Saturday 31 October 2015


Sunday 31st October 1915: the adjutant of the 6th Bedfords tells us that 600 men of the battalion, about two thirds its strength, is engaged on digging trenches for cables behind the lines near the village of Souastre. This the fourth day this week that fatigue parties have been employed in digging whilst out of the front line supposedly resting.

Source: X550/7/1

Friday 30 October 2015


British 6 inch howitzer at IWM Duxford

Saturday 30th October 1915: Captain P R Meautys of the 7th Bedfords reports that yesterday morning a mine was exploded close to their lines. This was accompanied by grenades and mortar bombs from the enemy which resulted in retaliation by British artillery. This sort of sporadic activity is what causes so many men to be killed from stray explosions of bombs, grenades and shells in trenches which are very close to one another at this point, meaning that the shell that lands in a trench is almost as likely to be from one’s own side as from the enemy.

Source: X550/8/1

Thursday 29 October 2015

The Other Set of Trenches

Friday 29th October 1915: One can determine much about the enemy from observing them closely, mused 7th Battalion adjutant Captain Meautys when we spoke to him today. Observing the enemy trenches he watched the effect of a salvo of shells into their front line about 9 o’clock last night. As soon as the sound of the explosions died away he distinctly heard the sound of a gong being struck. He deduces from this that the Germans think poisoned gas shells are being used against them.

He also commented that different troops, less highly trained are believed to be in front as the rifle fire is exceedingly scarce. The notes that the enemy only fire with mortars and rifle grenade, not with rifles.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - Friday 29th October 1915

Killed in Action

8th Battalion

  • 3/8632 Private John SWEENEY, born and resided Ware [Hertfordshire] (memorial at White House Cemetery, Saint-Jean-lès-Ypres)
  • 8518 Private Arthur VINCENT, born Houghton Regis, resided Dunstable (White House Cemetery, Saint-Jean-lès-Ypres)

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Second Impressions of Gallipoli

 1st/5th Bedfords' dugout at Gallipoli

Thursday 28th October 1915: We have heard more from the soldier we heard from yesterday. He says: “I have met plenty of Bedford fellows here. One chap I met, who is in the Royal Engineers I used to pass each day as I went to work”.

“The Turks have been shelling the batteries near us. The other day we had a big bombardment, all the land and naval units going at once; it was impossible for us to try to sleep. We are about three miles from the firing line and can see the enemy’s trenches quite plainly”.

“The Indians are very nice chaps but can speak only English a little(1). Most of the men who come down from the trenches look fed up and tired out”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th November 1915

(1) British officers of Indian or Ghurkha units had to learn the language of their men and learning English was not imposed on the soldiers.

Roll of Honour - Thursday 28th October 1915

Killed in Action

8th Battalion

  • 19933 Private Albert FRANCIS, born Saint Pancras [London], resided Somers Town [London] (White House Cemetery, Saint-Jean-lès-Ypres)

Tuesday 27 October 2015

First Impressions of Gallipoli

Scenery near Suvla Bay 

Wednesday 27th October 1915: We have heard from a soldier who has gone out from Bedford to Gallipoli as a reinforcement to a local unit: “We have landed safely. I can tell you I was a bit nervous at first, because they were firing all the time. After landing we had a march of about five miles, partly through trenches and partly over sands. We were just about done up when we arrived. We are now living in dug-outs made in the sand and strengthened with sand bags”.

“One thing the Turks do respect is the Red Cross. So far we are keeping well. Flies are a pest here, they simply swarm round here during the day. There are plenty of Bedfordshire chaps here. I have not seen anybody I know yet. Water is very scarce here and has to be boiled first before it can be fit to drink”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th November 1915

Roll of Honour - Wednesday 27th October 1915

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line trenches at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée

  • 18748 Private William George FELSTEAD, born and resided Sheering [Essex] (Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy)

Monday 26 October 2015

Animal Life in No Man’s Land

Tuesday 26th October 1915: Cats and dogs are not habitual friends. Nevertheless, a curious incident was observed by a sentry in the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment yesterday. Captain Meautys, the adjutant, related to us, with some amusement that a canine and a feline were observed to leave the German front line. They walked amiably through No Man’s Land to a shattered wood and disappeared. Had they been rats one might have thought they were leaving a sinking ship, but one can hope.

