Saturday 30 April 2016

Tommy’s Four Legged Foes

Sunday 30th April 1916: A rather blood-curdling account has been sent home by Corporal J Partridge, the ex-secretary of the Toddington Social Club, who is now serving in the Signal Section of the 7th Beds Regiment, of alarming, if amusing, experiences in the trenches with swarms of wretched rats, which, he says, “run all over your body at nights”. “The other night” he writes, “I got the fair pip and creeps with them running about me, so I covered my head up with my only blanket. I couldn’t bear the ugly brutes on my face. I looked like a frightened nipper hiding from ghosts, I guess. Anyhow, to breathe, I left my nose exposed and I’m blessed if in the middle of the night one of the saucy bounders didn’t pin my nose. I woke up with a start you can guess and then flew all rods round the dug-out and out of it. I put my hand to my nose and it was covered with blood. I didn’t get into bed again that night (I said bed, but ‘tis only wire-netting and a blanket). In the morning I saw a doctor to see if it was likely to be poisoned. He put some stuff on and it is nearly better now except for a small cut-like scar, which will disappear in a month. My officer ordered wire netting (very small mesh) to be put all round the dug-out to keep them out, so things will not be so bad. I can tell you they were beginning to get on my nerves”.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 28th April 1916

Roll of Honour - 30th April 1916

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: front line near Carnoy – shelled – 8 casualties
  • 14813 Acting Corporal William WATTS born Stoke Newington [London] resided Finsbury Park [London] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)

10th Battalion
  • 23410 Private Albert FOSTER born Aylesbury [Buckinghamshire], resided Blunham (Colchester Cemetery)

Friday 29 April 2016

2nd Battalion Sports Near the Front Line

Saturday 29th April 1916: The 2nd Battalion are at Grovetown Camp and have been indulging in some sports to keep them fit and happy. Yesterday No. 15 platoon won the inter-platoon relay race and B Company the inter-company relay. In tug-of-war the Battalion beat both the 17th and 19th Battalions, King’s (Liverpool Regiment) and success attended the Battalion’s boxers. Private Leray won the nine stone and under category and Private Pilkington the category for ten stone and under. Sergeant Baker won the heavyweight division(1). At the conclusion of Sports the Prizes were presented by Brigadier General Stanley.

The sports had been going on since 26th with heats etc. Now the men of the Battalion must gird up their loins as they are going back to the trenches at Maricourt today.

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) This may be Sergeant George Baker from Barking, Essex, who would be killed in action on 20th September 1917.

Roll of Honour - 29th April 1916

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 19154 Private Arthur SAMUELS, 21, son of Charles Thomas and Louisa Samuels of 467 Whippendell Road, Watford [Hertfordshire] (la Neuville Communal Cemetery, Corbie)
  • 20256 Private Alfred James TWO, 41, son of M Two of Church End, Marston Moretaine (Boulogne Eastern Cemetery)
  • 14911 Private Albert Ernest Victor WESTLAKE born and resided Bristol (Bray Military Cemetery)

Thursday 28 April 2016

Bedfordshire Man’s Daring Errand

Friday 28th April 1916: A gallant feat by Private Walter Guess, of the 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has been recognised by the Brigadier-General commanding the 6th Division(1), in a personally signed note, in which he says the Private’s commanding Officer and Brigade Commander have informed him that he distinguished himself near Ypres, on December 19th last, and he had read their report with much pleasure. Private Guess, who is only 21 years of age, was employed at the Leighton Buzzard Post Office before he enlisted in Kitchener’s Army in the early stages of the war, and he has been at the Front since then. On account of his plucky deed he has been allowed home on special leave and while at Leighton Buzzard he gave an account of his action to his friends. It seems that his officers asked for volunteers to take an important message over a particularly dangerous piece of country to a well-concealed post. Several men volunteered to go, but were unable to find their way and then Guess offered to “have a go”. He had to hide in “pot-holes” several times and cross at the double several open spaces that were bullet-swept, and when he reached his destination and delivred his message he was on the point of collapse and scarcely able to tell where the message was concealed(2).

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 28th April 1916

(1) presumably they meant the Major-General commanding 6th Division, who was Major-General Charles Ross

(2) On 19th December the 8th Battalion war diary reads as follows: “5.30 am Gas attack, opened rapid fire, the Germans did not come over the parapet, very heavy shelling, gas cleared at 7.30 pm. Telephone wires cut between companies. B Company in Forward Cottage trench relieved by 1 Company of 2nd Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment. Heavy shelling all day, also gas shells”.

