SOLDIERS AT THE DARDANELLES.
Quite number of the soldiers who spent a memorable and happy two months in Rugby at the beginning of the year, have again written to those with whom they were billeted, letters having arrived at many homes this week. The feeling of gratitude for the treatment extended to the troops, and a desire to return to the town when opportunity occurs, appear to be pretty general, whilst, unfortunately, in too many cases soldiers known to Rugby people are reported to have been either wounded or killed.
For instance. Drummer Joe Devenny, of the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was billeted with Mr and Mrs Burn, of 16 Corbett Street, writing from a hospital in Malta, states that he has been wounded in the left hand, but expects soon to be back in the firing-line. He is one of those who speaks of his intention to pay a return visit to Rugby if he comes safely through the war.
Ptes Brown and McAneny were billeted with Mrs Rushton, of 15 Corbett Street. Both are wounded, and have written giving some of their experiences on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Pte McAneny says he was lying down firing when a bullet just missed his head by about three inches. It tore a hole in the arm of his coat, and went clean through his boot and toes. “ But I can say one thing,” he adds, “ the Turk who hit me, and a good many of his chums, are all in their graves now.”
Referring to the fighting in the Dardanelles, Pte Brown says: “ We are driving the Turks back, and have captured a lot of them and their forts. . . . When we got there we advanced about three miles. The battle lasted from early morning till late at night. It was a hot bit of work. The Turks were just retiring from one trench to another, and had to be dug out with the bayonet. Our navy was making mincemeat of them from the sea. That night the Turks kept on attacking the trench. They came up like droves of sheep, only to be cut down by rifle fire. In the morning there were only heaps of dead in front.”
Corpl Giblin, 1st Royal Inniskilling, writing to Mr and Mrs Spencer, 35 Winfield Street, says :—“ We landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th of April, and we weren’t half an hour on shore before, we had a go. We were just digging a bit of a trench when they started to fire at us, so we hopped into the trenches and let them have it. They tried to overpower us with their numbers, but it was ‘no hat,’ they had to retire, and I don’t believe we lost a single man, although the fight lasted nearly all night. So that wasn’t a bad baptismal fire was it ? The next day we started again and beat them back. The navy are doing splendid work with their guns. The only thing we miss here are cigarettes, but, of course, we are not always without them, because every time we capture some Turks we are almost sure to get some tobacco or cigarettes. We get plenty of food, and that’s the main thing.”
Sergt W E Emmett, of the same Regiment, in a letter to Mr C Mitchell, of Thurlaston Orange, states that he is in the best of health, and had just returned to the base after twelve days hard fighting. He expected to be in the firing-line again soon afterwards. He adds : “ I hope you are still carrying on with the drill. Have you formed a Company at your place yet ? If you have, I hope they are getting on well.”
Mr J Lord, Castle Street, has heard from two men of the Border Regiment, who were billeted with him. Sergt F C Ansell, who had been wounded in his right-hand, and had to write with his left, states that he had been in hospital a month and underwent an operation. He was going on well and looking forward to the day when he could pay Rugby another visit. He adds : “ We had a terribly rough time at first, and I would sooner do anything than that landing again. It was a proper death-trap. Never mind, roll on till I come back to old Rugby. I could do with one of your good meals now.”—Pte H Harrup expresses the wish that they could be back in Rugby again for a time, as it is a bit too hot for us. “ Very sorry to tell you some of the boys have gone who used to stop with you, and I got wounded in the knee. Better than having my head blown off. Towers got killed the 1st day of going into action. I think this place is worse than France. It is very hot in the day, but cold at night.”
A DARDANELLES HERO.
We learn from a North Country contemporary that Sergt H Corbridge, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who during the visit of the troops to Rugby was billeted with Mr M Watkiss, 14 Cromwell Road, has been congratulated by the General Officer commanding the 29th Division for gallantry in the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Sergt H Corbridge, who previous to the war was an inspector of the Liverpool Corporation Health Department, has written an interesting letter to his friends, in which he says:—
“ The 29th Division, have had a warm time of it at Gallipoli. At the landing the water literally bubbled with bullets and shrapnel as we rowed ashore. Dead and wounded troops were lying in the water and on the beach, and we had to wade through 5ft. of water after getting out of the boat, while underneath the water were barbed wire entanglements. For two days the medical men were kept busy attending to the wounded. The Turks tried to rush them, but on seeing the British fix bayonets they turned and fled, their retirement being followed by the guns from the Queen Elizabeth, Triumph, and Goliath. Next day the ground was found covered with scores of dead and wounded Turks. The circumstances under which I received the acknowledgement card were that I and Capt Taylor were out collecting and dressing wounded, using a disused barn as a place of shelter. Word was brought that Lieut Sherbrooke, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was lying badly wounded in a ravine about a quarter of a mile away. We went and found him, although the shrapnel and rifle fire was severe, and bandaged him up, and then I carried him to safety. I then went up the ravine to a private, who was shot through both legs. As a flank fire was coming down the ravine all the time I carried him into a crevice, applied bandages, and made him comfortable, and left him for a stretcher squad when there was a lull in the firing. At the time the shooting was very severe, and, looking back upon the exploit, I wonder how it was I was not hit several times, bullets pinging past me and burying themselves in the clay bank just about breast high. I thought no more of the affair until the following Friday, when a parade was ordered, and I was handed the card after a nice flattering speech by the General.” The card referred to contains the following inscription:—“ The General Officer commanding the 29th Division congratulates No. 455, Sergt H Corbridge, Royal Army Medical Corps, on the gallant action performed by him.”