Source: X550/8/1

Sunday 25 October 2015

Zonophone Wanted

Monday 25th October 1915: A Corporal of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry out in France writes: “I think very few people in Bedford realise that they have 25 of their Yeomanry boys serving as Mounted Military Police for the Division(2) in France. We have been out here with this division since the 31st of last March. We now beg a favour, and ask our townspeople to send us a Zonophone(1) with a few records to help take the monotony from our work. I was going to say to help us cheer up but it is needless to say that the Bedford boys are always cheerful”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 29th October 1915

(1) Zonophone was actually a recording label; here it is clearly being used as a synonym for gramophone.

(2) 1st Cavalry Division 

Roll of Honour - Monday 25th October 1915

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion

  • Private Alfred William EVENETT, son of E Evenett of Heydon Road, Great Chishall [Hertfordshire] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)

Saturday 24 October 2015

Poetry from Gallipoli

Sunday 24th October 1915: We have received the following piece of poetry from a former Bedfordshire Yeoman, who transferred to the East Anglian Royal Engineers and has served in Gallipoli.

I stood on the deck of a troopship,
At the Gate of the Dardanelles,
‘Midst the thunder of warship’s cannon,
And the bursting of giant shells.
When men were dying in Britain’s cause,
To open the Sultan’s door.
Shrapnel, rifle and machine gun fire,
Raising a living hell on shore,
I thought of those men who were fighting,
Three thousand miles from home,
Shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s sons,
The clerk and the rolling stone,
Ghurkhas, Sikhs and Lancers.
From India’s sunny clime,
All had left their near and dear
For a place in the firing line.
Each one had answered the Empire’s call,
Each one doing his bit,
While thousands of men were rusting at home,
Equally strong and fit.
Could they but know, could they but see,
The soldier and the tar
Working together as Britons should,
In the fighting at Seddal Bahr(1),
They would throw their aprons to the girls,
Give up their games of whist,
And sing the Tipperary song,
As they scrambled to enlist.
There’s Achi Baba yet to take(2),
And the forts around Chanak(3),
These positions must be won,
There must be no holding back.
We want more men and still more men,
Before this can be done.
Do they realise the fact?
Will they ever come?
I’m only a British sailor man,
But I put it to them straight
Enter Kitchener’s Army ere it is too late.
Ere the butt of an enemy’s rifle
Comes crashing through your door
And the blood of innocent children
Stains the kitchen floor.
Tell them you are coming.
Tom, Dick and Harry too.
Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand
To pull the Empire through

Source: Bedfordshire Times 29th October 1915

(1) Sedd el Bahr was a landing beach in the Gallipoli campaign

(2) Achi Baba was the mountain dominating the Gallipoli peninsula; it never fell to the allies despite four attempts

(3) A major port city on the Asian mainland opposite the peninsula, again not taken by the allies.

Roll of Honour - Sunday 24th October 1915

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion

  • 14003 Private Joseph WAKEFIELD, 29, husband of Mabel of 4 Mount Square, Nottingham, born Sneiton [Nottinghamshire], resided Radford [Nottinghamshire] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)

Friday 23 October 2015

Front Line Troops Fed Too Well

Saturday 23rd October 1915: An officer of the 6th (Service) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, writing to a member of our staff says: “How are things at Bedford now? It seems years since I was last there. We are now in our third month our here and still going strong. Our Battalion consists of a splendid lot of men, all very keen on their job. About this time of year I would be thinking of getting out notices for Old Comrades dinners – what happy nights they used to be! Meetings like that ought to go with a boom after this war. This war is quite different from the one I went through in Africa(1). There it was all move; here it is the opposite; of course the power of the modern gun has something to do with that. Then the matter of grub was quite different. The authorities go in to fatten one up, I think: how the devil they manage to obtain and bring the trucks I cannot imagine; but up it comes daily, never a mishap – bread, bacon, cheese, jam and butter thrown in as an extra thrice a week. Personally I think we are fed too well”.

