WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY AT THE DARDANELLES.
In a recent account of the fighting at the Dardenelles, when the new landing was effected at Sulva Bay, and an attack was made on Hill 70, Mr Ashmead Bartlett gave a vivid description of the valiant work of the Yeomanry. There was nothing in it, however, to connect any particular regiment with it ; but news of some of the casualties which came to hand private seemed to indicate that the Warwickshire Yeomanry, which includes the Rugby troop, took part in the attack. It is now known that they were in the splendid charge which took place on August 21st—only one day after their arrival at Gallipoli from Egypt. This being so, it may be interesting to repeat Mr Ashmead Bartlett’s,description :-
“ For about an hour there was no change in the situation, and then the Yeomanry again moved forward in a solid mass, forming up under the lower western and northern slopes.
“ It was now almost dark, and the attack seemed to hang fire, when suddenly the Yeomanry leapt to their feet, and, as a single men, charged right up the hill. They were met by a withering fire, which rose to a crescendo as they neared the northern crest, but nothing could stop them.
“ They charged at amazing speed, without a single halt, from the bottom to the top, losing many men, and many of their chosen leaders, including gallant Sir John Milbanke.
“ It was a stirring sight, watched by thousands in the over-gathering gloom. At one moment they were below the crest ; the next on top. A moment afterwards many had disappeared inside the Turkish trenches, bayoneting all the defenders who had not fled in time, whilst others never stopped at the trench line, but dashed in pursuit down the reverse slopes.
“ From a thousand lips a shout went up that Hill 70 was won. But night was now rapidly falling, the figures became blurred, then lost all shape, and finally disappeared from view. The battlefield had vanished completely, and as one left Chocolate Hill one looked back on a vista of rolling clouds of smoke and huge fires, from the midst of which the incessant roar of the rifle fire never for a moment ceased.
“ This was ominous, for, although Hill 70 was in our hands, the question arose : Could we hold it throughout the night in the face of determined counter-attacks ? In fact, all through the night the battle raged incessantly, and when morning broke Hill 70 was no longer in our possession. Apparently the Turks, were never driven off a knoll on the northern crest, from which they enfiladed us with machine-guns and artillery fire, whilst those of the Yeomanry who had dashed down the reverse slopes in pursuit were counter-attacked and lost heavily, and were obliged to retire.
“ During the night it was decided that it would be impossible to hold the hill in daylight, and the order was given for the troops to withdraw to their original positions. Nothing, however, will lessen the glory of that final charge of England’s Yeomen. Thus ended this great fight.”
OLD ST. MATTHEW’S BOYS WITH THE FORCES.
A large number of old scholars of St Matthew’s Boys’ School are serving with the Forces, and Mr R H Myers, the popular headmaster, has received many letters from the firing line, all breathing the same optimistic, quietly determined spirit which characterises the British Jack and Tommy. Two letters which Mr Myers has received lately are typical specimens, and give interesting details of use in both the Grand Fleet and the trenches of Flanders, and a few extracts may be welcomed.
ANXIOUS FOR THE DAY.
Petty Officer Telegraphist E W Penney, H.M.S Lion, in a letter says :—“ Unfortunately we in the Grand Fleet are not in the limelight like some of our more fortunate brothers, in the Dardanelles ; but although we envy them, we are proud to think that they are upholding the traditions of the Navy. We in the battle, cruisers, under Sir David Beatty, himself an Old Rugby man, have had two brushes with the Huns, at Heligoland and last January at the Dogger Bank ; but what we are all looking forward to is the glorious day (Der Tag) when we meet the High Sea Fleet for the first and last time. Many old scores will be paid on that day, and the murderers of the Lusitania, Scarboro’, and later the E 15, will get the punishment they so richly deserve. Although we have been engaged on the most dreary and monotonous work that a fleet is called upon to perform, i.e, a blockade, it has not damped the spirits of the men in the least. On the contrary, we have no pessimists, and everyone is as keen as mustard. I won’t describe a modern naval engagement, but it is exciting, especially during the chase which one always gets on meeting the Huns, as they are past-masters at running. Referring to one of the engagements, the writer says: ‘ We had several large shells aboard, and they wrecked everything near, but we got off very lightly, and only the Lion and Tiger were hit, and neither seriously damaged. I had a rather nasty cut an the head, caused by a bursting shell, but I made a speedy recovery, and am now anxious to get my own back. Of course, unlike the Huns, we have no ‘ Hymn of Hate’ ; but, to tell the truth, I don’t think the man is born who could put ours on paper. Unlike Dr Lyttleton, we do not love the Huns. Oh I dear no ; nor would he if he had witnessed a Zeppelin dropping bombs on our destroyers while they were trying to pick up survivors from the Bluecher. I hope before long we shall have come to grips with them again, and you can rely on the Grand Fleet winning the Modern Trafalgar, and I hope I am privileged to be present on Der Tag.”
