14th Nov 1914. Soldiers’ Stories From The Front

A Lance-Corporal in the Welsh Fusiliers, whose parents are Old Rugbeians, writing from the trenches on November 4th, says :-“ We have been in the trenches now for 14 days, and it is awful. They are shelling us continually all day. Our regiment has lost about 300 killed and wounded so far. Just about 50 yards in front of our trench there are plenty of Germans that we killed about ten days ago. The shells are doing all the damage. I have got a German helmet for a souvenir if I come safely through it. I am lucky, as the chap next to me got killed the first day. . . . It is a shame to see old people and little children trudging along the road with no home. You can see our troops giving them something to eat when possible. I saw a Rugby Advertiser to-day ; I notice it has got some soldiers’ stories in it. I will keep you interested when I come home with them. . . . . I could do with a wash-have not had one for 16 days. We are all the same. . . . You should see the damage the Germans do to the villages. You can’t realise it. There is a church facing us—smashed to bits by shells. Every night you can see flares in the sky. It is the Germans building up their reputation by burning up the villages. Every day a drove of aeroplanes comes over us looking for our position so as to bring effective fire on to us.”

Sergt Freemantle, 123rd Battery R.H.A, writes under date October 29th :—“ We are all well here and getting plenty of supplies up. Only just a few “ Jack Johnson’s ” to keep us company. The weather is fine, but cold. The day has been favourable again for us. One of our Batteries, 80th R.F.A, is reported to have wiped a whole German Battalion out. The German prisoners are surprised when they are told that the Germans have not captured London or Paris. All prisoners say how pleased they are to be taken by the English. One boy, about 17 years old, walked into our trenches, with a dixie full of chicken stew. He had lost his way, so one can imagine his surprise when we collared him. I have not received one mark up to now, although our Battery had bad luck at Mons, Le Cateau, Sossoins, Aisne. The Germans have been trying to find us now for days, but I don’t think they can hit anything now only houses. The Indian troops with us seem to frighten them. The only thing that grieves us most are the snipers. They sit on haystacks or trees and have pot shots at us. One of our fellows (known in Rugby) was sent to find a sniper in the Brewery at —. He found three civilians with a maxim. They are now very happy. Our Battery, 123rd R.F.A, has been repaying old debts. We suffered at Le Cateau, but now we have turned the tables. We have five Legion of Honour men in our Brigade.

A Rugby man, a private in the South Wales Borderers, writing home on October 25th, says :-” You will read in the papers about the quantity of shells bursting around us day and night, and those who come out of it are lucky. We lost a great lot of officers and men on the 21st-my birthday, which will be one to remember. With God’s help I hope to be with you soon, as I think they (the Germans) must see by now that they are a beaten army, and the sooner they give in the better. We had 31 days in the trenches under fire, and then two days and nights riding in a train—if you can call it so with forty in a truck with our equipment, so you can guess it was a treat—and right into the firing line again.”

Capt Mortimer, of the 27th Battery, 32nd Brigade, R.F.A, who was for several years the Adjutant of the Rugby and Coventry Howitzer Batteries, has been awarded the Cross of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour for saving the guns by “ man handling ” them under heavy fire, at Ligny, in France, on August 26th. On the same day a D.S.O was awarded to one of the officers of the Battery and D.S.M to seven of the men.

WOUNDED.

Pte A W Bottrill, 2nd Co. 1st Coldstream Guards, has written to his parents, residing at 94 Bridget Street, Rugby, stating that he is in hospital suffering from rheumatism and a shrapnel bullet wound in the shoulder. He was being transferred to Versailles, near Paris. Pte Bottrill, who is a reservist, was employed in the Turbine Department of the B.T.H, and was called up on August 5th—two days after his marriage. In one of the postcards he has sent home he states that he has heard from some of the Royal Warwicks that his brother Frank, who is a reservist in that regiment, was wounded, but so far the parents have received no confirmation of this.

