Sunday 30 November 2014

In Old French Trenches

Monday 30th November 1914: The adjutant of the 1st Battalion tells us that they have just taken over an additional 400 yards of front line trench near Wulvergem. The state of these excavations can be judged by his terse comment that the section taken over is: "full of unburied French soldiers and old trenches". The bodies will have to be disposed of, in order to prevent disease and these old trenches will need to be shored up and joined with the trenches occupied yesterday to form a workmanlike defensive system.

The adjutant further states that the new trenches are in very close contact with the Germans, whose trenches, on slightly higher ground, were within about 25 yards. Imagine playing cricket and, as the batsman, the Germans are about as far away as the bowler as he approaches the opposite crease to bowl to you.

The battalion, despite the receipt of reserves in recent days, is still very weak owing to the actions last month around Festubert and at the beginning of this month at Ypres. Consequently, a company of another Regiment has been detailed to assist in reserve in case of an enemy attack.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour 30th November 1914

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: battalion in billets near Sailly - he may have been on attachment

·        Second Lieutenant John Agar PATTERSON (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Saturday 29 November 2014

Water in the Trenches

Sunday 29th November 1914: The 1st Battalion are in the front line again, in trenches north-west of Wulvergem, which is south of Ypres and north of Armentières just inside the Belgian border.The adjutant tells us that the trenches are disconnected and in bad condition. Trenches generally begin when a unit in the open has to dig in with some alacrity when coming under fire. These temporary trenches have then become permanent but in areas of the line where there has been little action they do not always interconnect with other trench systems and it is this activity which both sides will now be undertaking, to create a continuous front line running from the Swiss border to the sea.

The adjutant further comments that the communicating trenches are full of water and that the men are kept hard at work trying to revet and improve trenches and bail out water. The Communicating trenches are those which lead backwards from the front line to a second and third line, these being necessary if the front line is rushed and taken by the enemy.

Sources: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour 29th November 1914

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
·        6349 Private Frederick WRIGLEY, 35, husband of Margaret A of 61 Wycliffe Road, Northampton (le Touquet-Paris Plage Communal Ceemetery)


1st/5th Battalion

·        Private Joseph WOODS, 18, A Company, son of Charles and Elizabeth Woods of 3 Maitland Street, Bedford (Bury Saint Edmund's Cemetery)

Friday 28 November 2014

Men of the 2nd/5th Battalion Leave Luton

Opening of Park Street Skating Rink 1911 [Z1306/75/19/11]

Saturday 28th November 1914: In three companies the Reserve 5th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment [1] left Luton this morning for their headquarters in Bedford. There was a little send-off ceremony on Friday in the drill hall at the old skating rink in Park Street. About 300 men were on parade under Captain Batten, Captain Maior, Lieutenant Hobbs and Lieutenant New.

In the absence of the Mayor, who had hoped to be present, the Deputy Mayor (Alderman H. O. Williams) wished the men good luck, reminded them of the brave deeds that were being done at the front by the 1st and 2nd Bedfords, and said he felt sure that as Bedfordshire bull dogs they would, if called upon, maintain the splendid reputation of their county and their country.

Mr. Inwards, on behalf of the Territorial recruiting Committee, which was mainly responsible for the raising of the reserve battalion, wished the men every good wish and all good luck. The Committee, he said, hoped that the men would look upon the Recruiting Committee as a father and a mother ready to help them in every way as far as the War Office regulations would permit.

“Fear God and fear nothing else” was Mr. Inwards’ parting advice.

Captain Batten responded with a few words, and then called for cheers for the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Mr. Inwards, which the men gave most heartily.[2]

Source: Luton News 3rd December 1914

[1] 2nd/5th Battalion, which was for home service.

[2] Captain Joseph Keith Batten, 26, son of Joseph and Katie Alice Batten of Peterborough died on 27th September 1918 and is buried in Moeuvres Communal Cemetery Extension.

