25th Sep 1915. Local War Notes

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Mr Sydney Hall and Mr J Hoare, servers at St Andrew’s Mission Church and members of the Brotherhood of St Ardan, have enlisted in the R.W.R.

Capt A D Coates, of the 9th Warwickshire Regiment, which has figured prominently in the Dardanelles fighting, has recovered from his illness, and is now at Cairo in charge of the Turkish officer prisoners.

Sergt Donnithorne, of the 1st Border Regiment, who was billeted with Mr and Mrs Lane, 79 Manor Road, has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, for ‘ a bit of work I have done out here ’ (the Dardanelles), as he puts it in a letter to his friends in Rugby.

On Monday afternoon the wounded soldiers from Ashlawn Hospital were entertained at the picture matinee at the Empire through the kindness of Mr B Morris, the proprietor. Cigarettes, &c, were handed round to the visitors, who spent a highly enjoyable time.

Mrs Stokes, wife of Farrier Q.M Sergt Stokes, informs us that the rumour which has been circulated regarding her husband’s supposed death is quite untrue. He is in hospital suffering from a general breakdown, which has affected his eyesight. A letter received from him on Wednesday, however, contained favourable news.

Pte James Plumb, of the 10th Royal Warwicks, and an old scholar of St Matthew’s Schools, has written to his mother, who resides at 21 Union Street, Rugby, to state that he has been wounded, but not seriously. He was out sniping on September 13th, when he was struck in the calf of his leg by a bullet, which passed out at the knee. He is now in a base hospital at Boulogne, where he is very comfortable and going on well. When Pte Plumb enlisted he was working at the Rugby Gas Works. He joined in September, 1914, and went over to France about three months ago. His father is also serving in 2/7th Royal Warwickshire.

NEWS OF A RUGBY YEOMAN.

Included in a number of wounded soldiers from the Dardanelles who arrived at “ Ashlawn ” Red Cross Hospital on Monday, was Trooper Ambrose Cole, of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, who brought cheering word to Mr Albert White, chief clerk at the L & N.-W Erecting Shop, respecting his son, Trooper Cyril White, whom he left quite well and in the best of health.

LETTER FROM AN OLD MURRAYIAN.

Sapper Tuckey, of the 78th Field Co, R.E, an Old Murrayian, has sent a number of interesting views showing Ypres before and after the bombardment to his old schoolmaster. We give a few extracts from his letter :—“ It is a terrible sight to see glorious architecture, such as the Cathedral of St Martin, the Cloth Hall, and other such places lying in heaps of ruins ; but still, one takes little notice of such things, for human nature gets surprisingly hard-hearted out here. . . . . No one will ever be able to say that the Old Murrayians were found wanting. I receive the local paper every week, so naturally I am well acquainted with the news, and watch with great interest everything concerning Old Murrayians. I met some of the old-timers a few days ago while behind the lines, and I do not think any of us look the worse for our Continental tour. There is rather a strange thing in a desolate village ‘somewhere in Belgium ’—a small church in ruins, but the crucifix is standing untouched and the inscription on the remains of the tower, ‘Suceedo Combustis,’ which is rather appealing to the passing troops, don’t you think ? ”

RUGBY SAWYER CONGRATULATED BY THE KING.

Mr Frederick Branston, a sawyer, in the employ of Messrs Travis & Arnold, of Rugby, and living in Chester Street, has this week received the following letter from the Privy Purse Office at Buckingham Palace, dated September 20th, 1915 :-

“ SIR,—I have the honour to inform you that the King has heard with much interest that you have at the present moment four sons and two sons-in-law serving in the Army and Navy.

“ I am commanded to express to you the King’s congratulations, and to assure you that his Majesty much appreciates the spirit of patriotism which prompted this example in one family of loyalty and devotion to their Sovereign and Empire.—I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant,

“ F M PONSONBY,

“ Keeper of the Privy Purse.”

We may explain that Mr. Branston has five sons serving with the colours (not four, as mentioned in the letter), and that he is himself employed on Government contracts.

OLD MURRAYIAN GASSED WHILE AT RESCUE WORK.