“Reading matter is rather scarce, although we can have the daily London papers, which the proprietors present to the troops up in the trenches by 11 am the day following publication. If your firm present any papers to the troops, please send some to us [This is being done every week – Ed]. I myself get your paper from the wife”.

“Our Battalion are now again in the trenches. Our big guns daily strafe the Germans. Rather interesting to see some of our airmen. Some cool members are in that Corps. Yesterday one of ours kept going to and fro over the enemy’s lines, getting shelled each time, but he didn’t trouble in the least. Today another one, flying rather low, carried on the same business, but instead of getting shelled each time, he had rifle fire, and by the rattle should say about 500 of the bounders were having a go”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 22nd October 1915

(1) Presumably with the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment in the Second Boer War of 1899-1902.

Roll of Honour - Saturday 23rd October 1915

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 19763 Private Alexander PITT, 21, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Pitt of 50 South Block, Peabody Buildings, Shadwell [London], born Mile End [London], resided Bow [London] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)


1st/5th Battalion

  • 4626 Private Frank BOUTWOOD, 31, B Company, son of William and Martha Boutwood, husband of Grace of 32 Windsor Street, Luton (Luton General Cemetery)

Thursday 22 October 2015

Not Much the Germans Cannot Do

Friday 22nd October 1915: Drummer H Emmerton of Water Hall, Salford wrote to his mother on 30th September: “We are all standing to our posts in the trench, which is a regular thing, a quarter of an hour before sunrise and sunset. We could see the German lines as if it were daylight and nearly all of us got wet through in an hour, the water was up to the tops of our boots. You can guess we were pleased enough to see the daybreak and the time rolling round for us to get relieved(1). I have not been in the trenches long but quite long enough to see what life is like in them, and what our comrades had to go through the long weary months of last winter. I hope it is not our luck to have this winter out here, although I suppose with a little grumbling and smiling we shall pull through as they have done”.

“The weather is quite unsettled now and it has been wet nearly every day this week, so I will leave you to guess what we all look like. Most of you have seen men after digging clay in the brickyards – we are worse. I used to laugh when I was told big guns caused the clouds to burst and rain in torrents, but it seems to me now there must be something in it. We have had a heavy artillery bombardment for more than a week. They have cut the Germans’ barbed-wire entanglements all to pieces with the shells, and the trenches we saw them digging one day our shells filled in for them the next”.

“Before we came out here we used to think the Germans could not shoot or do anything, but I can tell you as regards warfare there is not much they cannot do. They use gas, liquid fire, all sorts and sizes of shells. We don’t see or hear so much of their Jack Johnsons now but their latest invention is what they call aerial torpedoes and they are much worse for they shake you off your feet at a hundred yards”.

“Thank you for the Bedfordshire Times I received again quite safely. I gave it to my pals to read after I had finished with it myself and heard the same remark pass between them. One said “I cannot see anything in about our battalion again this week”. “There is a piece about most of our other regiments” another one said “The people in Bedfordshire do not know there is such a battalion as the 6th Beds or, in other words as they are called, “the Gallant Sixth” [we are only too glad to receive and publish (subject to the Censor) news of the 6th Beds but we cannot publish what is not sent – Ed].

