First World War Timeline
October to December 1915
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.
1 October 1915
P1 (Cols 6-7)
Advertisement: 'Bedford Recreation Committee for the Troops: Royal County Theatre, Sunday Concerts for the Troops: 800 Free Places For Soldiers... The Theatre is kindly lent to the Recreation Committee for these Concerts, and the amount taken for the tickets will be devoted to War Charities'.
P5 (Col 5)
'Sergt Birley's Escape To the great surprise and joy of his wife, his little son, Peter, and a family circle in Victoria-road Bedford, Sergeant Alfred Birley, of the 1st Gloucestershire Regiment, who has been a prisoner of war in Germany since the end of October last year, presented himself to his friends on Thursday evening, the 23rd September, he and a comrade having made good their escape from a place of detention, arriving safely in England after some days spent in perils and adventures which they are at present forbidden by the War Office to narrate....He went to the front in August of last year, and was captured by the enemy before Ypres on October 29, 1914, while attempting to retake a lost trench. Since then he was been a prisoner of war in Westphalia...'
8 October 1915
P4 (Cols 5-7)
'The Bedfords' Hutments at Ampthill' – a montage of four photos of Bedfordshire Regiment soldiers training at the Duke of Bedford's Bedfordshire Training depot, showing physical drill on the obstacle course, practising rapid loading of rifles, and target practice at the Millbrook Rifle Range.
P9 (Cols 2-3)
'Photographs of the Recruiting Rally': five photos showing the Band and Colours of the 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment and horse-drawn carts carrying tableaux illustrating the Allies in the Great War – Britain, France, Russian and Belgium, in the town centre parade leading to Russell Park on Saturday 2 October. [Description on p11] There were representatives of every military and civil body doing their bit for the war.
15 October 1915
P4 (Cols 5-6)
'5 Corn Exchange, Bedford: 5th. Bedfordshire Reg't (T) [Territorials]: The Yellow Devils: Mr Horatio Bottomley ...will speak on "The War" on Thursday Nov. 4 at 3pm' [This was the first of weekly adverts placed in the newspaper to ensure a large audience for this recruiting event. Horatio Bottomley owned and edited the nationalistic "John Bull" newspaper and earned himself a reputation as a fiery orator. His recruitment meetings were like religious revival meetings but with the German nation as the devil and jingoistic racism his appeal. After the war he was revealed to be a fraudulent businessman and was imprisoned.]
22 October 1915
P6 (Col 7)
'A Thrift Exhibition: ...Towards the end of November... There will be demonstrations of economy in the various departments of cooking, housekeeping, gardening, etc. and information on patriotic saving in every direction, and many should be the hints obtained which will doubtless prove useful during the coming time of hardship in this country.'
29 October 1915
P1 (Col 7)
'Official. Borough of Bedford. Order as to Lights. Defence of the Realm. Order of the Secretary of State, dated October 21st, 1915...all external lamps, flares and fixed lights...must be extinguished...in the period from one hour after sunset till one hour before sunrise in the Counties of Huntingdon, Bedford, Hertford and Surrey...' [Precautions undertaken to minimise assistance to enemy airships (Zeppelins) which had begun night-time air raids bombing areas of population in the eastern half of England. During the war there were a total of 52 German Zeppelin raids on Britain, claiming the lives of over 500 people.]
P11 (Cols 6-7)
An open letter 'To My People' from George V, appealing for yet more men to volunteer to fight. 'More men and yet more men are wanted to keep my Armies in the Field, and through them to secure Victory and enduring Peace. In ancient days the darkest moment has ever produced in men of our race the sternest resolve. I ask you, men of all classes, to come forward voluntarily and take your share in the fight. In responding to my appeal you will be giving your support to our brothers, who, for long months, have nobly upheld Britain's past traditions and the glory of her Arms.'
5 November 1915
Advertisement: 'Trade announcements. Longhurst and Skinner, Bedford Pantechnicon. Defence of the Realm act. Window blinds. Casement curtains...Specially prepared strong paper blinds of every description fixed at the shortest notice. Estimates free.'
