Tuesday 30 June 2015

Lutonians in Germany

Wednesday 30th June 1915: Private Charles Odell of the Bedfordshire Regiment, a prisoner-of-war in Germany has written with the name of some of his comrades-in-arms with him in Germany, writing of a parcel of comforts sent by Mrs. A. B. Attwood he says: “We have three Sergeants here, and the parcel will be divided among us. We have had one big parcel from the Church Army, London and one from the “Keep Smiling Society”, London”.

“These are the names of the Luton boys with me: Lance Corporal W. Doffield, 9071, Royal Scots Fusiliers; Private E. H. Dobbs, 7821, Scots Guards; Private T. H. Hines, 8060, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment; Private L. W. Rogers, 1346, 6th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers; Sergeant J. Boswell, 7696, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment; Private James Clarke, B Company, 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment; Private F. Mortimer, 8064, Royal Scots Fusiliers; Private T. Fisher, 9251, Royal Scots Fusiliers; Private A. Gregory, 10546, 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment; J. Finlinson, 8143, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment; Private G. S. Moon, 8662, 1st Battalion, Scots Guards. These are all, but if you want the rest I will send them in my next letter”.

“I have also had a letter from Luton asking if I know Archer Godfrey. I am very pleased to say I do. I am only too pleased to let them know all I can and if there is anyone in Luton that you know who has relatives missing from the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment, I would be very glad to tell them if I know anything about them, for we have two or three other lists here of missing men and N.C.O’s”.

A little while ago the employees of Messrs Tom Wheeler and Company, Williamson Street(1), Luton sent Private Odell some parcels. To the rest they devoted the profit made on the sale of chocolate in the factory.

Source: Luton News 8th July 1915

(1) Straw hat manufacturers at 17 and 19 Williamson Street. 

Roll of Honour - Wednesday 30th June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: front line trenches at Hill 60

  • 14905 Private Ralph SALVIN, 28, B Company, son of Philip Salvin of Curzon Street, Netherfield [Nottinghamshire], husband of Emily of 52 Deatrill Street, Netherfield, born Carlton [Nottinghamshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Monday 29 June 2015

Edward Warner VC

Tuesday 29th June 1915: We have heard today that the late Private Edward Warner of 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his heroism. It was near Hill 60, that centre of terrible carnage, that on May Day, Private Warner, for his bravery won his VC and died shortly after. The official citation adds: “After Trench 46 had been vacated by our troops, consequent on a gas attack, Private Warner entered it single-handed in order to prevent the enemy taking possession. Reinforcements were sent to Private Warner but could not reach him owing to gas. He then came back and brought up more men, by which time he was completely exhausted, but the trench was held until the enemy’s attack ceased. This very gallant soldier died shortly afterwards from the effects of gas poisoning”.

The official entry on Private Warner’s papers stated that he died on May 2nd, of gas poisoning. His mother lives at 38 Cannon Street, Saint Albans  and he enlisted in the Bedfords on June 27th 1903 and after serving three years was placed on the reserve, He was called up on August 5th 1914 and went to the front on August 14th 1914 and had been right through the campaign without a scratch. In February he was home on leave. A strapping, hail-fellow-well-met comrade, he was very popular in the Battalion.

His widowed mother, a grey-haired old lady, said to an interview on Wednesday: “I am proud of my boy, very proud, but nothing can replace him. I wish so much he had lived: it would have been so different. He was a good boy to me, he was my only support, for his father died two years ago, and his only brother has not been heard of for several years. His father used to say that Eddie’s only fault was that he enlisted. His father would have been proud of his V. C. and would have altered his opinion. He was my all”. The old lady concluded: “I have no one else now – my husband and two sons, both lost to me”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 2nd July 1915

Roll of Honour - Tuesday 29th June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: front line trenches at Hill 60

  • 9775 Private Rixom IZZARD, born and resided Daventry [Northamptonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Sunday 28 June 2015

News from Lieutenant Hargreaves

Monday 28th June 1915: Readers will recall that we mentioned on 5th June that the prospective Unionist candidate for Bedford, Lieutenant Hargreaves has gone to the Front with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry. He has contacted us today: “We are getting very little news, but a bulletin about the war is sent round with regimental orders”.

“I am quite comfortable in every way myself, but should be glad if there were more to do. The men are all very pleased to be in France and they enjoy the picnicking in the open as a change from ten months in billets. We are under a first-class brigadier and brigade with two good cavalry regiments(1) and, no doubt we shall see plenty of fighting before we finish”.