Pte G John Wills, a reservist of the North Staffs. Regiment, has written informing, his wife, who lives at 77 Jubilee Street, that he has been wounded. He says : “ I have had a rough time since I wrote last. We have been shelled night and day, and the Germans have been trying to break through time after time. We took up some fresh trenches to relieve another regiment, and in front of them were scores of dead Germans. Our company’s turn to go into them came on the night of Nov. 1. They shelled a few times up till five o’clock ; then they let loose (talk about being in hell, that’s not in it !) as hard as they could with their guns on our few trenches ; then, when they had finished, they attacked us. I got wounded in the arm and shoulder, not severely, and don’t know how I got out. I am at a field hospital.”

Pte Chas King, 1st R.W.R, of 47 Pinfold Street, New Bilton, has written to his mother to the effect that he was wounded in the muscle of the right arm on October 27th, but is “ still carrying on.” He has previously been in hospital with gout, caused by service in the trenches. Pte King is a reservist, and has seen active service in India among the Afridis. Pte King mentioned that he had seen nothing of the three Rugby men—Corpl Hancox, Pte W G Goodman, and Pte W Busson, who had been reported as missing from the R.W.R. ; but pointed out that units were continually becoming detached.

Mr W J Farn, of the Mechanical Transport, Department, A.S.C, who was wounded at the Battle of the Aisne, has received a card from his brother, Scout J Farn, of the Second Worcester Regiment, stating that he has been wounded, and is in a base hospital. Scout Farn, who, like his brother, went through the Battles of Mons, Marne, and the Aisne, was, before he enlisted, in the employ of Mr Bradby, Barby Road. Driver Farn’s leave of absence expired this week, but this has been extended because he has not fully recovered from his wound. While at the front he had several exciting experiences, and witnessed the annihilation of about 2,000 Germans in a British ambush, and also the treachery of the Germans with the white flag when opposed to the Northamptonshire Regiment in the trenches, and the speedy retribution with the aid of a machine gun which overtook the Germans.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Both the Leicestershire and the Northants Yeomanry Regiments have gone on foreign service.

Rather more than 100 recruits are required to complete the 7th (Reserve) Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which is fixed at 600.

The Warwickshire Yeomanry are still in their Berkshire quarters, but with everything ready to go abroad at a few hours’ notice when required. The order may come at any moment, or they may remain for some time yet.

The 7th Warwickshire Territorial Battalion is busily preparing to join the Expeditionary Forces, orders for which may be expected any time after the end of the month.

THE 7th BATTALION, R.W REGT.

There have been considerable changes in the personnel of the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the last few weeks. Col Freer Ash is not now in command, having been gazetted to the 8th Reserve Battalion. The whole battalion has been, to a certain extent, reorganised. The main body are in Essex, and are taking part in work of an important character, the nature of which, owing to the censorship, cannot be disclosed. A part of the battalion are still doing guard duty at a Government ammunition factory near London.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY IMPROVING.

Although the figures of recruits in the town during the past week show a considerable improvement on those of recent weeks, the numbers are by no means so satisfactory as could be desired. Since Friday last week 20 have been attested for the New Army, as against eight the previous week. The recruiting sergeant is very optimistic, however, and is of opinion that there will shortly be another boom, as many villages in the neighbourhood have so far hardly been affected at all by the call for men.

A detachment of about 50 men of the National Reserve, who in future will act as bridge guards, has arrived.

A RUGBY SAILOR’S GRATITUDE.

A local sailor on H.M.S Zephyr, torpedo destroyer, writes :—“ Dear Sir,—I should like to give a word of thanks to the Rugby people for getting subscriptions up for warm clothes for the North Sea flotillas, as I am a Rugby man and doing patrol duty in the North Sea. I think they are much needed for the coming winter. No one would hardly realise what we have to go through in all weathers, night and day, with hardly any sleep, risking our lives where there are such a lot of floating mines. We have been very busy getting rid of them. We found out and sunk 19 in one day, so you see the risk we are under. We are very grateful to Admiral Powlett for what he is doing on our behalf, and hope the funds will increase. The writer goes on to say : I hope I shall be able to have a go at the Germans before long, as I should not be satisfied with myself to be blown up with a mine. They get frightened as soon as they see our ships, and run for all they are worth. There’s no doubt we shall spend Christmas in the Navy this year, when I was hoping to be back with the wife and family ; but, never mind, we are not down-hearted, and hope to finish them off before long. I get the Advertiser sent to me every week, and see how things are going on. Good luck to the North Sea Flotilla Fund.”

 

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