A GOOD WORD FOR OUR TERRITORIALS.
ALWAYS IN THE FIRING LINE IF SELDOM IN THE LIMELIGHT.
HOW THE RUGBY MEN ARE FARING.
If little is heard nowadays of the Rugby Infantry Company, it must not be assumed they are not taking their due share of the work and risk involved by the great and terribly conflict being fought out in France. As a matter of fact during the six months that have passed since they entered the war zone, the Rugby lads have been practically under fire the whole time, save perhaps for a period of three weeks or so. High explosive shells are sent their way daily, but the battalion of which they form a part has been singularly free hitherto from the evil effects of these unwelcome visitors, most of the casualties that have occurred in their ranks being due to rifle fire.
The period has not been uneventful, and an interesting story might be told of the movement of the unit from place to place, and of the varied conditions that have been experienced, but the censorship that is exercised over correspondence, and the need for reticence impressed upon soldiers returning home for a short leave, precludes this. As the Rugby men invariably “ play the game,” those desirous of learning such details must for the time being content their souls in patience.
Still, tidings of the brave fellows who have gone from Rugby homes to “ do their bit ” are always looked for with interest—sometimes, alas! with anxiety and a sense of dread-and learning that Company Q.M.S. Alfred Tomlinson was back in the town for a few days of well earned rest, a representative of the Rugby Advertiser interviewed him a day or two ago, and found him willing to communicate information as far as was expedient, without in any way divulging what might be of assistance to the enemy.
“ We are in some excellent trenches now,” said Q.M.S. Tomlinson, in reply to a natural question as to the comfort of the Rugby Infantry contingent, to which he belongs. “They are some of the best trenches we have been in, and unless there is to be a forward move shortly, many are hoping that we shall stay there for some time to come. Of course, there is shell firing continually, rifle firing being now much more intermittent than formerly.”
PLENTY TO DO.
At the front soldiers find plenty of work to do. The idea that they simply stand still in the trenches looking through loop-holes for stray Germans on whom they may bestow a bullet is quite erroneous. Men are detailed off for sentry duty, and then at specified hours both day and night those in the trenches ; stand to arms. Ration parties have to go down the trench to bring up the food for meals ; and, moreover the trenches have to be kept scrupulously clean. “ At the present moment they are a picture of cleanliness,” said our informant.
“ I think two outstanding features of this campaign have been the sanitary arrangements and the food arrangements, and to these may be attributed the good health of the troops. As to provisions, the food is excellent, and there is plenty of it. I don’t say that there is over abundance, or that the food is much varied, but we get enough. Water is the chief difficulty. I don’t believe I have drunk a quart of water unboiled since I have been out there. In the first trenches we occupied the men cooked their own food and had their little fire by which to boil the water, but in the present trenches we are not allowed to do this. Smoke always gives the enemy an inkling of where the men are in the trenches and draws their shell fire. The water for the bottles is brought a considerable distance now and is pretty good, but water for cooking purposes is taken from wells.
IN GOOD SPIRITS.
Q.M.S. Tomlinson spoke of the Rugby men whom he had left behind for a few days as being in good spirits and cheerful. “ Life in the trenches is not exactly ideal—you cannot expect happy conditions in warfare—but with this reservation our men are really cheerful. The fact that we are kept pretty well occupied prevents us from becoming depressed. It has been trench warfare. We nave not been seriously attacked and we have not attacked on our part. It has just been a question of holding the line ; and we have been rather lucky compared with other battalions, in the small dumber of casualties that have befallen us, these being chiefly due to rifle fire.
PROUD OF THE TERRITORIALS.
“ I have always had, and still retain, a feeling of pride in the Territorial for the work he is doing. If all the soldiers on our side are doing their part as well as our men are doing their’s, then all I can say is we have got some good troops.”
CONFIDENT OF VICTORY.
Confirmation is given by Q.M.S. Tomlinson of the reports brought home by others from the front that the men engaged in the actual fighting are confident that success will eventually crown the efforts of the Allies. ” There is an optimistic feeling at the front. You may read in the papers of the reverses that have befallen Russia, but that makes no difference. Everyone out there takes it for granted that we are bound to win. There can be only one end, and that is the end we are out for. I would rather stop out there two years longer and really finish the job, than that there should be a compromise now.”
