Thursday 30 June 2016

Preparations for the Great Offensive and Prodigals Return

Friday 30th June 1916: We have had good news from the 2nd Battalion. Corporal Thurgood and Privates Sutton, Palmer, Humbles and Gray have returned after 24 hours in the German Lines. It had been feared yesterday that they had been captured.

The adjutant of the 7th Battalion tells us that they are now concentrated in trenches of 54 Brigade Battle Front. The Bedfords, with 11th Royal Fusiliers will lead the attack tomorrow morning, with 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment in support 12th Middlesex Regiment in reserve. B and C Companies will occupy the forming up trenches with two platoons in each trench. D Company will be in support and A Company in reserve. The Battalion has been at Picquigny, well behind the lines, in recent weeks, painstakingly practising attacks over very similar ground to that they will assault tomorrow, which can only help them in the din, smoke and confusion of battle.

They have three objectives – the German front line system with support trenches; the German second line including a strongpoint known as the Pommiers Redoubt on the main road from Mametz to Montauban and a line well to the rear of the German lines overlooking a place called Caterpillar Valley.

The troops will be expected to be very close to the bombardment of the German positions, within 100 yards if possible. In this way immediately the guns lift in order to bombard the German second line, the troops can quickly get to the German first line before the defenders can man their positions. As the adjutant tells us: The closer the barrage is followed the greater the possibility of success”. To this end the troops will be out in no man’s land when the German front line is being bombarded and not simply waiting in their own trenches as there is some distance between the two sets of front lines.

The Royal Flying Corps will be overhead to determine how the advance is going.  Each Battalion will have a supply of red flares. One flare must be carried by each man. One special signalling lamp, one panel and one ground signal will also be taken. The ground signal will be put out as soon as Battalion Headquarters reaches its new position in the captured German lines.

Each man will carry: a rifle and equipment less the pack, which is to be left behind so that its weight does not impede swift movement. Also to be carried: one ammunition bandolier making 170 rounds carried in all (except for grenadiers who, carrying grenades, will only have 50 rounds); one day’s ration and one iron ration; one waterproof sheet; two empty sandbags and two smoke helmets.

With such a large attack in the offing we have decided to report as much as we can on the day it happens from reporters with each of our units in the field. We will thus be delaying out reports until 6 pm, London time (7 pm in France) from tomorrow, 1st July.

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

Roll of Honour - 30th June 1916

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line near Maricourt
  • 18534 Private Albert Ernest CHILDERLEY, born and resided Eaton Socon (Cérisy-Gailly Military Cemetery)

6th Battalion: Bienvillers
  • 12250 Private Reginald FRANKLIN, born Chalton, son of Mrs M Hammett of 45a Windsor Road, Luton (Bienvillers Military Cemetery)


1st Garrison Battalion
  • 24152 Private Ernest Edward BOTTING, ex-3/14815 East Surrey Regiment, born West Dean [Sussex], resided Epsom [Surrey] (Delhi War Cemetery)

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Attack Postponed

Second Lieutenant Fink [X550/1/81]

Thursday 29th June 1916: Something the adjutant of the 2nd Battalion let slip today tells us the great push on the Somme should have begun this morning. However, it has been very wet for the past two days, so the ground was not optimum for a speedy advance. This suggests a couple of days will be allowed for the ground to dry which further suggests that the attack may begin on or around 1st July.

Second Lieutenant L. H. Walker and ten men carried out a very successful reconnaissance of the enemy lines during the night. The patrol penetrated into enemy support line and returned with very useful information. Second Lieutenant  L. A. Fink and twelve men also reconnoitred then enemy front line trenches. Unfortunately Corporal Thurgood and six men lost touch and did not return which probably means they have been captured.

