15th May 1915. Rugby Victims of Poison Gas

A RUGBY VICTIM OF POISON GAS.

Pte A Angell, 1st Royal Warwicks, son of Mrs Angell, of 17 Little Pennington Street, Rugby, is at present in a hospital at Lincoln suffering from the effects of the ghastly German poison gas. In a letter to his mother, written on May 9th, he says: “ I have been poisoned by that gas which the German murderers use. I went into action three weeks ago. After marching two days and two nights we arrived within 50 yards of the German trenches, and when we halted they opened fire on us.” The writer then goes on to tell of the losses suffered by the Battalion, and said that of five Rugby men who went into action he was the only one left. They were forced to retire, and he and 20 others took shelter in a “ Jackson hole.” Five of the party were unwounded, one died in the writers lap, and the others were suffering terrible agony. They were only 100 yards from the German trenches, and had to remain in the shelter from 4.45 a.m to 8.30 the following evening, and numerous shells dropped all around them. “ After this we were in the trenches for nine days. The Germans were not satisfied with our losses, s they poisoned us out of it. We must have lost many more men by this means. I am a very lucky chap. I was picked up half unconscious by a Frenchman in the centre of Ypres, on the main road. I wonder what the English people would think if   they could see Ypres as it is—burnt down to the ground.” Pte Angell concludes with the hope that he will be home on leave shortly.

A CHURCH LAWFORD MAN’S EXPERIENCE OF POISON GAS.

W Cooke, son of Mr H M Cooke, has written home to his parents. His letter is dated May 6th, and he says :-“ A few lines at last I I’ll bet you have been worrying at not hearing from me, but I am all right. We have been advancing and I could not write until now. I dare say you will see in the papers that our Regiment has been cut up, and we have only a few hundreds left. We have been relieved now, and it will be some time before we take any active part again. We have been through hell this last eight days, and I never want another time like it. The German shelling is awful, but I thank God we are back out of it now. Alf was wounded in the leg, and Hancox is among the missing. I would not mind if they would fight fair, but the dirty dogs have been using that gas on us. One has to fight with a wet cloth over one’s nose and mouth, and I have seen some of our fellows go raving mad. My nerves are a bit shattered now, but otherwise I am all right, so don’t worry. We have not had any letters while we have been advancing, so I expect I shall have a few from you, Mother, altogether. Write me along letter soon.”

(The Alf mentioned in the letter is Alfred Day, of Bishops Itchington, who enlisted with W Cooke, and before enlistment worked as a blacksmith at Church Lawford. Charles Hancox was a labourer from Kings Newnham.)

 

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Two trains, each containing two hundred wounded, passed through Rugby (L & N-W) on Sunday evening between six and eight, and were supplied with refreshments by the Rugby Town Red Cross Society. The men had been fighting as recently as Sunday last, and had crossed the Channel on Sunday morning.

News has come to hand that wounded soldiers belonging to the different regiments which were billeted in Rugby and took part in the invasion of Gallipoli are now in hospital at Malta.

A movement is being organised in Warwickshire to secure the services of more transport drivers for the Army. An appeal is to made to motor-car owners in Warwickshire to release their men wherever practicable.

Mr and Mrs William Matthews, of Churchover, received news on Monday that their son, Pte John Matthews, of the Rifle Brigade, was wounded on May 5th by a shrapnel bullet in the leg just above the knee. He is at present in hospital in Manchester. Pte Matthews, who is 21 years of age, joined the army early in September, and was drafted to the front on April 1st. He was for some years footman at Mr B B Dickinsons’ boarding-house in Rugby.

Driver Harry Batson, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, writing home to his sister at 35 Bridget Street, Rugby, states that he has been on duty at observation posts in the trenches, which were knee deep in mud and water. When traversing the trenches it is necessary to keep well down to avoid being seen by the enemy’s snipers. The trenches were only 50 yards apart. The enemy’s guns had been very active round here of late, and had succeeded in setting fire to some ruined farms close to.

Mr Charles Henry Lister, a grandson of Mr Henry Lister, 105 Clifton Road, Rugby, was an engine-room artificer on H.M.S Maori, which was lost off the Belgian Coast through striking a mine on Saturday. The friends of Mr Lister have received intimation that he is a prisoner of war at Doebritz, Germany. Mr Lister’s brother, Rifleman Herbert Edward Lister, who joined the Rifle Brigade on the outbreak of war, is now in a hospital in London, suffering from a bullet wound in the left hand.

Second Lieutenant H J Gwyther, attached to the 2nd Manchester Regiment, now with the expeditionary force in France, has been wounded. Mr Gwyther, when engaged at the B.T.H Co, Rugby, was a prominent playing member of the Rugby Hockey Club.

In Saturday’s “ London Gazette ” appeared the announcement that the late Lieut Michael FitzRoy, son of the Hon E A FitzRoy, M.P, and Mrs FitzRoy, had been gazetted captain. He was selected by his Colonel for the command of a company shortly before the battle of Neuve Chapelle, in which, unfortunately, he was killed. The late Lieutenant was nearly the youngest officer in the regiment, being but nineteen years of age and he had only been in the army six months.

HOWITZER’S “ SHELLING COMPETITION.”

Two further letters have just been received by Mr and Mrs C J Packwood, of St Matthew’s Street, from their son, Charles, who is serving at the front with the Rugby Howitzer Battery, and   from these we make the following extract :- “ Things go on just about the same. We have a sort of shelling competition between ourselves and the Germans. It is their turn now. They are shelling a ridge. I expect they think we are there, but we are not. I expect later on we shall have our go, and we always register the most points. All the ‘bhoys’ are ‘in the pink’ ready for earthing.”

HOT MEALS IN THE TRENCHES.

A hot dish of curried fowl or a hot beef-steak and kidney pudding, are luxuries not usually found on the battlefield, but these and a host of other appetising dishes, may now be enjoyed by the aid of a new invention just put upon the market by Messrs, Crosse and Blackwell. This unique and valuable adjunct to the soldier’s kit is known as the “Joffrette” Heater, and costs but 1s. 6d. complete. Its construction is so simple and yet so effectual that a tin or bottle of preserved food can be thoroughly heated is a few minutes by simply lighting the cake of solidified alcohol supplied with the Heater (additional cakes costing but 3d. each). It is without doubt one of the cheapest yet one of the greatest boons which can possibly be suggested for use in trenches.

The Heater cannot explode or get out of order, the flame is invisible and impervious to wind, and while it is of peculiar utility at the present time, it is equally serviceable for boating parties, picnics and household use where a hot maid or a cup of tea or coffee is quickly required. The “Joffrette” Heater is stocked by all the principal Grocers. Ask your Grocer for one.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.

NATURALIZED GERMANS AND THE MAGISTERIAL BENCH.

SIR,—Though Rugby may contain few, if any, enemy Aliens, it is surely essential that Mr Merttens, although naturalized, should resign immediately his seat on the Bench, which he appears to have vacated during wartime.

The idea of even a naturalized German sitting in judgment on Rugby citizens after the war is repugnant, and especially one with views such as Mr Merttens has in the past expressed. If he has not already resigned, Rugby will expect his fellow Magistrates to see that he does so.-Yours truly, CITIZEN.

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