Roll of Honour - 28th April 1916

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 18417 Private Archibald THORNE, 24, son of William and Fanny Thorne of Studham (Corbie Communal Cemetery)

Wednesday 27 April 2016

A Successful Raid

Thursday 27th April 1916: Captain Bridcutt, adjutant of the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, tells us that last night they engaged in raid of enemy trenches. Such raids are commonplace and are aimed at destroying sections of enemy trenches, killing enemy soldiers and capturing prisoners for information as well as information gleaned by the raiders themselves. They are also designed to lower the morale of the enemy and to retain command of no man’s land between the two lines of trenches.

We understand that a communiqué has been sent by 54th Infantry Brigade to The Times for publication in a few days’ time. It says: "Last night the Bedfordshire Regiment carried out a very successful raid near Carnoy. The raiding party rushed the trenches and after fierce hand to hand fighting drove the remaining Germans into their dugouts and bombed them there. Our casualties - eight wounded, all brought in. German loss considerable."

The General officer Commanding 54th Infantry Brigade is of opinion that in publishing the name of the Regiment in the newspaper, which up to now has scarcely ever been done, a high honour has been conferred on the Battalion. The British Communiqué has also been published in all French papers.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - 27th April 1916

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: front line near Carnoy
  • 15762 Private Charles Henry EGAN, born Lambeth [London] resided Vauxhall [London] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 3/8588 Private John SHEEN, born and resided Bermondsey [London] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 16555 Private Frederick WHITE born and resided Shefford (Carnoy Military Cemetery)

Tuesday 26 April 2016

More Patrolling in Sinai

Wednesday 26th April 1916: The adjutant of 1st/5th Battalion tells us that a column has returned to Shalufa today after a five day patrol towards Turkish outposts in eastern Sinai.  The column concentrated at Wadi el Haj where the Bedfordshire Regiment met elements of the Camel Corps, Royal Engineers and Royal Army Medical Corps. A post was established at the wadi to protect camel convoys and a signal station was set up to be in contact with Darb el Haj. Another post was set up further east next day near a ruined chapel at Wadi el Tawal, just under half way from Suez to the Turkish garrison at Nekhel. The post consisted of one officer and sixty other ranks. The men were involved in prospecting for water along with convoy protection duties. Trying to get further east was “very slow and hard work for both horse and man owing to the undulating and drifted sand” as the column commander reported.

The next day the column met up with another column to reconnoitre further east. All patrols sent out showed no sign of a Turk anywhere.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 26th April 1916


9th Battalion
  • 29224 Private Robert Lemon LARWOOD, 38, born Gresham [Norfolk], resided East Beckham [Norfolk] (Fort Pitt Military Cemetery, Kent)

Monday 25 April 2016

This Month with the East Anglian Royal Engineers

Tuesday 25th April 1916: During this past month the East Anglian Royal Engineers have been improving the defences of Cité-Calonne just north of Béthune. The work has consisted of construction of concrete machine gun emplacements in the support line and the building of strongpoints and artillery observation posts. They have also been making tunnels to help troops get to the front without running the gauntlet of artillery fire. As if this was not enough they have also been constructing a reserve line running through the houses of Calonne.

Source: WW1/WD3

Sunday 24 April 2016

The Prince of Wales Visits the Troops

HRH Prince of Wales from the British Library

Monday 24th April 1916: The adjutant of the 1st/5th Battalion, currently at Shalufa, on the east bank of the Suez Canal tells us that their corps commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Francis Davies of IX Corps is to visit today. He is accompanying a special visitor – HRH the Prince of Wales(1)

Source: X550/6/8

(1) Later, briefly, Edward VIII.

Roll of Honour - 24th April 1916

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 17677 Sergeant Herbert John FREEMAN born and resided Hartford [Huntingdonshire] (Roselaere Communal Cemetery)
  • 19752 Private Sidney George HIGGINS, 36, born Islington [London], resided Luton, husband of Mabel Walsh (ex-Higgins) of 38 Stanley Street, Luton (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)

Saturday 23 April 2016

Missing in Action and a Suicide

Shortmead Street [Z1130/16/58]

Easter Sunday 23rd April 1916: Mr and Mrs George Cartwright Wells of West’s Yard, Shortmead Street, Biggleswade, have received notification from the Records Office, Warley that their two sons Private Howard A C Wells and Private Frederick C Wells, of the 8th Bedfordshire Regiment, had been reported as missing, place not stated. A comrade, who also hails from Biggleswade, wrote home saying they were missing(1). The brothers Wells are widely known in the Biggleswade district and their many friends hope that their worst fears will not be realised The younger brother, Fred, was formerly in the employ of William Jackson(2) and came home a few weeks ago on leave. The elder brother has been gassed since being at the front. He was formerly engaged on the golf links, was a keen angler and figures on the Cricket Club’s Roll of Honour. The brothers enlisted together in the 8th Beds and after training at Shoreham etc they went to the Continent together and fought at Loos. Much sympathy is felt for the parents and brothers and sisters(3).