“We are quite aware we have not done the good work our 1st and 2nd Battalions have done, but we have been undergoing very hard training for over twelve months. There were times out of number during our stay of about three months on Salisbury Plain we had long route marches, musketry and bayonet fighting and we used to grumble and say to each other, I don’t know how you are but I am just about fed up with it, we are having too much of it. We can see now what it was all done for and after all we did not do too much. We used at one time to do a lot of marches, mostly long ones too, and often times you could hear one say to another “Stick it, you know the Bedfords have a name for marching, and we want to keep it up, and when the time comes and the Germans begin to hit too hard we shall show them that we still have some of the old 1st’s and 2nd’s blood in us”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 22nd October 1915

(1) The 6th Battalion were on the Somme in the neighbourhood of Bienvillers-au-Bois

Roll of Honour - Friday 22nd October 1915

Killed in Action

8th Battalion
  • 17078 Private Albert William GARROD, 28, C Company, son of F and H Garrod of Levington [Suffolk], born Covehithe [Suffolk] (la Brique Military Cemetery No. 2)
  • 16291 Private Lewis POPE, born Eynesbury [Huntingdonshire], resided Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire] (la Brique Military Cemetery No. 1)
  • 15426 Private Frederick Charles WEBSTER, 22, son of Arthur Webster of Wendy [Cambridgeshire], born Bassingbourn [Cambridgeshire] (la Brique Military Cemetery No. 1)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion

  • 15867 Private William MUMFORD, 25, son of William and Maritia Mumford of Wheathampstead [Hertfordshire], born Harpenden [Hertfordshire[, resided Sandridge [Hertfordshire] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Funeral of a Brave Bedford

Thursday 21st October 1915: It is with regret that we learn that Lance Corporal Walter Bert Southgate, aged 36, of 32 Beaconsfield Street, Bedford, died at Folkestone Hospital on Saturday from wounds received in the recent Battle of Loos, being part of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. He was the son of the late Mr Walter and Mrs Phoebe Southgate and was educated at the Harpur Trust Elementary School. Before the war he was employed as a cabman by Mr G H Keech, Mill Street. In December last he joined the Duke of Bedford’s Training depot at Ampthill, No. 2 Company, and went in a draft for the Front from there in August. His wounds were received about four weeks ago, the first time he went into the trenches.

At the funeral, which took place on Wednesday at the Bedford cemetery, the mourners were Mr Sam Southgate and Miss Amy Southgate, Mr W Soughgate and Miss Mary Southgate (brothers and sisters), Annie and Ada Southgate (sisters-in-law), Miss Geary and Mrs Bunker, Miss Bunker and Master J Geary, Miss Billington and Miss Ingram (friends). The Ampthill Battalion was represented by 119 men, including a firing party, under the command of Captain Hon. Moubray Saint John(1). The non-commissioned officers present included Company Sergeant Major Roberts, Company Quarter Master Sergeant Burke, Sergeant Norman and Sergeant Allen and there were many of Southgate’s old comrades and friends of No. 2 Company in the ranks.

The coffin, which was drawn on a gun carriage, was draped with the Union Jack and was covered with wreathes. It was preceded by the magnificent band of our 2nd Battalion, and on the route they played the Dead March in “Saal”. The Rev. Canon Speck conducted an impressive service at the cemetery, where a large crowd of friends had gathered to pay a last tribute to a gallant soldier and a beloved friend.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 22nd October 1915

(1) Later 19th Baron Saint John of Bletsoe 

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Depleted Territorials

1st/5th Bedfords' dugout at Gallipoli

Wednesday 20th October 1915: The operations at Gallipoli drag on. It is now nearly five months since our troops along with those of the French landed on this rocky peninsula and a quick advance to the Turkish city of Constantinople was expected. Instead they have got, at most, a few miles.

The 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been in this scrub-covered wasteland for more than two months. It went into action gloriously, taking two hills but suffered huge casualties. Daily wastage from Turkish rifles and shells and from the effects of disease has taken its toll and the strength of this once splendid battalion has been reduced by around two thirds to just 236, including 22 men putting fuses into grenades at ANZAC Beach.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - Wednesday 20th October 1915

Killed in Action

8th Battalion
  • 5979 Corporal Walter NEWMAN, father of Reginald Newman, born Great Staughton [Huntingdonshire], resided Great Tey [Essex] (la Brique Military Cemetery No. 1)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 16619 Lance Corporal Arthur Thomas JACKSON, 26, son of Martha Ann Bunn of 33 Bride Street, Barnsbury [London], born and resided Islington [London] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)
  • 13799 Private William WELLS, born and resided Walworth [London] (Poperinghe New Military Cemetery)

Monday 19 October 2015

Information Regarding Asphyxiating Gas

Gas masks at the Imperial War Museum

Tuesday 19th October 1915: We have just received the following leaked document from British Expeditionary Force Headquarters about the effects of our use of poisoned gas.