Driver S G Smith, 41, 3/4th Warwickshire Battery, an Old Murrayian, has written to his old schoolmaster, informing him that he has been gassed, and adding the following particulars :— “ I thought I would like to see a little more life than I did with the Battery, so I went to do a bit of mining and sapping under the German first line trenches, and found what I went for. For about a week all went well, but we could hear the Germans working over the top of us ; therefore it was a case of who should get there first. We could hear them talking when everything was quiet. One Sunday evening at about five o’clock I was in the dug-out, when all of a sudden the whole place was shaken ; and, knowing something was the matter, we jumped up. We were ordered to fall-in and hurried to the firing trench. Then we found that the Germans had blown our sap in. We could not go down for a time because there was so much gas ; but after we had worked and had got some air in, they asked for men to try to get our comrades out. I was one who volunteered, and we went down, but could not stand it long. -We found five dead at the bottom of the shaft. We worked hard for about four hours, and then there was a big rush of gas, and I don’t remember any more until I came round in the dressing station.” Driver Smith adds that he has been in several hospitals, and is now nearly well again.

A LAWFORD MAN KILLED.

Mr Henry Hopkins, of the Sheaf and Sickle Inn, Long Lawford, has received intimation that his son, Pte Frank Hopkins, of the 6th Dorsets, has been killed.

Capt Courtenay Dutton, writing to convey the intelligence, says :” I regret to have to inform you that your son was killed early this morning by a shell bursting on the parapet. His death was practically instantaneous, and he suffered no pain. Curiously enough his own officer was killed by a bullet about two hours previously in the same place. Your son was a good soldier, and in expressing my sincerest sympathy, I would add that you may be to a certain extent comforted in your grief by the knowledge that your son died the most honourable death a man can die.”

Sergt J Jeacock, of the same Company, has also written to inform the parents, and adds :” He was at his post when he was hit. We had a hot time of it for about a quarter of an hour. I am very sorry to lose my old chum like that. We used to work together and we joined together. He was one of the best we had out here.”

Pte Hopkins was employed at Bluemels when he enlisted about twelve months ago. He was an active member of the Lawford Football, Cricket, and Rifle Clubs, and was much liked and respected in the village.

WOUNDED SOLDIERS’ OUTING TO STANFORD PARK.

Recently, when Lord and Lady Braye entertained wounded soldiers from Leicestershire hospitals at Stanford Hall, the men at the Ashlawn Hospital, Rugby, although invited, were unable to be present because, his Lordship was informed, vehicles were not available to convey them to the rendezvous.

Lord Braye kindly repeated his invitation, and Mr F van den Arend undertook to arrange the motor transport. The Leicestershire men have had several successful tours, and one of the features that has contributed largely to the success of the outings has been the enthusiasm which has been shown to the gallant men when passing through the different places. The villagers decorated their houses, and showered cigarettes, chocolates, and fruit upon the wounded in the cars.

The Ashlawn men are going to Stanford Hall to-day (Saturday), September 25th, and we are asked to mention that they will start from the hospital at 2.0 o’clock, pass through Dunchurch, down the London Road to Stretton-on-Dunsmore, then turn off through Wolston and Church Lawford to New Bilton.

The cars will line up opposite the Rugby Portland Cement Works. Here they will be met by the B.T.H Military Band about 2.35 p.m, and will pass in procession through New Bilton, Warwick Street, High Street, Market Place, Church Street, Clifton Road, Clifton, by St Thomas’ Cross (Newton), Catthorpe and Swinford to Stanford Park.

On the homeward journey they will start at 5.30 p.m, and travel via Yelvertoft, Crick, and Hillmorton.

We have so doubt people on the routes indicated will be glad of the opportunity of showing enthusiastic appreciation to these gallant defenders of the Empire.

HOW THE WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY FOUGHT AT THE DARDANELLES.

LOCAL MEN WOUNDED, BUT NOT SERI0USLY.