Roll of Honour 28th November 1914

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion

·        9802 Private Charles COOPER, 22, son of Mary Ann Cooper of Ridgmont (Ploegsteert Memorial)

Thursday 27 November 2014

Private Sidney Whittemore

Private Sidney Whittemore 

Friday 27th November 1914Private Sidney Whittemore of 10 Park Way, Luton and 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action, with so many of his colleagues, on 7th November near Ypres, leaving a widow and three little children. His parents were Mr and Mrs George Whittemore, who live at Stopsley. He was a reservist and prior to the war was working in the employ of Messrs T. Balmforth and Company, boilermakers. On the reserves being called up on the outbreak of war he was for a short time with the 3rd Battalion at Felixstowe. The night before he was killed his brother George was taken from the trenches severely wounded and is now in the 4th London General Hospital, having lost one eye[1].

For some time no information could be obtained as to the deceased, but a letter has now been received from Private Walter Spary[2], another Luton man, who was in the employ of Messrs Balmforth’s until the war broke out and who is now lying wounded at Beckenham Hospital. Pte Spary wrote: “Dear Friend – I can only say much to my sorrow and regret, that it is only too true about your brother Sid being killed in action. I feel it very much myself, being that Sid and I were great chums, as we enlisted together, went through South Africa together, worked together and also were together at the front at Ypres, where this engagement took place”.

“The night previous, November 6th, Sid’s brother George came from the trenches wounded in the head and he asked me to tell Sid that he was hit and gone to hospital, but I didn’t see Sid to tell him any more alive”.

Source: Luton News 3rd November 1914

[1] Happily, he seems to have survived the war.
[2] Again, he seems to have survived.

Wednesday 26 November 2014


Second Lieutenant Willans [X550/1/82]

Thursday 26th November 1914: The adjutant of the 2nd Battalion has told us that the General Officer Commanding 7th Division, Major-General Thompson Capper, has congratulated Second Lieutenant Harry Willans on his patrol work.

Patrolling is very dangerous but very necessary work. The gap between the two front line trenches, ours and the Germans’, is known as no-man’s land. Patrols go out under cover of darkness and creep about in no-man’s land to try to discern what the enemy are up to. They get as close as they can to the enemy’s front line and listen. For those who have knowledge of German the things said by the enemy in their trenches may give clues as to any likely attack the enemy intend to make upon our lines. Alternatively, it might be discovered that sections of the enemy front line are lightly held, meaning they might be attacked and captured, advancing our front line by a few hundred yards and damaging enemy morale. Clearly Second Lieutenant Willans is an exceptional man and, should he survive his hazardous work, should make a fine officer.[1]

Major John Mackenzie VC joined the Battalion today bringing with him Second Lieutenant Baker, late of 4th King's Own as well as eleven other ranks. Major Mackenzie won his Victoria Cross in another war. An extract taken from the London Gazette dated 15th January 1901 records the following: "On the 6th June 1900, at Dompoassi, in Ashanti, Sergeant Mackenzie, after working two Maxim guns under a hot fire, and being wounded while doing so, volunteered to clear the stockades of the enemy which he did in the most gallant manner, leading the charge himself and driving the enemy headlong into the bush".

This war against the Ashanti was known as the War of the Golden Stool, the symbol of kingship over these people. It was the fifth war against these fierce West African warriors since 1823 and resulted in Ashanti territory being incorporated into the Hold Coast in January 1902.[2]

[1] Harry Willans would be twice mentioned in despatches, win the Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross, be made a Companion of the Bath, and CBE and would reach the rank of Major General, dying on 5th February 1943 and being buried at Tobruk. He was son of James Tetley Willans and Henrietta Mary Willans, married Dorothy Joan and lived in Stevenage [Hertfordshire].

[2] The Gold Coast became independent, as Ghana, in 1957.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

A Sad Story

Flitwick church from the south-east

Wednesday 25th November 1914Suicide during temporary insanity was the verdict at an inquest on the body of Joseph Edward Line, aged 26, a private in the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, who died in Saint Mary’s Hospital on 16th November from the effects of a razor wound in the throat.

The evidence was that Line had returned home from the front wounded in the shoulder. In his delusion he cut his throat with a razor, jumped out of a window, ran along the Hendon-broadway, where he placed himself on the turntable metals in front of a car, but the cow-catcher caught him and he was not injured.

