19th Jun 1915. A Local Artilleryman’s Exeriences

A LOCAL ARTILLERYMAN’S EXPERIENCES.

Corpl F Prestidge, of the R.F.A, has written a very interesting letter to his sister at Thurlaston, in which he says:—“ I have a bit of interesting news for you this time, as three days before I received your parcel we were shelled out of our billet in — Only one was hit, and that was the sergeant-major, who is in England now ; but the poor horses caught it severely. We had half of them inside a yard and half at the back of some houses in the open ground. Strange to say, those in the semi-covered position caught it hot, and those outside were practically unhurt. We all slept in a factory about 200 yards away, and at about five o’clock in the morning we were roused by hearing shells bursting close to, and as they seemed to get nearer, of course, we rushed out and made for the horses. I made for the yard where my horses were picketted, and what a sight I saw. A shell had burst just behind my horses, which were tied to a picketing rope round the wall. Some of the poor things had broken loose, and lay about the yard with legs broken and all sorts of wounds. I went off and got my sub-section together, and in a very short time we had all that could walk away at a safe distance, but of the 27 in my sub-section five were dead and twelve were wounded. It will show how curious is the bursting of a shell when I tell you that my gun team were all standing together, and both the leaders were killed, while the ‘ centres’ were only slightly wounded, and the wheelers were scarcely touched, although the shell burst directly behind the team I suppose if it had happened half-an-hour later I should not be writing this now, as we should all have been with the horses, getting ready for exercise.”

A DAY’S WORK OF THE HOWITZER BATTERY.

A bombardier in the Rugby Howitzer Battery sends home an account of a day’s work in action :—“ Two mines under the German trenches were successfully exploded ; rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire was opened on the German trenches, immediately the explosion took place. The mountain guns swept the ground behind the crater at a range of 150 to 300 yards. For some time after the explosion nothing could be observed owing to the heavy cloud of dust and smoke. When the atmosphere had cleared it was seen that the north-west corner of the parapet for quite 30 yards was completely demolished. The firing of the Howitzers was particularly effective. They obtained six direct hits on the enemy’s near parapets, and placed the remaining rounds into the trenches. Almost immediately after the explosion the enemy replied with rifle grenades from their trenches, and at 10.26 a.m their guns opened upon — Our Howitzers fired 10 rounds on the enemy’s communication trenches, five of which dropped in the trenches. The enemy retaliated by shelling with ‘Black Marias’ and ‘White Hopes.’ Working parties of the enemy appeared, and were constantly driven to shelter by our machine guns and artillery fire, but the mounds of earth thrown up by the explosion afforded them a good deal of cover, and rendered observation and effective machine gun fire somewhat difficult. During the afternoon our artillery fired intermittently at enemy’s working parties. A forward observing officer reported that one large working party was completely exterminated by a shell from the Howitzer Battery.”

RUGBY MAGISTERIAL.

THURSDAY.—Before T Hunter, Esq.

ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE.—Jack McCarthy was charged with being absent without leave from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, stationed at Colchester.-Detective Mighall said he received information that defendant came to Rugby in uniform, but was afterwards seen about in civilian clothes. Witness spoke to him on the previous day, and he admitted being absent from his regiment without leave, so he was taken into custody.-Superindent Clarke said he had received a wire stating that an escort would arrive that day.- Defendant was remanded in custody to await the escort, was given permission by the Magistrate to resume his regimentals.

ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE.—Pte J Batchelor, of the 7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment (T.F.), residing at 7 Union Street, Rugby, was charged at Rugby Police Court, on Friday, before T Hunter, Esq, with being absent without leave from the depot, Rugby Drill Hall.-Detective Mighall gave evidence of arrest and after Supt Clarke had read a letter from the Officer commanding ordering his arrest, defendant, who belongs to the Company acting bridge-guard in the town, was remanded to await an escort.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

Recruiting at Rugby has been rather slacker this week. The following have been attested:- E R Earle, A.S.C(M.T) ; E H Paget. W Abbott, F Morrey, E J Robinson, G A Carse, W Green, and J E Wright, Rugby Forties Co (R.E) ; R Parker, F S Hooker, R.W.R ; J Allen, Army Veterinary Corps ; J L Jeffrey, R.A.M.C ; S Toon, Dorset Regiment ; W C F Alsop, Signal Co Royal Engineers ; and A L Lloyd, Army Pay Corps.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

The Rev H E Stevens, formerly a curate at the Parish Church, Rugby, and afterwards vicar of St Oswald’s, New Bilton, is serving as a chaplain in the Navy.