“ I am writing this from my little ‘ hole ‘ in the hill,” says Sergt-Major Tait, of C Squadron of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, now at the Dardanelles. ” We left our base on August 17th, and arrived here ‘somewhere at the front’ on the 20th or thereabouts. I have lost count of time since we have been in the real thing. We had our baptism of fire as soon as we landed, being shelled by the Turks for about five minutes. Fortunately no one was hit, and we reached our bivouac without mishap. We had a few casualties while in bivouac, as we had to go to the shore for water, and the Turks or Germans, knowing or being able to see when the men went to draw water, sent some shrapnel over them, and succeeded in bagging one or two. They used to send us one or two ‘haters ’ at meal times just to pass the time of day—sometimes they burst and sometimes not. They seat 14 at us one morning, but did no damage. We are on the side of a hill about — miles from the coast, and when our ships shell the enemy the shells come right over us, and make a terrific noise. It was funny at first to see the men ‘ duck ‘ when one came over ; but it was only natural, and I suppose I was one of the ‘ duckers.’ They are getting used to it now.

“ Our shells have been making terrible work in the enemy’s camp trenches, according to reports of men who have been in the first lines. They say they found Tucks or Germans mixed up together in heaps of 10 or 15. They asked for an armistice to bury their dead, but this was refused, because the last time they had one they did not bury the dead, but moved their big guns to the rear and set them up in other positions ; so our fellows had the job of burying their dead when they had taken their trenches. Since we landed they have been pushed back about —— miles. Perhaps you will have heard of our doings by the time you get this, but you may not have got details.

“ We left our base at 4.20 p.m. on Friday, the 20th. with orders to join the Division by 7.30 p.m. All went well until we got about two miles on our journey. We had cross a large extent of perfectly flat country to our objective and covered with patches of gorse. We must have made a good mark for the enemy’s guns, for as soon as we got to the edge of the gorse they opened fire on us with shrapnel, high explosives, and incendiary shells. They had got the range, and officers and men began to drop. For three-quarters of an hour they rained shrapnel upon us, and it is marvellous how any of us came through the storm alive.

“ My squadron lost 27 killed and wounded. We were the luckiest of the lot, and lost the least men being on the right of the column. Men were going down in one’s and twos every time a shell burst, and, to make matters worse, the devils set fire to the gorse.

“ After being under fire for about a quarter of an hour we had the order to double, but we could only go about 100 yards, and had to walk the rest. This was the time the casualties were heaviest.

“ We eventually reached the foot of the hill to the accompaniment of the cheers of those who had watched us from the hillside. When the roll had been called we found we had lost about 70 in the regiment, but several walked in afterwards only slightly wounded.

“ When we reached our objective we thought we had finished, but after half-an-hour’s rest we were told, to advance to the reserve trenches one and a-half miles to the front. Fortunately by this time it was getting dark. We were taken over the top of the hill and down the other side, where we again came under fire—this time from machine guns and snipers. We had a few more casualties, but only wounded, no one being killed and finally we got to the trench where we threw of our packs, said a fervent prayer, and tried to go to sleep. But the excitement of the past events made this impossible.

“ We have since heard of fellows having marvellous escapes. One officer had the back of his helmet shot away, and also the collar of his coat, but did not get wounded. Several men can show holes in their clothes and helmets. I was hit with a bullet on one of the pouches, and it knocked three clips of cartridges out, but did not hurt me. I came through without any other mishap, so I offered up a prayer of thankfulness to the Almighty for bringing us through what can be literally called ‘ hell on earth.’

This is the only time any troop have been brought across the open since operations commenced in this part of the seat of war, and everyone who saw our advance says that the Yeomanry have earned a name for themselves.

“ The only thing that is a bit of a trouble is the water. It is only issued twice a day. and as bully beef and biscuits make one thirsty, it is trying—put the water is good when we get it. The men in the firing line are looked after first, which is as it should be—the men in the reserve trenches forming fatigues for getting food and water to the first line, and they do it cheerfully day and night. It is really wonderful how the fellows have adapted themselves to circumstances.

“I am feeling quite fit and well, with the exception of a slight cold. It is very hot in the day, and gets cold towards early morning. We expect the rainy season to commence shortly.

“ When you see Mr J E Cox tell him his two sons are in the next dug-out to me. They are both all right, and came through without a scratch. Bert White’s son was left at — camp to look after the horses—if he only knew what a lucky fellow he was.

“ We do not get a very good service post here, and have had no letters since we left the base. We are now pretty ‘cosy,’ not over-worked, and plenty of bully and tea.

“ I hope you will be able to read this, as it is written in rather an uncomfortable position, lying on my back in the dug-out whilst the shells are coming over.

