“ E ” COMPANY AT THE FRONT.
Pte L Stewart, one of the Advertiser employees who volunteered for active service and is with the 7th Warwickshire (Territorial) Battalion at the front, tells us in a letter we have received from him that their Easter Sunday spell in the trenches went off very well, but his Company had two wounded. About the middle of the week they were moved on to a town upon which bombs were dropped by enemy aircraft before they had been in the place half-an-hour, injuring several people. Barring a few colds, the health of the men was A1, and they had done all that had been asked of them. With full kit on, each man carries on average 70lb—the roads were rotten for marching, and their marches had been from eight to ten miles. In a subsequent letter, he writes :—“ Yesterday we made another move, and came across the Rugby Battery. From what they told me they were soon in action, and appear to have been giving a good account of themselves. I spoke to Major Nickalls (Spring Hill). He was quite pleased the old E Company (now C Company ) were so near. The respective headquarters are within a few yards of each other. C Company went into the trenches again last night for four days. You should see the country round here ; everywhere the place has been shelled—it must have been awful. I saw Mr C T Morris Davies (the well-known International hockey player) the other day. It’s really surprising who you meet.”
Another Territorial writes :—“ We are only about 400 yards from the German trenches, and I am writing these few lines in my little dug-out, under fire. We are having a fairly quiet time just now. We get a few German shells occasionally, just to let us know they are still alive. As we are so near the German trenches we have to keep one eye shut for sleep and the other on the alert. We expect to have about four days in and four out. We are all cheerful and in the pink, only for the food, for we have to eat biscuits for nearly every meal and they are as hard as bricks. The next time we come into the trenches I shall have to bring a couple of loaves with me. We get plenty of corned beef and biscuit, but we are getting about sick of these. All the houses round this district are blown to bits. Last week I had a walk round the cemetery to see the graves of our comrades who fell at the beginning of the war. They are buried three deep in ordinary wooden coffins, and a small cross, bearing their name and regiment, is erected over them. We also see small crosses scattered about the fields showing where soldiers are buried. Whilst I am writing this the sun is shining beautifully and the country looks grand. It makes one think of the fields at home. You would laugh to see us in our little dug-outs. They are built of sandbags, about a yard high, so you see we have to duck down and creep in.”
“ I am still in the best of health,” writes other man. “ France is a lot different to what I thought it would be. We are all enjoying being out here as the weather is lovely. The place we are staying at now has been very much shelled ; the Germans shell it now occasionally, but we don’t mind and take no notice at all. We see plenty of aeroplanes out here ; the best sight I have ever seen is the wonderful way in which the aeroplanes avoid the shells which are being constantly fired at them ; they must be piloted by expert airmen for the shells burst all round them. The crucifixes out here are a lovely sight, everywhere you go you see them ; it is a wonderful sight to see a place that has been shelled and the crucifix not touched.”
THE HOWITZERS AT THE FRONT.
Corpl A Sparks, of the 5th Warwickshire R.F.A (Howitzer) Battery, writing to a friend in Rugby, under date of April 14th, graphically describes the passage across the Channel. The Wednesday night after arrival was spent in camp, and next day they entrained for the front. After 20 hours’ travelling in cattle trucks they arrived at their destination—about three miles from the firing line. “ The only indication that a great war was in progress,” he say. “ was the continual booming of the guns and the burning of magnesium flares, which the Germans send up during the night to prevent surprise infantry attacks. Otherwise everything was quite normal. On Easter Sunday morning we had a Church parade and Holy Communion, so that you will see we spent this festival pretty well the same as you did at home. On Easter Monday night, in a pelting rainstorm, we took up our place in the firing line. On Tuesday night, just a week from leaving England, we were in action for the first time, and have been in action every day since. We have done some very good firing;. Major Nickalls has been thanked for the splendid support he has given to the infantry. On Sunday we had some “ Whistling Willies ” over our line and about 40 the next day. Fortunately no one in our battery was hurt, although I am sorry to say there were about ten wounded and five killed in another battery. The only casualty we have had in the brigade is one of the Coventry Battery killed.”
“ You would be astonished at the callousness of the natives round here. Even when firing is progressing it is a common sight to see the farmers doing their ploughing, etc. Even the women and children are walking about quite close to the guns, and apparently they can see no danger.”
TERRITORIALS’ FOOTBALL MATCH.
The Howitzer Battery played their first football match in France on Saturday, April 17th. Teams:— Gunners : A Goode, Major Nickalls, Spicer, Bombardier Jesson, Corpl Watson, Lieut Pridmore, Smith, Alsop, Asher, Laurceston, and Judd. Drivers : Mills, Sergt Dosher, Woolley, Corpl Shelley, Ashworth, Wood, Judd, Turner, Taylor, Dyer, Humphries. Referee: Gunner A Jobey. The match was played just behind the firing line. The Gunners proved to be dead on the target as per usual, leading 2-0 at the interval. The Drivers proved good stayers, pulling level early in the second half. After good all-round play, the Gunners snatched a victory five minutes from time. Scorers :—Lieut Pridmore, Smith and Asher, and Taylor (2).
