Saturday 30 June 2018

2nd Bedfords in Action

Sunday 30th June 1918

Today 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment went into action north-west of Albert near Bouzincourt. Their task was to capture and hold a section of the German front line. B Company carried out the attack, with C Company in support. 6th Battalion, Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment attacked on the Bedfords' left. We understand the operation has been successful.

Source: X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - 30th June 1918

Moving to Reserve

Saturday 6th July 1918

4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been relieved in the reserve line by 7th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. They will now move back to brigade reserve

Source: X550/5/8

Friday 29 June 2018

Rest for Some Not For Others

Saturday 29th June 1918

Yesterday 1st/5th Battalion spent a quiet, restful day in Egypt before they begin training in earnest for the forthcoming offensive. Half the officers, for example, have been granted leave in Port Said or Ismailia. By contrast 2nd Battalion is gearing up for a "show" tomorrow.

Sources: X550/6/8; X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - 29th June 1918

Thursday 28 June 2018

Injured Horse

Friday 28th June 1918

We heard a few moments ago that the charger of the commanding officer of 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, Colonel Hugh Courtenay, has been badly wounded by an enemy shell at Villorba Camp near Tannay. Meanwhile 4th Battalion has gone into the front line north of Albert.

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

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Back to Egypt

Thursday 27th June 1918

The brief message received yesterday that 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment had taken a train to Lod did not say, but a fuller report received today tells us that they are, in fact, on their way back to Egypt and expect to arrive in Alexandria today. We understand they are to undergo training prior to the expected offensive against the Turks later this year(1)

Source: X550/6/8

(1) Which would be in September

Roll of Honour - 27th June 1918

Tuesday 26 June 2018

The Train to Ludd

Wednesday 26th June 1918

Your correspondent had a message earlier today that 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment took a train yesterday from Surafend to Ludd. On looking at the atlas, Ludd proves to be a city also known as Lydda. After some research it proves to be the city known in the Bible as Lod, the Book of Ezra telling us that some of the Jews returning from captivity in Bablyon settled in Lod. It is also where Saint Peter cured a paralytic man. More to the point for Tommy Atkins it is said to be the birthplace of Saint George and also where he is buried(1)

Source: X550/6/8

(1) Lod is today home to Ben Gurion Airport on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Monday 25 June 2018

Bedfords move to Surafend

Tuesday 25th June 1918

1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, yesterday moved at a village called Surafend. This village lies about three miles north-west of Ramleh. The battalion has made a number of moves in the last few years and this has sparked rumours that General Allenby is "moving his pieces on the board" as the adjutant put it, for best advantage in a new offensive - time will tell(1)

Source: X550/6/8

(1) Sarafand-al-Amar would become infamous on 10th December 1918 when soldiers of the ANZAC Mounted Division massacred around forty Arabs after murder of a New Zealand trooper by an Arab thief. It is now the Israeli town of Nir Tzvi

Roll of Honour - 25th June 1918

Sunday 24 June 2018

Out of the Frying Pan ...

Monday 24th June 1918

1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment today moved back from the front line near Merville to reserve at Villorba Camp. Normally this would be a cause for celebration. Today, however, the men might be forgiven for wishing themselves back in the front line, where, in the last few days, things have been much quieter than of late. 

As the battalion reached the camp the enemy shelled it with gas shells. The Brigadier of 15th Brigade and his staff captain both received a good dose of the gas as well as many other ranks. 

The cadre of 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, training the American 120th Infantry Regiment reports a great shortage of American officers. Given this fact the Americans are likely to seek leadership advice from British soldiers, experienced from long years of this war.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/7/1 

Roll of Honour - 24th June 1918

Saturday 23 June 2018

Raiding a Lewis Gun Post

Sunday 23rd June 1918

1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is currently near Merville about half way between Bethune and Hazebrouck. Last night a patrol went out to search for and destroy an enemy machine gun post. This post actually contains a Lewis Gun, no doubt captured during the offensives in March and April. The old hands here knew it to be a Lewis Gun by the distinctive noise it made as it fired. 

The post was found and destroyed by the use of Mills Bombs. During a stiff fight with the enemy occupants six men were wounded, but all made it back to our lines.

Source: X550/2/5

Friday 22 June 2018

A Surfeit of Majors

Saturday 22nd June

2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is now replete with majors. A few days ago Captains Browning and Keep were promoted. Today Captain W J W Colley MC has also been promoted to major.

Source: X550/3/wd

Thursday 21 June 2018

1st/5th Bedfords at Medjel Yaba

Friday 21st June

The 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is in Palestine and yesterday moved up to Mejdel Yaba about twelve miles north-east of Ramleh(1). Their commanding officer Colonel Brighten assumed command of 162nd (East Midland) Brigade.