On this Easter Sunday we pray that God’s mercy may extend to a wretched suicide. Private Bruce Standley Moseley of 10th Battalion, a conscript and single man from Norfolk hanged himself at Dovercourt yesterday leaving a letter asking people to forgive him for his sins and advising others not to be misled(4).

Source: Bedfordshire Times 12th May 1916; Biggleswade Chronicle 5th May 1916

(1) No doubt in the disaster of 19th April,
(2) A saddler in Shortmead Street
(3) Fortunately both men were prisoners and survived the war.
(4) He is buried in Dovercourt churchyard.

Friday 22 April 2016

The Death of Lieutenant-Colonel Younghusband

Saturday 22nd April 1916: We have learned with regret that Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Younghusband DSO was killed yesterday in Mesopotamia. He came from an old Northumberland family who have always given their sons for service in the army or navy. Owing to the early death of his father, it was thought best that he enter civilian life. This idea not suiting him, he insisted on enlisting in his uncle’s (who had been killed in South Africa) old Regiment, the South Wales Borderers, giving his age as 18 when he was only just 17 years old. A commission was offered him in two years’ time, but he did not see his way clear to accepting it. However, four years later, in 1900, he was gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the Bedfordshires. He saw active service in Jabaland and Somaliland with the King’s African Rifles and in 1901 he distinguished himself by his coolness and resource and management of a maxim-gun in Sanala Zariba. From Somaliland he joined his own regiment, the Bedfords(1), in South Africa. In 1905 he married the eldest daughter of Mr E Thompson-Smith JP, of Colchester (cousin of Mr Geoffrey Howard of Bedford). He again joined the King’s African Rifles in British East Africa(2). In October 1908 he was given his captaincy, while his majority was gazetted September 1st, 1915.

When war broke out he was adjutant of 5th Battalion, Bedfordshires, with which, after a year’s training, he went to the Gallipoli Peninsula, where the 1st/5th Bedfords did so well and earned the name of the “Yellow Devils”. There he won his DSO, for conspicuous bravery on the field of battle and was mentioned in despatches. Having recovered from a wound he took over command of the 7th Gloucesters, being gazetted Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel on January 24th of this year and with them went to Mesopotamia, where he has just been killed in action(3). Twice Major Younghusband has been stationed in Bedford, where all those who knew him loved and respected him. He was a great favourite with his brother officers in all the battalions with which he has served. He leaves a widow and a little girl.

Source: Bedfordshire Times, 5th May 1916

(1) 2nd Battalion
(2) Now Kenya

(3) Part of 39th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. They were trying to relieve the Turkish siege of Kut-el-Amara but failed and Kut surrendered on 29th April. Younghusband has no known grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial. His widow Ethel lived at “Tuggall”, Burke’s Road, Beaconsfield [Buckinghamshire]. He was 39.

Roll of Honour - 22nd April 1916

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 17269 Private Albert John CLARKE, 20, born Clifton [Warwickshire], resided Harpenden [Hertfordshire], son of Thomas and Mary Jane Clarke of Hanging Houghton [Northamptonshire] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)


10th Battalion
  • 28196 Private Bruce Standley MOSELEY, 28,  born Docking [Norfolk] son of Thomas and Emma Moseley of Sutton [Norfolk] (Dovercourt (All Saints) Churchyard)