“This country is not good for either drilling or manoeuvring and compares very unfavourably in both respects with the country around Stansted. We were inspected, together with the rest of the Brigade by Sir John French(2) yesterday. The regiment turned out very smart. It has come on marvellously since we left Hatfield and should, I think, do well whenever it is called upon. Most of the officers of the squadron sleep in a barn. Holmes and I have made friends with an old couple, who have given us a room at their farm, and a big tub to bath in. We therefore live in the lap of luxury”.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 25th June 1915

(1) 15th (King’s) Hussars and 19th (Queen Alexandra’a Own Royal) Hussars – together they formed 9th Cavalry Brigade.

(2) Commander-in-Chief, British Expeditionary Force.

Roll of Honour - Monday 28th June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: front line trenches at Hill 60
  • 12717 Private Walter James PERRY, born Nazeing [Essex], resided Roydon [Essex] (Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery, Ypres)
2nd Battalion: front line in front of Festubert
  • 3/7631 Private George Thomas SMITH, born Friern Barnet [Middlesex], resided New Southgate [Middlesex] (le Touret Memorial)
Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

  • 18734 Private Walter George WARMAN, born Stanton [Hertfordshire], resided Ware [Hertfordshire] (Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension)

Saturday 27 June 2015

The Death of Sergeant Camp

Sunday 27th June 1915: A touching letter has been received by Mr and Mrs Camp of 61 Hastings Street, Luton with reference to the death of their son, Sergeant Alfred Albert Camp at the Front. Sergeant Camp had served with the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment for about eight years and went to the Front in October last. He was recently fatally wounded(1) and his parents have now received the following letter from a chaplain at the Highland Casualty Clearing Station.

“I have sad news for you. Your son, Sergeant A. Camp, 9127, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, was brought into this hospital severely wounded in lung and shoulder about 36 hours ago. Everything possible was done for him by doctors and nurses and a most attentive orderly and he suffered little pain. I was beside his bed, praying quietly, once or twice yesterday. Sister tells me he was most patient, very cheerful and always said he was very comfortable and rather better. In fact, she was evidently quite fond of him, and of his brave smile. He passed to his rest in the night, peacefully. May God grant him peace and rest in Paradise, after the turmoil of this war and to you may God grant the support of His Holy Spirit in your bereavement. I shall bury him today in a grave marked H18 in Lillers Cemetery. The cemetery is carefully kept and his grave will soon be marked by a cross, bearing his name and regiment”.

Before joining the Regulars, Sergeant Camp was in the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and played in the band. Very shortly after he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment the battalion went out to South Africa. They were there when war was declared and arrived in England at the end of September, leaving for France in October. Sergeant Camp had two days’ leave on arrival in England and that is the only time his parents have seen him in the last eight years. He would have been 30 years of age next November and was very popular with his comrades.

Source: 8th July 1915

(1) He died on 19th June suggesting he was wounded in the action at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée from 15th to 17th June, where the 2nd Battalion fought side by side with the Gordon Highlanders. He is buried in Lillers Communal Cemetery - his grave plot is now marked II.A.5 rather than H18.

Roll of Honour - Sunday 27th June 1915

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion

  • Captain James Charles Frederick NESS, 19, son of Major James Alexander and Winifred Isobel Ness of Kinkell, Woking [Surrey] (le Touret Memorial)

Friday 26 June 2015

Bedfordshire Yeomanry at Olney

Saturday 26th June 1915: The first regiment of Bedfordshire Yeomanry having recently gone to the front, their comrades of the second line are now eagerly awaiting the time when they too will receive the call, as drafts to make good the inevitable wastage of active service(1). During one of the last inspections before they sailed, the 1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry earned high praise from a well-known General, who said that in his opinion they were the smartest body of Territorial cavalry at that time in the country This high standard is being steadily kept in view by the officers and men of the reserve regiment, which came into being last September, and remembering the fact that the training of a cavalryman is necessarily more difficult and protracted than that of other branches of the service, the progress made has been remarkable. The chief obstacle at first was the lack of horses, but this was soon remedied when the consignments of Canadian horses became more frequent, and the three squadrons have been admirably mounted for several months.

B Squadron has been stationed at Olney since February, A Squadron being at Biddenham and Bromham and C at Turvey. Here for many weeks the broad and picturesque main street of the town of Cowper has echoed the martial sound of the cavalry trumpet, and been enlivened by daily cavalcades as the well-groomed squadron moves out on the drill ground, a mile or two distant. A more ideal training ground than that lying within the charming panorama of grass land and wooded country to be seen from the hills round Olney cannot be conceived; and the comfort of the billets and the kindness of the inhabitants will ever be a pleasant memory to the yeomen when their lot is cast in infinitely less pleasant places. The squadron, under the command of Captain Hodgson, has worked steadily towards efficiency and besides providing three drafts for the first regiment has rendered good service in training horses for the regular cavalry regiments. Capable rough-riding, good food and grooming and, where needed, the attentions of an excellent veterinary staff, have worked wonders in transforming many an unpromising-looking animal into a handsome and handy charger. The intricacies of cavalry drill have speedily been mastered by the men and the morning curriculum is frequently varied by outpost and reconnaissance work, field days and route rides, sword exercise, musketry and bayonet fighting, make a strenuous afternoon and, of course, “Stables” fills up all the time that remains. A good number of recruits from Olney itself and from the neighbouring towns and villages have joined the Yeomanry during its sojourn in Buckinghamshire, which speaks well for the good reputation won by the squadron.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 25th June 1915