“ We are rather troubled with snipers, but the Australian bushmen are dealing with them. One chap lives close to me, and he says he has shot 17 since he has been on the job. They got three yesterday—one dressed in a K.O.S.B uniform. They say the snipers are principally Kurds.”

“ A LIVING SHEET OF FIRE & BULLETS.”

Corpl Horace Neeves, of the Signal Troop of the 1st South Midland Mounted Brigade, has written to his parents, Mr and Mrs S Neeves, of Murray Road, Rugby, giving an interesting account of his experiences in the fighting on Hill 70, following the landing at Suvla Bay at the Dardanelles. He was working on the staff at Rugby Post Office, when at the outbreak of war the Rugby Troop of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, of which he had been a member for six or seven years, was mobilised. Having been for, some months at Alexandria, he went with the South Midland Mounted Brigade (with which his troop is incorporated) to the Dardanelles, and experienced some heavy fighting in the advance from Suvla Bay, the last stage of which, he says, was “like going through a living sheet of fire and bullets.” He felt one or two bits of stuff, probably dirt, thrown up by shrapnel, hit him in the face ; but he remarks that otherwise he came through quite safely. However, on returning to hospital, suffering from a severe attack of dysentry, it was found that Corpl Neeves had had a narrow escape. A shrapnel bullet had entered his haversack, had passed through four folds of the housewife it contained, and had become embedded in a thimble which was crumpled up and possibly saved his life. We understand that Corpl Neeves has been invalided home, and is now on a transport ship on his way to England.

 

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

The following have been attested at the Rugby Drill Hall this week :—E Imeson and S O’Donnell, Gloucester Bantams ; K W Smallwood R.E, Telegraph ; W Courtman, R.G.A ; W E Hughes, T W Hughes, and H Panter, R.F.A ; T Cleaver and J E Newman, 220th Fortress Co, R.E.

COVENTRY MUNITIONS TRIBUNAL.

MORE PROCEEDINGS.

A sitting of the Coventry And District Munitions Tribunal was held at the Labour Exchange offices, at which Mr F Tillyard, of Birmingham, presided. There were also present : Mr T Clarke (employers), Mr J G Chater (employees), together with the Clerk (Mr P E Wilks) and Mr D G Bolland {assistant clerk).

SLEEPY WORKER.

The allegation against James Cullen, turner, of 93 Winfield Street, Rugby, an employee of the British Thomson-Houston Co, Ltd, was that he had been found asleep on two separate occasions whilst engaged on important Government work.

Prior to the hearing of the case Cullen asked for an adjournment on the ground that his trade union secretary, and a witness were not present, but the Court decided to proceed with the case.

Mr J Bale, foreman, stated that at 4.25 a.m on the 8th inst. he found Cullen asleep by the side of his machine. After taking his name and number he walked down the shop, and when about half-way down he heard Cullen’s machine running again. Cullen’s explanation was that owing to the nature of his work the breakfast half-hour had been re-arranged, and that the time when the foreman came up was his breakfast time, 4 a.m to 4.30, half-an-hour later than usual.

Launcelot Wakelin, in charge of the shop, said that on the 9th inst. he saw Cullen lying full length across the floor near the machine, fast asleep. When asked for his name and number Cullen was abusive, and refused to give them. He had watched Cullen for fully ten minutes to make sure he was asleep.

Cullen admitted lying down, but emphatically denied being asleep, and stated that it was customary for men to lie down and watch the material running through.

After consideration, the Chairman announced that the Court had come to the conclusion that Cullen was not “diligently attending to his work,” which was an infringement of the Munitions Act. The first case had been withdrawn, and a fine of £1 was inflicted for the offence on the 9th inst.—Cullen : If I did wrong once I did wrong twice.—The Chairman : You are being fined on your own admission that you were lying down at your work.—Cullen : I refuse to pay a halfpenny until see my solicitor.—The Chairman : There is no appeal to this decision.

GOVERNMENT CARRIER PIGEONS.

A WARNING.

The Press Bureau issues the following announcement :—

“ Notice is hereby given that carrier or homing pigeons are being used for certain purposes in connection with his Majesty’s Service, and attention is called to the fact that anyone who shoots or kills a carrier or homing pigeon whilst on passage renders himself liable to prosecution.”

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