Thursday 21 April 2016

Memorial Service at the Front

Good Friday 21st April 1916: This Good Friday it seems fitting to quote from a letter written by Corporal Runham of the 1st Bedfords(1): “On Sunday April 16th we had a commemoration service for officers and men of the 1st Norfolk and 1st Bedford Regiments who were killed in action between March 8th and April 16th(2). The service was choral, the choir and divisional band supplying the music. Brigadier-General Turner, commanding the brigade, was present, as were also his staff. Both regiments were well represented, nearly every officer being present, and the hut was packed to its utmost limit. The service was taken by our chaplain and commenced with the singing of Hymn 223(3) “Pilgrims of the Night”. Then came the sermon, the chaplain especially reminding his audience how suddenly the call came to some of them and urging them to repent, pointing out “in the midst of life we are in death”. The whole sermon was followed with rapt attention by everybody. Hymn 231 followed “For ever with the Lord” and then the Gloria. After this came the hymn “Abide with Me”. Immediately the names of those commemorated were read out by an officer of each regiment, the list including the late Corporal Wheatley, well-known to many in Biggleswade and the villages around. The band rendered the Dead March, all standing, and the service ended with the National Anthem. The service was the first of its kind we have had out here and will long live in the memory of some of us, especially as the day was the anniversary of one of our struggles with the enemy, the fight for Hill 60, also a casualty list for both regiments”.

“We are all confidently awaiting the end as we are sure of victory. By no means are we fed up. Neither do we want a patched-up peace, as we know this will mean a repetition of all we have had to contend with”.

(1) Corporal Chris Runham, from 30 Saint John’s Street, Biggleswade, would be killed in action at Arras on 23rd April 1917; he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial
(2) Two officers and two other ranks in the case of the Bedfords

(3) Presumably in Hymns Ancient and Modern

Roll of Honour - 21st April 1916

Killed in Action

1st/5th Battalion
  • Lieutenant-Colonel David YOUNGHUSBAND DSO, 39, mentioned in despatches, commanding 7th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, son of Frederick Barretto and Lilia Younghusband of Weymouth [Dorset]; husband of Ethel of Tuggall, Burkes Road, Beaconsfield [Buckinghamshire] born Nebraska [USA]; formerly adjutant, 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and wounded at Gallipoli (Basra Memorial)

8th Battalion: dugouts near Yser Canal bank
  • 16339 Private Frederick John READ, 26, son of George and Emma Rea of Black Horse Lane, Hitchin [Hertfordshire], husband of Agnes of 3 Westland Road, Knebworth [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)


8th Battalion
  • 17291 Private Stanley JEFFREY born and resided Elmdon [Essex] (Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele)

Wednesday 20 April 2016

8th Bedfords Suffer in a German Attack

20th April 1916: The toll of war has been particularly heavy latterly on the 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.  They were manning front line trenches on the banks of the Ijser Canal near Ypres when the Germans began to bombard their position. After two hours of this the enemy attacked in force and gained a foothold in the Battalion’s trenches. Most of the position is still held and has been reinforced. Three officers – Captain Quilter, Second Lieutenant Cartwright and Second Lieutenant McMichael are reported killed, three more – Second Lieutenant Vipond, Second Lieutenant Player and Second Lieutenant Charles wounded and Second Lieutenant Squier is missing, presumed killed. 32 other ranks were killed, 97 are reported as missing believed killed and 65 are wounded(1). As the 8th Battalion has now been relieved it is hoped that a counterattack by another battalion will be successful in regaining the lost trenches(2).

We have heard details of the death of one of the men. Private Charles Ellingham from 25 Spring Place, Luton, was the youngest of six sons and his chum, Private J Bransome told us that the dug-out in which Private Ellingham was sheltering received a direct hit and was destroyed during the bombardment(3). In civilian life he was employed by sugar boilers Custance and Sons in Chapel Street.

Sources: X550/9/1; Luton News 11th May 1916

(1) In fact a considerable number of the 97 missing seem to have bene taken prisoner.
(2) 1st King’s Shropshire Light Infantry drove the Germans out of the Bedfords’ former trenches on 21st April.
(3) His body was never found and may still lie in the wrecked dug-out.