HOW THE K.O.S.B.’S LANDED AT GALLIPOLI.
Sergt Kater, of the K.O.S.B, writing to a friend in Rugby, gives a graphic description of the landing of that regiment. He says:—We landed at 5.30 a.m from small boats, and proceeded to climb a cliff 200 feet high. Having met no opposition at the point of disembarkation, we commenced to dig trenches, but were attacked by the enemy before we could get properly started, and the majority had to lie in the open with no shelter ; but we hung on—some 2,000 of us against a hostile force of 13,000. At night a German officer came close to our trench and said : “ Scotch, are you ? We’ll give you Scotch.” Our fellows just answered and said: “ Come on and try it then.” They did try it, but to no avail, because what we have we generally hold ; so we just rattled into them, and gave them such a hammering that they withdrew the following morning, leaving piles of dead in front of us.
We were landed at this particular part to draw the enemy from another part, so that a large force could land some miles further round. So having performed what was wanted we went back into the boats, had a night’s rest after fighting for 36 hours, and then landed where the remainder of the force had landed, and advanced under shrapnel fire right up to the firing line. Everything was quiet until Sunday, the 2nd, when we had another burst up, and the enemy retired again, leaving hundreds of dead behind them. Since then they have left the Scotch severely alone.
After four days in trenches we were relieved by the Terriers, and immediately the enemy attacked them, and gave them an awful time, but the lads held on till we came up, when the enemy chucked firing. The Terriers went back for a rest, and we held the trenches for eight more days, when we were again relieved—this time by the Ghurkas. The same thing happened again, and the enemy gave them a rough time, until they learned what sort of metal Ghurkas were made of. It would seem the Turks have had about enough of us, because we haven’t fired a shot since Sunday, the 2nd, while they have attacked other regiments daily. You will be sorry to hear that Graham was killed Monday morning (26th April), the day after we landed. He died like every soldier should—at his post. It is three weeks to-day (May 16th) since we started, and we have pinched over seven miles of the enemy’s country—so we are not doing so badly.
THE RUGBY TERRITORIALS AND THE SOLDIERS.
To the Editor of the Advertiser.
SIR,—It is with regret that we men of the Border Regiment in hospital read of the “ E ” Company and the Howitzer Battery men feeling so downhearted about such a term as “ Our Soldiers,” which the people of Rugby so courteously conferred upon us, and we trust you will allow us as we greatly wish to give those brave Rugbeians an explanation on behalf of the Border Regiment and others stationed in Rugby.
In the first place Sergt-Major Hopewell ought to remember that the very fact of our coming from India caused great interest in the citizens’ minds—something like a mystery—and everywhere one went for the first week or so you could hear only the one cry, especially from the children, “ Have you got any buttons or Indian coins to give us, mister ?”
Then, again, our bands, although not too good in our opinion, gave the people a great pleasure to sit in the Park on Sundays and listen to them. Then there was the coming and going of our battalion, at all times things natural to a line battalion, but which had not been seen before by the Rugbeians.
Well, we feel it our duty to say that as we were treated as the people’s friends we could not help doing our level best to repay the many kindnesses bestowed on us, and did our best to create a good impression amongst the civil population. In my case, I and my three comrades were treated as sons of the house, and we got to call the landlady “ Mother,” and she called us “ her boys.”
What we do want is to ask the brave Rugbeians fighting for us in France, not to judge the people like this, for we are sure that they could not possibly be forgotten by so kindly a people. The thing is impossible.
Trusting you will think this worth inserting as a poor kind of explanation.—I am, Yours deeply indebted, LESLIE CAMPBELL (acting drummer), for men of 1st Border Regiment, Western General Hospital, Manchester.