1. It appears that a certain amount of doubt and misgiving exists among the troops in regard to the use of gas. The operations of the 25th September have disclosed information which should be of value in restoring confidence and which should, consequently, be made known to the troops.

2. There is no doubt that our gas is effective against the enemy under certain conditions of weather and surprise. Evidence from responsible persons has been obtained that in the village of Loos and in certain places in the German trenches where the wind was favourable, the gas had great physical effect on the enemy. Many were found dead in dug-outs and cellars who had received no wounds, their death being due to gas.

3. On the other hand, there is conclusive evidence that if our troops are properly practised and trained, and accustomed to the wearing of the tube helmet, there is no cause for alarm at the bursting of a gas cylinder or the defective discharge of gas in our own trenches, especially if vermoral sprayers are kept handy. The fact that our helmet is an absolute protection if properly worn must be impressed on all ranks.

4. It was undoubtedly the case that a certain number of our own troops were gassed owing to the bursting of cylinders and to the defective discharge of the gas.  This was to a large extent due to the want of knowledge and practice in wearing the tube helmet, and is evidence of the fact that considerably more training in the use of tube helmets is required.

5. A large number of men reported sick at the dressing stations and field ambulances purporting to be suffering from the effects of gas. Nearly all these men, however, were merely out of breath from running and were suffering from excitement and fright; they required no treatment and were discharged at once. A considerable proportion of them were recognised as habitual malingerers.

Source: X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - Tuesday 19th October 1915

Killed in Action

6th Battalion: in the front line at Hannescamps and killed on patrol

  • 12378 Private James BAHAN, 23, son of Thomas and Margaret Bahan of 3 Balliol Terrace, Bootle [Lancashire] (Bienvillers Military Cemetery)

Sunday 18 October 2015

A Poem from Gallipoli

Monday 18th October 1915: The East Anglian Royal Engineer Lance Corporal who sent us the recipe for biscuit and date pudding yesterday also sent us a poem which we reproduce below:

 The shades of night were falling fast,
As through the trench our fellows passed, -
Four men of the EARE,
With much barbed wire as we could see
          “A gangway please”

They went in front and worked real hard,
Four Norfolks with them, just to guard,
They then returned: the challenge quick,
The RE Corporal answered slick –
          “Working RE’s”

“Try not that way” the Sergeant said,
“A sniper’s potting at your head,
You’d better let my man guide you,
And safely he will take you through
          Good night, REs”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th November 1915

Roll of Honour - Monday 18th October 1915

Killed in Action

8th Battalion
  • 16058 Lance Sergeant George BROMLEY, 26, son of George and Ellen Bromley of Spout Lane, Brenchley [Kent] (la Brique Military Cemetery No. 1)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion

  • 17092 Private Thomas Lewis HOW or HOWE, 21, son of Elizabeth How of Great Gidding [Huntingdonshire], born Ramsey [Huntingdonshire], resided Thrapston [Northamptonshire] (Essex Farm Cemetery)

Saturday 17 October 2015

Biscuit and Date Pudding à la Gallipoli

Sunday 17th October 1915: A lance corporal in the East Anglian Royal Engineers serving in Gallipoli has sent us the following recipe: “I broke up some biscuits and made a paste with a little bacon fat and water, and then added half of a fruit cake in slices. Then I made a pudding bag of a white handkerchief and boiled it in my mess tin for an hour. It turned out a success as a biscuit and date pudding”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th November 1915

Roll of Honour - Sunday 17th October 1915

Killed in Action

8th Battalion
  • 16038 Private Frederick RUTT, born Islington [London], resided Upper Holloway [London] (la Brique Military Cemetery No. 1)

1st/5th Battalion

  • 5060 Private Ernest GOWLER, resided Eynesbury [Huntingdonshire] (Plymouth (Weston Mill) Cemetery)

Friday 16 October 2015

Who is This Woman?