He then tried to place himself in front of two passing motor-cars, the drivers of which avoided him, and finally jumped in front of a motor cycle with side-car, which knocked him down and ran over him.

The funeral took place at Flitwick Parish Church, the Rev. C. J. J. McCormick officiating on account of the Vicar’s illness. Notwithstanding the rain a large number of parishioners were present, and sixteen wreaths were sent, red, white and blue streamers being in evidence. Miss Brooks played two funeral voluntaries on the organ.

Private Line is, sadly, not the only Flitwick casualty. Private Sidney Stringer was killed in action on 26th October. He was third son of Mr and Mrs Stringer of Water End and was also in the 2nd Battalion, being 21 years of age. He joined his brother (Corporal A Stringer) at Southampton early in October. The latter has just returned from South Africa and they had not met for five years, but they were only together about a fortnight. The elder one was wounded on October 18th and got back to England on October 24th. Corporal Stringer, however, is now sufficiently recovered to be at Felixstowe, where his brother Thomas is also stationed, and he expects to be drafted out to the front again in due course[1].

[1] Happily the other two brothers seem to have survived the war.

Roll of Honour 25th November 1914

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

·        3/5816 Private William TOWNS, born Carlton, resided Chesterfield [Derbyshire] (Harlebeke New British Cemetery)

Monday 24 November 2014

A Dear Return to Arlesey

Arlesey High Street [Z49/489]

Tuesday 24th November 1914: Private Ernest Dear, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, arrived home in Arlesey this evening, and a large number of people welcomed him with enthusiasm. Private Dear went out to Belgium on September 18th and was engaged in several battles. He was wounded in the hand at Ypres on October 29th while they were advancing, but he fired several shots afterwards, and marched about eight miles to get to a temporary hospital. Afterwards he was brought to Exeter Hospital where he received every attention. He had seen Sidney Papworth, another Arlesey soldier, who was wounded in the arm. He saw the Scotch Guards fetch down a German aeroplane. He saw sixty of the Black Watch marching into a wood at Ypres, and every one of them was blown to pieces by "Jack Johnsons".[1] The Scotch Guards, the Warwicks and the Wiltshires suffered severely at this place. On one occasion forty of the Bedfords went into action and only four of them returned. The destruction of buildings in towns and villages was appalling. Four German prisoners came over on the same boat to Southampton and they were apparently very young.[2] Private Dear is looking well, and found a new baby at home to welcome him. He has only a fortnight's leave. He thinks we are bound to be victorious and that the German soldiers are sorry to be at war.[3]

Source: Bedfordshire Times 27th November 1914

[1] Jack Johnson was a black American boxer who was World Heavyweight Champion from 1908 to 1915. This particular type of German shell exploded with a good deal of black smoke.
[2] The Germans called the 22nd October the Kindermord or Death of Children due to the youth of many of the soldiers (around a third of them) killed that day.
[3] Forty year old Private Ernest Dear was killed in action with the 1st Battalion on 11th July 1915 when the Germans blew up two mines near the Bedfords' trenches at Hill 60 near Ypres. He has no known grave. His wife Rose remarried.

Sunday 23 November 2014

The Three Musketeers

Monday 23rd November 1914: Our correspondent in the north of France reports: “Three privates of the Bedfordshire Regiment, with whom I talked today, had a remarkable story to tell of their experiences during the past few weeks. With twelve others they were captured by the Germans after an engagement on the outskirts of a hamlet near Ypres. They were taken to the German lines and for fifteen days were made to dig trenches under heavy shell fire. At night they were roped together in bands of five and were guarded by two sentries”.

“They managed to get free during the night and after knocking down and stunning their guards they fled for the open country. They were fired upon when running away in the darkness by German snipers, but after feigning to have been shot they succeeded in reaching the main road to Veurne”.

“Their troubles, however, were not ended when they had cleared the German lines. They had been stripped of portions of their uniforms, and all their badges had been torn off by the enemy. The Belgian peasants not unnaturally took them to be spies. It was not, indeed, until after the three men had spent a night in the lock up at Veurne that they were able to establish their identity and the truth of their story”.