GERMANS USE LIQUID FIRE.
Pte F J Summers, of the 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, in a letter to his old schoolmaster says :- “ We have had some very hard and exciting times lately. Our last turn in the trenches was one of eleven days in the firing line and three in support. All the time we were in we were subjected to very severe artillery bombardments, being the recipients of some very heavy shells. Our artillery near us proved superior in the exchanges, blowing the German trenches flat. The part of the ground that we held was protected somewhat from their smaller guns, as it was just behind the rise of a hill. The Germans send over a shell which we have nick-named ‘ whizz-bang ’; but so far they have gone over our parapet. Rather lucky for us. You will have read in the newspapers that the advance which followed the bombardment was entirely successful. The part we have been holding has always been one of the hottest in the line, and the enemy has tried every dirty method of attack there. Thanks to a kindly Providence, the direction of the wind protected us from gas during our time in. They tried gas shells though, but they were not very effective. An attack was made on our right with their liquid fire, but our counter-attack regained the small portion of line evacuated, and soon after our regular troops pushed them back farther still. The prisoners taken did not seem very keen : they were completely cowed by our shells, and in some cases gave themselves up. We find it rather trying in the trenches with so many alarms, often having to stand to arms just as we have got down to rest. I have often thought of the old school motto, ‘ Think of rest, but work on.’ I little thought when sitting beneath it that it would be recalled to my mind under such out of the usual circumstances.”
TWO HEROIC BRITISH SOLDIERS.
ONE OF THEM A RUGBEIAN.
Pte Swainsford, of the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment, writing to a Birmingham contemporary, says :—
Sir,—I have read in your paper on several occasions accounts of doings and happenings from the front, and so I am writing this to bring to your notice one of the most courageous acts during this campaign—at least it is so in my estimation. It was at the second battle at Ypres. We had just come out of the trenches for a short rest when we received the information that the Rifle Brigade ware to make an attack end that we should be in support. Well, the attack was successful, and two lines of trenches were taken. After the attack the Germ-Huns bombarded us terribly, thousands of shells being fired during the three days following. While the bombardment was at its hottest, our C.O sent an order that a machine-gun was to attempt to get up into the line. This seemed an almost impossible feat, considering the shells that were falling about ; but for all that, and despite all the advice received on the way up that it was impossible (I was in the reserve trench and heard the remarks), the officer, sergeant, and a private succeeded in reaching their goal. But no sooner did they get there than the officer was wounded, leaving the sergeant to take charge.
New follows information received from some of the Rifle Brigade who were there :
The Warwick machine-gun section succeeded in getting up to our position—in itself a most wonderful piece of work. They right away got their gun in action. After 15 minutes’ continual firing they had the misfortune to be buried, also the gun. Another 15 minutes and they were in action again. They had been in action, as near as I can say, about 2½ hours when the sergeant, looking through his glasses, spotted the place where the German reinforcements, gathered together, were waiting to advance to what was now their firing line ; but, unfortunately, owing to an advanced trench of ours, he was unable to fire on them. As soon as he realised this he explained the position to the private who was with him, and then, without the least sign of fear, they both caught up the gun and, despite a terrible fire, ran forward to the right flank, put the gun in position, and opened fire. The enemy dropped just as though they had been struck from above, very few escaping. They then picked up their gun and dashed back to their lines without injury ; but for all that it was the bravest thing I have seen in this war. The same night I was relieved, and so had to part from them, but in my opinion no praise is too good for those two heroes. Their names were Sergeant J Cresswell and Private King, Machine Gun Section, 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 4th Division, 10th Brigade, British Expeditionary Force.—Yours, etc,
1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment,
British Expeditionary Force, France.
