29th May 1915. Rugby Soldier’s Experiences

RUGBY SOLDIER’S EXPERIENCES.

Pte George Randall, of the 2nd Rifle Brigade, formerly of Barby, who has been out at the front since January 19th, has returned to his home, 48 Grosvenor Road, Rugby, for a few days’ leave. Pte Randall was wounded in the left arm on May 9th, while the British artillery were shelling the German positions, preparatory to the recent successful advance. This is the second time he has been wounded, the previous occasion being at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. This was only of a slight nature, however, and did not necessitate his leaving the trenches. The bombardment preceding the attack at Neuve Chapelle, Pte Randall describes as “ hell on earth.” The whole sky was lighted up with flames, the roar of the guns was deafening, and the destruction to life and property appalling. The Rifle Brigade was the first regiment to enter Neuve Chapelle, and they immediately commenced to dig themselves in, in the belief that they had cleared out all the Germans. Bullets were continually falling around them, however, and a strict look out was kept. Eventually a flash was observed to come from one of the few houses that was standing, and a party was immediately dispatched to this point. On arriving here they discovered that the Germans had taken refuge in the cellar, and a hand grenade was thrown down. The English corporal then enquired how many were there, and the reply came back “ Four.” Then divide that amongst you,” shouted the corporal as he threw another grenade down. It was afterwards discovered that there were eleven Germans in the cellar, of whom three were killed and eight wounded. The Rifle Brigade had to remain in the trenches at Neuve Chapelle for eleven days. Alluding to the recent British advance, Pte Randall stated that the fighting was much fiercer than at Neuve Chapelle.

Speaking of the terrible destruction which was occasioned by the heavy artillery, our informant stated that one evening when they were going to the trenches they saw a church which had been completely destroyed, and the only thing which was standing was a crucifix. This was absolutely unscathed, despite the fact that the case in which it had been enclosed was smashed to atoms. Needless to say this made quite an impression on all the men who passed by in absolute silence. He saw two other crucifixes at other places which were standing desolate, but unharmed, amid wholesale ruins. Pte Randall mentioned that he had only one experience of poison gas, and on that occasion the wind was very unsteady, and he believed that it did as much, if not more, damage to the Germans than to the English. Only one man in their section was affected, and he but slightly.

The question of the attacks upon Lord Kitchener then came up, and Pte Randall expressed in the most emphatic terms the confidence which all the men at the front place in the War Secretary. “ He is worshipped out there, and his detractors won’t get much support from the men at the front.” There are quite a number of Rugbeians in the Rifle Brigade. Corpl G Reynolds, the Rugby footballer, joined this Battalion, but has now been drafted to the artillery.

LONG LAWFORD MAN KILLED IN ACTION.

Lance-Corpl Harry Payne, of Long Lawford aged 20, was three years in the army, and belonged to the 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He went to France in August, and had seen a good deal of the fighting. He was killed in action on 25th April at Ypres. His brother, Private George Payne, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, has been a prisoner in Germany since October. His father, N Payne, an old soldier, has re-enlisted with the Royal Warwicks, and is now at Coventry.

WOLSTON.

PRIVATE W WEBB WOUNDED.—Only last week we recorded the fact that Lance-Corporal J T Webb, the son of Mr and Mrs Charles Webb had been wounded. On Monday they received a post card to say that their other son had been wounded. The only notification was from the British Red Cross Society, that he was at the Military Hospital, Cardiff. Private W Webb belongs, like his brother, to the 1st Worcester Regiment. He volunteered early after the war began, but was not sent to the front so soon as his brother. For several years he was a capital member of the Brandon and Wolston Boy Scouts, of which he became one of the patrol-leaders. His parents not hearing from him feared he was dangerously wounded, but a communication somewhat relieved them. It stated that he was getting on very well, but his right arm, having a bullet wound, he was unable to write himself. He was very bright, and but for his arm looked very well.

NEW BILTON SOLDIER KILLED.

As we briefly announced last week, Mr J R Porter, of 56 Avenue Road, New Bilton, has received intimation that his younger son, Rifleman George R Porter, of the King’s Royal Rifles, was killed in action on May 8th. Rifleman Porter, who was 21 years of age, had been in the K.R.R four years, and at the outbreak of war was stationed in India. His regiment landed in England in November, and was drafted to the front before Christmas. Early in the New Year Rifleman Porter was invalided home with a frostbitten and poisoned foot, and returned to France on Easter Sunday. He was an excellent shot, and in 1913 held the regimental medal for boxing (novices, 9st 6lb). Before joining the K.R.R he served four months in the Royal Warwicks Special Reserve, and he formerly belonged to the j Boys’ Brigade.

KILSBY.

PRIVATE HERBERT GRIFFITHS, of the Rifle Brigade, who, as reported last week, was killed in action on April 27th.