Source: Luton News 5th December 1914

Roll of Honour 23rd November 1914

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

·        7889 Private Alfred MASON, son of John and Emily Mason, husband of Ellen Louisa of Northwood End, Haynes (Belgrade Cemetery, Namur)

Saturday 22 November 2014

Washing at the Front

Sunday 22nd November 1914: The adjutant of the 1st Bedfords tells us: “The battalion is in billets at Loker, south-west of Ypres. We have endeavoured to reorganize as far as possible and to get all ranks washed. This has caused considerable difficulties as it is freezing hard and accommodation very limited”.

It is difficult for us at home, perhaps, to know just how dirty the men get in the front line. They have to wear the same clothing for days on end and, at this time of year, are spending much of the time in mud, sometimes up to their thighs. Imagine living in a ditch for a week with little or no spare clothing and you begin to approach the conditions in which they are placed. It must be admitted that the men will spend most of the time with lice crawling over their bodies and dirt deeply ingrained in their skin. No wonder that, when they get behind the lines, they want a bath and clean clothing to put on! Baths will usually be streams or ponds, or large barrels vats, such as wine vats or receptacles for industrial use filled with water in which they all crowd. In freezing weather, however, this, as can be imagined, is much more difficult.

It is salutary to remember that, in addition to the constant hazards from the enemy, our boys are fighting nature too. They go about their dangerous business constantly itching and trying to ignore the smell of unwashed flesh and cloth. Their achievements, therefore, seem all the more remarkable.

Source: X550/2/5

Friday 21 November 2014

A Stirring Appeal for Recruits

Quartermaster H M Cressingham [X550/1/81]

Saturday 21st November 1914: Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson of 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment at Kempston Barracks has received the following letter from Sergeant T. W. Andrews of the 2nd Battalion in a stirring message to new recruits and to those yet to join up: "Our Regiment is proving its fighting qualities, but our losses are heavy, but nothing compared with those of the enemy. Our machine guns of the Battalion have done some deadly work, and our officers, NCOs and men are perfect heroes, especially in our advances under artillery fire. My own company advanced under a perfect hail of shell and we only lost three men, but in a few days later we have nearly lost the whole of our officers. Nothing can be spoken of them too highly and I, as an NCO of our Regiment with 17 years' service, know something of them, having been with them the last seven years or more connected with them in "Gib", Bermuda and South Africa. I do not know if you know Major Traill or Stares, but they were both killed on the morning of 30th October. They both died doing their duty in the field by rallying men to hold their trenches".

"Our Regiment's history should be great and read by all in Bedfordshire, and then I am sure that recruits would come up much easier. Nobody knows the daring and pluck of our boys, as all the officers called us at the first instant of the engagements around Ypres. Well, we have lost nearly all our officers: only three were left in the field when I left on November 5th, when we were relieved in the trenches for a short spell, namely Captain Foss, our adjutant and a brave man, Lieutenant Mills and Captain and Quarter Master Cressingham.[1] Hoping this is news to you and the reinforcements will do as we have done".

Sources: Bedfordshire Times 20th November 1914

[1] Captain Foss would go on to win the Victoria Cross in 1915 and Captain Cressingham would soon leave the battalion as being too old for service.

Thursday 20 November 2014

The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

"Charlie Chaplin" at Landguard Camp [Z50/141/47]

Friday 20th November 1914: We hear continually of the 1st and 2nd Beds Regiment and rejoice in their "magnificent" achievements at the front. We know all about our Territorials, the Yeomanry, the 5th Battalion and the Engineers, and the Field Ambulance. We "ken weel" the Scotsmen who are in our midst[1]. But how little we hear of the Special Reserves! Some of us know that they are under the command of Lord Ampthill at Landguard Camp, near Felixstowe, where they carried out their training in June, but few know more than that. It is time we realised in Bedfordshire what the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the county regiment has done and is doing.

All this time the men have been engaged in the work of coast defence and have watched day and night against a raid; but more than that, it is due to them that the 1st and 2nd Beds Regiment have been able to keep in the field. Something like 1,500 men and a large number of officers have gone out from the Special Reserves to the 1st and 2nd Battalions, and have taken part in their gallant deeds at the front. Further it is from the Special Reserve that the nucleus of officers, instructors have been provided for the New Army[2].

