1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment (Yellow Devils)

All this and much more information can be found on Steven Fuller's excellent site.

The annual Territorial Army summer camp of 1914 finished with emergency orders for all units to return to their bases and await further instructions. On the 5th August 1914 the entire Battalion was 'embodied' for war service with the East Anglian Division. The soldiers were asked whether they wanted to enlist for overseas duties, with a very high percentage saying 'yes' and the '5th (Reserve) Battalion' was also raised soon afterwards. Initially the Reserve battalion was a 'Home Service' Battalion for those who did not wish to serve abroad, those who were over service age or medically unfit for active duty.

Within a week of being mobilised, the East Anglian Division was at its station in and around Chelmsford in Essex, with the Bedfords being billeted at Romford, Essex. However, the expected move abroad did not follow and in September they were dispersed throughout the East Anglia, to provide home defence and train hard in readiness for overseas duties. The 5th battalion were stationed at Buy St. Edmunds from September 1914. Late in 1914 the Companies forming the active service battalion were also re-organised from the pre war structure of eight Companies to four Companies, called A to D. In January 1915 the 5th Battalion was designated 'The 1st/5th Battalion' and the '5th Reserve Battalion' was re-designated as the '2nd/5th Battalion', serving with the '69th (2nd East Anglian) Division' in the Home Forces until disbanded in February 1918. Later that year the '3rd/5th Battalion' was also raised as a training and draft finding battalion.

In March 1915, the 1st/5th Battalion moved from Bury to Norwich and then to St. Albans in May, where specialist training was stepped up and their formation was re-designated as the 162nd (East Midland) Brigade in the 54th (East Anglian) Division. On the 25th July hot climate uniforms were issued, the battalion were ordered to hurriedly collect all stores and equipment and they set off for the south coast on a series of trains.

The battalion left Devonport on the 26th July 1915, bound for 'somewhere out East' and, after a brief stop-over in Egypt, disembarked on Gallipoli, serving there between 10th August and 4th December. During their assault against the Kiretch Tepe Sirt on 15th August 1915 an observing Staff Officer observed their progress through his binoculars and saw the battalion's metal flashes glinting yellow in the sun as they doggedly advanced. He remarked "By Jove! If only we had one or two more battalions of those yellow devils we should be across the peninsular by tommorow". With that, the battalion's nickname - the 'Yellow Devils' - was born. A pitifully small number of them remained by December 1915 and they were moved back to Egypt to be rebuilt between January and March 1916, after which a year-long posting to guard the Suez Canal followed. The battalion advanced to Gaza with the British and Commonwealth forces in March 1917, taking part in all of the actions there and during the advances through Palestine that followed. By the armistice in October 1918, they were stationed at Beirut, having spent the entire campaign in that theatre of war.

The 54th (East Anglian) Division was comprised the 161st (Essex), the 162nd (East Midland) and 163rd (Norfolk and Suffolk) Infantry Brigades, with the 162nd being composed from:


  • 1st/5th Battalion, the Bedfordshire Regiment
  • 1st/4th Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment
  • 1st/1st Battalion, the Cambridgeshire Regiment [left February 1915]
  • 1st/1st Battalion, the Hertfordshire Regiment [left November 1914]
  • 2nd/1st Battalion, the Cambridgeshire Regiment [between February and April 1915]
  • 1st/10th Battalion, the London Regiment [from April 1915]
  • 1st/11th Battalion, the London Regiment [from April 1915]


Soldiers in this theatre of war suffered notably from illness, with the battalion losing considerably more men to local diseases than enemy fire. Nevertheless, over 120 gallantry medals were issued to soldiers from the 1st/5th battalion, including a Victoria Cross and the battalion were engaged in the following actions:


  • The Suvla Bay campaign on Gallipoli, especially during the advance along the Kiretch Tepe Sirt 15th August 1915.
  • The 1st Battle of Gaza, Palestine in March 1917.
  • The 2nd Battle of Gaza, Palestine in April 1917.
  • Raids against Umbrella Hill, opposite Gaza in July 1917.
  • 3rd Battle of Gaza, Palestine in November 1917.
  • Defensive actions during November and December 1917.
  • Operations in the Jordan Valley, February to May 1918.
  • Battle at Megiddo, Palestine in September 1918.

The battalion were disembodied in June 1919 whilst stationed at Beirut and reformed in February 1920 at Bedford, as a part time, Territorial battalion again.

Private Cyril Snoxell


Pte Cyril Snoxell, 3099, 1/5th Bedfords, was killed in action on August 16th*, 1915, at Gallipoli. He was aged 18 and the son of Alfred Snoxell, of 84 Grange Road [now St Peter's Road], Luton.

He was a second son of Alfred and Annie Snoxell to perish on the battlefield. One year earlier, Driver Percy Glifford Snoxell, 59028, 68th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action in France on August 26th, 1914.

Lance Corporal Rowland Abbott


L-Cpl Rowland Abbott, 4025, 1/5th Bedfords, died on August 21st, 1915, from wounds sustained at Gallipoli. Newspaper reports said he was aged 44.