(1) The 2nd/1st Bedfordshire Yeomanry served at home until absorbed into 1st Reserve Cavalry Regiment.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Upholding the Flag

Friday 25th June 1915: Sergeant F. Thurley of 18 Ampthill Street, Bedford, together with his three soldier sons, was born at Bedford. He joined the Bedfordshire Rifles(1) 34 years ago, and has never left the Corps, which is now known as the 5th Bedfordshire Regiment (Territorial Force).

Two of his sons, Lance Corporal A. Thurley and Drummer C. Thurley also belong to the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, while the third son is Regimental Sergeant Major F. W. Thurley, who has belonged to the 2nd Bedfordshires for 13 years; he is at present time with his regiment at the front and has been awarded the Military Medal. Sergeant Thurley has four brothers, all of whom have had military training, either in the Army of with the Territorial Force. One of them, Bandsman T. Thurley, was in the 5th Fusiliers and went through the Afghanistan campaign(2), being now a pensioner; he has two sons now serving in France. Sergeant Thurley’s grandfather was also a warrior, and lost a leg while in action. His other brother, Mr. A. Thurley of Saint Cuthbert’s Street, Bedford, served 33 years with the old Volunteers and was granted the rank of Honorary Sergeant Major in the Jubilee year(3).

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 25th June 1915

(1) A pre-Territorial Army militia unit
(2) 1878-1881.
(3) 1897

Roll of Honour - Friday 25th June 1915

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

  • 12339 Private Edward TOOLE, born Saint Luke's [London], resided Hoxton [London] (Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm), Ypres)

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Accidental Death Involving a Grenade

Thursday 24th June 1915: A bad accident happened to No. 2 Section of 2nd/1st Field Company, East Anglian Royal Engineers yesterday, an officer and five men being injured. It seems that Second Lieutenant Wilson was about to throw a hand grenade when it burst in his hand, blowing it off three inches above the wrist. Lance Corporal Riddy received very grave injuries to the head and Lance Corporal Wilson and Sapper Robinson were seriously injured and other had slight wounds. Motor ambulances were immediately telephoned for from London and Saint Albans and the injured officer and men were conveyed to Saint Albans Hospital where Corporal Riddy succumbed to his injuries.

Source: Luton News 1st July 1915

Roll of Honour - Thursday 24th June 1915

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

  • 14264 Private Charles HIBBIT, born Brixton [London], resided Balham [London] (Streatham Cemetery, Surrey)

Tuesday 23 June 2015

News of the 6th Battalion

Wednesday 23rd June 1915: a Luton soldier from A Company, 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment in camp at Ludgershall in Wiltshire writes to us as follows: “I am writing these few lines on behalf of a few Luton Boys, myself included, just to let you know that there is a sixth Battalion of the Bedfords in existence. Myself and my friends have just had our four days’ leave at home and it seems that the people of Luton don’t know there is such a regiment and we don’t like it”.

“Our Battalion was the first one in Kitchener’s Army; it was founded on the tenth of August 1914, and we had the honour of being the smartest and best regiment during our six months’ winter training at Aldershot. The Sixth Beds were spoke of as the best there. They knew how to behave themselves. From the e we moved to Liss, a village down the South [in Hampshire], and we were there for six weeks, and we made our name good and respected there. Now we are on Salisbury Plain, and again have taken our place at the top of the division as Senior Regiment(1)”.

“Our marching is the best, and the other regiments here follow our lead. We are respected wherever we go. Hard work on these plains has made us fit and our colonel owns himself that we are ready and fit(2). We are the first to answer our Country’s call and the Luton Boys would like our fellow townspeople to now that there is a sixth who are keeping the good name of the Bedfords in a high standard in the Southern counties. We are doing our bit with a good heart and proud of our sixes, from which we are named”.

Source: Luton News 1st July 1915

(1) They were originally attached to 9th (Scottish) Division, joining 112th Infantry Brigade, 37th Division in March 1915 and serving with it until disbanded in May 1918. They were not senior regiment in the division – regiments were graded in precedence by the old line regimental number – the Bedfordshire Regiment was the 16th Foot, there were battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (6th Foot) and Royal Fusiliers (7th Foot) in the division as well as from Leicestershire Regiment (17th Foot), East Lancashire Regiment (30th Foot), Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (47th Foot), King’s Royal Rifle Corps (60th Foot) and Rifle Brigade (95th Foot).

