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First World War Timeline
April to June 1917

Places > Bedford > First World War > First World War Timeline

Based on local newspaper research in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent.
[Notes in square brackets have been added by the compiler to clarify, where needed, and to set the local event in a national context.]
Compiled by local historian Stuart Antrobus.

6 April 1917

P2 (Cols 1-2)
Women's Land Army notice seeking to recruit female agricultural workers: "National Service: 10,000 Women Wanted At Once to Grow and Harvest the Victory Crops... 5,000 Milkers, 4,000 Field Workers, 1,000 Carters: don't Delay!'

13 April 1917 [Smaller page format from now onwards]

[The Bedfordshire Times and Independent newspaper is from this week onwards published in a reduced size and format – presumably because of paper rationing due to a national shortage of newsprint. It resumes with its former, larger size on 5 October 1917 but can change on a weekly basis from then onwards, depending on supply.]
P8 (Col 3)
Cycle advertisement by Arthur Gell, Raleigh Agent, 25 Harpur Street, Bedford: 'So you Travel by Train? If so it will be worth your while in these days of curtailed railway facilities and higher fares to consider what you would save by using a Raleigh – because that is the bicycle which is known as rapid and reliable.'

20 April 1917

P6 (Col 4)
'Temperance War Time Activities: The annual meeting of the Beds. United Temperance Council... naturally affected by the war time conditions, and a desire to turn the special opportunities to good account... discussion waged almost entirely around State purchase [of brewing industry] and prohibition.'

27 April 1917

P5 (Col 2)
'Eat Less Bread: Food in this war is one of the extremely decisive factors... and the submarine sinkings of our ships... drive the sentence home. The problem of keeping the nation fed resolves itself into a matter of ships to carry the grain procurable to our shores... shipping is short and is being destroyed every week.. It is up to us, therefore to EAT LESS BREAD.'

4 May 1917

P5 (Col 3)
Photo of Mr. George Thompson, whose family includes nine soldiers and one sailor: 'Ten brothers Serving King and Country... Up to a fortnight ago the family of Mr. George Thompson, of 33, Cater-street, Kempston, included eleven sons, who have joined His Majesty's Forces since the outbreak of war. Surely this is a record, and one any family might be proud of. Unfortunately one of the sons, Pte. Bernard Thompson, who was with the 1/6th Bedfordshire Regiment, died of wounds on 16th... It is more than probable that next year, if the country requires his services, another young Thompson will be in khaki.'

11 May 1917

P5 (Cols 4-5)
'Speeding Up Food Production: Farmers Meeting at Bedford: ... The meeting was called for the purpose of hearing an important statement as to the necessity of breaking up a large acreage of grass land this season... The Chairman recalled that Mr. Prothero had said that if eight million more acres were put under the plough, they could raise 82 per cent of the food necessary for the country...It behoved Bedfordshire, although a small county, to do its bit.'

18 May 1917

P6 (Cols 3-4)
Photo: "Soldiers' Graves in Bedford Cemetery: This quiet and secluded spot in our Cemetery is sacred to the memory of those of our brave soldiers who passed away during their sojourn in the town. There are six rows of five or six graves. A larger stone at the head of this little colony of graves bears the inscription: 'To the Glory of God. These memorial crosses were erected by Bedford and other friends and are dedicated to the memory of those men of the Highland and Welsh Divisions who died at Bedford while in training for active service, 1914-1916'."

25 May 1917

P5 (Cols 1-2)
Cartoon by Ernest P. Burge of the Bedfordshire Regiment serving in France 'Ready for the Fray' showing an infantryman ridiculously overloaded with equipment, bombs and iron rations.

1 June 1917

P6 Cols 6-7)
Advertisement aimed at women 'The Faithful Ally of War Workers: The busy V.A.D. toiling farm worker and the grimy munitioneer need to take special pains to preserve their complexions from injury to-day. Rub the face, neck and hands with Ven-Yusa, the new oxygen cream, and note the extraordinary refreshing effect. This toilet preparation is a great boon to all war workers...'

8 June 1917

P2 (Cols 6-7)
Notice from Department of Agriculture and Fisheries: 'Potato Shortage! Spray your potatoes with Copper Sulphate to prevent disease and to increase yield... Increases the Potato Crop by 2 ½ Tons.'

15 June 1917

P6 (Col 6)
Job advertisement: 'Women On Aeroplane Work / Candidates for training Wanted / The Ministry of Munitions is extending its plans for the employment of women on aeroplane work in order to replace [male] labour withdrawn for the Army... the Ministry is appealing to the educated women of the country to come forward and offer themselves for this service... They... will be expected to sign an agreement, undertaking to work their whole time for an Aeroplane Factory anywhere in the United Kingdom... Applications, by letter or in person, made be made to :- The Secretary of the Training School, Messrs. Hewlett and Blondeau, Leagrave. Beds.'
P7 (Cols 2-4)
Photo of schoolboys doing field work, weeding out :'Busy Boys of Bedford School... It was a happy idea of the County War Agricultural Committee to arrange for relays of boys to help with farm work in this district, and the suggestion was immediately taken up by the School authorities... when we paid a visit to Mr. J.C.H. Robinson's farm at Kempston, thirty boys were working like Trojans in a field of beans... The boys work from 2.30 to 5.30, the rate of pay being, for boys over 16, 4d per hour, and other boys 3d per hour.'

22 June 1917

P5 (Col 5)
'Sale of Lord Lucas's Dairy Shorthorns: A large company of agriculturists, including many ladies, assembled at the Home Farm, Wrest Park, yesterday (Thursday) afternoon when Messrs. John Thornton & Co., sold by auction the late Lord Lucas's well-known herd of pure-bred dairy shorthorns. The dispersal of this herd was held... in consequence of the lamented death of Lord Lucas [on active service].'

29 June 1917

P4 (Col 5)
'The first units of the American Army, which will fight... in France for the great cause of human freedom reached a French port on Monday. A veritable armada of huge transports, escorted by destroyers and an enormous American cruiser, arrived in the dawn of a glorious June day... advanced guard of the great Army which is coming from the West to fight for democratic freedom against the Prussian military despotism.'

Page last updated: 1st May 2014