28th Aug 1915. Inspection of Rugby Fortress Company

RUGBY FORTRESS COMPANY.

INSPECTION BY CHAIRMAN OF URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL.

Members of the Rugby Fortress Company, together with many of those who have been specially interested in its formation, spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the residence of Mr and Mrs J J McKinnell on Monday afternoon. Invitations had been extended to members and officials of the Rugby Urban District Council and their wives ; to Colonel Johnstone, the recruiting officer at Rugby ; to members of the Recruiting Committee and to others who had helped Mr McKinnell in his successful efforts to raise a company of Royal Engineers for the town.

Amongst those able to attend were : The Rector of Rugby and Mrs Blagden, Mr and Mrs A E Donkin, Mr and Mrs L Loverock, Mr W Flint (vice-chairman of the Urban District Council), Mr G M Seabroke, Mr T A Wise, Mr W H Linnell, Mr Sam Robbins, Mr and Mrs J G Satchell, Miss Cook, Mr and Mrs W J Saville, Mr Allan Hand, Mr J H Sharp, Mr and Mrs Frank Hollowell, Mr James Darby, Mr and Mrs W H W Parsons, Mr Harry Tarbox, Mr J Walker, etc, etc.

The Fortress Company marched over from Rugby and arrived at Mr McKinnell’s residence four o’clock. They looked very smart and soldier-like, and a distinct credit to the town. Mr McKinnell, accompanied by Capt Kempson, inspected the Company, and then addressed the men. He said :-Officers, N.C.O’s and men of the Rugby Fortress Company of Engineers. I need not say how great an honour I take it to be allowed to make this inspection this afternoon. Of course, I am only a civilian ; but even I can see the excellent spirit and soldier-like bearing that the Company has on parade. This good result has not been achieved without a great deal of very hard and very interesting work, as you all know very well. You have been working very hard during the past few months, and Capt Kempson from time to time has expressed to me his very great gratification at the way his men were sticking to it and really trying to make themselves efficient ; and I am sure this afternoon you are all very much to be congratulated on the result of your efforts, self-denial and energy.

When I was asked some months ago to raise a Company of Engineers in Rugby, I must confess my heart failed me. But they had done it in other towns round Rugby, and I thought it would not do for us not to follow their example and not to do as well as any of our neighbours. We had then a very good reputation for recruiting in Rugby, and there were not so many men left ; and as we had to keep to particular trades it made the task still harder. But we had a most excellent Recruiting Committee and a very able secretary in Mr Hand. We owe very much indeed to Mr Hand for the work he has put into this business—and, further, from the outside, we were particularly fortunate in securing as our commander, Captain Kempson, who was given up by Dr David, and it is to him very largely the success of his Company is due. Also, we were extremely fortunate in having such efficient non-commissioned officers as instructors. Then we have to thank a good many people in the town. The builders have helped us with the loan of various portions of their plant ; and we have to thank all the inhabitants of the town, who have helped us whenever we asked them, as they have done through this trying twelve months. Whenever we asked them to come to our aid, they have given us their help continuously.

I now have only to wish you, when you go away from Rugby to do your duty to your country, God speed and the best of luck. I am quite sure you will always take pains to do credit to the good old town of Rugby. I express my great pleasure at seeing you all this afternoon, and I hope you will enjoy yourselves very much (applause).

Photographic groups were taken of the Company by Mr George A Dean, of High Street, and then tea was dispensed, during which gramophone selections were given. Following tea, cigars were handed round, Miss Dickinson contributed two enjoyable songs, and Mr Arthur Eckersley told amusing stories. Bowls and clock golf were provided, and were evidently appreciated, and in the evening Capt KEMPSON, on behalf of the Fortress Company, thanked Mr and Mrs McKinnell for their hospitality.

LETTERS FROM REMNANTS OF THE 29th DIVISION.

