Category Archives: Soldiers

Jam Day in Bedford

Saturday, 30 September 1916 saw the successful culmination of the special effort over three weeks to collect pots of jam for the Ampthill Road schools VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) hospital, reported the Bedfordshire Times and Independent of 6 October 1916.

‘Mrs Spencer, who cooks at the Hospital, thought that some special effort should be made to supply this requirement, with the result that the active assistance of the Boy Scouts was enlisted.’

The success of the scheme enabled the Organising Committee of ladies ‘to send to the Hospital the splendid contribution of over 3,500 lb of jam. To every contributor the Committee tender their sincere thanks for making the first Jam Day such a magnificent success. The Matron will present jam to Howbury Hospital for the sick and wounded; also to Miss Walmsley for free teas for wounded soldiers at the Corn Exchange.’

The Matron, Mrs Margaret Thomson, wrote to the paper to express her very great gratitude and appreciation of the truly wonderful result of Jam Day, and to all concerned for making the collection such a success.

How did your village do in the Jam Day collection stakes, and what of the poor woman with her only pot of black currant jam?

The photograph from the newspaper shows Sister Butterworth, Assistant Matron, storing a portion of the jam collection:

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The Welsh return

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.