Highland Division at Bedford

Highland Division at Bedford

Some of the Argylls at Bedford in 1915.
Argylls at Bedford

Bedford was ideally placed to be a location from which a Division could be deployed rapidly to cover a number of possible situations that might arise when an enemy invaded. It had a good central geographical position and excellent transport links.

Following the mobilization of the Territorial Force on 4th August 1914, the men of the Highland Division were transported to Bedford on sixty seven troop trains. The soldiers were transported from all over Scotland during a 48 hour period and around 17,000 men descended on the town during those two days.

The Highland Division consisted of the Gordon, Seaforth, Argyll and Sutherland and Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. These battalions were followed by the arrival of additional battalions in April 1915, the month before the Division left Bedford for France. These reinforcing battalions were drawn from the Black Watch, the King's Own, the King's (Liverpool Regiment), the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

During the winter of 1914-1915 it became apparent that the Territorial battalions would be needed to bolster the British Expeditionary Force, who were struggling against vastly superior numbers across the Channel. The Territorial Force now had to focus on offence as opposed to defence and training was adjusted accordingly. Being stationed at training camps in Central England, including Bedford allowed for the quick and efficient transportation by train of large numbers of soldiers to the south coast ports and onto ships for France.