So during the last five months the 3rd Battalion at Landguard have been busy as bees, what with the constant departure of drafts, the return of wounded men from the front and the arrival of batches of recruits. The result of all this is, naturally, that just now the Battalion has taken on the character a Training Dêpot, and more officers and men are being rapidly licked into shape, and being imbued with the fine spirit of discipline and loyal performance of duty under Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Ampthill. It is not spectacular work and does not come into the limelight; but it is most valuable and patriotic service and we in Bedfordshire should never forget the 3rd Battalion at Landguard.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 8th January 1915

[1] 51st (Highland) Division, whose war base was in Bedford.
[2] The 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions formed the New Army and went to the Western Front in 1915.

Roll of Honour 20th November 1914

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: in support at Sanctuary Wood, Hooge
·        9901 Private Nelson FOSTER, born  and resided Kettering [Northamptonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)


10th Battalion

·        13577 Private George Walter HOLMES, born and resided Heath and Reach (Dovercourt (All Saints) Churchyard)

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Snow in Northern France

Thursday 19th November 1914: We hear that the first snow of the winter has fallen in northern France and the adjutant of the 2nd Battalion has told us that it is very cold for the men in the trenches, which are south-west of Fleurbaix.

The 1st Battalion is finally being relieved from the front line, after thirteen days. They are going back to a wood near the hamlet of Hooge which has known as Sanctuary Wood because it is a comparatively safe place in which battered units might seek some rest whilst still being in reserve, easily brought up in case they are needed.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour 19th November 1914

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: relieved and moved to support trenches at Sanctuary Wood, Hooge

·        7786 Private James William PRIOR, 31, son of Jim and Annie Prior of Thorley [Hertfordshire], husband of Fanny M Livermore (ex Prior) of 44 Oak Street, Bishop's Stortford [Hertfordshire], born Hadham [Hertfordshire] (Bedford House Cemetery, Ypres)

Tuesday 18 November 2014

The New 2nd Battalion Commander

Wednesday 18th November 1914: The 2nd Battalion, which lost its commanding officer on 31st October has a new one - Major William Henry Denne has replaced the temporary commander Captain C. B. Cumberlege.

The General Officer Commanding 7th Division, Major-General Thompson Capper, has praised the work of the battalion in the battles around Ypres at the end of October and since: "This battalion was in Brigade Reserve during the early days of the fighting round Ypres, but portions of it were continually called upon to move up under shell fire and occupy positions in the face of hostile rifle and machine gun fire. Steadiness and good leading were required and given and the Brigade Commander considers that the battalion behaved in a most gallant manner throughout a trying and arduous period. On the 29th October the battalion took part in a general counter-attack, advancing steadily and gallantly in spite of heavy enfilade artillery and rifle fire when its losses were heavy. On the 31st October the battalion made several counter-attacks and lost many officers and men, including the Commanding Officer and Second in Command".

Source: X550/3/wd; Bedfordshire Times 22nd January 1915

Roll of Honour 18th November 1914

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: First Battle of Ypres - in front line trenches south of the Menin Road

·        7637 Private Walter PROCTER, born Stagsden, resided Kempston (Ploegsteert Memorial)

Monday 17 November 2014

Discharge of Bedfordshire Yeomen

Bedfordshire Yeomanry [X344/163]

Tuesday 17th November 1914: Comment has been made in Bedford and is being made, we note, in Luton on the recent discharge of about sixty yeomen who had volunteered for foreign service. It is suggested that the reason for this is that the authorities considered the men not old enough for foreign service; for one hundred more men are now wanted for the Yeomanry and all of them must not only be able to ride and shoot, and be ready for foreign service, but must be over twenty years of age.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 4th December 1914

Roll of Honour 17th November 1914

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
·        3/6477 Private Arthur LONG, 23, son of George and Emma Jane Long of Doddington [Cambridgeshire], he resided Whittlesey [Cambridgeshire] (Wimereux Communal Cemetery)

2nd Battalion

·        9610 Private Frederick John PETTIT son of Harry W and Martha Pettit of Brook Lane, Harrold (Aldershot Military Cemetery)

Sunday 16 November 2014

The Death of a Luton Man

Private Archibald Punter [Luton Almanac 1915, Z1516/4]

Monday 16th November 1914: The 1st Battalion is still in trenches south of the Menin Road, east of Ypres. We have heard that a Luton man has been killed today, along with a number of others. This is Private Archibald Punter [1], who prior to the commencement of hostilities was engaged at the Leagrave aeroplane factory and resided at 26 Dane Road, Luton. He was a Special Reservist and was called up upon mobilisation on August 5th. “He went away with a brave heart to do his duty”, remarked his widow to our representative.