Source: X550/6/8

(1) Today the Israeli city of Rosh HaAyin

Roll of Honour - 21st June 1918

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Going up the Line

Thursday 20th June 1918

The adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, was speaking to your correspondent a few moments ago. They will shortly be on their way up to the front line west of Albert to relieve the 7th Battalion, the Buffs and a company of 7th Battalion, the Queen's. Captain Leslie Keep has been promoted to the rank of Major as has Captain H C Browning. Both men were "originals" with 7th Battalion, who arrived in France with the battalion nearly three years ago. 

Source: X550/8/1

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Roll of Honour - 19th June 1918

Instructing the Instructors

Wednesday 19th June 1918

The adjutant of the training cadre of the 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment let us know today that an important point in the training of the 3rd Battalion, American 120th Infantry Regiment has been reached. The American instructors, on whom the Bedfords have been expending the majority of their time, have been deemed sufficiently competent to pass on their knowledge to their fellows.

Source: X550/7/1

Monday 18 June 2018

Ten Days in the Life of the 4th Battalion

Tuesday 18th June 1918

The 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been building up its strength in the last few weeks as 63rd (Royal Naval) Division prepares to retake Albert, as surely one day in the next few months, our army will. In the last ten days the following things have happened.

8 June 1918: two other ranks joined.

9 June 1918: 56 other ranks joined, along with Second Lieutenants W. W. Dainty and F. W. Bellamy.

10 June 1918: eighteen other ranks joined

11 June 1918: one other rank joined
1 O.R. joined.

12 June 1918: two other ranks joined

13 June 1918: two other ranks joined

14 June 1918: five other tanks joined

15 June 1918: one other rank joined

16 June 1918: one other rank joined, Brigade Horse Show.

17 June 1918: one other rank joined; one other rank wounded

18 June 1918: five other ranks joined and Captain J. K. Batten joined from 7th Battalion cadre

Source: X550/7/1

Roll of Honour - 18th June 1918

Sunday 17 June 2018

Enemy Activity Continues

Monday 17th June 1918

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is currently near Steenbecque, between Hazebrouck and Bethune. This area is receiving more attention from the enemy than some others, leading to opinion that another German offensive in the area may be at hand. The Bedfords have not suffered the incessant shelling of recent days but enemy aircraft have been both prominent and busy. The suspicion is that they are photographing our defences, searching for weak spots.

Between 5 and 6 o'clock this evening a gas cloud was reported to be drifting up from the south. Fortunately it did not reach so far as the Bedfords' position. A draft of forty other ranks arrived during the day as the front line units continue to be built up for the allied offensive everyone hopes will soon be at hand.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour - 17th June 1918

Saturday 16 June 2018

Barrage Demonstration

British 6 inch howitzer at Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Sunday 16th June 1918

In yesterday's report you correspondent described how enemy shelling of the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was brought to a swift close by retaliation by our guns. Today the adjutant of the training cadre which is all that remains of 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, told me of a demonstration by the Royal Artillery watched by the men of the American 30th Division. This was intended to show them, the power and accuracy of modern gunnery and to to demonstrate how a creeping barrage works, acting as a both a screen and a neutralising curtain for the infantry as they go forward, sending the enemy into their dugouts and preventing them firing on the advancing infantry. It will likely not be long before the Doughboys, as the Americans are nick-named, advance for real behind such barrages.

Source: X550/7/1

Roll of Honour - 16th June 1918

Friday 15 June 2018

The Cure for Shelling

Saturday 15th June 1918

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in the support line near Steenbecque, has, for the third day endured heavy enemy shelling; if anything today's dose was heavier than yesterday's. One other rank was killed and five wounded. Eventually the Commanding Officer's request for retaliation by our artillery was approved and a short but intense barrage on the enemy's guns silenced them(1).

Source: X550/2/5

(1) By this stage of the war the Royal Artillery's sound-ranging techniques were much improved and it was possible to judge an enemy battery's position by the noise of the incoming shells. This made counter-battery fire more accurate and more effective.

Roll of Honour - 15th June 1918

Thursday 14 June 2018

Enemy Shelling - Is He Up To Something?

Friday 14th June 1918

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, is currently in the support line near Steenbecque. The fact that they are in support rather than in the front line has not helped them avoid casualties, however. Yesterday they endured frequent hostile shelling in which eleven other ranks were wounded. Today they have had more of the same and the men have been engaged in trying to strengthen their positions and to repair damage wrought by the shells.

