Wednesday, 22 October 2014

King George V Visits Bedford

Troops marching past the King at Bedford 22 October 1914 [Z1306/12/8/1]

Thursday 22nd October 1914: Bedford has today played host to His Majesty King George V. It became apparent last night that a review of the Highland troops was to be carried out by someone of importance. The soldiers were instructed to be at their parade points at 9.45 a.m. By this morning the news that the King was to visit had leaked out and spread round the town. Between nine and ten o’clock all the smartly turned out solders reached their assembly points; meanwhile large numbers of  enthusiastic civilians headed to  the  Midland Station and down the Bromham Road where the review was to be held in a large field between the Golf Course and the Bromham Road, opposite the first Biddenham Turn.

The first soldiers to arrive at the Golf Links were the Gordon Brigade, soon followed by the Scottish Horse. The Seaforth and Cameron Brigades started to arrive at about 10 a.m. They were followed by the Royal Garrison Artillery, the Royal Field Artillery, the Argyll Brigade, the Army Service Corps, the Royal Engineers and the Royal Army Medical Corps. Some arrived with bands playing and in some units the men were singing and whistling, but generally the tone was serious. By 11 a.m. all the troops were drawn up in an imposing array. The officers were on foot, except for the Scottish Horse, and no guns or wagons were on parade. The reserve regiment of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry also marched to the field off the Biddenham Road which is in use as their training ground, looking smart although many of the men do not yet have uniforms. Unfortunately although they formed up down the Biddenham Road when the King left they were not able to see His Majesty because of the large crowd.

The soldiers were joined by Bedford Grammar School boys who were given permission by General Allason to go into the field. Other boys came from the Modern School, and elementary children from Queen’s Park soon found the weak spots in the hedge between Bromham Road and the review ground. Many other members of the public also found good vantage points, the best position for a view being near No. 1 gate; this was within fifty yards of the spot from which the King watched the march past. A wounded officer, Lieutenant Stevens of the King’s Own Regiment, sat in a wicker chair just inside the gate.

The royal train arrived at 11.15am. The King stepped from the train, shook hands with Generals Sir Bruce Hamilton and Bannatine-Allason, acknowledged the salute of the other staff officers, and walked to his car to the cheers of the civilians and police. At 11.30 cheers were heard by the ground gathered at the review ground and a motor car was seen approaching. This turned out to be carrying only the Rev. S.B Phillpotts and some friends, but the royal car was not far behind. It was an open car, with King George and three officers seated inside. All four were wearing khaki uniforms, the King’s ornamented with a gold crown and insignia on the sleeves. He first inspected the troops, then walked across the main field towards the gate to the great delight of the wildly cheering crowd. The march past started at noon and lasted for an hour and a quarter. Section followed section in a snaking line, each headed by a band of pipers playing a march.

After a wet and miserable start the weather gradually cleared during the morning and it was mostly dry for the King’s visit. At about 12.45 p.m. a little rain fell and an officer brought a great coat for the King but the rain soon stopped and he was able to discard it. When all the troops had passed by the Mayor of Bedford, Mr H. Browning, was presented to the King, who said how pleased he was to hear that the town of Bedford had done so well for the soldiers. The Mayor complimented the behaviour of the troops and informed the King that the town was delighted to entertain them. The Chief Constable and various Brigade commanders were also introduced to His Majesty. The King then spotted the wounded officer in his seat, crossed over to him and shook hands with Lieutenant Stevens, who stood up and removed his hat. Seeing the officer’s bandaged head the King made him sit down again and replace his cap. They chatted together for some time. Rain then began to fall for a second time, this time more heavily. The King walked through the gate and back to his car to return to the station, from where he left the town to more loud cheering from his subjects.

Source: Bedfordshire Times 23rd October 1914

No comments:

Post a Comment