The Rev A R Whatmore, formerly of Rugby, who has been engaged in the theatrical profession for some time, has offered his services and been accepted in the work of making shells and ammunition. Mr Whatmore could not join the army through his inability to pass the doctor.

Mr P J James, who, when in Rugby a few years ago was a prominent member of the Rugby Cricket Club, and since going out to Adelaide played regularly for South Australia as a fast bowler, has recently arrived in England to enlist in the army. He joined the 9th Service Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment as a second lieutenant, and is quartered at Grimsby. Previous to that he did some training at Sevenoaks, Kent.

Last week Mrs C Hyde, of 2 Rokeby Street, Rugby, received news that her son, Second-Lieut H W Hyde, of the 3rd Royal Sussex Regiment, attached to the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who, as we reported recently, has been missing since May 15th, was prisoner of war in Germany. Unfortunately, however, later information was to the effect that an error had been made, and that no definite news of Lieut Hyde was forthcoming, although a brother officer has written stating that he believes he was killed during the heavy fighting about May 15th.

No less than seventy-seven men from the parish of Bulkington are serving with the colours, and almost every family in the village is represented.

NEWBOLD-ON-AVON.

REPORTED MISSING.—Mr G Grant, Newbold, has received a notification from the War Office that his son, Harry, has been reported missing from the 9th of May, He belonged to the Rifle Brigade, and joined at the commencement of the war. Mr Grant has two other sons who joined at the same time, one of them being wounded some time ago, and is still in hospital.

RUGBY FOOTBALLER RECEIVES A COMMISSION.

Job Greenwood, son of the late Mr W Greenwood, schoolmaster of Newbold-on-Avon, who was acting as Pay Sergeant to D Company of the 2/7 R.W.R, stationed at Colchester, has received a commission in the 8th Service Battalion of the Northampton Regiment, He leaves for Pembroke on Monday, in order to take a course of instruction for officers. It will be remembered that Joe Greenwood played football both for Rugby and Newbold.

CORPL POTTERTON PROMOTED.

Corpl Potterton, of the 2nd battalion Rifle Brigade, whose home is at 32 Regent Street, Rugby, was promoted on June 2nd to the rank of Sergeant, whilst serving at the front. Sergt Potterton was formerly employed at the B.T.H Works, where he was prominently associated with the Athletic Club, and the news of his promotion will be received with pleasure by all who knew him.

TWELVE WOUNDS AT ONE TIME.

Mrs G Colledge, of Brinklow, received a letter from her son, Pte Phil Colledge, of the Royal Welsh Fusilers, who has been twice wounded, and is now in hospital at Liverpool. Mrs Colledge has three sons serving. Pte Colledge writes:-“ Dear Mother,—You will see by this letter that the Germans have been touching me up a bit. I had twelve wounds, but none were very bad, only my legs ache so much. I had five in my legs and thighs, three in my arms, one in my chest, one in my face, and two little ones in my back.

NEW BILTON SAILOR SAVED FROM H.M.S MAJESTIC.