Roll of Honour - 20th April 1916

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: successful German attack on the canal bank front line trenches near Ypres
  • 17322 Private Arthur John BIRD born and resided Walthamstow [Essex] (memorial in Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 22017 Private Stanley Thomas BURR born and resided Holwell [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17217 Private James FULLER, 30,son of Charles and Sophia Brand of Railway Cottages, Shippea Hill Station, Burnt Fen [Cambridgeshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 13863 Private Charles Bertie NUNN, 27, born and resided Hoddesdon [Hertfordshire], husband of Martha Elizabeth Abrahart (ex-Nunn) of 91 Saint Loys Road, Tottenham [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 19870 Private George REDMAN born London, resided Croxton [Cambridgeshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16610 Private Owen Thomas ROBINSON, 21, son of G and Martha Robinson of Thorncote Road, Northill (Essex Farm Cemetery)
  • 17441 Private Harry SALLABANKS, 21, son of John and Alice Sallabanks of Lug Farm, Ramsey Hollow [Huntingdonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 18576 Private Horace SARGENT, 18, son of George William Sargent of Sharpenhoe, born Lavendon [Buckinghamshire], resided Turvey (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 19753 Private George Edward SMEED, 27, born Islington [London], resided Barnsbury [London], son of Charles and Elizabeth Smeed, husband of Florence Ellen Remington (ex-Smeed) of 40 Vittoria Street, Barnsbury Road, Islington (memorial in Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 16449 Sergeant Ernest Leonard STILWELL, 32, husband of Lucy of Lynton Villa, Dean Road, South Merstham [Surrey] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 15622 Private Alfred Ernest TASSELL, 25, born Bassingbourn [Cambridgeshire], son of Fred Tassell of Causeway Road, Kneesworth [Hertfordshire] (Bedford House Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 16363 Private Frank THRUSSELL born Finsbury [Middlesex] resided Royston [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 3/7789 Private Frank John TUNGATE born and resided Willseden [Middlesex] (memorial at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 20426 Private Bert WARD, 21, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Ward of East Street, Olney [Buckinghamshire] (memorial at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 3/8490 Private Leonard COOTE, born Flamstead [Hertfordshire] resided Markyate [Hertfordshire] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)
  • 16604 Private Frederick James SMART, 32, son of George and Mary Smart of Green End, Kempston Rural (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Sidney James VIPOND, 24, son of James and Jane Ann Vipond of Chemlsford [Essex] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)


3rd Battalion
  • 10871 Private Henry BOWLES, 18, born Fenstanton [Huntingdonshire], son of Mr and Mrs Bowles of 9 Cottage, Knapwell [Cambridgeshire] (Felixstowe New Cemetery)

Tuesday 19 April 2016

The Official Magazine of the 4th Bedfordshire Regiment

Lieutenant T J Pemberton

Wednesday 19th April 1916: We received from the Committee the April number of The Hart the official magazine of the 4th Bedfordshire Regiment(1) and we congratulate editor Corporal J F Watt on the issue for it abounds with interesting matter. The Hart is issued with the object of raising funds for the benefit of prisoners of war and widows and orphans of the Bedfordshire Regiment. Sold at 2d monthly it can be obtained post-free of “The Hart”, 4th Beds, Felixstowe at 1/9 per quarter. The April number contains a fine cartoon “How Kulture Came to Us” by John Hassall, an excellent photo of the members of the 4th Beds Officers Mess and an interesting article on “the stone walls of England” by Lieutenant T J Pemberton(2)

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 21st April 1916

(1) The Battalion had been the old Hertfordshire Militia
(2) lance Sergeant John Frank Watt, from Croydon in Surrey would be killed in action on 13th November; he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. 

Roll of Honour - 19th April 1916

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: front line trenches near Carnoy
  • 14121 Private George WILLIAMS, born Melbourne [Australia], resided Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)

