It was too true. At nine o’clock next morning the battalion disentrained, after a long wearisome journey. Rations had been issued at Dundee to sustain the men en route, but the tea which was served out immediately on arrival was none the less heartily welcomed.
At Bedford the Sixth was only one battalion among many others quartered in the town. The place, in fact, was overcrowded with soldiers, and every available billet seemed to be occupied. Many of the men, in consequence, had to “rough it” to some extent and were happy if they could find comfortable sleeping quarters. Often all the other space was crowded out, and it was no uncommon sight to see a party seated on the pavement having dinner or tea there.
As regards the stay at Bedford, there is little to be said. New equipment was issued to the men, and from that fact, they could easily deduce that they were soon to see active service. They learned that the battalion was to form part of the Highland Division, 153rd Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Douglas Campbell, which included the 5th and 7th Gordons and the 6th and 7th Black Watch.
In the matter of training, it was the easiest time the men had had since mobilization, though route marches were occasionally engaged in to get them used to their new boots. For a time blistered feet caused many of the men to go on the sick list, and there was great apprehension amongst them lest they should not get with the battalion when the every expected order came for departure. Several resorted to their old “civvy” bots, but Major Gibson watched them on the march, “spotting” and calling out of the ranks every man who had not donned the army issue.
While at Bedford, the men enjoyed some splendid concerts, got up by the local Committee and given in the Exchange. These were highly appreciated, as were all the efforts of those kindly disposed people, who took a warm interest in the welfare of the soldiers and did so much to make things pleasant for them.
As at Queensferry and Dundee, the Sixth made many friends at Bedford, and the battalion got a great send off when it left on Sunday 2nd May. This time everyone knew that it was for active service, and the destination as also common knowledge, for two days earlier the transport section had left for France.
There was the wildest delight in the ranks when the battalion paraded that Sunday afternoon and marched to the station.