(2) They would land in France for active service on 31st July 1915.

Roll of Honour - Wednesday 23rd June 1915

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion

  • 10775 Private John ROBINS, 18, son of Harry and Ada Robins of Little Staughton (Boulogne Eastern Cemetery)

Monday 22 June 2015

The Lusitania Battle-Cry

Tuesday 22nd June 1915: News has reached us of three Lutonians at the front: Private F. Halsey, 2478 Royal Army Medical Corps, Private A. Halsey, 19616, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment of Brunswick Street and Private H. Halsey, 8296, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, of 6 New Town Street.

Private F. Halsey has been through some lively times of late and tells us of a fine charge by the Liverpool Scottish(1) whose battle-cry, as might have been expected of Liverpool men, was “Remember the Lusitania”(2). The damage done to the German ranks is briefly summed up in the statement that after British soldiers had spent three nights burying German dead, many of the enemy were still lying waiting to be put in their graves.

Source: Luton News 1st July 1915

(1) 1st/10th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment – part of 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division

(2) RMS Lusitania was a liner sunk by a U-Boat off the coast of Ireland on 7th May 1915. Liverpool was her home port. She was on her way from New York to Liverpool at the time. Today the incident tends to be remembered because 128 Americans died, the remaining 1,070 passengers and crew being largely overlooked. Mercifully, 764 were saved.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Little Tich in Flanders

Monday 21st June 1915: We have today heard from Private Charles Carr of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, universally known as Little Tich, who has come safely through the action at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée a few days ago: “We have been livening things up a lot again, as we thought it would be very monotonous for them if we didn’t go over and see how they were getting on. One fellow did come, and shouted to the Guards, “Come on, five of you”. One of them threw a bomb and caught him on the side of the ear with it and, of course, he was silenced”.

In a message to his family he asked: “Have you got an old map showing the battle line, so we can see how things go? The pork pies in the parcel had gone a bit mouldy, but that didn’t matter, they were still pork pies”(1)

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 2nd July 1915

(1) Sadly Little Tich was killed on 7th December 1917.

Roll of Honour - Monday 21st June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: railway embankment in support of Hill 60
  • 3/7844 Private William James CHAMBERLAIN, born Bengeo [Hertfordshire], resided Rotherhithe [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

  • 3/8151 Private James Henry BAILEY, 23, son of Charles and Susan Bailey of 80 Triangle, Malmesbury [Wiltshire] (Boulogne Eastern Cemetery)

Saturday 20 June 2015

How to Defend the Front Line

Sunday 20th June 1915: We understand that the recent success by German armies in Galicia against the Russians means that reniforcements will be sent west to fight our lads and their French and Belgian allies. The High Command of the British Expeditionary Force is thus putting plans in place to stem any German attacks.

They say: “It is therefore imperative that all concerned should realize at once the urgent necessity for strengthening and adding to our defences of all kinds, particularly against artillery fire. Attacks and bombardments of an intensity not yet experienced by this Army as a whole, must be expected and provided against. Present circumstances require that much additional work should at once be done and that the improvement of trenches, dug-outs and obstacles should be carried out continuously and systematically. The front system of trenches is the main line of resistance and is to be held at all costs”. Details of the defences to be employed are as follows.

Shelters for the garrisons should be made at frequent intervals and sufficient to accommodate the garrison. They should be, as nearly as possible, bombproof against hostile artillery fire. Special shelters should be constructed for commanders and observation posts.

Communication Trenches should be at intervals of not more than 150 yards between the front and supporting trenches, and enough in the rear to allow of traffic both ways and easy and safe access to all parts of the front system of trenches. All communication trenches should be capable to be used as fire trenches, firing on either flank.

Wire entanglements require much strengthening in many places. A continuous line of these entanglements not only in front of the front line trench, but between the front and supporting line is necessary.

Machine guns should be in bombproof emplacements, well hidden from view and at frequent intervals. Special attention is required to sight some machine gun emplacements to enfilade our own wire entanglements both in front of the front line trench and between the front and supporting line trench.

Adequate trenches, shelters and dug-outs are to be provided for supporting and reserve troops. In constructing bombproof shelters, concrete, reinforced concrete, cement, rails, sleepers and other suitable material are to be freely used and the necessary steps to be taken to carry out such work at once. Demands for materials should be submitted as soon as possible and if necessary, extra civilian labour will be engaged.

Source: X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - Sunday 20th June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: front line trenches at Hill 60

  • 4/7383 Private Charles WALKER, born Willian [Hertfordshire], resided Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Friday 19 June 2015

News of the Death of Private Boon, Again

Saturday 19th June 1915: Readers will remember that we reported the singular case of Private W. Boon on 3rd February. He was reported killed-in-action when he was still very much alive. This week, a letter has been received from Private A. P. Marsh, whose home in next door to Mrs. Boon. He writes: “I have much regret in informing you that your son Will was killed in action on Tuesday last. I was not with him at the time but it was a great blow to me and his other chums to hear of his fate, as he was very much loved by us all. We send you our deepest sympathy in your bereavement. I myself am getting on all right but, of course, none of us knows whose turn is next”(1).