Source: X550/3/wd

Second Lieutenant L. H. Walker [X550/1/81]

Roll of Honour - 29th June 1916

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line near Maricourt
  • 9272 Private Harry BACCHUS, born and resided Luton (Cérisy-Gailly Military Cemetery)
  • 8838 Sergeant Augustus Henry LAYCOCK MM, 29, born Plumstead [London], son of Henry Laycock of Gillingham [Kent] (Cérisy-Gailly Military Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
  • 9495 Sergeant Edwin BARBER, 23, son of John and Mary Jane Barber of Northwood End, Haynes (Avesnes-le-Comte Communal Cemetery Extension)


1st/5th Battalion
  • 3629 Private Henry George CUSTANCE, 21, son of Sarah Ann Custance of 15 King's Road, Luton (Suez War Memorial Cemetery)

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Thinning Out the Ranks

Wednesday 28th June 1916: As the bombardment of the German lines continues on the Somme, the adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, at Maricourt, reports that the Germans have been replying powerfully, bombarding our front lines. So effective has this German barrage been that two companies of the Bedfords have been withdrawn to allow the 17th and 20th Battalions, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment to thin out their ranks. They were crowded together in the front line ready to advance at the moment decided by high command but the heavy German shelling wounded 120 of them during the night and early morning. To judge by this it seems as if the 2nd Battalion will not be one of those units making the initial assault but will, rather be in support, which should lessen the number of casualties suffered.

Source: X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - 28th June 1916

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 7612 Company Sergeant Major Percy CHANDLER, 31, son of William and Jane Chandler of Spaldwick [Huntingdonshire] (Dive Copse British Cemetery, Sailly-le-Sec)


1st/5th Battalion
  • 5349 Private Herbert LEWIN, 38, husband of Amelia of 33 Brunswick Street, Luton (Suez War Memorial Cemetery)

Monday 27 June 2016

Death Comes to the Feast

Second Lieutenant R L V Doake [X550/1/82]

Tuesday 27th June 1916: The adjutant of 7th Battalion reports that the British bombardment continued yesterday but the Germans were also active, retaliating heavily on the British lines near Carnoy. One German shell fell in C Company Officers’ Mess, killing Second Lieutenants Baden and Hasler and wounding Captain Clegg and Second Lieutenants Doake and Johnson(1)

Source: X550/8/1

(1) Evelyn Walter James Johnson died of wounds on 20th July 1916 and is buried Saint-Sever Cemetery, Rouen, aged 19

Roll of Honour - 27th June 1916

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: front line near Carnoy
  • 20612 Private Leonard GRAY, 39, born and resided Bishop's Stortford [Hertfordshire], son of Lawrence and Louisa Gray (Cérisy-Gailly Military Cemetery)
  • 3/8156 Sergeant Albert Edward HAYNES, 29, attached trench mortar battery, son of Andrew and Alice Haynes of  Little Berkhamstead [Hertfordshire] (Crnoy MIlitary Cemetery)
  • 14819 Private Charles STOKES, 21, C Company, born Nailsea [Somerset], son of Charles and Sarah Ann Stokes of Oaklands, Wraxall [Somerset] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

6th Battalion
  • 17735 Lance Corporal Bertie RUTLAND, 27, born Roxton, resided Chawston, son of John and Jane Rutland of Roxton, husband of Martha May of Willow Dene, Clapham (Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty)

Sunday 26 June 2016

A Good Raid

Dennis P Cross [X550/1/81]

Monday 26th June 1916: The 2nd Battalion are at Maricourt on the Somme. All day yesterday our guns were bombarding enemy positions ahead  of the big push which everyone realises is coming. At 11.15 last night a party of two officers and forty nine other ranks carried out a raid on the enemy's lines opposite. It was quite a success, all the party returning to our lines safely and capturing one wounded prisoner. Six of our men were wounded, one has been temporarily blinded by the flash of a shell and one was given a nasty gash by getting tangled up in barbed wire.