Saturday 16th October 1915: We have heard from Private D. Dodds, C Company, 1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers(1) who found the above photograph next to a dead officer of 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. He was lying next to Corporal Ellison and Private Dumpleton of the same Regiment(2). Apparently they were all killed in August. The photo may be treasured by someone who will be glad to know where it was found and if it can be identified by any of our readers we will gladly send it on to anyone who has the right to claim it.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th November 1915

Roll of Honour - Saturday 16th October 1915

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion

  • 18119 Private Walter Bertie SOUTHGATE, 36, son of Walter and Phoebe Southgate, born and resided Bedford (Bedford Cemetery)

Thursday 15 October 2015

Bedfordshire Field Ambulance in Gallipoli

1st/5th Bedfords' dugout at Galipoli 

Friday 15th October 1915: Sergeant Lindley of a Field Ambulance unit(1) attached to 54th (East Anglian) Division(2) tells us: “We are living in dug-outs in the sand dunes on the beach at present, and we have had only one casualty, one poor chap being shot in the head and killed instantly while we were still on the boat by a stray bullet”.

“I have named my tent “Ye Tent of Ye Great Panjandrum” but I am afraid that there are not any of those fearsome creatures about here, the most fearsome being tortoises and lizards, which are in quite large numbers. The country round here is ideal for scouting. I think you could get up a camp here when the war is over, only if you do bring plenty of water with you. The bathing here is splendid; there is hardly any tide, and it is quite shallow for about half a mile out; I have had several good swims since we landed”.

“I have seen one of the 5th Beds, a chap named Clarke; he lives up the Park way and has been down with a slight attack of dysentery, but is going back into the trenches in a day or two. It appears that their ranks are very thin. It is very funny that we should run in so close to the other Bedford boys isn’t it? Both the Engineers and the 5th Beds are within a mile or two of us”.

“We were rather sold as to the temperature out here. We came out expecting something hot and instead it is just comfortably warm during the day time and very cold at night(3)”.

“This country is very picturesque, with its huge sandy mountains and glorious sunsets and sun rises, but I prefer the green fields of Old England for all that. I have come to the conclusion that they take a lot of beating. This country seems ideal for war and that is about all. They were kicking up an awful row last night on the hill; it really sounded as if they were trying to hurt one another”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th November 1915

(1) Field Ambulance units were places for intermediate treatment of the wounded in between the Regimental Aid Posts closest to the front line and Casualty Clearing Stations further back.

(2) 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 2nd/1st (East Anglian) Field Ambulance were attached to 54th (East Anglian) Division.

(3) Average temperatures in Gallipoli in October are about 16º and in November about 11.9º

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Germans Firing French Bullets

Thursday 14th October 1915: The adjutant of the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, Captain P R Meautys reports from the front line near Fricourt that they have been using large catapults to shoot bombs into the German trenches opposite. In observing the fire of British artillery on German trenches Captain Meautys told us: “One shell appeared to hit direct on emplacements, but ricocheted; this also happened in the case of two others which apparently hit the same spot. Can it be that the Germans dig a lot of loose earth round their emplacements to prevent shells from bursting?”

Curiously Captain Meautys records: “A French bullet was fired into our lines today from the enemy”. Perhaps the Germans are short of ammunition and have resorted to using captured French rifles and bullets or perhaps French made weapons are considered superior to theirs?

