One hundred years ago, on 9 August 1915, soldiers of the 53rd (Welsh) Division, which had spent time in Bedford, landed at Suvla Bay to fight in the campaign in Gallipoli.
Gunner R Frederick Thomas, of the Machine Gun Section, 1/4th Welsh, described in a letter the journey from Bedford and the hard reality of battle and life under fire. On leaving Bedford, the soldiers were handed a leaflet bearing, he said ‘what most of us at the time regarded as an insignificant headline. It ran: ‘Are you prepared to die?’ … I can safely say that few of the men of the gallant 4th then even dimly realised what the future held in store for them.’
Many soldiers perished at Gallipoli, others survived to fight on elsewhere.
Welsh regiments came to Bedford, some to pass quickly through, others to remain for weeks or months for training for active service at home or overseas in the Great War. Now, one hundred years later, in 2015, the Welsh have returned to Bedford, in the form of a new website ‘When the Welsh came to Bedford’.
The website seeks to tell the story of those regiments and their soldiers during their time in Bedford, their experiences on leaving the town to take their part in the Great War, how their families fared whilst they were away, and how the people of Bedford responded to their presence in the town.
Please take a look, you’re most welcome, and maybe you can help add to what is still an incomplete story with information from your Bedford or Welsh family archives, memories and pictures of the soldiers and the women who volunteered for service and who spent time in Bedford. Please contact us to help make their story as comprehensive and accurate as possible.