The divisional commander, Major-General Shea has sent the following message: “Hearty congratulations on your success of last night due to careful and thorough preparation. I am very pleased. Please thank Officers and men”. The names of the raiding party are as follows:

  • 2/Lieutenant G. A  Anstee
  • 2/Lieutenant D. P. Cross 24th August 1918
  • No 10270 Pte Barker W. "B" Company 11th July 1916 kia
  • No 20905 Pte Bean A. "A" Company 12th October 1916 kia
  • No 4/4964 Pte Bennett J. "C" Company
  • No 9387 L/Cpl Boyce F. "A" Company 11th August 1916 dow
  • No 18639 Pte Bristow W. "C" Company
  • No 9646 Pte Cann F. "D" Company
  • No 3/7234 A/Cpl Cannon E. "A" Company
  • No 17572 Pte Church W. "B" Company
  • No 10731 L/Cpl Clark C. "D" Company
  • No 13082 Pte Cleaver W. "D" Company
  • No 18600 Pte Cleeve J. "D" Company 12th October 1916 kia
  • No 9931 Sergt Compton P. "A" Company 21st September 1918 kia
  • No 18550 L/Cpl Dawson F. "A" Company
  • No 20973 Pte Dawson W.A. "C" Company 4th July 1916 dow
  • No 10060 Pte Fairweather C. "D" Company 11th July 1916 kia
  • No 18817 L/Cpl Fynn D. "A" Company
  • No 9178 Pte Fynn L. "C" Company 30th July 1916 kia
  • No 9726 Pte Gilbey A. "D" Company
  • No 18180 Pte Gray H. "C" Company
  • No 6584 Pte Gurdler A. "A" Company
  • No 17754 Pte Hall C. "B" Company
  • No 17590 Pte Hands T. "C" Company
  • No 21156 Pte Henry J. "A" Company
  • No 7198 Pte Higgins H. "B" Company
  • No 9700 Pte Hoval J. "B" Company
  • No 10016 A/Cpl Howard A. "B" Company
  • No 17738 Pte Jarman H. "B" Company
  • No 21168 Pte Kidd J. "A" Company 25th June 1918 kia
  • No 6542 Pte Marrables J. "C" Company
  • No 9578 L/Cpl Mason A. "D" Company
  • No 9891 L/Cpl Mee A. "B" Company
  • No 9022 Pte Milliard A, "B" Company
  • No 9212 Sergt Nicholls.H. "D" Company
  • No 4/6813 Pte Osborne E. "A" Company
  • No 4/7476 Pte Osborne P. "D" Company
  • No 3/7372 Pte Poole G. "C" Company
  • No 4/6655 Pte Reed H. "B" Company 11th July 1916 kia
  • No 13050 Pte Sams A. "D" Company 23rd October 1918 kia
  • No 9818 L/Cpl Seagrave H. "A" Company
  • No 10226 Pte Senior F. "D" Company
  • No 21090 Pte Sharp E. "C" Company
  • No 9759 L/Sgt Simons S. "C" Company
  • No 17923 Pte Sinfield A. "D" Company
  • No 9909 L/Sgt Smith L. "B" Company 30th July 1916 kia
  • No 14429 Pte Staughton E. "D" Company
  • No 10797 Pte Stratton F. "A" Company
  • No 9757 L/Cpl Thorogood A. "C" Company
  • No 3/7644 Pte Waldock D. "C" Company
  • No 21050 Pte Walker A. "A" Company
  • No 7017 Pte Wood B "C" Company(1)

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) Of these the following twelve did not live to see the end of the war: Private W Barker was killed in action on 11th July 1916 ; Private A Bean was killed in action on 12th October 1916; Lance Corporal Boyce died of wounds on 11th August 1916; Private J Cleeve was killed in action on 12th October 1916; Sergeant Compton was killed in action on 21st September 1918; Private Dawson died of wounds on 4th July 1916; Private Fairweather was killed in action on 11th July 1916; Private L Flynn was killed in action on 30th July 1916; Private Kidd was killed in action on 25th June 1918; Private Reed was killed in action on 11th July 1916; Private Sams was killed in action on 23rd October 1918; Lance Sergeant Smith was killed in action on 30th July 1916.