The Private King referred to is the son of Mr and Mrs G King, 46 Pinfold Street, New Bilton. He resided with his parents till the outbreak of the war ; and he went to France on August 22nd, 1914.
GAVE HIS LIFE FOR A WOUNDED COMRADE.
A SPLENDID N.C.O.
Captain Conway, commanding B Company of the 7th South Staffordshire Regiment, has written to Mrs Woodward, now residing at Daventry Road, Kilsby, describing the noble way in which her husband, Lce-Corpl A Woodward, sacrificed himself for the sake of a wounded comrade. The writer says :-” I am forwarding you a bundle of letters and photo found in the Turkish trenches after our occupation of Chocolate Hill, on the Sunday after landing at Suvla Bay. I also thought perhaps you would be pleased to know what a noble death your husband died. The morning (Saturday, 7th August) alter landing, your husband was one of a patrol sent out to reconnoitre the hill now known as Chocolate Hill, about 1,500 yards to our front. About 200 yards from the hill the Turks opened a heavy fire on them, wounding several. The patrol than fell back on our lines, leaving one man (Pte Butler) badly wounded behind. It was not till later in the day that I learned that your husband had volunteered to stay with the wounded man where he fell. Sergt Evans, of my Company, volunteered to go out with a party and bring them in, but as it would have been certain death to anyone attempting this during the day-time, I had it postponed till darkness set in.
“ Unfortunately, during the afternoon, it was reported to me that your husband and Butler had been brought in by the R.N.D stretcher party. This report I afterwards found out to be untrue, as when we advanced on to Chocolate Hill on Sunday morning we passed the bodies of both, and I had them buried where they fell.
“ I am sure, dear Mrs Woodward, it will be some little satisfaction to you to know that he could not have died a more noble death, for he gave his life trying to save his wounded comrade. He was a splendid N.C.O, always ready and willing to do anything he was called upon to do.
“ Unfortunately, I was wounded the same evening, and was taken on board the hospital ship, but I took the first opportunity of bringing his gallant conduct to the notice of his Commanding Officer.—With deepest sympathy from Yours,
W I COWAP, Captain.
“ It would appear that the Turks had rifled your husband’s pockets and dropped the letters on retreating from Chocolate Hill.”
Lce-Corpl A Woodward was a nephew of Mrs Woodward, 73 Jubilee Street, New Bilton, with whom he and his wife resided at the time of joining the forces in September, 1914. He was 23 years of age, and had only been married two months before he joined to Miss E Worcester, of Kilsby. He was employed at the B.T.H Works.
RECRUITING AT RUGBY.
There has been a slight falling off in the number of recruits at the Rugby Drill Hall this week. The following have been accepted :—S Butler, R.F.A ; T Kirby, R.A.M.C ; H Brookes and A H Lorriman, A.S.C ; J H Hall, A S Smith, F Kirby, G H Chapman, and W Skeet, 220th Fortress Company, R.E ; W G Chater, R.W.R ; T Kenny, Leicester Regiment.
TALE OF DISASTER TO THE WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY.
CONVICTED FOR SPREADING FALSE NEWS.
At Stratford-on-Avon, on Wednesday, Albert Henry Brooks, chauffeur in the employ of Lieutenant Tate, Billesley Manor, was charged under the Defence of the Realm Act with spreading false reports as to disaster to the Warwickshire Yeomanry in the Dardanelles.
It was stated that defendant, on August 30th, came into Stratford and told several persons that Mrs Tate had that morning received a cablegram from her husband stating that the Warwickshire Yeomanry had been in action, that all the officers had been killed or wounded, and about 200 men put out of action.—Police-Sergeant Lee Instituted enquiries and found that the report was false. He was directed by the military authorities to prosecute. No cablegram had been received. The report had caused much distress, as a number of Stratford men are serving in the Warwickshire Yeomanry.
Defendant was fined £5, with the alternative of one month’s imprisonment.