Thursday, 3 December 2015

Comforts for Bedfordshire Soldiers

From the Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 3rd December 1915. 



A meeting of the Committee of Ladies to provide comforts for the Regular Battalions and Special Reserves of the Bedfordshire Regiment, was held at the Shire Hall on Saturday morning.  Lady Ampthill was in the chair, and there were present [several other ladies], Colonel Tilly, Hon. Treasurer, and Miss Tilly, Assistant Secretary.

A letter was received from the officer commanding the 147th Company of Cheshire Engineers, stating that there were 15 Bedfordshire men in that regiment, and asking for comforts to be supplied to them. Considerable discussion arose on this problem as it was considered that the fund was subscribed for the benefit of the Bedfordshire Regiments and each county was looking after its own regiment.

A letter from Major Poyntz, Officer Commanding the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, asked for a supply of tobacco, cigarettes, curry powder, tinder lighters, handkerchiefs, bootlaces, mouth-organs, candles, safety matches, footballs, and cocoa.

Lady Ampthill remarked that the War Office stated that there were nine million pairs of socks ready for distribution to the troops and she thought some steps should be taken to ascertain why the Bedfordshire Regiment needed socks.
The question arose as to whether anything should be done by this Committee for the various Bedfordshire Battalions of Kitchener's Army.  It was felt that this was a small county and not over rich, and it was stated that the 6th and 7th battalions were practically all Hertfordshire men.  At Hitchin and elsewhere much good work was being done to provide their men with comforts.
Lady Ampthill stated that the children of one school at Wilden had made 54 pairs of socks, and thought that was extraordinarily good.
Col. Tilly said there was a letter from the Director of Education stating that the children in the Schools under the County Education Committee were engaged in making a number of garments for the men of the Bedfordshire Regiment. A consignment of 278 pairs of socks, 265 pairs of mittens, and 265 scarves had already left his office.
The Committee expressed much satisfaction.

[This is a cut-down version of the original report.  Lady Ampthill's committee had evidently been set up to support the Regiment at the start of the war, when it consisted only of the battalions of the Regular Army and the Territorials.   It was unable to cope with the vast expansion of the Army, and hence of the Bedfordshire Regiment.  There are  obvious inconsistencies in their decisions - not supporting the Bedfordshire men in the Cheshire Engineers, because a Cheshire fund should provide for them, but also not supporting the 6th and 7th Battalions because they were mostly not Bedfordshire men.  

Many of the things asked for by Major Poyntz are. as usual, hardly luxuries - candles and matches, bootlaces, handkerchiefs.   And if no-one was supplying these things to the 6th and 7th Battalions, how were they managing?   

From Lady Ampthill's remark about 9 million pairs of socks, I assume that Major Poyntz or some other officer had also asked for socks.  She is confused (as I am) by the statements from the War Office saying that there was an adequate supply of socks, and the  requests from officers, claiming the opposite.]     

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