Source: X550/8/1

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Fashionable Wear for Snipers

 Sniper camouflage at the Imperial War Museum

Wednesday 13th October 1915: The adjutant of the 7th Battalion reports that they shot another sniper yesterday. Captain Meautys told us: “he was wearing a kind of brown canvas helmet with eye holes”. In this war snipers take whatever precautions they can in order not to be seen. We have even heard reports of fake tree stumps being made and snipers secreting themselves inside them!

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - Wednesday 13th October 1915

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 18672 Lance Corporal Harold BYRD, 23, son of George and Alice Byrd of 8 Church Road, Hanham [Gloucestershire], born Barnes [Surrey] (Chocques Military Cemetery)

Monday 12 October 2015

German Trench Mortars

 German 76 mm trench mortar at IWM Duxford

Tuesday 12th October 1915: The Germans call their trench mortars minenwerfers, or mine launchers. They are known unaffectionately as Minnies by our men. The adjutant of the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in the front line near Fricourt on the Somme tells us that the day before yesterday a Minnie was used to shell the 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in a neighbouring trench.

Yesterday this Minnie was reported on as firing from a range of about 700 yards. The shells could be distinctly seen in the air and exploded by a time fuse as two burst in mid-air while others buried themselves for some time before exploding. The position was logged and British artillery searched this spot with high explosive and no more firing was experienced from it.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - Tuesday 12th October 1915


1st/5th Battalion

  • 3971 Private William CREEK, resided Abbotsley [Huntingdonshire] (Pieta Military Cemetery, Malta)

Sunday 11 October 2015

A Blinded Sniper

Scenery near Suvla Bay

Monday 11th October 1915: We have heard from a Corporal in the East Anglian Royal Engineers serving in Gallipoli: “We have been working at night on barbed wire. One of our party out on night work heard faint cries of “Allah”. The next night the same thing occurred. The third night when they went, the Australians informed them that they had just found out that it was a Turkish sniper shot through both eyes. They brought the poor chap in and he was taken to our hospital”.

“The gullies and waterways are all named out here. We go down Farm Gulley and have to pass by Staffordshire Gulley, Hampshire Lane, Finsbury Vale, New Bedford Road(1) and turn up Radlett Road. Quite city like, you know”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th November 1915

(1) Presumably named after the street in Luton 

Saturday 10 October 2015

Hunting Snipers

Sniper camouflage at the Imperial War Museum

Sunday 10th October 1915: The adjutant of the 7th Bedfords has sent us some more information about the hunt for German snipers. Last evening observers and sentries reported two masked snipers at a certain position. These Germans kept putting up dummies and firing from behind and between them. These dummies and the snipers were dressed the same and could be easily seen through glasses, thus showing the dummies to be ineffective as decoys. After three hours the Battalion’s own snipers scored a hit and the enemy fire ceased.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - Sunday 10th October 1915

Killed in Action

7th Battalion

  • 13262 Private Charles Edward COWLAND, 17, son of Charles and Mary Cowland of Roestock, Colney Heath [Hertfordshire] (Dartmoor Cemetery, Bécordel-Bécourt)

Friday 9 October 2015

A German Attack at Loos

Captain Cavan and Second Lieutenants Lovely and Gudgeon 

Saturday 9th October 1915: We hear that the Germans have launched an attack at Loos, hoping to regain territory lost since 25th September. The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment are in front line trenches at Cuinchy, a few miles to the north. The adjutant reports that their own trenches were shelled fairly heavily all day. Last evening about 6 o’clock they were alerted that they may be moved to the area of the German attack if it develops. What a nice surprise for Captain P C Cavan and Second Lieutenants Lovely and Gudgeon who joined the Battalion as the alert was given.

The adjutant of the 7th Battalion, still in the front line near Fricourt on the Somme reports that last evening a German working party was reported and both shrapnel and high explosive from British artillery opened fire and the noise of tools being hastily dropped was then heard!

A German sniper was shot yesterday evening while endeavouring to signal the direction of the Battalion’s snipers’ shots. This shows what a cat-and –mouse game hunting with telescopic sights in the trenches is.