LOCAL WAR CASUALTIES.
COSFORD: RIFLEMAN E. STEEL.
As mentioned in our last issue, news has been received from the War Office by Mr and Mrs Steel, of Cosford, that their son, Edward Steel, of the King’s Royal Rifles, was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on March 16th. No particulars of his death have come to hand, and the only consolation that his aged father and mother have is that he died bravely fighting for his country. E. Steel, who was 27 years of age, joined Lord Kitchener’s Army on September 2nd, previous to which he was employed by the Midland Railway Company at No. 2 Length, Rugby. He was drafted from Sheerness on February 2nd to go to France with other young men of the villages around. He was much liked, and as he always lived at home with his parents, he will be sadly missed by them, as well as by all who knew him.
RUGBY SOLDIER SEVERELY WOUNDED.
Mrs H Bottrill, of Bridget Street, Rugby, has received news that her son, Pte Frank Henry Bottrill, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was admitted to Boulogne Hospital on Easter Sunday, suffering from a severe bullet wound in the head, and as the result of an operation he has lost the sight of the left eye. Pte Bottrill who was a reservist, and is married and lives at Wellingborough, is an old St Matthew’s boy. His brother-Pte A W Bottrill, of the Coldstream Guards—was badly wounded on November 2nd, and has never really recovered from the effects of the wound. He has ,however, been back to the fighting line ; but the last news that was heard of him was that he was at Havre recuperating, although he expected to be soon drafted back to the trenches.
Mr T Thompson, of Willoughby, has had several interesting letters from his son, who is a member of the Northants Yeomanry. The regiment went out to the front last November, and was one of the earliest of the Territorial forces to go on active service. They have been in several actions, and, as may be supposed have not escaped without their share of casualties. They were in the battle of Neuve Chapelle, and fortunately the quick-firing gun team, to which he was attached, passed through the engagement without mishap. Previous to that they had been nine days in the trenches, and during that time they experienced some very cold weather. Trooper Thompson had one of his feet frost-bitten. He was sent back to the base hospital, where, unfortunately, he developed bronchitis in a somewhat severe form. His latest letters however, state that he is getting better, but it will be some time before he is quite convalescent.
THE LATE PTE F HOWARD.—A memorial service was held in memory of Pte F Howard, only son of Mr Fred Howard, of Wolston, who lost his life at Neuve Chapelle when fighting with the Worcestershire Regiment, as reported in our issue of the 10th inst. The service was conducted by the Ven Archdeacon T Meredith, and the large edifice was well filled by residents of Brandon and Wolston and the surrounding district ; whilst a number of soldiers home on furlough attended. The Brandon and Wolston Scouts were also present to pay their last respects to their departed comrade. The principal mourners were deceased’s father and sister, Miss Clara Howard. The proceedings were most impressive, and it was quite evident that the majority of the large congregation mourned the loss of so young a life, many of them being visibly affected. The form of memorial service was the one authorised for use in the diocese of Chichester. The hymns were : “ My God, my Father, while I stray,” “ When our heads are bowed with woe,” and “ God of the living in Whose eyes.” Before the service closed the Vicar gave a suitable address, and his remarks were listened to with rapt attention. At the close the organist, Mr W S Lole, played the “ Dead March.”
The casualties in the 7th Warwickshires reported up-to-date are : One killed and 12 wounded.
A non-commissioned officer writes :— “ The Battalion has now come out of the trenches for four days. During the four days the Battalion has lost one killed, a chap from Coventry, and about 12 wounded, although I don’t think any of them are very serious. The 5th Battalion have had three killed. We relieved the Dublin Fusiliers when our Battalion went in, and now the 8th Battalion Royal Warwicks are relieving us. Most of the the firing takes place at night ; there’s not much doing during the day, except artillery fire. The Howitzer Battery are pretty close to us, and it was reported yesterday (April 14th) that they had put three of the German guns out of action. While in the trenches many of the chaps had some very narrow escapes. One of the German shells burst in “ A ” Company’s trenches, also one in “ B ” Company’s, fortunatley without hurting anyone. I think myself the Battalion has been very fortunate at having so few casualties. We are now in ——, so that we have now been in both the countries where the fighting is.”
RECRUITING AT RUGBY.
Recruiting has been rather more satisfactory at Rugby during the past week, and twelve have been attested, the majority for the Army Service Corps. Their names are :—A.H C : L Morris, J C Munton, C H Brown, T W Summers, F Summers, J Ingram, P Kimberley, D Jonathan, S New. Remounts : A Penn. K.R.R : M E Goodyer. Army Veterinary Corps : J W Harris.