RUGBY TERRITORIALS COMFORTS COMMITTEE.
WARM APPRECIATION FROM RECIPIENTS
GIFTS STILL NEEDED.
With the winter approaching the attention of the public may appropriately be drawn to the excellent work that is being undertaken by the Rugby Territorials’ Comforts’ Committee, of which Mrs West and Mrs Nickalls are joint presidents, and Mr A Adnitt, Regent Street, hon secretary.
The committee has been formed to send comforts to Rugby Territorials, whether in the Infantry, Howitzers, or Yeomanry, and as quite a variety of articles are now badly needed, a fine opportunity is presented for showing appreciation of the services of local men who are taking such an heroic part in their country’s cause. Shirts, socks, and underclothing (including pants, which are not supplied by the Government), are urgently required just now, and the committee appeals through our columns for such gifts, and also money to defray the cost of carriage. We would also draw attention to the appeal for 1,500 plum-puddings for local Territorials, of whom there are quite 2,000 on service, in addition to Rugby men who are soldiers and are serving in the regular army. It will thus be seen that to carry out the committee’s wish to supply every Rugbeian with present necessities and special Christmas fare, a generous response will be essential.
Expressions of warm appreciation have already been received by Mr Adnitt, in acknowledgment of parcels already sent out.
Sergt W J Bryant, of the Rugby Infantry Company, says : ” Just a line to thank you for socks on behalf of the Rugby boys of No 9 Platoon. We all appreciate your thinking of us very much. They could not have come at a better time, as they arrived just before we went into the trenches.”
Battery Sergt-Major G Hopewell, of the Rugby Howitzers, writes “ I have received three parcels containing 36 pairs of knitted socks and eight shirts. My men want 10 pairs of underpants and 12 undervests badly, and I should be pleased to receive any old books you have to spare. I have already written you (under cover to Mrs Nickalls), acknowledging shirts and socks. . . . Again thanking you most sincerely for all the work you are doing on our behalf.”
In the letter referred to, posted “ Somewhere in France,” on August 22nd, Sergt-Major Hopewell writes :—
” Will you please express our heartiest thanks to the Rugby Comforts’ Committee for the three parcels of socks and shirts which I have received for distribution among the men of the Rugby Howitzer Battery.
“These kindly gifts are always very keenly appreciated, but they were more than ever welcome on this occasion, as a number of men were reduced to one shirt and one pair of socks each, so they could not have arrived at a more opportune moment.
“ We are very grateful indeed for the money, time, and trouble, which the ladies of Rugby are expending on our behalf, and we should be very pleased if you would convey to them our sincere thanks for their interest in our welfare and personal comfort. I am pleaded to say we are all quite well and fit, and although we get a good number of shells and rifle bullets round, no one has been hurt up to now. Things are fairly quiet on our front at present, but we are waiting in keen anticipation of the time when we hope the grand move forward will begin, and we shall have the satisfaction of driving the enemy back to his own country.”
AMATEUR LAUNDRY MAIDS.
Company Q.M.S Alf C Tomlinson, of the Rugby Infantry Company, acknowledging 54 pairs of socks, says :-
“ Thank you all so much for looking after our comfort. . . .Skirts, socks, also underclothing, are always welcome. We are not the best of “ laundry-maids,” nor can we darn artistically ; and naturally these articles get the roughest wear. . . .
“ Nothing could have given more pleasure,” says the writer, “ nor could they have arrived at a happier moment. We had just finished a very trying eight days in the trenches—mud and water the whole time. I don’t suppose there were a dozen pairs of good socks left in the Company—certainly not a clean pair, so you can imagine the pleasure, not less the comfort, the T.C.C gifts gave. No less appreciated is the knowledge of the kind thoughts of Rugby friends for Rugby’s Territorial soldiers.”
Referring to the present and future needs of the men, Q.M.S Tomlinson says : “ We should be pleased to have a few ‘housewives,’ cards, magazines, and games. These would add greatly to our pleasures. A little later on, when the weather gets colder we shall be glad to ask you for some of the warmer articles you mention.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
WANTED : 500 GIRLS TO MAKE CAKES FOR OUR TERRITORIALS.