Private George Ellis also writes to say that Private Boon has been killed. He mentions that Private Boon was seen to drop. An enquiry has since been made of the authorities and an intimation has now been received that Private Boon was posted as missing on May 19th. Private Boon was 18 years of age and went to the front in the early stages of the war.

Source: Luton News 1st July 1915

(1) Private Marsh seems to have survived the war. Private Boon was killed on 17th May when his battalion, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, was in action at Festubert. he has no known grave and is commemorated on the le Touret Memorial.

Roll of Honour - Saturday 19th June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: front line trenches at Hill 60
  • 14864 Private Ernest William Stephen MAYES, 24, son of Herbert and Jane Elizabeth Mayes of Benington [Hertfordshire], born Peterborough (Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 15882 Private Reginald Jack WARNER, 24, son of David and Mary Ann Warner of Church Hill, Benington [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion

  • 9127 Sergeant Alfred Albert CAMP, born and resided Luton (Lillers Communal Cemetery)
  • 13503 Private Arthur DARLOW, son of E Darlow of Factory Cottage, Ramsey [Huntingdonshire] (Lillers Communal Cemetery)

Thursday 18 June 2015

2nd Battalion Casualties at Givenchy

Lieutenant T G M Horsford [X550/1/82/23]

The Centenary of the Battle of Waterloo

Friday 18th June 1915: Captain Foss, adjutant of the 2nd Bedfords has today given us the casualty figures for the action at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée between 15th and 17th. Lieutenant T. G. M. Horsford was killed by a shell in his dugout and was buried behind Scottish Trench. Second Lieutenant W. H. Fox was killed by the same shell and buried in the same place. Both Lieutenant C. W. Macfie and Second Lieutenant L. Turnbull were killed in the crater and their bodies have not been recovered(1).

Lieutenant G. M. Fleming, Royal Army Medical Corps, was killed by a shell whilst attending to a case at the Regimental Aid Post. He is the second medical officer to be killed with the battalion this year, and is buried “in the country at Windy Corner”(2). 18 other ranks were also killed.

Lieutenant C. H. Brewer was wounded by shrapnel and Second Lieutenant F. Powell wounded twice in the crater. Five other officers were wounded along with 72 other ranks. 27 other ranks are missing

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) None of these officers has any known grave and they are all commemorated on the le Touret Memorial

(2) Where he remains – his grave is in the Guards Cemetery at Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

Roll of Honour - Friday 18th June 1915

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion

  • 4/6671 Private William Richard POLLARD, 24, son of Robert and Martha Jane Pollard of 28 Park Road, Bushey [Hertfordshire], born Rickmansworth [Hertfordshire] (Lillers Communal Cemetery)

Wednesday 17 June 2015

A Spirited Fight at Givenchy

Looking towards the site of the crater

Thursday 17th June 1915: Readers will remember that 2nd Battalion was expected to go into action at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée yesterday after a frustrating day of waiting on 15th. The adjutant tells us that instructions were received at 8.58 yesterday morning that an attack might be made. At 3.25 pm orders were received that the attack would commence at 4.45 with the Bedfords assisting the Royal Scots Fusiliers in attacking the enemy front line.

Accordingly at 4.45 B Company advanced by platoon, the whole company entering the mine crater in what had been the German front line. The neighbouring trenches, as a result of the mine blast were in a very bad state of repair. As the company came over the lip of the crater it came under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire. The adjutant reported to us: “A spirited fight at close range took place in the crater. The company formed a line in the crater as they were not able to push forward on account of the hostile bombs. 4/7296 Corporal Milne distinguished himself by throwing back all those that landed near him into the German trenches until he was wounded”.

Lieutenant F. Powell, saw that his company was suffering heavy losses. Two officers had been killed, the Company Sergeant Major wounded and nearly 50% of the other ranks wounded, Lieutenant Powell himself had been twice wounded). He also saw additional enemy reinforcements coming up and no sign of the regiment sue to be in support on the right. Accordingly he gave the order for the company to withdraw to the British lines. This withdrawal was carried out by the only company officer left unwounded, Second Lieutenant R. B. Gibson.

9638 Corporal T Green with nine men was separated from the rest of the company. Seeing their fellows withdrawing he kept his small band together and in place, in case the rest of the company reformed and attacked once more. Seeing they were in danger of being surrounded he ordered a withdrawal, himself assisting a wounded man to safety. Later that night he went out and brought in more wounded.