Roll of Honour - 26th June 1916

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line near Maricourt
  • 18729 Private Walter Frederick BODDY, C Company, born Saint Pancras [London], son of John George and Mary Boddy of Kentish Town [London], husband of Elizabeth of 126 Weedington Road, Kentish Town (Cérisy-Gailly Military Cemetery)

7th Battalion: shell fell on C Company's Officers' Mess in front line near Carnoy as well as other areas
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Reginald BADEN, 23, son of Herbert Edwin and Blanche Ada Baden of 5 Grange Road, Ealing [Middlesex] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 19537 Private Richard Edward BALDOCK, born and resided Warboys [Huntingdonshire] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 15737 Lance Corporal Arthur James BLOOMFIELD, 21, son of William Edward and Mary A Bloomfield of 45 Sutherland Street, Pimlico [London] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 13794 Sergeant Frank BUNCE, born and resided Watford [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 3/7993 Private Henry Sidney MORTIMER born Forton [Hampshire], resided Greenwich [London] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 22056 Private John PAVEY, 28, son of Frederick G and Emily Pavey of 58 Liverpool Road, Watford [Hertfordshire], husband of Mabel of 37 Saint Mary's Road, Watford (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 15550 Sergeant Richard John TYERS, 28, born Watford [Hertfordshire], husband of Mary Elizabeth of 136 Villiers Road, Oxhey [Hertfordshire], son of Eliza Tyers (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 16511 Private Andrew WILLIAMSON, born Walthamstow [Essex], residec Kimpton [Hertfordshire] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)

9th Battalion: shell fell on Officers' Mess of C Company, 7th Battalion in front line near Carnoy
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Gordon Beverley HASLER, attached 7th Battalion, 19, son of John and Jessie Hasler of 68 Lonsdale Road, Barnes [Surrey] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

6th Battalion
  • 14307 Private Joseph Henry WOOLLARD, 22, D Company, born Stopsley, son of Joseph and Margaret Woollard of 57 Lyndhurst Road, Luton (Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty)

Saturday 25 June 2016

Feelings of a Fed-Up Sapper

Sunday 25th June 1916: We understand that a massive “push” is about to take place somewhere in France, so it may be a while before we can print much about our boys in other parts of the World. With this in mind we print the following amusing letter from Sergeant Burrell, 1st/2nd Field Company, East Anglian Royal Engineers, who is stationed in Egypt.

With the thermometer at 120 degrees and the flies about 300 times that amount, the noble, sweat-clad sapper prepares to face another day, and Sunday at that, on the golden desert, the same desert that attracts holiday-makers or sightseers. How will he spend his day? His stock of literature is exhausted, even to the labels of the jam tins. His constant practice of face-gazing in the tent enables him to recognise his fellow sapper opposite him, even in the dark, at a fair range. If he was not a soldier he could probably spend an hour conjuring up in his mind as to how he shall satisfy his hunger. But being a sapper he knows only too well what his midday meal consists of, even for days ahead, for it is all stored in his own air-tight larder round the tent pole – some peach, some apricot. The essence of vulgarity in the jam sense?

What about botany? Well he could become a botanist, but do do that he must also be a professional pedestrian, as the nearest weed would probably loom up some 20 or 30 miles away. If he was given to writing, he could possibly produce and ode to the desert. But, there, the desert gets called enough names as it is.

No, he must content himself more locally. Why not classify his kit? Pooh! He knows the exact number of buckles on his equipment and their respective uses by heart. He knows to a fraction how much wool it took to make his socks; in fact the kit complete has been through it in the like manner. Something entirely new is necessary. They say necessity is the mother of invention. Not so, however, or the British army would be full to overflowing with Edisons. He may feel inclined to sing, but there are seven others in the tent besides himself and a mess-tin is made to fit the eye of the offender in these cases.

And so it goes on from day to day and week to week, and I suppose it will be year to year the same exciting, nerve-racking mode of living, until one by one of these poor sappers drop off, some into old age or senile decay, while others are tortured with magic visions of gilt-edged discharge sheets, or trips to their homeland.

You will see one engaged in a serious rehearsal of home-coming, see him embrace his dear ones. But unfortunately the fellow beside him objects to being hugged while in possession of a mess-tinful of scalding tea and immediately brings the offender from his day-dreams with the arc of his boot.

Hence the arrival of the hospital cart and the departure of another sapper, and consequently more room in the tent and something exciting to talk about.

