Charles Malcolm – Crimean War Veteran
by Linda Ayres
Charles Malcolm joined the 5th Royal West Kent Regiment and served in the Crimean War. After leaving the army he became a coachman, but his employer dispensed with his services when he bought a car. With no job, he took to the road in order to make his way back to his home of Glasgow. He broke off his journey at Bedford and put up at a lodging house where, three weeks later, he became ill and was forced to enter the Workhouse where he died a few hours later.
The next day, the Master of the Workhouse reported to the Board of Guardians that a Crimean veteran had died in the Workhouse. He told the Board that he thought deserved more than just a pauper’s funeral. The Board being of the same opinion concluded that it was his Regiment’s duty to bear the cost of the funeral.
The funeral set off at the Drill Hall in Greenhill Street. The military band and soldiers from the Barracks assembled under the command of Captain and Adjutant F. A. Stevens and Lieutenants Gompertz and Parkinson, of the 3rd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. In the glass hearse was the coffin covered with the Union Jack and laid upon the coffin a wreath from the officers of the deceased’s old Regiment, inscribed “To our old comrade.”
On behalf of the veterans, Corporal Waldock walked behind the hearse. The firing party of 12 headed the procession with arms reversed, and they moved at a solemn pace to the strains of Beethoven’s Funeral March. Crowds lined the route all through Dame Alice Street and St Peter’s. At De Parys Avenue, the “quick march,” as soon as they arrived at Foster Hill Road their pace slowed down to the mournful strains of the Dead March until they had reached the Cemetery.
The Rev. J. E. Gilbert met the coffin at the entrance to the Chapel. After the service, the procession made its way to the graveside. There a large crowd of people had gathered, but the police under Inspector Timbrell, kept a large space clear for the firing party. After the committal service, the firing party discharged three volleys. To end with the Last Post bugle call.
The coffin was of polished elm with brass furniture, and on the breastplate it bore the inscription:
“Charles Malcolm,” died March 8th, 1908 aged 79 years.
A wooden marker marks the grave.
Grave Ref: D.99
Linda S Ayres
Source: Bedfordshire Times & Independent 1908
August 04, 2021