LETTERS FROM THE FRONT
BULLET BEHIND A FUNNY BONE.
Pte R Barnes, Scots Guards, of Harborough Magna, was formerly a goods shunter at Rugby Station, and had transferred to Willesden when called up. He went out with the Expeditionary Force, and was wounded on October 29th. He was sent back to hospital in London, and has just had a spell at home. He is returning to the front on Monday next. Relating how he got his wound he writes :—
“ Here the morning I got wounded we partook of breakfast biscuit, we hadn’t time to have any more. Just then these Germans came in the back way, and tried to sell us some lead in the shape of shells and bullets. They came along in front of us in thousands. Oh ! yes ; they must have thought we were all in bed asleep so early in the morning—5.0 a.m. No ; we simply waited on them, and whatever they asked for we supplied them very quickly. But, no, they were hungry that morning, and still they came on. Our little line rallied, and then retired about 200 yards. On came those worn-out Germans, thinking we were running back to England. But, no. My ! What a shock they received when we turned round to meet them. Yes, quite 20,000 of them came in full view. Down went their first line. On we went. Still they came. Then our artillery found them. Off they went in all directions. What was left of them was very little. Their dead lay in heaps scattered about. I should think their casualties were about 15,000 to 20,000 dead and wounded that morning. But their shells burst over my head, and I happened to be in the way of a shrapnel bullet, so it lodged itself in my arm, and I was sent home. Then they found the bullet hiding behind my funny bone. What a place to hide ! Well, I have an opinion, like everybody else, and that is, that in the end the Allies will win by a very large majority. Wishing all our boys the best of luck, and a quick end to the great war.”
NEW BILTON YOUTH IN THE BATTLE OF FALKLAND ISLES.
Mr Jim Hedges, son of Mr Fred Hedges, 63 Campbell Street, New Bilton, who is a sailor on H.M.S Canopus, has written several interesting letters home, in which he refers to the part played by this ship in the Battle of the Falkland Islands. The writer is an old St Matthew’s schoolboy, and was an expert swimmer, on one occasion winning the “ Manning ” Cup at the Public Baths.
In a letter dated November 22nd, and written from Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, he says “ We have been through pretty strenuous times while we were at sea, and after we left Gibraltar we spent a considerable time in the tropics, and the heat made it very uncomfortable for us, besides various other things which take place under war conditions. We went round the other side of South America via the Straits of Megellan, and I must say the scenery was marvellous, made more so by the snow. We have now anchored at Stanley, which is not a very big place, and we are likely to be here for some time to come. Unlike the North Sea fleet, we do not get our breakfast ‘ Daily Mirror,’ and you can guess how the September papers, which some of the chaps had sent yesterday, were scanned eagerly by everybody. A Hillmorton chap on this ship had half an Rugby Advertiser sent to him, which was welcome to both of us. Summer is coming here now, though it is always snowing ; but don’t worry at all about me, because I am in the best of health and safe, although we are not exactly living on roast duck and peas every day, we are quite all right, and ready for any stray Goebens and Breslaus that like to come along.”
On December 8th—the day of Admiral Sturdee’s great Victory—the writer in another letter home says :— I have just left this letter to go to action stations against eight German ships, the account of which you will read in the paper sooner than here. Things were going on as usual here until the engagement this morning. Our ships (not us) are chasing them, and I give them two more hours afloat.”