8th Battalion: successful German attack on the canal bank front line trenches near Ypres
  • 29323 Private Ernest ANNIS, born Shelton, resided Kimbolton [Huntingdonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16303 Private Thomas Henry ARCHER, born Saint Pancras [London] resided Camden Town [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 22277 Private William Henry ATKIN, born and resided Bedford (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17886 Private George Edwin BAKER Clerkenwell [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 10435 Private Edward Cecil BANKS, 18, B Company, son of Lieutenant H C and Mrs B Banks of 15 Evelyn Terrace, Richmond [Surrey], born Kensington [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16247 Lance Corporal Arthur BARKER, 24, son of J Barker of 58 Munster Road, Fulham [London], born in Clapham [London] (New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 17373 Private Arthur BRANDON, born and resided Watford [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17297 Private Francis Frank BROWN, 30, B Company, born Hitchin [Hertfordshire] resided Charlton [Hertfordshire], son of Frank and Emma Brown, husband of Fanny Frances of 7 Parcel's Place. Bucklersbury [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 20983 Private William BRUNT, 24, son of Arthur and Ellen Blunt of Upper Caldecote (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 20281 Private Arthur BUSBY born Marston Moretaine, resided Marston Shelton (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Charles CARTWRIGHT (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 20892 Private Samuel CHALKLEY, born and resided Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (memorial at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 17276 Private William CHAPMAN, born and resided Stotfold (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17177 Private William John COOPER, 22, son of Arthur and Anne Sarah Cooper of Flint Lodge, Hatfield Hyde [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 20172 Private Albert George COX, born Sundon, resided Lower Sundon (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 14887 Private Herbert George DRAKE, 22, son of George and Eliza, born and resided Gilston [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 22216 Private Reginald Charles EATON, 19, son of Joseph Charles and Miriam Louisa Eaton of 57 Brown's Wood Cottage, Oakley (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 22462 Private Charles ELLINGHAM, born and resided Luton (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 27077 Corporal Sydney ESSEX, 26, son of James and Charlotte Essex of 30 Oxford Street, Leamington Spa [Warwickshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 19412 Private Robert Francis FARMER, born Bromley [London] resided Bow [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 14883 Lance Corporal Thomas Charles FORDHAM born Tewin [Hertfordshire] (memorial at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 15954 Private Sidney Albert FOSTER, 30, son of John Thomas and Hephzibah Foster of 55 Scawen Road, Deptford [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17300 Private Herbert Frank FRANCIS, 21, son of David and Sarah of Merstham [Surrey] (Essex Farm Cemetery)
  • 22463 Private Walter Reginald GATWARD, 30, son of Thomas Gatward of Therfield [Hertfordshire], husband of Daisy Florence of The Crow, Royston [Hertfordshire], resided Biggleswade (Essex Farm Cemetery)
  • 17426 Private Arthur GENTLE, born and resided Baldock [Hertfordshire](North Irish Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 19854 Lance Corporal Frederick Horace GOODWIN, born and resided Ampthill (Essex Farm Cemetery)
  • 22505 Private Walter Ernest GORE, 27, son of Albert and Elizabeth Gore of 32 Saint Ann's Road, Luton; husband of Florence Dennis (ex-Gore) (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17416 Private William GROOM, 23, son of G and S Groom of 4 Grosvenor Road, Saint Albans [Hertfordshire], born Dunstable, resided Eaton Bray (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 14349 Private Arthur HAWKINS, born and resided Letchmoor Heath [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 22034 Private Samuel HEDGE, 29,son of Stephen and Matilda Hedge of Toseland  [Huntingdonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • Private John HOLDING, 41, husband of Hephzibah of Alconbury [Huntingdonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 20584 Private George James HOWARD, 27, husband of K Howard of Little Wymondley [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16407 Private Cornelius Charles HOWES, born and resided King's Ripton [Huntingdonshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17121 Private Bertie Amos HOWLETT, 27, son of J Howlett of Ivy Cottage, Cobden Hill, Radlett [Hertfordshire], born Potter's Crouch [Hertfordshire], resided Boreham Wood [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16412 Private Herbert HURRY, 25, son of Alice and William Hurry of Chipping [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16075 Private William Walter JOSSLYN, 20, B Company, born Clapham [London], son of Walter Robert and Fanny Josslyn of Broadway, Glemsford [Suffolk] (memorial at Essex Farm Cemetery)
  • 20252 Private Edward LAMAN, 39, son of George Edward Laman, born Holborn [London], husband of Elizabeth of High Street, Harston [Cambridgeshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 12800 Lance Corporal George LAMBERT, 26, son of George Lambert of 32 Melboune Street, Bedford (memorial at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 18830 Private Horace LOVELL, 19, born Emberton [Buckinghamshire] son of Mrs W Lovell of Turvey Lodge Cottage (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 19944 Private John MARLOW born and resided Luton (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 19965 Private Albert Lewis NORTH, 37, born Lambeth [London] resided Walworth [London], husband of Alice of 43 Delarch Buildings, Webber Row, Blackfriars [London], enlisted 1915 (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 19878 Private Ernest Arthur PERRY, 19, born Edmonton [Middlesex] son of Edward Perry of 5 Warley Road, Lower Edmonton [Middlesex] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • Temporary Captain Roy Molyneux QUILTER, 27, son of John S FRIBA and Sarah Amelia Willis Quilter of 2 Ashurst Gardens, Tulse Hill [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 12966 Private Frederick RANDALL, born Brighton [Sussex] resided Croxley Green [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 20043 Private Archibald ROBINSON, 20, son of Saunders and Elizabeth Robinson of Green End Road, Great Barford, born Bedford (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17059 Corporal John SABERTON, 24, son of John and Naomi Saberton of Ely [Cambridgeshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 3/8705 Private Fred Thomas SHARP, born and resided Luton (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 20038 Private Ernest Edward SHAW, born Queenstown [Australia] resided Camberwell [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 19877 Private William David SHAW, born Brisbane [Australia] resided Camberwell [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 19675 Private Edward George STANDEVEN born Bloomsbury [London], resided Holloway [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16689 Private Arthur STONE, 31, son of George and Harriet Stone of 248 Holly Bush Row, Hemel Hempstead [Hertfordshire], resided Boxmoor [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16836 Private Edward TAYLOR, 18, son of Charles and Minnie Taylor of Page's Farm, Debden Green [Essex], born Leystonstone, his brother Fred also fell (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 17443 Private Joseph WEBB, 35, born Codicote [Hertfordshire], resided Cotton End (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 15868 Private Frank WEEDEN, 28, son of Mary Ewington of Holly Cottage, King's Walden [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 17412 Lance Corporal William Henry WHITE, 19, born Warrington [Cheshire], son of William Henry and Lily White of 27 Northgate Road, Stoneycroft [Lancashire] (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)
  • 16675 Private Benjamin James WOOD born and resided Clerkenwell [London] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)
  • 16065 Lance Corporal Archibald Charles WRIGHT, 20, born Brickendon [Hertfordshire], son of C Wright of Red House, Wormley [Hertfordshire] (Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres)