Source: X550/3/wd; X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - Saturday 9th October 1915

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: relieved from front line trenches at Cuinchy

  • 13201 Private Benjamin JONES, 22, son of Frederick William Jones of 130 Kimberley Road, Nunhead [London], born Penge [Kent] (Cambrin Churchyard Extension)

Thursday 8 October 2015

Fly Pudding

Friday 8th October 1915: Writing home on 5th October Sapper Allan Parrott of 2nd/1st Field Company, Royal Engineers in Gallipoli says: “We have had two issues of golden syrup just lately and my mate got hold of some sugar and made about three quarters of a pound of treacle toffee and it went down well”.

“Our section is doing good work out here and we have been complimented once or twice by our Brigadier. We have heard about the big advance in France(1) and hope they are still going ahead”.

“You can put fags in my letters as they will get here more quickly than the parcels, and fags are scarce. The weather out here is but so bad, but the flies. Well! I think we shall have to catch some and make a fly pudding. How would the following go down for Sunday’s dinner? Get two Army biscuits and smash to a powder, two onions, finely chopped, and one rasher of bacon left from breakfast also chopped up. Mix to a stiff paste with water and boil for an hour. The effects are one sleepless night with “awful feeling below the belt””.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 29th October 1915

(1) The Battle of Loos

Roll of Honour - Friday 8th October 1915


2nd Battalion

  • 10407 Private George Thomas CLAYTON, 20, born Aspley Guise, resided Woburn Sands [Buckinghamshire] (Saint-Sever Cemetery, Rouen)

Wednesday 7 October 2015

A Particularly Poignant Death

Thursday 7th October 1915: The adjutant of the 1st Battalion, who are on the front line near the village of Fricourt on the Somme, tells us that yesterday was a quiet day in this quiet sector. How doubly tragic, then, that the one fatality was Sergeant. A E Sirrell. This veteran should have left the front today with an honourable discharge, his time with the regiment having expired due to his age(1).

Source: X550/2/5

(1) He is buried in Carnoy Military Cemetery

Roll of Honour - Thursday 7th October 1915

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line trenches at Cuinchy
  • 9592 Corporal George BROWN, 26, B Company, son of George and Elizabeth Brown of 25 Chase Street, Luton, born Offley [Hertfordshire] (Cambrin Churchyard Extension)

7th Battalion: front line trenches at Fricourt

  • 13493 Private George Augustus NORMAN, husband of L Norman of 58 Victoria Street, Dunstable, born Paddington [London] (Dartmoor Cemetery, Bécordel-Bécourt)

Tuesday 6 October 2015

A Wesleyan Chaplain in Gallipoli

1st/5th Bedfords' dug-out

Wednesday 6th October 1915: Rev. S J Sullings, the Wesleyan Chaplain with the 1st/5th Beds Regiment, at the Dardanelles has told us: “We have a little improvement in our conditions, are deepening our dug-outs and making sand-bag enclosures for our further protection. We are having a rough time, but that does not matter. We endure hardness as good soldiers and we all bear the burden together”.

He told us that  some weeks ago: “I went into the dressing-station and stayed the weekend. I conducted two services, while not far away the battle was raging and snipers were busy. At each service I spoke from Hebrews, Chapter 12 – “He endured as seeing Him who is invisible”. How the men appreciate one’s ministry and one’s presence! It is worth-while coming. One of the lads was at the morning service, went on 1,000 yards to dig himself in with others, and a sniper caught him and by 5 pm he was back at the dressing station badly wounded”.

“I had a chat with the Headquarters Staff and a cup of tea, and finished up an exciting day by bringing back to the base (three miles) a young officer who was suffering from nervous shock(1). One day here among the sick and wounded and dying, bucking them up and getting among them cheerfully is of more value than twelve months’ service in peace time”.

The Rev. S J Sullings was with the 1st/5th Beds at Bury Saint Edmunds, Norwich and at Saint Albans during their training, and is very much esteemed by officers and men”.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 24th September 1915

(1) Neurasthenia, also known as “shell-shock”.