On December 18th he writes :-“ As I hear that the mail has not gone, I feel I would just like to tell you what went on the day before yesterday. About 9 a.m on December 8th five German warships, with three auxiliaries, were seen approaching the Falklands. Three remained off and two drew up to battle position, and stood by to give the wireless station a broadside. Meanwhile the Canopus, which was guardship at Stanley and moored head and stem on the mud, had gone to action station. As the German crew were seen to man their guns the Canopus fore turret let drive with a 12-in. shell, which missed by inches. The remainder of the ships in harbour were useless. As it was, our first shell richochetted, and half of the shell cleared the after parts of the upper deck of the German ship, Gneisneau. The two ships immediately withdrew out of range, the Gneisneau with clouds of steam issuing a midships. Unfortunately we could not get off the mud till floodtide, so the Cornwall and the Carnarvon went outside ; and the Germans, thinking they had another easy thing, like the Chili Battle, slewed round and came to engage the two small cruisers. Imagine their feelings when out from behind the Islands came the Inflexible and Invincible, followed by light cruisers—Bristol, Glasgow, Kent, and Macedonia, an armed merchant ship. We heard the guns booming for some time, and two or three hours afterwards we got the news : “ Scharnhorst and Gneisneau (the two big ones) sunk.” Later we heard : “ Nurnberg sunk by H.M.S Kent, and Leipzig sunk by Cornwall.” Now we are waiting to hear of the sinking of the Dresden, as the big ships are chasing her. Of the Karlsruhe, the ship off East Africa, more anon. Our ships saved a large number of German officers and men, and we have got a lot aboard Canopus having the time of their lives. The success of the engagement and the saving of the wireless station was due to the Canopus lookouts, and being in a position to fire on emergency, although it was unexpected on both aides.
RECRUITING AT RUGBY.
MANY STILL NEEDED.
Men are still urgently needed for practically al branches of the his Majesty’s Army. Apparently this fact is far from being realised in this district, but although a great many men have been recruited at Rugby Drill Hall, over 2,000 in fact, there are still hundreds in the town who could enlist, but who are remaining deaf to the call, as is shown by the figures for the last few weeks, which have shown a considerable falling off.
Nuneaton has already caught and surpassed Rugby’s total, while the percentage of recruits from Birmingham, which at one time did not compare very favourably with that of Rugby, is now in advance of our town.
Bearing these facts in mind, it is hoped that, with the incentive to recruiting which has been provided in other towns by the billeting of soldiers, the young men of Rugby, who have no reasonable excuse for holding back, will roll up at the Drill Hall in Park Road, where every facility for joining any branch of the service will be given by the Recruiting Officer, Colour-Sergt Winchcomb, who is always most courteous and urbane to any who are desirous of doing their part. Rugby has led the Midlands in recruiting in the past, and it would be a thousand pities if the town, of which we are all so proud, now falls into a third or fourth position.
With a view to assisting those desirous of joining, Colour-Sergt Winchcomb announces that in this district the Royal Engineers are open for carpenters, tailors, office telegraphists, saddlers and shoeing smiths. Drivers may be accepted from 5ft 3in and upwards, and others from 5ft 4in and upwards. The pay of saddlers and shoeing smiths is 5s per day. The Foot Guards are open to men of a minimum height of 5ft 8in. The R.F.A is open for gunners and drivers—the former from 5ft 6in to 5ft 10in, and the latter from 5ft 3in to 5ft 7in. The Houshold Cavalry, Royal Horse Guards only, are accepting men from 5ft 9in to 6ft 1in. Good pair-horse drivers are required by the A.S.C for horse transport, and shoeing smiths up to 45 years of age are also required at 5s per day. Wheelers, clerks, and bakers are also desired, and will be paid at the ordinarv A.S.C rates. These may be accepted up to 40 years of age. Mechanical transport drivers may pass the eyesight test with the aid of spectacles, and are accepted if physically fit to perform the work required of them. Men enlisting in the Infantry may be appointed to any regiment, but no man recruited in any district outside the Scottish command other than a bona-fide Scotsman can be appointed to a Highland Regiment. Those who do not want to attach themselves to any branch of the Regular troops may still show their patriotism by joining the Territorials, Yeomanry, Howitzers, and infantry.
The following have enlisted this week :- R.A.M.C., J Humphreys, Cyril Everest, E E Bazeley, and H Clements ; A.S.C, J E W Kingston, W H Thomas, B Darling, J Newbury, F Gardner, and E W Robinson ; R.W.R, R Colledge ; Oxon and Bucks L.I. A Woodward ; K.R.R. J Noon ; Cheshire Regiment, J O’Donnell ; Royal Dublin Fusiliers, R Cantillon ; Border Regiment, John Nolan ; Bedfordshire Regiment, Alfred Dye ; Lancashire Fusiliers, Walter Summer ; Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, Duncan Reynolds ; R.F.A, G Taylor.
