Canadian troops in Ampthill commemorated on centenary

Two events are being held in Ampthill to commemorate the centenary of Canadian troops arriving in the town.

Canadian troops in Ampthill
Canadian troops in Ampthill

In autumn 1917 the 126th Canadian Forestry Corps was deployed to fell trees in Ampthill and the surrounding district to support the war effort. The activity threatened the Victorian beauty spot of Cooper’s Hill and attracted considerable discontent among the town’s folk.

The Canadian troops assisted by Portuguese labourers cleared a large swathe of mature pine trees and shipped them off by rail for use at the Front.

Despite this, the Canadian troops developed a warm bond with the people of Ampthill by taking part in local activities and themselves providing concerts at the YMCA hut. A year on, the Corps departed as friends and Sgt Herman Porter wrote of the experience.

The Alameda Walk was spared the axe and Cooper’s Hill has gone onto regenerate as a tranquil heath and site of Special Scientific Interest that is now held dear by townsfolk.

There are two opportunities to hear more about the Canadians.

WWI Talk: Canadian Troops in Ampthill will be held on Friday, November 17. This is an illustrated talk at 7.30pm in Parkside Hall, with special guests Ampthill Town Band, who will open the evening. Tickets are available from Ampthill Town Council, The Hub and Number 14.

Guided Walk: WWI Canadian Troops in Ampthill is on Sunday, November 19. Gather at The Hub in Ampthill Great Park to depart at 2pm. The walk finishes at St Andrew’s Church in time to watch the Christmas Lights.