12th Dec 1914. Rugby’s Splendid Example

THE NEED FOR MORE MEN.

Few districts can boast of such an excellent record as Rugby with regard to the response to the call for men to join the colours. Since the outbreak of hostilities upwards of 2,000 men (two battalions) have joined Lord Kitchener’s Army, and there is no doubt that, had it not been for the cold water thrown on recruiting by the War Office during the boom these figures would have been considerably enhanced. Rugby’s 2,000 compares very well with the figures of any other district in the United Kingdom, and had all districts done as well as this pro ratio to population, Lord Kitchener would already have secured more than his two million men, and there would have been no necessity for the household census and the persistent talk of conscription. Not only have the numbers from Rugby been good, but the men themselves have been excellent, and commanding officers of the depots to which they have been sent have spoken in high terms of their fitness and respectability. Since the advent of the engineering works to the town, a large proportion of the population has consisted of young men, and it the very cream of these who have responded to the country’s call-fine, clean, healthy, fellows, for the most part, who, we confidently believe, will, if they have the opportunity, nobly maintain the honour the town of their birth or adoption. The recruits have been drawn from all sections of society, and the members of the local trades unions have responded remarkably well. No less than 345 members of the unions affiliated to the Rugby Trades and Labour Council have enlisted, and this figure is very satisfactory considering that many of the members are over enlistment age, and also that the members of the largest union, the N.U.R, are not allowed to enlist.

Then, too, the villages in the district have nothing to be ashamed of in this respect, every man having enlisted from some of the smaller communities. The 2,000 recruits for Lord Kitchener’s Army, however, does not exhaust Rugby’s contribution to the national forces, as when the Army and Navy were mobilized, several hundreds of reserves were called up, notably from Rugby and New Bilton.

The Rugby Howitzer Battery and E Company R.W.R have volunteered for foreign service practically to a man, and hope to leave England very shortly.

Now that the figures from Rugby have passed the two thousand mark, it may be of interest to give a list of the regiments which the Rugby men have entered. The King’s Royal Rifles are easily ahead. With regard to the Royal Warwick Regiment, a considerable number attributed to that regiment joined at the commencement of the war for general service, and may thus have been transferred to other units. The reason that the number from Rugby joining this famous regiment is comparatively small is that it was quickly filled up, and local men had to choose other infantry regiments, the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, which has recently suffered considerably, being the most popular of these. The figures are :-

King’s Royal Rifles  466

Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry  315

Royal Warwickshire  275

Royal Field Artillery  249

Royal Engineers  130

Cavalry (including 35 in Hussars, and 34 in Lancers)    87

Army Service Corps    56

Royal Berkshire Regiment   50

South Staffordshires    38

Worcestershire  31

Royal Amy Medical Corps  28

Royal Garrison Artillery  24

Rifle Brigade 19

Guards (6 Coldstreamers, 12Grenadiers)  18

These figures do not include men who enlisted prior to August 20th, and a number who were accepted for miscellaneous units. Many men in the Rugby recruiting area have also enlisted at other recruiting offices.

Other regiments chosen by local men were : Remounts, Army Ordnance Corps, Gloucesters, North Staffs, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, Royal Wiltshires, Royal Fusliers, Northamptonshire Regiment, Northumberland Fusiliers, Dorsets, Norfolks, East Yorks, East Lancs, Royal -sh[?], Seaforth Highlanders, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Life Guards, Dragoons, Leicestershires,and Birkenhead Bantams.

Although Rugby has done well, however, it can do better still, and we feel certain that there are hundreds of young fellows who have no ties, whose duty it is to answer to the call of the country in her hour of need. The whole of the infantry regiments are now open to receive suitable recruits, and also the R.A.M.C, the A.S.C, cavalry of the line (except the 1st and 2nd Life Guards), and the Royal Engineers.

All who wish to enlist should apply at the Drill Hall, Park Road (at the earliest possible date), where they will be promptly attended to by Co.-Sergt Winchcombe. and advised as to the best arm of the service for them to join.

The figures for the past week are better than have been experienced for some time, and 28 recruits have been accepted at Rugby. This number includes 11 from Priors Marston, who enlisted on Wednesday afternoon. Among this party were four brothers named Haynes, of whom three, W J, W F, and A F were accepted and one rejected ; and the patriotic mother of these lads remarked to the recruiting officer: “ If I had a dozen sons I should feel it my duty to let them all go.” Two of their cousins also enlisted. Sergt Handley, Coldstream Guards, has been assisting Colour-Sergt Winchcombe during the past week, and has already rendered very useful service.

RUGBY SHUNTER PROMOTED ON THE FIELD.

Thomas Loveridge, who before joining the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was employed as a shunter on the L & N-W Railway at Rugby, has been promoted to the rank of sergeant on the field for saving the Welsh Fusiliers at a critical moment. His portrait appeared in “ The Daily Sketch ” yesterday (Friday).

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE SHELLS AGAIN.

A lance-corporal, in the Welsh Fusiliers, writing to his parents in Rugby under, date November 27th, says :-“We are having a well-deserved rest for eight days ; then we go back again to the trenches. It has started to thaw a bit, and it makes the roads and trenches awfully muddy and very hard to bring the guns into action. I am writing this in a cafe which has been wrecked by the Germans. They have looted all the large shops-anything that is no good they burn. The shelling is not so severe ; but the snipers are still active. They are mostly all crack shots. We are in a large town now. The Germans keep flashing their searchlights on the town to see if reinforcements are coming. Many of our chaps have got colds caused by the wet trenches. The Indian troops are doing some good work. They are so hot-headed they want to charge the Germans all the time. It has gone a little warmer, but we still long for a good    fire. This town is crowded with refugees. They can tell you some awful stories of the Germans wrecking their homes. We go back to the trenches in five days, and shall look forward to the shells again.”