Amongst the survivors of H.M.S Majestic was Mr W H Cranch, a gun layer, whose home is at 37 New Street, New Bilton. Mr Cranch, who is in the Royal Fleet Reserve, is at present on a short visit his wife and family, who are naturally overjoyed at his providential escape. Seen by a representative of the Rugby Advertiser on Thursday, Mr Cranch stated that his ship was struck on the port side by a torpedo at ten minutes to seven on the morning of May 27th. A loud explosion immediately occurred, and the rush of water caused the old battleship to heel over at an angle of 45 degrees, and within two minutes she was completely bottom upwards. The sea was dotted with hundreds of sailors swimming for their lives. Fortunately a number of French trawlers, which had been engaged in transport work, were close to the scene, and the large majority of the men were quickly taken on board these ; while others were rescued from wreckage or swam ashore to the Seddul Bahr Beach. Mr Cranch was fortunately picked up by a French tug, and taken on board a French destroyer, which subsequently proceeded to Lemnos. The rescue work was carried out very expeditiously, and the longest period anyone was in the water was about 20 minutes. The Majestic had been engaged in the task of forcing the Dardanelles from the commencement, and Mr Cranch stated that she was struck by shells—which did little damage—on numerous occasions. She was one of the ships that covered the splendid landing of the Colonial troops at Gaba Tepe, and at the time that she was torpedoed she was flying the Admiral’s flag, which had been transferred from the Triumph, sunk two days earlier.

THE RUGBY FORTRESS COMPANY OF ROYAL ENGINEERS.

It is gratifying to learn that this Company is now almost at full strength, 88 having been enrolled to date. Several tradesmen, four blacksmiths, four masons, and one wheelwright, are still required, however ; and it is advisable that anyone wishing to join the Company should do so at once, because the men now enrolled are making excellent progress, and any not joining now may run the risk of being left behind when the Company leaves Rugby.

BELGIAN REFUGEES.

The Chairman of the Belgian Refugee Committee reported, amongst other things, as follows:

Acting on the recommendation of the War Relief Committee, we, the Central Refugee Committee for Warwickshire, have appointed the following representatives in the Petty Sessional Divisions of the county and co-opted them members of our committee : Father Ryan for Alcester, Mr Sale for Atherstone, Lady Catherine Berkeley for Brailes, the Rev J A Watson for Burton Dassett, Colonel Monckton for Coleshill, Mr Bolding for Henley-in-Arden, Mr van den Arend for Rugby, Mr Lattey for Southam, and Mr Ashfield for Stratford. Miss Leigh, one of the original members of our committee, acts for us in Kenilworth. We also engaged the services of a Belgian interpreter, Mons Laurent. This gentleman met by appointment our local representative, and with them visited the refugees in their homes, taking down on printed forms their occupations and wages in this country and their former employment in Belgium, and bringing reports to us of any cases where either the refugees or those looking after them wished for our assistance or advice. Upwards of 50 towns and villages were visited in this way, representing 648 Belgians, and we have been able in many cases to advise and make suggestions for the benefit of the parties concerned. As a case in point, we discovered a man in South Warwickshire who had been without work for six months. We removed him and his wife to Warwick and he is now employed at the Emscote Mills. The Government Belgian Commission with a view to ascertaining the feasibility of starting large workshops in each county for securing suitable employment for the Belgians, requested us to fill up a tabulated form, showing the occupations of the Belgians in their own country and also stating whether they were employed here. The result showed that except in the case of moulders and fitters, of whom we have 33 (all working in Rugby) there were not sufficient numbers engaged in any one trade to warrant the setting up of workshops in this area.

The Commission then asked us to let them have particulars of all the unemployed men in our district; these we returned as 45, mainly consisting of professional men or those incapacitated from work. Of those employed besides the moulders and fitters there are 28 engaged on farm work, 15 in gardens, 16 in motor works, 13 it the Ordnance works, 7 as domestic servants, and the rest as clerks, teachers, carpenters, tailors, and tanners. We have just received a list of fresh arrivals from the police, numbering 87, mainly fitters and moulders who are working at Rugby.

The actual number of Belgians now under our supervision—not including the 87 new arrivals just mentioned, is 801. There are also 27 nuns and 24 independent Belgians.

As regards the local work done by our committee, we have 21 refugees of the artisan class at the Myton Hostel, the men being employed at the Emscote Mills, where they get good wages, one-third of which they pay towards their maintenance. We have had the same family at the Nelson House for five months ; the man has been apprenticed at a motor works, and we hope soon to get him a job.

A very generous gift of frozen meats and dry goods has been received from Australia through the Sidney Consignments Committee for distribution among our local refugees.

On the whole I am able to report that the condition of the refugees in the committee’s area is satisfactory, no cases of neglect have come under our notice, and they are much more contented than they were at first owing to suitable employment having been found for so many.

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