THE TROOPS AT RUGBY.
The characteristic cheerfulness of the average British Tommy was admirably illustrated by an incident which occurred at Rugby last week. A good lady was sympathising with several soldiers upon the fact that they would probably be sent to the war, whereupon one of the khaki-clad heroes replied cheerfully, “ Don’t you worry about us, missis ; that’s what we get paid for.”
An amusing instance of hero worship occurred in the town the other day. A young recruit in the new Army was walking along the Lawford Road with his brand new equipment and the proud air of one who was doing his duty, when he was met by two urchins, about six years of age. The smaller of the two drew himself up stiffly, and in the approved military manner gave the salute, to which the soldier responded. The other boy, with a cynical smile, made a remark to his companion which was inaudible to the passer-by ; but the little lad, with a sigh responded in a tone of envy : “ My word, but don’t I wish I was him.”
A SOLDIER’S APPRECIATION.
“ Of all the towns I have been in,” said a soldier to our representative the other day, “ I have nowhere been treated so well as at Rugby, and in saying this I believe I can speak for the whole of our regiment.” The soldier, a Scotchman, has seen service in different parts of the world, and has been stationed at various centres in the United Kingdom ; but the kindness extended to the troops at Rugby far exceeded that shown by other communities, and evidently he will be sorry when the time comes for him to leave such a hospitable centre.
SCOUTS’ DEFENCE CORPS.
The first drill of this Corps will take place on Saturday, 30th January, at the Drill Hall. Fall in promptly at 7.30. Uniform to be worn.
As there is considerable doubt in the minds of some parents about allowing their sons to join, we will try and make clear our principles.
Our great aim is to train all scouts between the ages of 15 and 17 years, so that in the event of a grave national emergency we may be capable of rendering assistance even if only in a small way. One person fully trained and efficient is as good as a dozen untrained persons. If we train our boys they will be able to take their places when they are required, perchance relieving some trained body of men who could be of greater service elsewhere.
Remember the scouts of Belgium, who stood up with their fathers and elder brothers and did a man’s share of the work. Remember our own scouts, who remained at their posts during the Scarborough raid. Are we going to be less ready to prepare ourselves, and when prepared, to do our duty ? We all pray that our own fair country will not be devastated as Belgium and France has been, but if such an event comes to pass, and the Germans we may be sure will try to do so, we must be ready. Whether they come, or whether they do not, it is our duty to prepare ourselves. If your boys wish to train themselves, weask you to give them your written consent to do so. They will not be compelled to do anything or go anywhere, but let us have them ready if they should he needed. Remember Louvain !
W A RANDLES, Scoutmaster, 5th Rugby (B.T.H) Troop.
BY SCOUTMASTERS OF THE 16TH TROOP.
On Saturday last some of our Scouts were busy doing a ” good turn.” Detachments’ from the Lower, Murray and Elborow School troops paraded at the Benn Buildings with trucks, carts and large baskets to deliver toys and other gifts to our soldiers’ children. About 390 parcels were sent out, and the recipients were delighted with their presents. The parade was under the command of Hon Scoutmaster W T Coles Hodges and Assistant Scoutmaster L F Muriel.
It says something for the energy and intelligence displayed by the lads that the actual work of delivery was easily accomplished before tea, though the homes were as widely separated as Oak Terrace in the south, Boughton Road in the north. York Street in the west, and Spoilbank in the east.
The following boys were on duty, and the Christmas Gifts Committee, through their Secretary, have expressed their appreciation of their work :—Lower School : Scouts Ashby, Fenley, Lovatt, Milner, Sheasby, Stribley, and Watson. Murray School: Scouts Hart, Atkinson, Holes Pennington, Malin, Hasselwood, Kay, Winterburn, Clarke, Virnals, and Harris. Elborow School : Scouts Amos, Easton, Irons. Chaplain, Maynard, Hemmings, Hopcraft, Snook, Silvester, Toomes, and Wright.
16th Troop : Fall-in to-day (Saturday) at 2.30 p.m : (a) First and second-class cooking ; (b) judging distance, number, height, &c.