10th Battalion
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Harry Anderton SQUIER, attached 8th Battalion (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)


3rd Battalion
  • 22921 Private Henry WHITBY, 16, born Pidley [Huntingdonshire], son of Charles and Elizabeth Whitby of Ramsey Road, Warboys [Huntingdonshire] (Warboys Church Cemetery)

Monday 18 April 2016

Military Medal for Maurice Winch

Military Medal

Tuesday 18th April 1916: Private Maurice A Winch, A Company, 1st Bedfords, of Welwyn, has won the Military Medal. Private Winch, a sergeant(1) and an officer(2) volunteered to see that certain barbed wire entanglements were in order. They lost their way in the darkness and found themselves getting into German trenches. The Germans opened fire on them. The officer was shot through the chest and only lived about five minutes. They carried him under heavy fire until he died. They got into an unused trench until it was light, afterwards making their way back. Private Winch has been twice wounded, once during trench digging and once at Hill 60. He was among the first company of men to join at a Codicote meeting at the outbreak of war.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 21st April 1916

(1) Edward Quince, from Sandy who also got the MM
(2) Lieutenant Whittemore
(3) This incident took place on 29th March. See blog entry for 30th March.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Biggleswade Soldier Wants to be in at the Death

Biggleswade High Street [Z1130/16/21]

Monday 17th April 1916: Sergeant W J Franklin, a Biggleswade man, who was badly wounded at Ypres while serving with the “Brave Bedfords” is now in a Garrison Battalion in Egypt(1) writes as follows to a friend: “Myself and Charlie Brown (another old Bedford) send our best wishes. Things are about the same here, nothing doing, no fighting at all. I don’t think that they will attack Egypt, if they do they will be in for it proper. We shall give them a good reception. Glad the scheme of presentation to Chris Lincoln (another old Bedford who was wounded at Loos) is successful. It shows that the people of Biggleswade appreciate what their fellow townspeople have done. I suppose the old town is quite military now, owing to the Group System. I think the job will soon be finished now but I should like to be in at the death. All the excitement we get here is a sandstorm now and again. It just comes along like a bank of fog travelling at 80 miles and hour and before you can say “When” it is on you. Nice thing, just as you are going to have dinner, just like going in for a good peppering. Charlie is on guard duty, we do 24 hours at a time, but nothing hard to speak of. We are ready again should they want us and we don’t mind when or where it is. I give about three months to finish the war. Germany is about done and I and a good many more expect them to collapse very shortly, financially and be hopelessly beaten”.

“You ought to see the Indian cavalry here. They are a fine body of men. I pity the Turks if they once get round them”.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 7th April 1916

(1) All three Bedfordshire Regiment Garrison Battalions were in Asia and so this must have been with a different Regiment. Garrison battalions were made up of men who were not fit for front line duty but could still be useful in policing and other ancillary duties and could fight at a pinch. 

Roll of Honour - 17th April 1916

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line trenches around The Willows near Ypres
  • 16677 Sergeant Thomas GRIFFITH born Fulham [London] resided Westminster [London] (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Douglas William MCMICHAEL, 23, son of W McMichael of Nene Cottage, Oundle [Northamptonshire] (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)

Saturday 16 April 2016

Patrols Return to the Suez Canal

Sunday 16th April 1916: On 10th April, as readers may remember, patrols were sent out by 1st/5th Battalion towards Turkish outposts in Sinai. Yesterday the patrols returned and their activities are detailed below.

