8th May 1915. Exciting Times in the Trenches

EXCITING TIMES IN THE TRENCHES

Corpl Morris Davies, of Rugby, the well-known international hooker player, who is now serving in the 6th Warwickshire Regiment, with the British Expeditionary Force, writes to a friend in Rugby, under date April 29th :- If you join the Flying Corps, I can only say you will join the finest body of sportsmen or experts in the world. What you see about our pilots in the paper is true. We lads in the trenches see them all day and welcome them more than I can say. I will just tell you two little stories of the last two days. Last Monday morning, 6 a.m, an English airman came over our lines. He flew over the Germans and they sent 15 shells at him. He came back only to return, and again 15 shells were fired at him, again he came back, only to return once more. He went over the German lines four times, and in all 54 shells burst round him. He then ran home. Last Tuesday, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we saw a machine coming over the G lines, about 1,000ft up, directly he got over the G lines he fell to not more than 70ft. The Germans stood up in their trenches and gave him two minutes’ rifle fire as hard as they could. Out chaps then got up and let the Germans have it full in the face ; some got it, I’ll bet. The aeroplane wobbled badly, and some say the observer then took charge, and the machine rose, just cleared our lines and some trees, and off for home. It was a thrilling moment. It must have been engine trouble to start, then perhaps the volplane started things going. He must have been hit. I came out of the trenches last night after 96 hours. We had quite an easy time on the whole. The German snipers are devils. They are at us all day and all night, and you take it from me they can shoot. I wouldn’t be our top row of sand-bags for £1,000 a week. On Tuesday night I took a working party out in front of our parapet. After we had been out 2 ½ hours, the Germans spotted us. The snipers then gave us a few souvenirs. Then their lines opened on us, together with a machine gun. We all lay in a hole like rats for five minutes, and then one at a time I gave the order to up and jump the parapet back into the trench. Ye Gods, see the lads get over. All well. I have seen Redmayne, B Relton, Pomeroy, S Rogers, Jerry Lee, and various others, and Will, the Scotch three-quarter. I am now lance-corporal, and I believe, I am to get my second stripe to-night.

A RUGBY SOLDIER IN A FAMOUS CHARGE.

HOW MICHAEL O’LEAREY WON HIS V.C.

Ptc W Gardener, of the 3rd Coldstream Guards, an ex-member of the Rugby Police Force, who previous to being called up on August 1st was employed at the B.T.H. Works, visited Rugby on sick leave on Friday in last week. Pte Gardener, who was amongst the earliest to be sent to the front, has had some thrilling experiences and more than one narrow escape. As we announced last week, he was wounded in the head, and knee at La Bassee on February 16th, and was only discharged from the hospital at Sheffield about ten days ago. It was in the famous charge in the La Bassee brickfield, which was graphically described by “ Eye-witness ” at the time, that Pte Gardener was wounded. Lord Feilding, D.S.O, eldest son of the Earl of Denbigh, led the charge, and Pte Gardener waxed eloquent in speaking of this gallant young officer, remarking that he was one of the finest men he had ever seen. It was on the same occasion that Sergt O’Learey, of the Irish Guards, set the world talking by the marvellous exploit which gained for him the coveted “ V.C.” Pte Gardener was an eye-witness of O’Learey’s gallantry, and he informed our representative that he never saw a man run so hard in his life as the Irishman did when single-handed he charged the German position. “ He was over the wall before the whistle went,” added Pte Gardener, “ and was half-way across the space before the rest of his company had started. He was only an ordinary, slim-looking chap, but he got excited like the rest of us do, only a little more so.” Pte Gardener described the German troops as a “ dirty lot of blighters ” and added that he had seen them bayoneting British wounded. The British troops were having to rough it at the front ; but, he added optimistically, “ We are winning slowly, and the general advance will soon come off. When we do charge the Germans they run like rabbits. They don’t like cold steel.” Pte Gardener is still receiving surgical treatment for his knee, which was badly injured by a portion of a “ Jack Johnson.”

WITH THE RUGBY INFANTRY CO.

Pte F P Moore, of the machine-gun section C Company (formerly E Company), of the 7th Battalion R.W.R, writing from “France or Belgium” to a friend in Rugby, says :-“ We are still at the ‘four in and four out ’ shifts, and go in for the third shift to-night (April 28th). We all marched down to a city near to here and had a good bath. This last four days out we spent in hutments, some four miles behind the firing line. The trenches, or rather the firing line here, is most weird and complex, as far removed from a straight line as possible. At night you can hear firing all round you—front, rear, and flank—at varying distances. We generally get a little shelling each day, and then an aeroplane or two goes up over the German lines, taking no notice of the shells they fire at it. We counted 100 shells at one machine, all wide, and never any sign of a hit yet. The pieces of shell fall in our trenches, so we have to look out. The worst part so far is the march to and from the trenches in full pack. Shell fire is a bit rotten also.”

LOCAL WAR CASUALTIES.

NEW BILTON GUARDSMAN A PRISONER.