Source: Luton News 29th June 1916

Roll of Honour - 25th June 1916

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line near Maricourt
  • 17803 Private George Henry SEABROOK, 23, born Croxley Green [Hertfordshire], son of Jane Seabrook of 27 Souldern Street, Watford [Hertfordshire] (Cérisy-Gailly Military Cemetery)

6th Battalion: Bienvillers
  • 12866 Lance Corporal Stanley Herbert LEETE, 21,son of Ernest and Mary Leete of 57 Walsworth Road, Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (Bienvillers Military Cemetery)
  • 17821 Private John Crossford RISELEY, born Huntingdon, resided Papworth Everard [Cambridgeshire] (Bienvillers Military Cemetery)

7th Battalion: front line near Carnoy
  • 18154 Private Frederick John EVANS, husband of L M Evans of 24 Upper Heath Road, Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 15643 Private James Edward ILES, born North Kensington [London], resided Willesden [Middlesex] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)
  • 19564 Private John PEPPER, born Padley [Lincolnshire], resided Great Whyte [Huntingdonshire] (Carnoy Military Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

6th Battalion
  • 17161 Private Thomas Frederick HARRIS, 28, D Company, born Bricket Wood [Hertfordshire], resided Slip End, husband of Annie E Cooper (ex-Harris) of 22 Vernon Drive, Harefield [Middlesex] (Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty)
  • 17600 Private Alexander MCLAREN, born Knightsbridge [London], resided Leytonstone [Essex], husband of A J McLaren of 64 Driffield Road, Bow [London] (Bienvillers Military Cemetery)
  • 18221 Private Watson Heathcote PAYNE, born and resided Saint Albans [Hertfordshire], husband of F M Payne of 30 Bell Lane, Stoke [Suffolk] (Bienvillers Military Cemetery)


Battalion Unknown
  • Private A H ISAAC (Ashford Cemetery)

Friday 24 June 2016

From the Firing Line

Saturday 24th June 1916: Private Fred Pressland of the Bedfordshire Regiment, a former solo boy of Saint John’s church choir and a well-known employee at Biggleswade Brewery(1) writes from the British Base to his brothers at Newton and says: "In answer to your welcome letter which I received on Monday I am being moved from here, but will write as soon as I can. I suppose we are going to have a look at the Germans, but I hope to come out all right. They have only given us about five minutes’ notice”(2)

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 23rd June 1916

(1) Wells and Winch Limited – take over by Greene King in 1961
(2) it sounds as if Private Pressland was in a battalion to be engaged in the opening phases of the Battle of the Somme – either 7th or 2nd.

Roll of Honour - 24th June 1916


1st Garrison Battalion
  • 23852 Private Henry CHAPLIN, 27, ex-8260 Royal Sussex Regiment, son of William and Annie Chaplin of South Hill Park, Bracknell [Berkshire] (Landour General Cemetery, India)

Thursday 23 June 2016

Which August?

Friday 23rd June 1916: Lance Corporal A Breeds, Bedfordshire Regiment writes from France as follows: “According to what the chaps say who have just come off leave, the people in England think that the war will be over by August – but they do not say what year. If they think next August, they have got more hopes than we have. The only way to finish it is for more and more men to make a move towards the trenches as, if we can get more into the line with us, we can push them back.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 23rd June 1916

Wednesday 22 June 2016

The Beds Yeomanry Hone Their Skills

Thursday 22nd June 1916: When not in the trenches the members of the Beds Yeomanry are engaged in cavalry work, and to prevent staleness, a Divisional Show was recently held, in which some of the crack regular cavalry competed. Among the entrants was a section of our county regiment, who chose the class in which the conditions were that the entrants should go into action with guns on pack horses and jump two fences with them and out of action. This was open to all the Machine Gun Sections of the Division.

The members were aware that they were “hot stuff” at this, but little thought they stood a chance against the regular sections who had been at it for years. The Beds Yeomanry were the only Territorial Section competing, and it is a pleasure to record that they came out on top, gaining 94 points out of a possible 100. Hats off to the MG section of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry!