Mrs. Punter has learned more of the circumstances in which her husband met his death. Curiously enough Private Punter was in the trenches with another Luton man – Private Doughty, Ebenezer Street - and they were great “chums”. Private Doughty stated that the two friends were in the trenches side by side, and during a lull in the fighting he turned to Private Punter and said: “We shall have a lot to say when we get back”. “Yes” came the reply “Surely one of the two of us will get back”. A quarter of an hour later a shell burst near them and Private Punter was killed – apparently instantaneously. His chum was left.[2]

Private Punter had given sixteen years of his life in the service of King and country. He went through the South African war and was invalided home after 17 weeks’ enteric fever.[3]

Source: X550/2/5/; Luton News 17th December 1914

[1] The Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry calls him Archer Punter. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.
[2] And did indeed get back as he seems to have survived the war.
[3] This was the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902). Enteric fever is also known as typhoid.

Roll of Honour 16th November 1914

Killed in Action

1st Battalion; First Battle of Ypres - in front line trenches south of the Menin Road
·        8434 Private Josiah CHAPMAN, 28, son of Mr and Mrs Chapman of Granhan's Road, Great Shelford [Cambridgeshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        6703 Private William HOOKHAM, born and resided Hemingford [Huntingdonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        5604 Private Archer PUNTER, born Mangrove [Hertfordshire], resided Luton (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        9234 Private Bertram Ernest ROBERTSON, born Slough [Berkshire], resided Godalming [Surrey] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

·        6951 Private Charles TALBOT , 35, son of John and Mary Ann Talbot, of Northchurch [Hertfordshire], husband of Annie J (née Woolley) of Unity Cottages, High Street, Berkhamstead [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Saturday 15 November 2014

The 1st Battalion at Ypres

Sunday 15th November 1914: mercifully the adjutant of the 1st Battalion contacted us at first light. Whilst Lieutenant Pope and his men appear to have been captured the attack of the Prussian Guard seems to have been defeated. This is no small achievement for an ordinary county regiment like ours and the men must feel, whilst very tired, also very proud. Luckily, for all the heaviness of the fighting, only seven men seem to have been killed although, of course, many more are wounded.

Later today the adjutant of the Battalion has again contacted us. He reports that the day has been "fairly quiet". There have been "the usual bursts of rifle fire at intervals and constant intermittent shelling but only mild attacks at various parts of the line". Five more men have been killed today and seven wounded.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour 15th November 1914

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: First Battle of Ypres - in front line trenches south of the Menin Road
·        8037 Private John George GUMBRELL, born Colchester [Essex], resided Leyton [Essex] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        7062 Sergeant Ernest PARKINSON, born Nassington [Northamptonshire], resided Nottingham (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        10105 Private Frederick Herbert PEACOCK, 19, son of John and Eliza Peacock of 4 The Penn, Soham [Cambridgeshire], born King's Cross [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        6987 Private Samuel TEBBY, 29, husband of Grace of 183 Livingstone Road, Thornton Heath [Surrey], born Croydon [Surrey] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        8439 Private William Edward TOMLIN, born Northchurch [Hertfordshire], resided Berkhamstead [Hertfordshire] (Wimereux Communal Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
·        8227 Private Charles Maurice HAYWARD, 26, D Company, son of Rosa Emma Timms (ex Hayward) of 18 Nunns Road, Colchester (Gorre British and Indian Cemetery)

2nd Battalion

·        9724 Private Harry TATT, 19, son of Charles and Katherine Tatt of Abbots Road, Old Heath [Essex], born Mhow [India] (Boulogne Eastern Cemetery]

Friday 14 November 2014

Another German Attack at Ypres

Saturday 14th November 1914: the adjutant of the 1st Battalion tells us that the Germans have made another attack in their locality, a severe one, rather than the more piecemeal attacks of the last fortnight or so. They broke through the front line on the left of the Battalion which was ordered to withdraw 300 yards to take up a new position to be in alignment with the unit driven back. It is believed that the crack unit of the German army - the Prussian Guard - were involved in this attack.