Driver Biddles, of the R.A.M.C, writing to the friends he was billeted with in Rugby, speaks of several narrow escapes he and his comrade have had from shells. One day they were out with two waggons when a shell burst about ten yards in front of the mules. He thought he was in for it, and hoped he would be lucky enough to be sent to a Rugby hospital, but he got between the mules, and except for being hit by some lumps of dirt, everything was all serene. He adds : “ I suppose you read the number of our casualties in the Advertiser. Aren’t they terrible, but in comparison with the enemies’ losses they are small.” The writer goes on : “ By the way, we notice articles in the Advertiser about all the different regiments that were billeted in Rugby, except the R.A.M.C. I wonder why this is, because in our own work we have done equally as much as any infantry regiment, and have been highly praised by the General. But I think we must be like the navy. We do our duty silently, but nevertheless efficiently.

Drummer P W Jeffery, of the 1st K.O.S.B, sends a letter to the Editor, under date August 5th, from the Greek hospital at Alexandria. He states that he was in the landing on April 25th, and was wounded on May 1st. On recovering he was sent back to the front and was wounded again on July 27th—so he thinks he has had his share of fighting. It is worse ten times than France. “Our poor old regiment has suffered heavily. My best chums have all been killed or wounded. Their thoughts were always of dear old Rugby and the time the people of Rugby gave us when we were there. We think there is no town in England more patriotic than Rugby. I notice the trenches and dug-outs are named after some of the streets in Rugby : ‘Worcester Square ’ or ‘ Wood Street Cave,’ as two of them were called. We are having a good time in the Greek Hospital. They can’t do enough for you, but give me ‘ Ashlawn ’ for two months. All the wounded who were in the 87th Brigade who were in Rugby send their best wishes,” He concludes : “ If one of your readers has a musical instrument-an old one-stringed violin-I should be glad of it. My address is : Drummer P Jeffery, 1st K.O.S.B, 87th Brigade, 29th Division, Greek Hospital, Alexandria, Egypt.”

NEWBOLD-ON-AVON.

MR AND MRS DODSON, of Newbold, received news on Thursday that their son, Private Horace Dodson, of the 7th South Staffordshire Regiment (Infantry) was wounded in action at the Dardanelles on August 15th. Private Dodson is the youngest son of Mr Dodson, and joined the army soon after the war commenced. His older brother (William Dodson) was killed in France a short time ago. Much sympathy is felt for Mr and Mrs Dodson.

FROM A RUGBY MAN WITH THE R.E. AT THE FRONT.

“ I have just found a moment or so in which I will try to describe the course of things on the 30th and till Sunday evening, when we returned to our dug-outs about eight miles from the firing-line. We had just got into a very refreshing sleep after some tiring days preceding Friday, when we were woke up by an awful noise, as if all the guns in the world were at work. We rushed out of our dug-outs, when we joined an officer, and then to business. The devils were pouring burning liquid on our fellows, who had to retire into the supports, but not without a fight for it. This started at 2.30 a.m. Our section was carrying ammunition and bombs, and it was hell while it lasted. But it is curious while you are in it, you get so excited, and then you would like to rush over the parapet at them. This lot lasted till about 9 a.m. and a few had gone west but a few thousand Germans had paid the price. We had lost the crater but our General was determined to retake it that day, and we disposed of many of the enemy that afternoon with our artillery. Then the infantry charged, but to no purpose, as they found it too hot, as Fitz poured thousands of shells on them. We drove them out, but could not take the trench, because of shell fire. Just after midnight the same thing began again, and we were held in support, which is the proper thing for R.E’s. After the inferno had quietened down we had to go and repair parapets and carry wounded out. I don’t mind fighting at night, but it is rotten on a nice day, because it does not seem natural. What do you think of the Rugby D.C.M’s ; Stent deserved his, and he will be getting a V.C yet, if he does not stop a bullet.

We have some fine little dug-outs, and I have a nice canvas bed, and a couple of blankets. We live A1 in camp ; Fresh meat every day and plum duff ; fresh butter and bacon. The only thing they don’t supply is N.B stout.”

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

A recruiting campaign has been commenced on behalf of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, which is materially below strength.