Mr H Collins, of 73 New Street, New Bilton, has received news that his son, Acting-Lance-Sergt Harry Collins, of the 1st Coldstream Guards, who has been missing since December 21st, is a prisoner of was at Wittenbuy, Germany, but nothing has been heard from Lance-Sergt Collins himself, although his parents have communicated with him. It will be remembered that Lance-Sergt Collins, who is not yet 20 years of age, and who evidently has a successful career before him, was wounded at the commencement of the war, and spent a few days at his home before returning to the front on November 2nd.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

The Warwickshire Yeomanry have arrived at Alexandria.

Mr Lewis Loverock his received news that his son, Second Lieutenant Gerald Loverock, has been wounded, but no details are yet to hand.

Early on Tuesday morning an airship was seen hovering around in the vicinity of Rugby, and then it took a turn over Northants before returning to its base. No alarm was manifested by the people, the nationality of the ship being recognised.

Mr W G Gurney, eldest son of Mr John Gurney, formerly of Rugby, has been given a commission in the 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Mr Gurney was at one time a member of the Nuneaton Rugby football team.

Mr Herbert Ringrose, of Rugby, has left for France, to take up ambulance duties with the Red Cross Society, and is at present at Boulogne Hospital. For a number of years he has been a member of the Fire Brigade and Ambulance Corps, and has recently carried out the secretarial duties.

Mr J J McKinnell, son of Mr J J McKinnell, of Rugby, who has been serving in the trenches for some six months past, has obtained a commission as second-lieutenant in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and will, we understand, be quartered in the Isle of Wight.

Lance-Sergt T Harris, of the 1st Warwicks, son of Mr T Harris, 22 Corbett Street, Rugby, has been badly wounded in both legs, and it has been necessary to amputate his right foot. He is now in hospital at Boulogne, He went out in August last year, and has been in most of the large battles. His parents do not know at present when or where the wounds were sustained.

The first list of casualties sustained during the land operations in the Dardanelles contained the name of Capt Dudley Graham Johnson, D.S.O, of the 2nd South Wales Borderers, the regiment which was recently billeted in New Bilton. Capt Johnson is reported to have been wounded. He gained his decoration by his gallant behaviour at Tsingtau on the night of November 5th. He showed conspicuous ability during the operations against the German positions there, and exhibited great gallantry in rescuing several wounded men, although he was exposed to heavy fire from the machine guns.

“ OUR SOLDIERS ” IN THE DARDANELLES.

Nowhere, perhaps, is the progress of the land forces in the Dardanelles watched more eagerly than in Rugby and the surrounding districts, and this interest is accounted for by the fact that the four regiments which were billeted in the town, and who won, the hearts of the residents in a remarkably short space of time, are taking part in this historic effort. The gallant fellows, who are affectionately referred to by Rugbeians as “ Our soldiers,” have been in action almost daily since April 25th, and, judging from the officers casualty list, their losses have been very heavy. The Scottish lads have to mourn the loss of their gallant commanding officer, Lieut-Col Koe, and several other able officers ; whilst the Border Regiment has lost its three senior and several company officers.

We gather from an announcement of death in a morning paper, that Lieut-Colonel Robert Ouseley Cuthbert Hume, of the 1st Battalion Border Regiment, has died of wounds received in the Dardanelles. When the Border Regiment and Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers came to Rugby in January, the supreme command was vested in Colonel Hume, who was the senior officer. He was a gentleman of charming personality, and won the golden opinions of all with whom he came in intact. He was very popular with the men under his command, and his kindly unassuming disposition endeared him to all ranks. Members of the staff of the Advertiser had frequently to apply to Colonel Hume for such information as the censorship regulations permitted us to publish, and they always found him most courteous and ready to give all the assistance he could.

Lieutenant-Colonel Hume was born in April, 1867, and obtained his commission as lieutenant in August, 1886. His promotions came in 1895, 1908, and 1912. With his regiment in India he took part in the Waziristen Expedition (1894-5), receiving the medal with clasp, and he had the Tirah medal with two clasps for service in the North-West frontier in 1897-8. He was the eldest son of the late Captain Walter Hume, of Rock Lodge, Lynton, Devon.

Lieut-Colonel Koe, owing to ill-health, was not with his regiment during the greater part of their stay in Rugby, but the news that he was to accompany his men to the front caused considerable jubilation, he being a very popular officer.

Among the other officers of the K.O.S B’s who have been killed is Lieut T A G Miller, an excellent Rugby footballer. Lieut Miller played back for his regiment against Rugby Town and District, and his fearless tackling and perfect touch-finding marked him at one of the best backs seen on the Rugby ground for some time.

Lieut Cheatle, who in also amongst the killed, played in the same match, as did Lieuts Agar and Renny, who are wounded.

Lieut Verschoyle, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who is reported as wounded, played football for his regiment against the Rugby School XV.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

The following recruits have been attested at the Drill Hall this week by Company Sergeant-Major Winchcomb, in addition to six members for the Fortress Company (220 R.E) :—A.S.C (Remounts), J J Hancock and A S Blick ; R.E, H Turner and A Court ; Reserve Signalling Co R.E, G D Tennent ; R.W.R, J H Tustain ; Royal Flying Corps (M.W), D Weir.

Recruiting is to be re-opened for the 13th (Pioneer, Forest of Dean) Battalion Gloucester Regiment.

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