About 4 pm the Germans managed to enfilade the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment's position, firing all down their line from the flank. This caused them to retire still further back. This left the Bedfords' advanced trench "in the air", in other words, its flank did not rest on another unit because that unit had retired. In this advanced trench hard fighting is taking place even as the adjutant talks to us. He believes Lieutenant Pope and ten men have been taken prisoner, but with the onset of darkness it is very hard to be certain.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour 14th November 1914

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: First Battle of Ypres - forced to retire by a German attack on front line trenches south of the Menin Road

·        7379 Private Samuel George BRISTOW, born Bermondsey [London], resided Catford [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        7194 Private Henry DAVIS, born and resided Canning Town [Essex] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        6968 Private Edward FORBES, born and resided Northampton (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        9639 Private Harold HILLSON,, born Eye [Suffolk], resided Orton Waterville [Cambridgeshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        10255 Private Phillip PAUL, born Sandridge [Hertfordshire], resided Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        8246 Private Frederick SMITH, born and resided Arrington [Cambridgeshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        7269 Private Horace Alfred WARD, 30, husband of Alice of 219 Castle Street, Luton (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

·        10211 Private Oliver Edward BREED, son of Annie Emery (ex Breed) and the late Alfred Breed of 33 Park Road, Kempston (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        8670 Private George ELDRED, born Great Hallingbury [Essex], resided Bishop's Stortford [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
·        3/6243 Private Robert HENDERSON, 37, son of Robert Galloway and Mary Simpson Henderson of Falkirk [Stirlingshire] (Wimereux Communal Cemetery)

2nd Battalion: suicide
  • 9423 Private Joseph LINE, 27, son of Daniel Line of East End, Flitwick (Flitwick Church Burial Ground)

Thursday 13 November 2014

Bedfordshire's Proud Recruiting Record

Friday 13th November 1914: "I have no complaint whatever to make about the response to my appeals for men … but I shall want more men, and still more until the enemy is crushed" So said Lord Kitchener at the Guildhall Banquet on Monday night, and that knocks on the head all the wild talk about Conscription, and should quiet for a long time those panic-stricken people and papers who have been calling for it.[1] But let us see how we stand here in Bedfordshire, and what more is wanted of us. We have tried to get at the facts, and set out below some of the results of our inquiries, and some interesting facts contained in a letter from the Lord Lieutenant [2], to whom we wrote on the subject.

Mr. Howard Whitbread, who has from the outbreak of war, and before it, carried out his duties as President of the County Territorial Force Association with whole-hearted energy and thoroughness, reminds us that the Association has done two distinct things during the present year. Early in the summer, with none of the enthusiasm which arises in war time, the Association undertook to raise some 400 men to complete the 8 companies of the 5th Battalion Beds Regiment[3], and received cordial recognition from the authorities in London of the complete success of their efforts. Shortly afterwards the Army Council asked them to duplicate the whole Establishment by the formation of Reserve Units for the General Service Units. This has been done with the exception of about 125 men for the Reserve Infantry Battalion, a few vacancies in the technical ranks of the Yeomanry and Royal Engineers, and 2 or 3 vacancies for officers in the E. M. B.[4] Field Ambulance. The Lord Lieutenant says, quoting the words of a high military authority: "That is a record of which any county may be proud".

The position is given in the following table: -

These figures exclude the National Reserve, of whom 170 have rejoined the Army, and 130 men and 4 officers have been called up for bridge guarding. Major Jarvis still wants 34 more men, aged 42 to 55.

