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Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment Top Tips

Local and Family History A-Z > Family History

Main Sources

Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service is the repository for the regimental records of the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment. 

Abstract tree shadowsMedals, uniforms and militaria are held by The Beds & Herts Regimental Gallery at Wardown House, Museum and Gallery in Luton. Volunteer members of the Regimental Trust are on site every Wednesday morning between 10am and 12 noon.

Resources at Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Libraries:

Search the online catalogue for books about the Beds & Herts Regiment and military history. Use keywords bedfordshire and hertfordshire regiment or bedfordshire regiment

Reference books

  • The National Roll of the Great War, 1914-1918 - Section 12 Bedford & Northampton
  • Militia Lists and Musters, 1757-1876:  A directory of Holdings in the British Isles by Jeremy Gibson & Mervyn Medlycott. This book is useful for family historians to locate records of lists (Musters) of personal names of the part-time forces known as the Militia.

Bedfordshire Historical Records Society publications:

  • Volume 71 Bedfordshire Muster Rolls, 1539-1831:  A selection of transcripts and commentary
  • Volume 83 The Shiny Seventh: the 7th (Service) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment at War, 1915-1918
  • Volume 89 The 2nd Bedfords in France and Flanders, 1914-1918

Regimental Magazines

  • The Wasp journal of the 16th Foot, after 1959, continued as The Wasp and the Eagle journal of the 16th/44th Foot
    Also held at the Bedfordshire Archives and Records Service which has an index by surname and first initial to these volumes.
  • The Castle journal of the Royal Anglian Regiment

These regimental journals are useful not only for articles about the regiment but also for obituaries of individuals.

Useful websites

Some military records are available on this family history website. You can use Ancestry free in any Bedford Borough or Central Bedfordshire Library.
Ancestry are offering library members access to the Library Edition from home until the end of August 2020.
Click here to log in with your library card number and PIN.

See the Family History section

Useful information

The Beds and Herts Regiment has undergone many mergers and name changes since its creation in 1688 and finally became The Royal Anglian Regiment in 1964

For full details see

The Royal Anglian Regiment Museum is at Land Warfare Hall, Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Recruitment   In the early days one could join any regiment, anywhere. Recruitment became more local when a permanent base (depot) for the regiment was established.  Kempston Barracks, was built in 1875-6 for the 16th Foot, Bedfordshire Regiment.  The Barracks finally closed in 1958. Kempston War Memorial and Garden of Remembrance is found opposite the barracks.

Army Personnel

Militia (Irregular Army) - compulsory recruitment of part-time citizen soldiers (rather than professional soldiers).  Usually ordinary able-bodied men (i.e. agricultural labourers and men in casual occupations) who were trained and then returned to normal civilian life.  They received a retainer and could be called upon when necessary to keep internal order on home ground.   They were originally organized by Hundred and Parish and came under the responsibility of the Bedfordshire Lieutenancy.  This was transferred to the Crown in 1871.  The more wealthy could pay someone else to serve in their stead.  Became 3rd Battalion of the Beds & Herts Regiment in 1881.

Volunteers / Territorial Army - volunteers who combine civilian and army life.  Meet up and train in their spare time with their unit, get paid for this training, could be selected to serve with their unit overseas.

Regular Army - volunteers, permanent, full-time standing army of the nation, maintained in peace as well as war.

Army Numbers - in 1919/20 the War Office replaced soldiers individual regimental numbers with new army numbers, and each unit was allocated its own unique block of numbers.   All serving soldiers in the Beds & Herts Regiment, together with new recruits, were allocated army numbers in order commencing with 5942001 in 1919 through to 5962980 in c1942, nearly 21,000 men in all.

Army Personnel Centre - all service papers for soldiers who served after 1920 in the Beds & Herts Regiment are held here. A special form (Subject Access Request) has to be completed prior to the search. It is essential that you quote the Regiment and personal number of the soldier concerned. (Note: this information is usually engraved on the medals of soldiers).

Veterans UK is a useful website for information about service records, medals and badges.

Good luck with your search!

Page last updated: 10th July 2020