Source: Bedfordshire Times 7th July 1916

Roll of Honour - 22nd June 1916

Died of Wounds

6th Battalion
  • 8156 Sergeant Stacey John PLEDGER, 33, born Chrishall [Hertfordshire], husband of D S Pledger of 110 Somerset Road, Tottenham [Middlesex], son of Charles and Mary Pledger (Étaples Military Cemetery)


3rd Battalion
  • 23746 Private Edward OAKLEY, born and resided Eversholt (Eversholt (Saint John the Baptist) Churchyard)

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Casualties Whilst Practising

Lieutenant-Colonel Poyntz as a captain [X550/1/82]

Wednesday 21st June 1916: Raids and attacks need to be practised and, to be realistic, live ammunition is often used. We understand that 2nd Battalion has suffered two casualties whilst practising for a forthcoming raid. Lieutenant-Colonel Poyntz and the adjutant Lieutenant J W Hurrell had gone to Bray to supervise the training for a raid and witnessed Corporal W Eade killed by an exploding grenade. This man was an exceptional soldier, having been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry. Lance Corporal W Tyrrell was wounded in the same explosion.

By contrast with the tragic death of Corporal Eade, Corporal F Johnson, perhaps partly seeking to emulate the example of Private Chambers, whose death was reported yesterday, wounded himself in the left foot. He had only been with the Battalion for three days, having joined with a draft on 18th.

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) Corporal Eade, from Islington, is buried at Chipilly Communal Cemetery Extension. Self-inflicted wounds were a serious offence, carrying a maximum sentence of a lengthy period of imprisonment. Over 3,800 men were sentenced for this offence during the war. 

Roll of Honour - 21st June 1916

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: front line near Maricourt, shelling
  • 4/7230 Private Ernest WHITE, 29, son of Mrs H Burton of 5 Brook Cottages, Turnford [Hertfordshire] (Cérisy-Gailly Military Cemetery)

Monday 20 June 2016


Lieutenant Warren [X550/1/81]

Tuesday 20th June 1916: Another officer joined the 2nd Battalion yesterday, Second Lieutenant D D Warren. The raiding party, we understand, are still practising at Bray.

17796 Private Thomas Stephen Chambers, aged 22, killed himself yesterday. Perhaps the strain of the impending offensive which everyone is talking about, preyed on his mind(1), certainly yesterday was a very quiet day.

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) He has no known grave and is commemorated on the le Touret Memorial.

Roll of Honour - 20th June 1916


2nd Battalion
  • 9078 Corporal William EADE DCM, born Tottenham [Middlesex], resided Islington [London] (Chipilly Communal Cemetery Extension)

Sunday 19 June 2016

Planning a Raid

Dennis P Cross [X550/1/81]

Monday 19th June 1916: Another officer has joined the 2nd Battalion to bring it up to strength before the big push which it is rumoured will take place in the next week or so. Second Lieutenant T. J. Pemberton has joined from 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and came with a draft of fifty other ranks.

Second Lieutenants G A Anstee and D P Cross took fifty other ranks to Bray-sur-Somme. They are to practise for a trench raid(1)

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) Dennis Cross would die 24th August 1918 as a captain 

T J Pemberton [X550/1/81]

Saturday 18 June 2016


Sunday 18th June 1916: The adjutant of the 1st Battalion tells us that they have lost another officer. Second Lieutenant Edgar Millson was killed by a sniper a few hours ago. He was examining the German front line through field glasses and was shot through the head.

Second Lieutenant Millson was 29 years of age and came from Brixton. He had been educated at Epsom College and was a railway engineer in Colombia before joining the colours. His father is Medical Officer of Health for Southwark.