Sergeant Mart, who had distinguished himself at Ypres in November 1914 was in command of a machine-gun. He and another gun, commanded in Lance-Sergeant Wilson did great execution amongst the Germans, accounting for at least two officers. Mart refused to leave his post, although wounded.

Major Onslow, commanding the battalion, told us that despite the failure of the enterprise: “The outstanding features of the attack are, to my mind: (a) the able leading of the officers until killed or wounded; (b) The keenness of the men to close with the enemy; (c) the steadiness of the withdrawal under Lieutenant Gibson after their heavy casualties; (d) the actions of Corporal Milne and Corporal Green and (e) the good work of the machine guns.

Sources: X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - Thursday 17th June 1915

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line near Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée
  • 4/6570 Private Ronald AUSTIN, born and resided Weston [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 14083 Private George Macdougall KIRKLAND, born Glasgow, resided Radlett [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion

  • 10215 Private Thomas WAGSTAFF, born Girtford, resided Sandy (Phalempin Communal Cemetery)

Tuesday 16 June 2015

2nd Bedfords in Action at Givenchy

Wednesday 16th June 1915: 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has certainly seen its share of action this year. Last evening, taking advantage of the long summer days, an attack was carried out by the division of which it forms part, 7th, in co-operation with 51st (Highland) Division, who were based in Bedford before their move to France and the Canadian Division around the small town of Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée.

The initial attack by 7th Division was undertaken by 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment at 6 pm. At 7.30 the Bedfords moved up in support of the Wiltshires. As they were moving the word came through that the Wiltshire attack had stalled and that they were to assemble in trenches called Scottish Trench and New Cut and prepare to take part in an attack with two other regiments at half past midnight.

Just before midnight the order was issued for B Company to attack a mine crater(1). This attack was subsequently cancelled and any aggressive move postponed until 5.30 this morning when it would be light. The Battalion relieved the Wiltshire Regiment in the front line and heard that the attack had, again, been postponed. Nevertheless, we understand from the adjutant that the Battalion fully expects to go into action today, perhaps attacking the crater in the enemy front line

Sources: X550/3/wd

(1) Tunnels were dug from one side’s lines, under no-man’s-land to a spot under the enemy front line where explosives were piled up and exploded. The resulting mine crater was then rushed and captured as soon as possible as a way of getting a foothold in the enemy’s defences and forcing him back. Clearly this mine crater had been in existence for some time.

