Yesterday President Wilson requested Congress to declare war on Germany. The enemy’s arrogance in opening a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare, posing a real and present danger to all American shipping, and their foolish suggestion of an alliance with Mexico against three of the USA’s southern states has rebounded on them in the fullest fashion. All fingers are firmly crossed that Congress backs their president.

Sources: X550/3/WD; X550/9/1

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