24 Oct 1914. News from the Front

HAVE GOT THE GERMANS “ SNOOKERED ”

Corpl A J Harris, son of Mr and Mrs A Harris, Dunchurch Road, has sent another letter home, stating that he is still fit and well. The situation in France is summed up in a phrase that billiard players will-readily understand : “ We have got the Germans ‘snookered’ and they know it.”

HORSE SHOT UNDER HIM.

Sergt W Judge, of the 20th Hussars, paid a surprise visit to his wife at 23 Jubilee Street, New Bilton, on Tuesday in last week, and remained until Saturday morning, when he returned to France. Sergt Judge, who as a reservist was called up on the outbreak of hostilities, was one of the first to be ordered to France, and was recently sent home with one of Field-Marshal Sir John French’s chargers. He took part in the Battle of Mons and the fighting round Arras, and in one engagement he had a very narrow escape, his horse being shot under him. Sergt Judge has only a very poor opinion of the much-vaunted German cavalry, and states that they will not face steady fire unless forced to do so. Their uniform in some cases is very much like that of the British Cavalry, the only distinguishing feature being the brass helmets, of the Prussians. Then, too, the British horses are far superior to any possessed by the enemy. The general contempt of Thomas Atkins for the German riflemen is shared by Sergt Judge, who states that they fire very rapidly, but register many more misses than hits. “ It is most amusing,” he adds, “ to see the British soldiers waiting in the trenches with folded arms in some instances for the Germans 300 yards away to shoot at them. Even under these circumstances it is very rarely that the Germans hit their man. During some of the engagements the Germans have outnumbered the British by 15 to 1 ; and Sergt Judge mentioned an incident which came under his notice, where 50 British completely annihilated 200 Germans. French tobacco does not meet with the sergeant’s approval, and he states that owing to the scarcity of matches the rays of the sun passed through a magnifying lens have had to be utilised for lighting pipes and cigarettes.

LOOTING AND ABUSE OF WHITE FLAG.

Gunner A G Turner, of the Royal Field Artillery, brother of Mr A Turner, newsagent, of Bridget Street, New Bilton, has recently written home ; and in an interesting account of his experiences at the front states that he has been in the thick of the fighting. “ We did our best,” the writer adds, “ and have been congratulated for our coolness, and every time we meet the Lincolns, the Scots, and others of our Brigade, they all say : “ Good old gunners ; let ’em have it.” Our section got into a tight corner, but we managed to get out unhurt. No infantry were near at the time, so we got a good gallop, and then we came into action and checked their advance again and again.” After asking to be supplied with tobacco and cigarettes, and also notepaper and envelopes, Gunner Turner continued : “ I shall never forget what I have seen and done. I have been gun-layer, and if I have seen one German drop from our shrapnel I have seen hundred. We caught them napping in one place, and as they could not get away they put up the white flag, but when our infantry advanced on them they started to open fire, and then we put the shell into them. That day we captured about 500 altogether. My word ! they have been looting the country—smashing doors and windows and taking everything they thought was any good ; but they soon move when we get into them.”

TERRIFYING “ BLACK MARIAS.”

Captain Clifford Aston, of the Royal Engineers, nephew to the Rev C T Aston, vicar of St Matthew’s, Rugby, has been under shell fire several times, and has given a vivid account of his experiences in a letter. He says : “ It is curious how terrifying the ‘Black Marias’ are. After we got out of their zone and into the shrapnel zone one felt comparatively safe, and did not mind much about them. The real reason for this is, I think, because the wounds caused by ‘Black Marias’ are so awful, and those of shrapnel comparatively slight. ‘Black Maria’ is a high explosive shell, made of thick steel from half to one inch thick. It is 8½ins in diameter and 2ft 6ins high. When it lands it bursts with terrific force, and smashes the case into hundreds of jagged splinters. If these hit one they tear great holes and pieces out of one. Pieces as big as the handle of a table knife will go right through a man, and other pieces 12ins by 4ins get thrown about with great force. It is the fear of those wounds that makes the effect, of the ‘Black Maria,’ as she does infinitely less actual damage than shrapnel shell, which only contains bullets that make clean holes.” Capt Aston has visited Rheims since the bombardment, and says that, although the cathedral is badly damaged, it is not the blackened ruin, with no roof and the walls half knocked down, one would expect to find, the structure being entirely undamaged, and stands there a beautiful building.

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