Lieut-Col Viscount Hampden, C.M.G, who is well-known in Warwickshire hunting circles, has been attached to headquarter units as Brigade Commander.

Lieut S A Hunter, second son of Mr and Mrs T Hunter, of “ Elmhurst,” Hillmorton Road, was last week gazetted captain and appointed adjutant in the 4th West Riding Howitzer Brigade.

On Sunday, August 22nd, the Bilton Brass Band played selections in the Caldecott Park, and collected in aid of the local Red Cross Hospital the sum of £1 3s, which has been duly forwarded to the hospital.

Rifleman J Bird, of the K.R.R, who has recently been drafted to the front, has written to his mother, Mrs Harris, of 41 New Street, New Bilton, and, referring to life in the trenches, says : ” It is not half so dangerous as you would think. All you have to do is to keep your head down and your eyes open, and everything in the garden is lovely.”

In our issue last week we stated that Lce-Corpl Howard, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, had been killed in action. It should have been Lce-Corpl Aris. His photograph appears on page 2 of this issue.

COMMISSION FOR MR McMURTRIE.

Mr B F McMurtrie. chief engineer for the Export Department of the B.T.H, has this week left Rugby to take up a commission in the R.F.A. Mr McMurtrie has been with the Company for a number of years, and has represented them in Japan.

NEW BILTON SOLDIER KILLED.

Mrs Fredk Lee, who is residing with Mr and Mrs Turner, 22 Campbell Street, New Bilton, has received official intimation from the War Office that her husband, Rifleman Fredk Lee, of the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade, was killed in action on July 30th. Rifleman Lee, who was 22 years of age, was a native of Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex ; had resided at New Bilton for several years, and was employed by Messrs Willans & Robinson as a moulder. He enlisted on September 7th, and was married on April 28th last, proceeding to the front a few weeks afterwards. Much sympathy is expressed with his young widow.

FOUR SONS WITH THE COLOURS.

Mrs Iliffe, of 3 Lodge Road, Rugby, has now four sons serving with H.M Forces either by land or sea. The eldest, William, is in the Sherwood Foresters. He came home with his regiment from India in September, and has been at the front since November last. Herbert, the second son, is a sergeant in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and went out to Gibraltar in January. Arthur, the third son, has joined the Rifle Brigade, and is at the headquarters in Essex ; whilst Albert, the youngest, who is only 17, enlisted in the Royal Marines on Friday last week.

HOME ON SICK LEAVE.

Corpl Cecil Wood, of the 1st Royal Warwicks, has this week been spending a few days at his home in Campbell Street, New Bilton. He is by trade a printer, and was one of Messrs Frost & Sons’ employees who enlisted. About two months ago he was wounded in the chest by shrapnel. He spent a month in hospital in France and three weeks at a hospital in Essex, and is now nearly fit to return to active service. He was promoted to the rank of corporal at the front as the result, it is understood, of a bit of good work he accomplished ; but Corpl Wood is a modest soldier, and declines to say anything about it.

LCE-CORPL F KEELY, of the 1st Battalion King’s Royal Rifles, who was before the war employed in the pattern shop at the B.T.H Works, has been commended in their reports by his Commanding Officer and Brigade Commander to the Major-General commanding the 27th Division for distinguished conduct in the field.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

AGRICULTURAL SHOW DRAWN BLANK.

Recruiting has been very slack in Rugby during the past week. Despite the fact that there where no less than seven recruiting sergeants at the Warwickshire Show on Wednesday, not a single recruit was obtained, although there were present hundreds of eligible young men of fine physique, quite a number of whom treated the sergeants with very scant courtesy.

A pleasant contrast to this was the patriotism shown by a young man named E G Dodwell (a native of Buckinghamshire), who travelled from the Argentine Republic, where he held a good position as traffic inspector on the railway, to join the K.R.R Corps at Rugby. Other recruits during the week were :—J G Bromwich, S J Parker, and J Pursglove, R.W.R ; J Walker, Army Ordnance Corps ; and R Baines (band boy), Royal Scott Fusiliers.

 

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