On August 17th he wrote to his wife Lizzie Louisa at 77 Chase Street, Luton, saying he was quite well and that the regiment was gaining ground.

L-Cpl Abbott was born in Luton, the son of John William and Martha, who married in 1864. John William died in the early months of 1875, two years after Rowland was born. In 1881, Martha and her four children were living at 2 Brache Street, Luton, and later lived in Essex Street.

Private Harold Fred Puddephatt


Pte Harold Frederick Puddephatt, 3066, A Company, 1/5th Bedfords, was killed in action on August 15th*, 1915. He was aged 21.

The son of Frederick and Emily Puddephatt, of 50 Butlin Road, Luton, he was an old boy of Chapel Street School and worked at the Diamond Foundry before enlistment.

The Luton Reporter and the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph both said that official notification of the death of August 15th had been received by Mrs Puddephatt on September 8th.

Corporal Nathan Payne


Cpl Nathan Payne, 3457, 1/5th Bedfords, was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 15th, 1915 - one the same day that an older brother, L-Sgt Albert Payne, aged 27, also died.

On September 8th, his mother, Mrs Ellen Payne, received a letter from the Territorial Records Office, Warley, notifying that her son was "missing, believed killed" in the Dardanelles. There was also a second similar letter relating to L-Sgt Payne.

Cpl Payne was 21, single, and had been in the "Terriers" since before the war. He had worked for Mr George Powdrill, the contractor.

Lance Sergeant Albert Payne


Lance-Sgt Albert Payne, 2289, 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 15th, 1915 - on the same battlefield and same day that a younger brother, Cpl Nathan Payne, aged 21, also died.

A letter from the Territorial Records Office arrived at 2 Beech Road, Luton, on September 8th informing his widow, Emily Rose, and his mother, Ellen, that he was "missing, believed killed, as reported from Alexandria on 2nd September".

Sergeant William Henry Foster


Sgt William Henry Foster, 2958, 1/5th Bedfords, was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 17th, 1915. He was the son of William Foster, who were living at 2 Bolton Road, Luton, at the time.

Born in late 1886 to William and Annie Foster, he had been employed by Blundell Bros (Luton) Ltd and had been in the Territorials for about two years before mobilisation. He was promoted sergeant while the battalion was at Norwich. He was in the gun section, and had qualified as a machine gun instructor.

Private Charles John Ambridge


Pte Charles John Ambridge, 3500, 1/5th Bedfords, was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 15th, 1915. Born at Wavendon in late 1891, he was the only son of Alfred and Louisa Ambridge, who were living at 74 Dane Road, Luton, in 1915.

Charles Ambridge had been employed as an assembler at the Skefko Ball Bearing Works in Leagrave Road, Luton, for about 18 months before he enlisted.

Private Leonard Hurd


Pte Leonard Hurd, 3449, 1/5th Bedfords, died on August 16th from wounds sustained at Gallipoli the previous day. The only son of Charles and Elizabeth Hurd, of 32 Beech Road, Luton, he was aged 19 and had been employed at the Diamond Foundry, Dallow Road.

He had joined the Territorials about six months before the outbreak of war, and when drafted to the Front was in Capt Cumberland's Company.

Private John Stenhouse


Pte John (#James) Stenhouse, 3553, 1/5th Bedfords, died on a hospital ship on August 18th* from wounds sustained at Gallipoli two days previously. He was buried on "an unnamed island at which the ship called" that later was revealed as Lemnos (East Mudros Military Cemetery).

Sergeant Albert Hinks


Sgt Albert Hinks, 2382, B Company, 1/5th Beds Regt, was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 16th, 1915. It marked a double tragedy for his widow Clara Elizabeth, who lost her baby just a week before the sergeant sailed for the Dardanelles.

The only son of Frederick and Elizabeth Hinks, of 36 Windsor Street, Luton, Sgt Hinks was born in Mansfield, Notts in the early summer of 1887.

Private Horace Mardle


Pte Horace Mardle, 4065, 1/5th Bedfords, died on August 16th from wounds received the previous day in Gallipoli. He was aged 31 and the first employee of the English and Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Societies Ltd Cocoa Works in Dallow Road, Luton, to be killed. He enlisted a year earlier and became one of the late Lieut Shoosmith's gun team.

Private Alfred Richard Cousins


Pte Alfred Richard ("Tommy") Cousins, 4461, 1/5th Beds Regt, was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 22nd, 1915. He was aged 20, just a few days short his 21st birthday.

The son of Richard and Susan Cousins, of 47a Chapel Street, Luton, he was an old boy of Christ Church School (where his father was caretaker ) and had been employed as a clerk at Messrs Hayward Tyler in Crawley Green Road between leaving school and enlisting.

Private Alfred Smith


Pte Alfred Smith, 4275, 1st Battalion Beds Regt, was killed in action at Gallipoli on Sunday, August 15th*, 1915. He left a widow and two young children, one a baby he had never seen, at 29 Park Road West, Luton [now Strathmore Avenue].


Subscribe to RSS - 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment (Yellow Devils)