On 10th four officers and one hundred men accompanied a camel convoy to Darb-el-Haj, taking five and a half hours to reach that place, where they bivouacked for the night. The next day they marched to Wadi-el-Hagge, being joined en-route by the Middlesex Yeomanry. On 13th the yeomanry captured three Turkish prisoners which they handed over to the Bedfords’ column. The column started back to Shalufa the next day and arrived back yesterday, without casualties.

Source: X550/6/8

Friday 15 April 2016

With an Entrenching Battalion

Saturday 15th April 1916: Private C Lees, formerly one of the Duke of Bedford’s Regiment(1), writing from the front says: “We are attached to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion – 35 of us from the last draft from Ampthill – but we are not certain how long we will be here, as we have to join our regiment, the 8th Bedfords, as soon as they want us. We are at present stationed about four miles from the firing line, marching up to the reserve trenches in the morning, then back again in the afternoon. German big shells and shrapnel have been bursting in the next field to where we have been working today, so you can guess that it has been a bit exciting. There is not much danger here, unless, of course, we happen to get in the way of these shells. We have to wash in a brook that runs near the camp. It is a lot different from good old Ampthill Camp out here, but not at all bad considering we are in Belgium”.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 7th April 1916

(1) The unofficial nickname for soldiers enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment and training at Ampthill Camp 

Thursday 14 April 2016

On Board Ship

HMS Russell LOC LC-DIG-ggbain-21816.jpg
HMS Russell from Wikipedia

Friday 14th April 1916: We have received a cheery note from Private C. A. Thompson, Royal Marine Light Infantry, who says there are four “Bedfords” on HMS Russell , a painter, a baker and a stoker besides himself who helps to man the guns. They saw the evacuation at Cape Helles and it was a sight they will never forget.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 21st April 1916

(1) a pre-dreadnought battleship of 1903 the Russell weighed around 15,000 tons. She was named after Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford, commander-in-chief of the navy in the last years of the 17th century. The ship struck a mine not long after this letter was written – 27th April, and slowly sank off Malta. Only 125 of her 720 crew were lost. Coincidentally, Second World war Admiral of the Fleet John Cunningham was one of those who escaped – he lived in Ampthill in retirement and was a Deputy Lieutenant for Bedfordshire.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Bedfords Fighting Amongst Themselves.

Thursday 13th April 1916: At the moment both the 2nd Battalion, of 30th Division, and the 7th Division of 18th Division are at Grovetown Camp on the Somme. To celebrate this, a boxing tournament was held yesterday, the senior battalion winning by three victories to two. However, at football the 7th Battalion proved more agile winning by three goals to nil (1)

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) In May 1918 the 7th Battalion would be disbanded and its soldiers added to the 2nd Battalion which had suffered severely in the German offensive, the 2nd Battalion moving from 30th to 18th Division.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

In the Balkans

Biggleswade High Street [Z1130/16/21]

Wednesday 12th April 1916: Private Albert Bygraves, formerly machine gunner in the 2nd Bedfords, who was wounded at Ypres and is now in the Balkans(1) writes home to his mother at Langford. “I joined this regiment in November 1915 and we were called upon to relieve a regiment at a position 3,500 feet above sea level. We endured terrible hardships owing to the intense cold and lost a great number of men through frostbite. In December we were attacked by the Bulgars and owing to their overwhelming numbers had to retire after inflicting heavy losses on them(2). Our machine gun, which I was serving, played an active part in checking the enemy. Our casualties were two men and our Machine Gun Officer, whom we all adored. After expending all our ammunition we were successful in getting our gun and tripod out of action(3). We endured some strenuous marching and hardships. We were glad to get water from pools on the march as drinking water was not available. I must say myself and Privates J. Dennis and H. Day have undergone some terrible struggles between life and death during this campaign. It would be a lesson to those who have not taken part in the great struggle to see how we British boys endure hardships without complaining. We are always laughing and joking, no matter under what circumstances we are placed. The sooner all available young men come along and help us the quicker the end of this crisis will come”(4)

Source: Bedfordshire Times 21st April 1916

(1) Three British divisions were stationed in the Balkans, no battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment served on the front where disease was rife.
(2) The Battle of Kosturino, in Serbia, from  6th to 12th December 1916 where the Bulgarian 2nd Army attacked the 10th (Irish) Division. The Irish lost 1,500 men and 8 guns and retreated into Greece.
(3) the Vickers 0.303 machine gun was on top of a tripod
(4) The Register of Absent Voters for 1918 tells us that Albert John Byrgaves, of Langford Road, Biggleswade, was a private in 5th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, part of 29th Brigade of 10th Division.