Source: X550/2/5; Bedfordshire Times 23rd June 1916

Roll of Honour - 18th June 1916

Killed in Action

4th Battalion
  • Second Lieutenant Edgar George Butlin MILLSON, 28, son of George Millson OBE, MRCS, LRCP of 90 Angell Road, Brixton [London] and Sarah Ellen Millson (Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery, Arras)


4th Battalion
  • 27383 Private George GREEN (real name P C Simpson), born and resided Colchester [Essex] (Felixstowe New Cemetery)

7th Battalion: shot himself
  • 23738 Private John GRIFFIN, 26, born Alwalton [Huntingdonshire], resided Alconbury [Huntingdonshire], son of Rose Griffin of 22 Green Lane Road, Leicester (Saint-Pierre Cemetery, Amiens)

Friday 17 June 2016

Back in the Front Line

Saturday 17th June 1916: The 2nd Battalion have returned to front line duty. Yesterday they took up dispositions near Maricourt. They are the right hand of the British Army in France, as the unit neighbouring them on the right flank is the 8th Company of the 156th French Regiment(1)

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) This was to be an unusually long tour in the front line as the 2nd Battalion would stay there until the 1st July when they formed a reserve to the attack by battalions of the King’s (Liverpool) and Manchester Regiments.

Thursday 16 June 2016

With the Bedfordshire Yeomanry

Friday 16th June 1916: Trooper F W Ballard, Bedfordshire Yeomanry, writing to a friend this past week says: “for the past three weeks a part of our regiment has been doing trench work in a very hot part of the line, and this particular ridge has been mentioned in the daily papers for some considerable time now(1). You will be pleased to learn that several Southill boys are with this party, viz. C Lockey, Sid Hall and George Bean(2); this is a fine experience for all of us. We are billeted in a village, or rather the remains of one, as everything is in a terrible state of ruin, every building, including the church being in a battered condition. The Sunday night we came into the line the Boches attacked and got into our front trenches, but were driven out by the brigade bombers; we were told that Fritz sent no less than half a million shells over our lines in 4½ hours, so we evacuated our front line trench, as it was of no use. You can guess when they got in it was of no use to them.

The next two nights the laugh was on our side, our artillery bombarding their trenches all night long; since then things have been much quieter. Really it does not seem possible for humanity to life in such affairs as these, with so many spare pieces of iron flying about. We go up the line to work every night and we have been extremely fortunate up to the present, not having had a single casualty and we have been working on the top only from 80 to 200 yards from the enemy’s front line at times.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 16th June 1916

(1) The war diary gives no mention of this but states that the Yeomanry were at Desvres, well behind the lines near Boulogne.

(2) 30882 Private George Bean, from Broom, would die on 8th December 1918 and is buried at Maubeuge (Sous-le-Bois) Cemetery

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Reception for a Local Hero

Thursday 15th June 1916: Biggleswade did honour to its brave young townsman Private Chris Lincoln of the 2nd Bedfords on Tuesday evening, when, in connection with the fund opened by The Biggleswade Chronicle Mr H M Lindsell CB, Chairman of the Urban District Council presented the gallant lad with a watch, Exchequer Bond for £5, a cheque for £1 5s and a Treasury Note case.

The watch was a solid 9 carat gold half hunter with three-quarter movement and was supplied by Mr A H Blake. The inscription on the back of the case is as follows: “Biggleswade Chronicle Heroes Fund. Presented to Pte Chris Lincoln, 2nd Bedfords, by Mr H M Lindsell CB on behalf of fellow townsmen as a token of their appreciation of his bravery in the Battle of Loos May 1916”.

The recipient is still a mere boy, for he is only 19 years of age, but he had served two trainings in the Bedfordshire Regiment (Special Reserve) prior to the war. On mobilisation he went to Landguard Fort until December 1914 when he went to France to join the 2nd Battalion.

For nearly ten months and through five great engagements including Festered and Neuve-Chapelle he escaped without injury but at Hulluch-Loos on 25th September he was terribly wounded, so much so that he is permanently crippled. For his work at Loos he won the praise of his Colonel and of General Watt and their letters of commendation are as follows and in them is the official record of the deed

“7th Division 7114 Private C Lincoln 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment – Your Commanding Officer has informed me that you have distinguished yourself by bravery in the field on 25/9/15. I have read his report and although promotion and decoration cannot be given in every case, I should like you to know that your gallant action is recognised and greatly appreciated – H Watt, Major-General”.

“The Bedfordshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion 7114 Private C Lincoln has been brought to the notice of the Officer Commanding the Battalion for his good work in the field displaying great courage in the advance on 25/9/15 Hulluch-Loos, in making several openings in wire entanglements, which were serious obstacles to an advance and was subsequently wounded – H S Poyntz, Officer Commanding”.