Things have been comparatively quiet since the last German offensive ended and this shelling has given birth to rumours that another spasm of enemy activity is in the offing. During this quiet period the allies have been building up their strength as the British, Belgians and French train and reorganise and the newly-arrived Americans acclimatise to this war. No doubt a great combined allied offensive is being planned as we speak. A new German offensive might disrupt this planning but many of the officers to whom I have spoken have been sanguine, stating that if Fritz attacks he will find a very different set of circumstances to last March - better defences, good organisation and men who are grimly determined to give no more ground. They fully expect to give any assault a very bloody nose indeed.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour - 14th June 1918

Wednesday 13 June 2018

7th Battalion Cadre Moves

Thursday 13th June 1918

Yesterday the training cadre of 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, moved from Rogeant, south-west of Abbeville to Moncaux, about 24 miles east of Dieppe. They will still be engaged in training American infantry units. 

Source: X550/8/1

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Gongs and Mosquitos

Wednesday 12 June 1918

The 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is in Palestine, not far from Jaffa. Yesterday the commanding officer left the battalion on an extended tour of inspection of the Schools of Instruction, clearly his training methods are held in high esteem and High Command are hoping he can provide valuable insights to update the instruction given to the officers and men of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force as the army is still known.He is replaced by the second-in-command, Major C. R. James MC.

At 6 o'clock last night as the day cooled into evening Military Cross ribbons were presented to Second Lieutenants Gooderham and Mayers and a Military Medal ribbon to Private Pennycock by the General Officer Commanding 54th (East Anglian) Division, Major General Sir Steuart W Hare.

The adjutant also mentioned that the "usual anti-mosquito work" was carried on - eradicating or spraying the small pools in which these potentially deadly pests breed.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 12th June 1918

Monday 11 June 2018

Move Order

Tuesday 11th June 1918

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is currently in position south of Hazebrouck and north of Bethune, near a place called Saint-Venant in the flat lands of French Flanders. They will move up to the front line tomorrow. On a visit today I noticed the order, which has already been drawn up, though dated with tomorrow's date. With the adjutant's permission I reproduce it here as it may be of interest to readers to see what a move order looks like.

OPERATION ORDER No.145. 1st. Battalion The Bedfordshire Regiment. Map - Reference 36.A. 1/40,000 June 12th. 1918. 1. The Battalion will relieve the 1st Bn. D.C.L.I. [Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry] to-day. 2. Order of march - H.Q., "B", "C", "D" and "A" Coy's. 5 minutes between each Coy. 200 yards between each platoon. Head of Headquarters to cross pontoon bridge at D.7.c.4.5. at 2.15 p.m. 3. ROUTE - Pontoon bridge, (D.7.c.4.5.) along canal to D.8.a.7.9. - Main ST.VENANT Road to l'Epinette, from thence along inside edge of wood, and along VIA ROMA. 4. GUIDES - Guides at the rate of one per platoon will meet Companies at the house by old Dressing Station, E.13.a.8.4. 5. O.C. Coy's. will render to Orderly Room before marching off, certificates that billets vacated by them have been left clean and free from S.A.A. and that Gas appliances are correct. 6. Administrative arrangements as in Battalion Orders dated 11/6/18. 7. Relief complete will be reported by Runner. 8. Necessary precautions will be taken in case of enemy Aircraft.

Source: X550/2/5

Sunday 10 June 2018

Losing Men

Monday 10th June 1918

The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is now, following an infusion of men from the former 7th Battalion, back up to strength - so much so that today they have lost men. Three other ranks joined from base but 88 other ranks and four officers (Lieutenant J M Glen and Second Lieutenants A D Greenwood, H J Poulter and G S Richards) have all proceeded to base for redeployment to units needing to be brought up to strength(1).

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) Arthur Donald Greenwood would soon return to the battalion only to be killed in action on the Somme on 30th August. He is buried with a number of men from the 7th Battalion killed on 1st July 1916 in Dantzig Alley Cemetery.

Roll of Honour - 10th June 1918

Saturday 9 June 2018

Reinforcements for 4th Battalion

Sunday 9th June 1918

The 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was, until a few days ago, in the front line at Aveluy Wood north of Albert. They have now moved back into a rest area and are under canvas at Toutencourt, north-east of Amiens. Today they have been joined by 56 other ranks as well as by Second Lieutenants W W Dainty and F W Bellamy(1).

Source: X550/5/3

(1) Second Lieutenant Frank William Bellamy would die on 8 October 1918, aged 23, and is buried at Noyelles-sur-l'Escaut Communal Cemetery Extension

Roll of Honour - 9th June 1918

Friday 8 June 2018

More Awards for the 2nd Battalion

Acting Major J P Pitts [X550/1/82]

Saturday 8th June 1918

The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in support west of Albert had the good news today of three more awards for bravery during the recent German offensives. Acting Major J P Pitts has been awarded the Military Medal. The Distinguished Conduct Medal is a higher award (the other ranks version of the Distinguished Service Order) and has been awarded to both 9126 Sergeant A Cobbold and 8172 Sergeant L Hibbocks.