Roll of Honour - Wednesday 16th June 1915

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: unsuccessful attack in the vicinity of The Crater near Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée
  • 7771 Private Joseph ABBIS, 29, husband of R Traynor (ex Abbis) of 2 Kents Place, Paddington Green [London], born Marylebone [London], resided Hoxton [London] (Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez)
  • 17571 Private Charles Russel ABBOTT, born and resided Bluntisham [Huntingdonshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 16471 Private William Joseph ALLEN, born Hatfield [Hertfordshire], resided Colney Heath [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 14409 Private Fred ATKINS, born and resided Southwark [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 15712 Acting Corporal Albert Victor BRANDON, 21, son of Ellen Elizabeth Smith (ex Brandon) of 58 Gloucester Road, Regent's Park [London] and the late Charles Alexander Brandon (le Touret Memorial)
  • 154266 Private Edward BURGESS, 25, son of George and Jane Burgess of 19 Toftwood, East Dereham [Norfolk] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 4/6175 Private Alfred Reginald BUSH, 24, son of James Timothy and Charlotte Bush of Bentfield Green [Essex], born Farnham [Essex] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 10773 Private James Elias David CANEY, born Aldershot [Hampshire], resided Lambeth [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 19087 Private George Taft CARMAN, born Islington [London], resided Lakenheath [Suffolk] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 17963 Private Thomas Stephen CHAMBERS, 22, B Company, son of Thomas Chambers, born and resided Watford [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 14998 Private Frederick Alfred DAY, 20, son of Frederick Samuel and Ellen Day of 17 Wellclose Street, Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 4/6823 Private Frederick DEAR, born and resided Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 17966 Private Walter DEWEY, 32, son of John Freeman and Elizabeth Dewey of Witchford [Cambridgeshire], husband of Annie of Church Street, Somersham Street, Saint Ives [Huntingdonshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 10725 Private Douglas DONALD, 30, son of James Donald of 35 Dimsdale Road, Fulham [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 17995 Private James DOUGHTON, 19, son of William and Elizabeth Doughton of The Ram and Hurdle, Luffenhall [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 18040 Private Charles EADE, 18, son of Simeon and Mary Ann Eade of Dove Cottage, Weeley Heath [Essex] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 17897 Private Frederick EASTON, born and resided Needingworth [Huntingdonshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 3/7422 Private John HARDY, born and resided Norwich [Norfolk] (le Touret Memorial)
  • Lieutenant Thomas Gavin Moor HORSFORD, 22, eldest son of the late Colonel T M A Horsford of Bosvathick [Cornwall] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 13815 Private George JUKES, born and resided Battersea [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 17846 Private Eric KNIGHT, born Notting Hill [London], resided Stepney [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 14972 Private Thomas Henry LITCHFIELD, 25, born Basford [Nottinghamshire], resided Cranfield (le Touret Memorial)
  • 3/7723 Private Henry LYON, 42, son of Henry Lyon of Falkirk [Stirlingshire], resided Luton (le Touret Memorial)
  • 17960 Private James Terence MACAULAY, son of Mary Ann Macaulay of 16 Heath Road, Clapham [London], born and resided Wandsworth [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 13533 Lance Corporal James MANSFIELD, born Latton [Essex], resided Epping Green [Essex] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 9597 Lance Corporal Frederick James MOORE, born and resided Wootton (le Touret Memorial)
  • 17973 Private Albert OAKLEY, 26, husband of Annie of Goose Green Hoddesdon [Hertfordshire], born Weston [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 14130 Acting Sergeant Joseph PATERNOSTER, 30, only son of George and Sarah Paternoster of Brookfield Cottage, Aston [Hertfordshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 13835 Private Sidney PAYNE, born and resided Islington [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 10123 Lance Corporal Harry PERRY, born Fenny Stratford [Buckinghamshire], resided Bedford (le Touret Memorial)
  • 16501 Private Albert PORTENS, born and resided York [Yorkshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 14522 Private Jack SELLARS, 22, son of John and Elizabeth Ann Sellars of The George Hotel, Whittlesey [Cambridgeshire] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 19359 Private George William SHELTON, 31, son of Elijah and Fanny Shelton of Upwood, Ramsey [Huntingdonshire]; husband of Albina of Old Mills Road, Ramsey (le Touret Memorial)
  • 13515 Private Arthur SHEPHERDSON, 23, son of John Henry and Sarah Ann Shepherdson, born and resided Nottingham (le Touret Memorial)
  • 12614 Private Albert Edward SIMMONDS, 18, son of Elizabeth Simmonds of 128 Bridge Street, Bow [London], born Mile End [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • 13411 Private George William SMITHWHITE, 22, B Company, son of W R and L M Smithwhite of 6 Bridal Path, Beddington [Surrey], born and resided Battersea [London] (le Touret Memorial)
  • Second Lieutenant Laurence TURNBULL (le Touret Memorial)
  • 10100 Private Harry WILLBYE, born and resided Cambridge (le Touret Memorial)
  • 13530 Private Thomas William WILLIAMS,  born Barton Hill, Bristol, resided Brislington [Somerset] (Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy)

1st/5th Battalion: Mediterranean

  • 5077 Private Frank FOWLER, 19, son of Wallace and Ellen Fowler of 23 Council Estate, Church End, Arlesey (Helles Memorial)

Monday 15 June 2015

Knocked Out by Jack Johnson

Park Street from the junction with Chobham Street [Z1306/75/10/52/9]

Tuesday 15th June 1915: Private Albert Kempton, 7886, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been home for a few days and is now undergoing medical treatment at Bedford. He hopes to return home to his wife and family, 1 Chobham Street, Luton, this weekend.

Private Kempton says: “I met with my ‘accident’ in the fateful Hill 60, I was buried alive in a big house and it took some time to get me out. I was ‘knocked out’ by a ‘Jack Johnson’(1) shell which burst and blew the whole place up. I was underneath, with about eight or ten tons of it over me – bricks and wood, and the smoke from shells which strangles people. How I got out God only knows. They had to dig me out, so they told me, but I knew nothing until I found myself in hospital. I was also shot in the leg and had concussion of the brain. I am getting on nicely now. I was taken to the hospital Rouen, and then to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, where I had every attendance I could wish for. It was like being in Heaven after what we had been through. I was taken out in a car, but it upset my head, so I had to get back to my bed again. Never mind, I was pleased when I got in Luton once more. I have been out there since August and I never experienced anything like it before in my life. I thank my lucky stars I have got through as well as I have”.

Private J. Kempton, 8710, 1st Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps, a brother of Private Albert Kempton, is a prisoner of war in Germany. They hear from him occasionally and he is usually begging for bread.

Source: Luton News 17th June 1915

(1) A German shell of 150mm calibre.