Lincoln, we thought, deserved some tangible token of appreciation from his fellow-townsmen, hence the Chronicle Fund.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 16th June 1916

Roll of Honour - 15th June 1916

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line at Yser Canal bank
  • 3/7562 Private Artemas PARKER, born and resided Bletsoe (Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres)

Tuesday 14 June 2016

An Alarm at Maricourt

2nd Lieutenant Bricknell [X550/1/81]

Wednesday 14th June 1916: yesterday the 2nd Battalion, at Maricourt, began digging a new trench. During the digging the enemy opened up a heavy bombardment and attacked the French who were holding trenches on the right. Fortunately, turned out to be only a small raid.

2nd Lieutenant H J Bricknell has joined the Battalion. He was a Sergeant in the 5th Lancers who has been commissioned from the ranks. Another newcomer is 2nd Lieutenant J. B.
Primrose-Wells, of 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment(1).

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) The 4th Battalion was not yet in the field. Lieutenant James Bowen Primrose-Wells, from Vancouver, British Columbia, died with 4th Battalion on 4th April 1918 and is commemorated in Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuille Wood. He died as a prisoner-of-war and his grave was lost.

Lieutenant James Bowen Primrose-Wells [X550/1/81]

Monday 13 June 2016

Back to the Front Again

Tuesday 13th June 1916: the 2nd Battalion have finished their training for the expected offensive(1). Yesterday they took a troop train from the town of Ailly-sur-Somme to the town of Heilly, from which they marched to Bray, just behind the front line after a four hour march.

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) See 5th June 1916

Sunday 12 June 2016

Another 8th Bedford a Prisoner

Monday 12th June 1916: Following their big fight with the enemy two months ago we have been steadily hearing of more members of the 8th Battalion turning up in prisoner of war camps. The latest is Private J T Chandler. Aged 19, he is the only son of of Mr F Chandler of Toseland and is cousin to Private Mitchell of Everton. Previous to enlisting Private Chandler was employed by Mr Alfred Main, farmer, of Toseland Manor. He was, in the words of his employer, a conscientious workman and in the village was greatly respected for his upright character. He enlisted in the Bedfords in September 1915 and joined the 8th Battalion in France on February 25th 1916. After the big fight on April 9th he was officially reported as killed, but later he wrote home stating that he was a prisoner of war at Giesen Camp, Germany.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 30th June 1916

Saturday 11 June 2016

Bathing a Necessity

Sunday 11th June 1916: Sergeant Maurice T Wood of the 1st/5th Battalion in Egypt tells us: “We have had some jolly hot weather … On Monday, June 5th, it was about 120 degrees in the shade. This will give you some idea of how freely we perspire. Fortunately we have got a place to bathe in, but I cannot tell you what. You must rest assured that I take advantage of it and do as much bathing as I possibly can. I am jolly thankful now that I learned to swim in the old river at Biggleswade, although after some of the rivers I have seen, one can hardly classify the old Ivel as a river. I had an invite to dinner with the Brigade Clerks and we had a jolly good feed and yesterday we clubbed round and had another similar spread.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 30th June 1916

Friday 10 June 2016

Ampthill Road School Boy Wins the Military Cross

Saturday 10th June 1916: Ampthill Road School boys of an older generation will rejoice in the announcement that the popular “Jack” Hislop of their school boy days as won the Military Cross for splendid service in bringing up ammunition during a heavy German attack “somewhere in France”(1). “Jack” was one of a batch of boys, the sons of non-commissioned officers, who came from the barracks in the old days to Ampthill Road Schools, and after leaving school he joined the county line regiment in which his father, now Major Hislop, had had such a distinguished career. His promotion was rapid. In January of this year he was given his commission in the 8th Bedfords(2).

(1) Perhaps the attack of 19th/20th April 1916.
(2) Captain John Hislop MC was killed in action with the 8th Battalion on 22nd September 1917 and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial near Ypres.

Source; Bedfordshire Times 23rd June 1916