DEAR SIR,—The first intention of a few girls and their friends to make a number of cakes for the Rugby and District Territorials Comforts Dispatch Committee, and to hold a small competition, has met with sufficient encouragement, especially from the prize-givers, to enable them to ask all girls to join in, so that every Rugby man “somewhere in France, etc” will have a reminder from home early in October.
The R.T.C Committee have kindly consented to take over all on the day of judging, when they will be on show, and the prizes given. These have been offered by a well-known flour firm, and are now increased to ten prizes value in all £3 15s, on behalf of the Rugby and district men.
Group I promises cakes “ for ” and “ not for ” competition. Other groups are asked to form up and promise 100 or as many as possible. Secretaries please note. Girls please enter names early. No entrance fee. No carriage to pay. No risk, except that of getting a prize.
Mrs West, Bawnmore, Bilton, has kindly undertaken to receive names of those responsible for groups until next week, when their addresses will be made known for receiving entries and supplying the recipes. For date, place, and where to see prizes, ask for recipes.-Yours very truly,
GIFTS WANTED FOR A HOSPITAL SHIP.
DEAR SIR,—Will you allow me to express to those of your readers who kindly sent gifts for a hospital ship which is fetching wounded from the Dardanelles the hearty thanks of the matron and staff.
By the kindness of many friends in many places 612 swabs, 204 bandages, 47 shirts, 24 night-shirts, 60 pairs of socks, 51 handkerchiefs, 73 lavender bags, 235 hospital bags, 240 muslin squares, and some lozenges were ready for the third voyage.
No more muslin squares are needed, as these can be washed and used again as a protection from the flies ; but the other things will all need to be replaced and woollen caps and mufflers will be needed for the next voyage, and chocolates and cigarettes are always acceptable. I shall be most grateful for any further help,—Yours truly,
MAUDE M THOMPSON.
Norwood, Clifton Road, Rugby.
BELGIANS’ ABSENCE FROM WORK.
Mr J W Shaw, representing Messrs Willans & Robinson, Ltd, complained that Jean Delrez, moulder, a Belgian, of 71 Bridget Street, Rugby, had absented himself from work without permission. It was explained that Delrez had been warned prior to his leaving. By means of the interpreter, Mr Scheldt, Delrez stated that he had not been treated properly. His earnings were £2 12s a week, and he claimed that he was not getting the district rate of wages. The Chairman expressed the view that the proper course for a man wishing to leave his employment was to first of all give legal notice, according to the rules, and apply for consent to leave. If it was refused he should appeal to that Court. In this respect the rule was not clear, and he advised the firm to communicate with headquarters. The complaint was dismissed.
A complaint against another Belgian, Jean Puraye, Coventry, by the same firm was also dismissed. Puraye said he thought he could leave when he liked, the same as in other workshops. His reason for wishing to leave was that to “ join his wife in Ireland.”
The Chairman said that in this case there had been no offence. The firm might put up a notice demanding a month or six weeks’ notice, and then when necessary they could come to the Court for decision.
RAILWAYMEN ASK FOR MORE WAGES.
In connection with the national movement initiated by the N.U.R for an advance of 5s per week to all railway employees, irrespective of grade, we are informed that a fortnight ago the Rugby Branch of the N.U.R, which has a membership of over 800, forwarded a resolution to the Head Office asking for such a movement to be set on foot.
A prominent official of the Rugby Branch of the N.U.R, in discussing the situation, stated that the reasons the men were making their request for an all-round advance was that large numbers of railwaymen, including over 80,000 members of the Union, have joined the colours, and only in a few cases have their places been filled. This, coupled with the great increase in traffic consequent upon the transportation of troops, stores, &c, has thrown considerably more work upon railwaymen, who have, without exception, worked loyally and well many hours longer than usual. The cost of living, too, has considerably increased, and the opinion is universally expressed on the railways that the men’s patriotism and devotion to duty should be rewarded.
Our representative asked whether there was any likelihood of a strike, and was informed that the men did not anticipate resorting to drastic methods, because both they and the companies recognised the great responsibilities resting upon them, and he thought that the companies would be prepared to meet the men in a conciliatory manner.