Roll of Honour - Tuesday 15th June 1915

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: in support to an unsuccessful attack on Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée and attack on The Crater

  • 9867 Private Leonard SMITH, son of William and Lucy Smith of Souldrop (France (1914-1918) Memorial - there is no memorial on the ground)
  • 9607 Lance Corporal William John WALE, 23, son of Alma and Eliza Wale of The Avenue, Sandy; husband of Ethel of Rolfe Bungalow, New Romney [Kent] (le Touret Memorial) 

Sunday 14 June 2015

Private Medlock’s Distinguished Conduct Medal

Monday 14th June 1915: In the latest list of men to whom the Distinguished Conduct Medal has been awarded a few days ago, there appeared the name of Private W. Medlock, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Private Medlock was a reservist, who was called up in August last from the works of the Skefco Ball Bearing Company Limited(1), Leagrave Road, Luton and his experience of fighting at the Front goes back to the Battle of Mons. He is one of many Skefco men who are doing fine work with the Colours – one has laid down his life – and the special deed for which he has been awarded this coveted medal is told in the official record in a few words. At Neuve-Chapelle, Private Medlock crawled from the trenches to a farmhouse occupied by about 50 Germans, bombed the enemy’s shelter and enabled our troops to take possession of an important tactical position.

When he knew he was to receive the medal for this gallant deed he sent a postcard to one of his mates telling him there was a surprise in store, and put on the card the letters D. C. M. But, with that reserve which is a well-known characteristic, he said nothing about what he had done.

Source: Luton News 10th June 1915

(1) Now SKF.

Roll of Honour - Monday 14th June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: railway embankment in support of Hill 60
  • 13264 Private Harry PRITCHARD, 19, C Company, son of Amos and Elizabeth Pritchard of 89 Flaunden [Hertfordshire] (Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery, Ypres)


2nd Battalion

  • 14212 Private Frederick MANSFIELD, born Leyton [Essex], resided Leytonstone [Essex] (le Touret Memorial) 

Saturday 13 June 2015

A Graphic Story of War

Sunday 13th June 1915: Corporal Ernest Batterson, Bedfordshire Yeomanry, Chairman of the Biggleswade and District Football League and Vice-Chairman of the North Beds Charity Cup Competition has been telling us of his initial impressions as he reaches the front.
“We are beginning to know our way about. We get plenty to interest us, both in the country itself and in what has happened. You heard of the charge of the London Scottish(1). I have been on the ground, and evidence of the mischief they wrought among the Germans is still to be seen in the rusty rifle, bayonets etc. which still lie there. The graves of the brave lads who have fallen are beautifully kept, and one cannot help pausing and reading the rough wooden crosses. The inscriptions are generally very brief and you wonder how many such graves will be made before the Huns are crippled. The sight of those little enclosures sets one thinking, and really, a more beautiful spot to rest in one could not imagine”.

“Sometimes we are made suddenly aware of the war by hearing a peculiar whistling noise overhead, followed almost at once by a terrible bang, as our Tommies remark, ‘Fritz is sending some more iron rations’. Our artillery fire is pretty accurate, one battery in particular doing good service at nearly 5,000 yards. The first shot landed on the parapet of a German trench, and after that 14 out of 17 went into the trench, causing the ‘kultured gentlemen’ to squeal like pigs, and as you may imagine, doing not a little damage. Our machine-guns would then be trained on the damaged trench and at night, when the working parties were attempting repairs, they spit and splutter, and doubtless render hors de combat a good many of the brutes . Such is this war, shooting at invisible men; it is really marvellous how accurate the shooting on both sides is, considering the circumstances. The hand grenades thrown from the trenches, in some cases only 30 yards apart, play ‘old Harry’ where they fall. They are very terrifying. A very ancient weapon is being used for bomb throwing, the catapult”.
“I am pleased to see the Allies have decided to use gas to counteract the German poison. It seems that the best thing to do is to play them at their own game. I can see the German high explosive shells bursting over our trenches. Our artillery has already replied and I think effectively. We have more guns than they in the neighbourhood, and I think can well hold them. It is no uncommon thing to see half-a-dozen of the Allies’ aeroplanes up at once, and then hundreds of shells are wasted on them. It is a pretty and fascinating sight to watch. The little puffs of smoke show where the shells burst, and then the hum of shrapnel bullets makes one think of the airman, who flies on as if nothing has happened. We here shall continue to play the game, and when the winning goal is scored I can imagine the shout that will go up from the onlookers and when we have left the field of play we will have a jolly evening talking over the events that are now taking place”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 18th June 1915

(1) 1st/14th Battalion, London Regiment and part of 1st Brigade, 1st Division. The Yeomanry were in the vicinity Ledringhem near the Belgian border at the time and the graves may have been of those who died after action during the 2nd Battle of Ypres.

Roll of Honour - Sunday 13th June 1915

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: railway embankment in support of Hill 60
  • 3/8116 Private William CADE, 40, son of Samuel and Laura Cade of Abbotsley [Huntingdonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 10415 Private Stanley CATCHPOLE, born Ickleford [Hertfordshire], resided Bradfield [Essex] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 13510 Private Alfred William RAWLE, born and resided Brislington [Somerset] (Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery, Ypres)
Died of Wounds

1st Battalion

  • 3/8759 Private Frank MONK, born and resided Broxted [Essex] (Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension)