Cap badge Bedfordshire Regiment

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The Bedfordshire Regiment was greatly expanded during the First World War and was engaged on the Western Front and the Middle East.

The 1st (Regular) Battalion was mobilised from garrison duty at Mullingar in Ireland in August 1914 and fought as part of the 15th Brigade 5th Division from the Battle of Mons in August 1914 to the Battle of the Sambre on 4 November 1918. The battalion served in every sector of the Western Front as well as in northern Italy, with Private Edward Warner winning a posthumous Victoria Cross on Hill 60 in May 1915.

The 2nd (Regular) Battalion was mobilised from garrison duty at Pretoria in South Africa and landed in Zeebrugge on 6 October 1914, with the 21st Brigade within the 'Immortal' 7th Division. It was engaged from the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914, through to the Battle of the Sambre (1918). It served entirely on the Western Front, with Captain Charles Calveley Foss winning the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915.

The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion provided home defence in and around Felixstowe, Suffolk and remained there throughout the war.

The 4th (Special Reserve) Battalion were initially posted to the Felixstowe and Harwich garrisons but were mobilised in July 1916, joining the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division on the Western Front that month. It was engaged from the Battle of the Ancre in November 1916, to the Passage of the Grand Honelle during the Hundred Days Offensives; its last shots being fired in anger on 10 November 1918. Acting Lieutenant-ColonelJohn Stanhope Collings-Wells won a posthumous Victoria Cross in March 1918 whilst commanding the battalion through the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael).

The 5th (Territorial) Battalion were mobilised in August 1914 and, after providing home defence in East Anglia, sailed for Gallipoli in July 1915. It served in the 162nd Brigade, 54th (East Anglian) Division during the Gallipoli Campaign, and in Egypt and Palestine. Private Samuel Needham won the Victoria Cross in September 1918 but died from accidental gunshot wounds sustained after the armistice, on 4 November 1918. The 5th Battalion were redesignated as the 1st/5th Battalion on the formation of a 2nd/5th (Reserve) Battalion in 1914, which was supplemented by the 3rd/5th (Reserve) Battalion the following summer]Both reserve battalions remained on home defence duties in the U.K., finding and training drafts for the front line 1st/5th Battalion, until they were merged into a single reserve battalion in 1918. The 3rd/5th (Reserve) Battalion battalion was disbanded in March 1919.

Three 'Service' battalions were raised to serve abroad, being the 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions, in addition to the 9th and 10th (Service) Battalions who remained at home to find and train drafts for the combat units. These were formed around a nucleus of Regular and Reserve soldiers who trained the civilian recruits that flocked to form Kitchener's Army in 1914. The three battalions were raised as part of Kitchener's First, Second and Third New Armies respectively.

The 6th (Service) Battalion served on the Western Front in the 112th Brigade, 37th Division from July 1915 until disbanded in May 1918, when the men were folded into the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment. 2nd Lieutenant Frederick William Hedges from this battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross while attached to the 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment in October 1918.

The 7th (Service) Battalion served entirely on the Western Front in the 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division from July 1915 until it was disbanded in May 1918.[15] 2nd Lieutenant Tom Edwin Adlam won the Victoria Cross during the battalion's assault against the Schwaben Redoubt in September 1916 and stretcher bearer Christopher Augustus Cox won the battalion's second Victoria Cross during operations opposite Achiet Le Grand in March 1917. When the battalion was reduced to a cadre in May 1918, the personnel were folded into the 2nd (Regular) Battalion, who took their place in the 18th Division.

The 8th (Service) Battalion initially served in the 71st Brigade 24th Division until it moved to the Western Front, when it was transferred to the 18th Brigade, 6th Division. One of the few New Army battalions to be committed to the Battle of Loos in September 1915, the battalion was disbanded in February 1918 and its personnel folded into the other Bedfordshire Regiment battalions on the Western Front.

The 9th (Service) Battalion was raised in October 1914 as part of 'K4' (Kitchener's 4th New Army), being replaced by the 28th (Training Reserve) Battalion in August 1916.

The 10th (Service) Battalion was formed in December 1914, becoming the 27th (Training Reserve) Battalion in September 1916.[15] October 1917 saw it redesignated as the 53rd (Young Soldier's) Battalion, who provided basic training for 18 year old conscripted men, which enabled them to be ready for foreign service once they became eligible. In February 1919 the battalion was designated as a Service Battalion and, alongside the 51st and 52nd (Graduated) Battalions, formed the 2nd Eastern Brigade of the Eastern Division. Collectively, this brigade was referred to as the Bedfordshire Brigade and served around Cologne, Germany, in the Army of Occupation (as part of the British Army of the Rhine).

The 11th (TF) Battalion was formed in December 1916, to replace the 68th (Provisional) Battalion and remained on home service in Suffolk until it was disbanded in July 1919.

In addition, the 12th and 13th (Transport Workers) Battalions were raised in 1916 and 1917 and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Garrison Battalions served in India and Burma.[15]

The Hertfordshire Regiment raised three further reserve battalions (the 2nd/1st, 3rd/1st and 4th/1st Battalions) and its front line 1st/1st Battalion served on the Western Front from November 1914 until 1919, with Corporal Alfred Alexander Burt and 2nd Lieutenant Frank Edward Young winning Victoria Crosses (posthumously) in 1915 and 1918 respectively. The 1st/1st Hertfordshires were attached to the 4th (Guards) Brigade on its arrival in France in 1914 and became known as the 'Herts Guards'. The nickname '2nd Micks' was also associated with them after their unfliinching support of the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards' assault against the German position known as Brickstacks near Cuinchy in February 1915. The Irish Lieutenant-Colonel was so impressed with their behaviour, that he adopted them as his 2nd Battalion, as the Irish Guards were a single battalion regiment at the time.

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