Thursday 7 June 2018

Raised from the Ranks

Friday 7th June 1918

The Thirsty First Battalion spent today practising a new attack scheme. They then had the luxury of baths at a nearby village. Corporal Connolly has been promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant - quite a leap which suggests he has exceptional leadership qualities.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour - 7th June 1918

Wednesday 6 June 2018

One In, One Out

Captain D P Cross [X550/1/81]

Thursday 6th June 1918

The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is currently the counter-attack battalion in a sector west of Albert. Yesterday they were joined by Captain W E Aylwin MC. Today another captain left them. Old Bedford School boy Captain Dennis Cross was evacuated to 41st Casualty Clearing Station, sick(1).

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) He would die on 24th August, aged 27; he is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension

Roll of Honour - 6th June 1918

Tuesday 5 June 2018

If It's Got Your Number on It

Wednesday 5th June 1918

Troops with experience of combat or simply of being in the front line tend to be fatalistic. There is a common saying that you will be wounded or killed if a bullet or shell has your number on it. Sadly yesterday in Palestine a bullet had the Number 201304 on it. This was the service number of twenty year-old Private R S Lyons, from Bournemouth.

The 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is in the front line and the enemy aircraft were active. This occasioned a lot of fire from machine guns and rifles into the air in the direction of the offending craft. The laws of physics tell us that what goes up must come down and one of these bullets came back down into the head of Private Lyons as he looked up following the course of an enemy machine, killing him instantly(1)

Source: X550/6/8

(1) Private Lyons is buried at Ramleh War Cemetery south-east of Tel Aviv

Monday 4 June 2018

6th Battalion's Americans Arrive

Tuesday 4th June 1918

The 120th Infantry Regiment has finally arrived with the training cadre of 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. An American Infantry Regiment consists of three battalions, each of four companies for a theoretical strength of 3,720 and so is the strength of a British Brigade. This is a lot of men for a training cadre of just over fifty men to deal with. The Bedfords will train two battalions (1st and 2nd) with just twenty men with each battalion. To make matters a little more challenging the Americans are not all at Nielles, nearArdres (itself near Calais) where the Bedfords are based: 1st battalion is a Zutkerque, about two miles east and 2nd Battalion at la Montoire (half way between the two).

Source: X550/7/1

Roll of Honour - 4th June 1918

Sunday 3 June 2018


Monday 3rd June 1918

For the last few days 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment (now two-thirds 7th Battalion) has been at Henencourt Wood, west of Albert. They are the counter-attack battalion in brigade reserve. This area is familiar to the old 7th Battalion hands as they have been here for some weeks but it is new to the 2nd Battalion men.

Today it was been learned that Second Lieutenant P A Page has been awarded the Military Cross, whilst Military Medals have been awarded to Privates F Scripps, F White, A Coles and J Fretwell. On asking which battalions these men had been in prior to amalgamation I was told firmly that they are now all in 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and that is all that matters.

Source: X550/3/wd

Roll of Honour - 3rd June 1918

Saturday 2 June 2018

The Americans Arrive

Sunday 2nd June 1918

Yesterday we heard from the cadre of 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, waiting for its Americans to arrive for training. Major J T Coe, the adjutant of the other battalion reduced to a training cadre, 7th, today informed me that they had been joined by Companies H, I and K of 129th Infantry Regiment of 33rd Division for training at Rogeant, south-west of Abbeville(1)

Source: X550/8/1

(1) 129th Infantry Regiment was part of the Illinois National Guard. The division's first action was, appropriately enough, on 4th July at Hamel on the old Somme battlefield, fighting alongside British and Empire troops, though 129th Regiment did not see action that day. 

Roll of Honour - 2nd June 1918

Friday 1 June 2018

Waiting for the Americans

Saturday 1st June 1918

The 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, like the 7th battalion, now reduced to a training cadre is now at Nielles, just outside Calais, waiting for the 120th American Regiment, which they will be training in the art of this war unlike any other(1).

Source: X550/7/1

(1) 120th Infantry Regiment is also known as the 3rd North Carolina Regiment, being part of the North Carolina National Guard. It was formed in 1917 and, with 119th Infantry Regiment (another North Carolina unit) and 114th Machine Gun Battalion, made up 60th Brigade in 30th Infantry Division known as the Old Hickory Division after President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) 

Roll of Honour - 1st June 1918