12 November 1915
P7 (Cols 3-4)
'The Lighting and Closing of Bedford Shops: An Interesting Discussion' – a Monday night meeting was held in the Borough Council Chamber by a large and representative body of tradesmen convened by the Bedford trade Protection Society to discuss how the recent government Lighting Order was affecting shopkeepers.
19 November 1915
P5 (Cols 5-7)
Pears Soap advertisement with line drawing showing men at the Front using this product 'All that was left of it!...Send them more. Don't let them go short. It lasts twice as long as ordinary soaps and lathers to the last particle. Don't forget – A few tablets will take up very little room in your next parcel.'
P6 (Cols 5-6)
Advertisement: 'Longhurst and Skinner...Anti-Zeppelin Blinds'.
P6 (Col 7)
Correspondence: 'The Mayoress Asks for 20,000 Mittens and Mufflers...that our brave men in the trenches may be spared the horrors of frostbite on their ears and fingers...'
26 November 1915
P10 (Cols 3-4)
'Bedford's Health in War Time' Detailed information from "The Medical Officer" of 20 Nov, entitled 'Civil Sanitary Administration in War Time", revealing the extensive arrangements necessary with such a large influx of men in the town, such as the erection of urinals (60 stations with ten places each) and their connection to the town's sewers.
3 December 1915
P7 (Col 6)
'Rural and agricultural Notes': The National Land and Home League for promoting the revival of country life point out, in a letter to the editor, that among the duties of the War Agricultural Committees is encouraging cottagers and allotment holders to live on the produce of their garden and allotments as much as possible and to increase the production of potatoes, vegetables, pigs and poultry.
10 December 1915
P7 (Col 5)
'The Last Chance: The last day for recruiting under Lord Derby's Scheme and for securing a Khaki Armlet given to those who have enlisted for subsequent calling up, as required, in their groups, is Saturday Dec 11th.' [See 28 January 1916]
P7 (Cols 6-7)
Advertisement: 'Christmas Presents for the Troops at the Front: Warm Socks, Woollen Wraps, Wool Jackets, Gloves, Wool Pants and Vests, Flannel Shirts, Balaclava Caps: J & A. Beagley, Civil and Military Tailors, 5 High St & 41 St Peter's'
P8 (Cols 2-4)
'Fancy Sketches from Gallipoli' & 'Types I Met in Gallipoli': cartoon-type drawings by Lance Corporal Ernest P. Burge, 1/15th Bedfordshire Regiment, from Ampthill.
17 December 1915
P7 (Cols 2-4)
More cartoon drawings from E. P. Burge 'now in hospital in Lancashire': 'Reminiscences, The 1/5th Beds: Sketches, Here and There'
P7 (Col 7)
Advertisement: 'Military Novelties for Ladies and Gentlemen: Largest stock of regimental crests in the district...Armsden, Hatter and Hosier, 15 St Mary's, Bedford.'
P9 (Cols 1-3)
'Thrift Exhibition in Bedford Town Hall': Report on an exhibition opened on Mon 13 December 1915 inspired by a number of ladies who are experts in domestic science and household economy.
24 December 1915
P4 (Col 7)
'Rev W. J. Coates's Experiences as Chaplain with the Forces: ...pastor of the Bunyan Meeting, who is acting a Chaplain of the Forces at the front...As to the men the spirit of the Tommy as a whole was magnificent. He had no words to describe the heroism of some of the men amongst whom he had worked. He could not tell how much he admired the men who lived and worked in the trenches...They were wonderful in the way they adapted themselves to hardships and made light of their dangers... He thought that there would be no truces this year. The bitterness was greater this year than last year and there would be no football matches between the lines.'
31 December 1915
P3 (Col 3)
Advertisement 'Bedfordshire Village Toys: Support Home Industries: Buy toys made in the cottages of Bedfordshire villages: Encourage a War Industry.'
Page last updated: 1st May 2014