The Lord Lieutenant says further: "I should like to add that the Association, though highly pleased with the response to its appeal, is still eager for more men. We want, immediately, the 125 men to complete the establishment of the Infantry (Reserve) Battalion[5]and is, as we hope, our General Service Units[6] have the honour to go abroad, there will be the inevitable wastage of war, which will require mire men to fill up the ranks". We are confident the men of military age in Bedfordshire will, as soon as they realise what is required, offer themselves to meet the need.

Besides the 3,861 Territorials which Bedfordshire has provided, and the 130 men of the National reserve, there are the recruits who have joined the Army in response to Lord Kitchener's appeal numbering, we understand, at least 2,500. Further, there must be reckoned the large number of Bedfordshire men serving in the Navy and the Army when war broke out. This would bring the number of Bedfordshire men serving in H. M.'s forces to well over 7,000. The Census returns for 1911 show that the total number of men of military age (19 to 38) in Bedfordshire is 28943, and of these 14,551 are married men, leaving 14,392 unmarried men of military age. It would be interesting to see how that total compares proportionately with similar figures for other counties. Anyhow, it is obvious that Bedfordshire has done very well.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 13th November 1914

[1] It was introduced on 2nd March 1916.
[2] Traditionally responsible for raising men for military service. For the duration of the war the Lord Lieutenant was Samuel Howard Whitbread.
[3] This would be four companies plus a headquarters on active service.
[4] East Midlands Brigade
[5] Later 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
[6] The 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Roll of Honour 13th November 1914

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: First Battle of Ypres - shelled in front line trenches south of the Menin Road
·        9955 Private Thomas FITZJOHN, born and resided Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
·        7859 Acting Corporal Charles David VIALS, 28, husband of Emma Tansley (ex Vials) of 268 Longford Road. Longford [Warwickshire], born Irthlingborough [Northamptonshire]

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion

·        6732 Private Joseph GARNER, born Northill, resided Chalton, Mogerhanger (Les Gonards Cemetery, Versailles)

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Bedfordshire Training Depot

Ampthill Camp [Z1306/2/34/2]

Thursday 12th November 1914: Men wishing to join the Bedfordshire Training Depot, commanded by the Duke of Bedford, should enlist at the nearest Recruiting Office, or at the Depot of the Bedfordshire Regiment at Kempston Barracks.


·        3 years, or for the duration of the War;
·        Height 5 feet 4 inches
·        Chest 34½ inches
·        Age 19 to 38

·        1 year, or for the duration of the War
·        Height 5 feet 4 inches
·        Chest 34½ inches
·        Age 19 to 45


Corporal or Private
·        Wife 12 shillings, 6 pence per week
·        Wife and 1 child 15 shillings
·        Wife and 2 children 17 shillings, 6 pence per week
·        Wife and 3 children, 20 shillings
·        Wife and 4 children, 22 shillings

Sanction has been given by the Army Council to form a training establishment in Ampthill Park to be known as "The Bedfordshire Training Depot". This will form a unit of the Bedfordshire Regiment, Colonel the Duke of Bedford, A.D.C,[1] will be in command of the Camp, Major Stevens will be second in command, and Major Nelson, late of the Beds Regiment will be Adjutant.

On the completion of their training in Ampthill Park, the drafts, after inspection, and when found fit for foreign service, will be sent to the 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment at Landguard and despatched from there at once abroad to join the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Line, or any of the Service Battalions who may by then have gone to the Front.[2] Recruits on final approval will be appointed to the Beds Regiment and will be sent to the Depot at Bedford to be clothed and equipped. They will then join for training in Ampthill Park.

Six huts with ample accommodation for 20 beds each are now ready. Cook-houses, bath-houses, recreation room and canteen are in course of construction. Ampthill Park affords every facility for field training. Millbrook Rifle Range is close at hand. There will also be an open Miniature Rifle Range in the Camp, and as training will be going on during the winter a covered shooting gallery and covered drill shed. If recruits are forthcoming more huts will be built [3].

Sources: Bedfordshire Times 13th November 1914

[1] Aide de Camp (to the King)
[2] These would be 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions.
[3] Between the opening and the introduction of conscription on 2nd March 1916 2,235 men were trained at the camp. Between March and March 1919 a further 8,069 men, after returning wounded from France, were put through remedial training and sent, once more to various active service units.