P.C CLIFFORD WOUNDED.

Pte Clifford, of the Grenadier Guards, has written to say that he has been wounded, and is in the base hospital. He is doing well. This is the second time that Pte Clifford, who previous to the war was a member of the Rugby Police Force, has been wounded.

P.C NICHOLLS KILLED IN ACTION.

We regret to hear that Pte Nicholls, of the Gloucester Regiment, who previous to the outbreak of war was a member of the Rugby Police Force, has been killed in action. The news was contained in the following letter, written to a friend by the platoon sergeant:—“ I am very sorry to inform you that Pte Nicholls died in battle on the 15th inst. A brave man he lived, a brave man he died. We were ordered to re-take a trench, and he lost his life in the operation.” Pte Nicholls’ death will be generally regretted in the town, where as a constable he was well known and highly respected. In February last he was badly wounded, and was invalided home, returning to the front on his recovery.

THE RUGBY INFANTRY MEN AT THE FRONT.

Ptc L Stewart, of the Rugby Territorial Company “ somewhere in France,” writes :- “ You cannot realise how keep the chaps are to scan the Rugby Advertiser. They went into the trenches last night (May 16) after a four days’ rest—well, supposed to be a rest. The previous time in the trenches lasted six days, and they had a warm time of it, during which they lost Corpl Johnson. Everyone feels his loss keenly. He was one of the most popular men in the Company. The weather this week has been unsettled, and we have experienced some heavy rains. A few days’ rain makes everything so rotten, especially when living under canvas. . . . I think the finest column in the Advertiser this week is the one containing the Rev 0 T B McNulty’s letter headed “ Religious ministrations at the front.” Every word was true to the letter, I have seen him several times.”

PRINTERS AT THE FRONT.

No less than 24 employees of Messrs Frost & Sons, printers, Warwick Street, Rugby have responded to their country’s call, and four of them have been promoted to the non-commissioned ranks. They are : F Tucker, joined Rifle Brigade in September, Sergeant ; C Roberts, joined K.R.R in September, Sergeant, and now in France ; A G Towell, joined Howitzer Battery in January last, Corporal ; and W McKay, joined Lincolnshires in September, Corporal.-Unfortunately, E A Piper, 1st Batt Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who joined in August, and has been out in France since October, has been officially reported as missing since April 25th, on which date the Warwicks lost a lot of men at Hill 60. To keep the employees at home in touch with those at the front the firm print for circulation amongst them from time to time a little brochure, in which the roll of honour, the casualties, and the last dates from which news was received from any of the men, are recorded. Interesting extracts from letters, and notes skilfully made up in technical phraseology, together with encouraging words of approval, encouragement, and appreciation from the proprietors, help to fill the twelve pages, which are enclosed in stout khaki covers, printed in patriotic design. The get-up is in keeping with the high standard of work turned out by Messrs Frost, and is no doubt eagerly welcomed by their representatives at the front.

WOUNDED SOLDIERS AT “ ASHLAWN.”

Ashlawn Red Cross Hospital was re-opened on Friday last week to receive wounded soldiers. About 25 arrived in the evening, and were met by the Ambulance Brigade and conveyed to the hospital. Three of them belong to the K.O.S.B and two to the Inniskillings ; the remainder to other regiments. Only three are from the Dardanelles ; the others received their injuries at Ypres. Some of them have been badly wounded.

Twelve Canadians arrived on Wednesday evening. Their wounds are not serious, and they hope to go out again soon. All the others are doing well.

Gifts for the patients at the hospital have been received from the following :—Mr Badham, Mrs Fenwick, Mr Flint, Mr Garrett, Mrs Giddons, Hon Mrs Hastings, Mrs Horton, Mrs Little, Miss Lucking, Mr Mallam, Mrs Neilson, Mr Graham Paterson, Lady Rowena Paterson, Mrs Rose, Miss Stanley, Mrs G Sumner, Mrs Saunders, Mrs Stevens, Miss Varnish, Mrs Wheeler, Mrs West, and Miss Irwin.

Surgical Instruments, from Dr Roche, Dunchurch.

The Rugby Hairdressers’ Association has promised to attend the patients every week.

Miss Buckley has kindly consented to attend three days a week for massage, and the Misses Fenwick are continuing to do all laundry work for the soldiers free of charge.

Number of patients now in hospital, 37.

SALE OF ARMY MARES FOR BREEDING.

With a view to encouraging and assisting the breeding of light horses, the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries have been authorised by the War Office to arrange for the sale of some mares which have been returned from abroad as no longer suitable for use with the Expeditionary Force, and which have been specially selected by the Board as of types suitable for breeding purposes.

The mares will be kept under the care and observation of the Board for a month after their return from abroad, and will then be sold by public auction on the express condition that they are not at any time to be exported out of the country.

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