Brothers William and Charles and their uncle, James Freeman, were all farm labourers from Checkley Farm, Heath & Reach. They all enlisted together on 30th November 1914 and trained at the Ampthill Training Depot.
William (19) and Charles (20) were assigned to Number 1 Company, and James (23) was assigned to Number 2 Company. Their training included rifle practice on the nearby Milbrook range, and learning to cook food in the field, as well route marches, parades and bayonet fencing. The order of the activities they undertook was determined by which Company they were assigned to. William clearly excelled in his training and in February 1915 was raised to Lance Corporal. He appeared in a photograph of the Ampthill Depot that featured in the ‘Illustrated War News1915’.
After their training, William, Charles & James were all posted to the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment in France. We know that William and Charles were drafted to the Front on 22nd June 1915, but it’s not known exactly when James was drafted. On October 8th 1915, the regiment were entrenched at Cuinchy, near the town of Loos. The Germans bombarded the trench line for the entire day and Charles received a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to a hospital in Harfleur.
In the next blog we will examine the involvement of these three men during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
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