“ A SPLENDID SIGHT.”

Pte J Bale, 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who is with the Expeditionary Force, has written to his parents, residing at 2 Lagoe Place, Rugby, and says: “You saw in the Rugby Advertiser what was going on during the 16 days up till the time that lance-corporal out of our Battalion wrote to his mother. He and I are the only two in the 2nd Battalion who come from Rugby, and I can tell you it was all perfectly true. Both of us have had our comrades shot down beside us ; we have both been very lucky, and we have not stopped a bit of shell or a bullet from a German sniper. They fire at us at a very short range,and some of them are excellent shots with their rifles, and I am certain they must say the same about us, for as soon as any one of them shows a little of himself out of the trench he goes down like a log of wood. One Saturday night during last month they made several attacks on us, but as soon as they showed themselves out of the trenches to make a fierce attack we let them have it. We fired into them as fast as our rifles would let us, and it was raining to make things worse : but when it was day light the result was a splendid sight-from the German trenches to ours was a thick line of Germans, all stiff and cold ; some of them had got up to our barbed wire, and they were lying across it like ‘ dirty washing.’ All this happened during the 25 days we were in the trenches, without a rest, wash and shave, and brush up. The result of these 25 days to the Battalion was about 300 killed and wounded. We had three days’ rest after that, and now we have taken up some different trenches, where the fighting is not quite so fierce. We are all happy and singing all day long.”

In another letter Pte Bale says :- “I was pleased to see that the good old St Matthew’s School is still thinking of the ‘old boys.’ There are a lot of names of ‘ old boys ‘ that I know on the programme, but I don’t think many are out here yet. . . At present I am sitting in my trench, which is not very pleasant, as we had snow a few days ago. It has been freezing ever since, and I can assure you we are nearly frozen out. The fighting now is pretty calm, but the weather is cold.”

AN ENJOYABLE PICNIC.

Pte A Bottrill, 1st Coldstream Guards, son of Mr H Bottrill, 94 Bridget Street, who, as we reported recently, is an inmate of a hospital at Versailles, suffering from wounds, has written home. He says : “This last month in Belgium has been so hot that it was been as much as we could do to look after our lives, fighting day after day and night after night, and no sleep. It has been like a nightmare, and at times I thought I should go mad, with dead and dying men on all sides. When I got hit I didn’t think I should get away alive, as there were shells on all sides, and the Germans had got through one part of our line.

Several times I had to lie down because the bullets were coming so thick, and I thought escape was impossible. That is how I kept going until I took cover in a wood, where I found several dead Frenchmen and horses ; but, thank God, I am alive. We have had some losses, but there is one consolation : we have made those infernal Germans squeal more than once, and if they have warmed us up we have done in about ten times as many. But they have got to know us now, and they say we Coldstreamers are ten times worse than hell-and that’s hot enough. On Oct 29th we fought back to back, and on the day I got hit we finished up after a most adventurous and enjoyable three picnic (I don’t think).” Further on Pte Bottrill says : “ When my chum, who is in here wounded, rode a cow from the firing line you would have laughed. The general and home staff officers were watching his antics from a farm building, and had a good laugh over it. My friend says he didn’t care ; it was quicker than walking if it did make him sore.”

HAPPY AT THE FRONT.

Pte F Collins, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, in a letter from the front to his uncle, Mr T Wilson, of Spring Street, received on Wednesday morning, states : “You cannot understand how much a letter will cheer us Tommies up at the front, especially when no news is forthcoming. You will be pleased to hear that I am quite well and in the beet of health, and I must tell you that we are all very happy up at the front in spite of all hardships. They will not discourage us one little bit. One would think we were out here for sport, and not for the war, according to the spirit of the troops. We have been provided with new warm clothing, &c, since we have been back in billets, having a well-earned rest after coming out of the trenches. This regiment has evidently been in for some severe fighting. A casualty list published on Tuesday contained the names of no less than 55 men killed.

WAR CASUALTIES.

OLD MURRAYIAN’S NOBLE DEATH.

In reply to a letter from a local gentleman asking for details of the death of Gunner Thrasher, son of Mrs A Henson, 6 Charlotte Street, Rugby, Major C C Robertson, 11th Battery R.F.A, writes :- “ This man was killed in action whilst gallantly serving his gun under fire, his death being instantaneous and without suffering. He was shot by a bullet through the heart. Please convey my sincere sympathy to his mother, and say that she may be proud of the conduct of her son, who was doing his duty manfully and well. It will be a comfort to her to know he was spared all suffering and pain.” Gunner Thrasher, whose death we reported recently, was only 20 years of age and a late pupil of the Murray School, which may well be proud of numbering such a gallant lad among its “ old boys.”

NEW BILTON MAN KILLED IN ACTION.

Much sympathy will be felt for Mrs C Dagley, of 11 Bridget Street, New Bilton, who on Saturday evening received official intimation that her third son, Pte Charles Jackson Dagley, 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Boys), had been killed in action on October 31st. Pte Dagley, who was only 22 years of age, was the son of the late Mr Charles Dagley, and had been in the Army nearly five years. Previous to enlisting he was employed at Messrs Willans & Robinson’s. His elder brother is at the front with the Coldstream Guards.

OLD ST MATTHEW’S BOY SEVERELY WOUNDED.

Mr F J A Sparks, “ Oakville,” Stephen Street, Rugby, has received a postcard from one of the hospitals at the front, stating that Bandsman J Milne, of the Scottish Rifles, has received a severe wound of the spine, causing paralysis. His condition is grave, but there is no immediate danger. Bandsman Milne is an old St Matthew’s boy, and his father, the late Colour-Sergt Milne, was for many years an instructor to the Rugby School Officers’ Training Corps.

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