13th Nov 1915. Letter from old St Matthew’s boys

LETTER FROM OLD ST. MATTHEW’S BOYS.

Pte Frank Morley, R.A.M.C, an “old boy” of St Matthew’s School, writing from Gallipoli to Mr R H Myers, the headmaster, say :-

It is always a pleasure to receive the Advertiser and read of the doings of the “ old boys.” St Matthew’s has indeed contributed its quota, and I feel proud to be included amongst the number.

We, in company with the 11th Division, took part in the new landing on the Peninsula. As you are aware, we did not quite achieve our object, but I feel sure that the surprise landing demoralized the Turks, who were anticipating an attack from the Asiatic coast.

It seems to me that people at home are only just beginning to realise the gravity of the situation. The fighting out here is of a different character, and on a different scale to that in France. I think Mr Winston Churchill aptly described the position when he said, “ The armies there are like men fighting on a high and narrow scaffolding above the surface of the earth.” We must indeed be prepared to make great sacrifices before the final goal is reached.

I will not trouble you with details of the new landing. We certainly had an exciting time, and for the first ten days had to work like Trojans, We were generally up at 3.30 a.m, and walked fully three miles to the Regimental Aid Post to collect the wounded. Motor or horse transport was out of the question, as there were no roads, and the ground generally very rough and treacherous. It was a poor sort of “ joy ride ” the patients had, yet I cannot call to mind, a single word of complaint.

The Warwickshire Yeomanry came along a fortnight after the landing was made. They acquitted themselves well in their first engagement, for it was no easy task to cross an open plain with shells bursting thick and furious. They helped to carry out a good piece of work, and all honour due to them.

We have had a splendid opportunity of watching the Navy at work, and can fully appreciate their good work. Without their aid it would be absolutely impossible to land, let alone exist, on the Peninsula.

For the present we have turned our back on the Peninsula, and are now in a different country, where we await orders. Mr Censor will not permit me to disclose our whereabouts, so I must leave you guessing.

Pte Arthur Tacey, A.S.C, another “ Old boy,” writes to Mr Myers from the Dardanelles :- “ We are having a hard time of it out here, strenuous work every day and nothing to eat but biscuits, bully beef, and jam. Still, we are not downhearted, and keep looking for the bright side, which we hope will not be very long in appearing now, though we all feel that we are on a very funny outing. One’s thoughts often turn to the old school and the happy times spent there. In the waits in our dug-outs we often amuse ourselves with making up doggerel rhymes, and I send you my last contribution.”

Summerdown Convalescent Hospital,

E Division, Hut 1, Eastbourne.

5/11/15.

DEAR SIR,—I am writing to ask you if you would kindly be good enough to insert this in your paper, as you see by the above address that I am writing this from a convalescent hospital and pleased to say that I am progressing favourably. I should, however, like the people of Rugby to know how the boys answered the country’s call last August ; as near as I can say about 100 enlisted in the 5th Oxford and Bucks, and I am pleased to say there are still some of them left, although, perhaps, few. We had what they call our baptism of fire on June 16th while waiting in reserve for the 6th Division. Here we lost one officer and 50 N.C.O and men whale taking over the position on June 19th. I might say I unluckily got gassed and somewhat blinded, and was away from my regiment six weeks. When I did rejoin on August 17th I luckily escaped a shell, which burst only a matter of a few feet off ; but on September 25th I was wounded and now I am enjoying my convalescent rest. I tell you it is not really so bad being a soldier, and if this letter should reach the eye of any “ slacker,” I hope it will have some effect in changing his mind, for I can assure them that men are wanted and will be had. So play the game and join.

I am, yours faithfully,

PTE. E. JACKSON.

OUR YOUNGEST TERRITORIAL.

We reproduce a photograph of Alfred Charles Hayward, son of Mr H E and Mrs Hayward, of 38 Winfield Street, Rugby, who is, we understand, the youngest of Rugby’s Territorials. Before the outbreak of war he was attached to E/Company of the 1/7th Warwickshires, and went with them to Rhyl for the annual encampment during the August Bank Holiday week in 1914. He was then within a month of being 14 years of age. As will be remembered, the battalion had scarcely, arrived in camp when they were ordered to mobolise at their war station in the south of England. They were eventually moved by stages to Leighton Buzzard, from whence they had a route march of 135 miles through Dunstable, Hitchin, Ware, Epping, Brentwood, Stock, Chelmsford, and other places to Totham. This occupied 11 days, and the distances covered each day ranged from 3 to 20 miles. On another occasion they went out on a three days’ march. Young Hayward marched with them, and never had to fall out. The sight of such a youngster striding along with the regiment naturally attracted much attention from spectators, and if is said that sympathetic mothers were often moved to mingle tears with admiration. He was medically examined and reported fit, but not old enough for active service, and when the battalion went to France, Bugler Hayward returned to Coventry to act with the reserve lines. He is still there waiting for the time when he can go on active service. It would be interesting to know whether there if a younger territorial in the country.

 

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Lance-corporal Arthur Mason, 6th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, who has been spending eight day’s leave at his mother’s resident 40 Rutland Gardens, Hove, returned to Flanders on November 6th.

Mr J Walker, of 58 Lawford Road. Rugby, who went to East Africa with Colonel Driscoll’s Legion of Frontiersmen in April, is now serving as second-lieutenant, the promotion dating from September 8th.

It is reported that six members of the 1/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment-the County battalion—have been reported for Distinguished Conduct in the Field : Second-Lieuts Brian Ash and Sherwood ; Pte P W Hancocks (a Warwick man), Lce-Cpl Berry, Sergt Gerrard, and Q-M Shepherd.

A considerable number, of the clerical staff at the London and North-Western Railway Company’s works at Crewe have received permission to join the colours, and their places will be taken temporarily by women. Many of the unmarried men are enlisting under Lord Derby’s group scheme.

Mr H Pratt, of 4 School Street, Rugby, has enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps, and left Rugby for the Farnborough Flying Station yesterday (Friday) morning.

Since it was drafted to the front in June last, the 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, in which many Rugby and district men enlisted, has been continuously engaged in strenuous work in an important position of the British line where fighting had been most desperate, and it has nobly upheld the glorious traditions of this famous regiment. The casualties have been exceptionally heavy, and are as under : Officers killed, 13 ; wounded, 19 ; N.C.O’s and men killed, wounded, and missing, nearly 900.

THE KING’S MESSENGER.

Corpl Fred Clarke, who carried out instructions to summon a doctor to attend his Majesty the King on the occasion of his recent accident in France, has been recognised by Hillmorton people from his portrait in a pictorial paper as a soldier of the same name who at the time he enlisted resided in the village.

ANOTHER LOCAL SOLDIER MISSING.

Pte Percy Woodhams, of the 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, is reported to have been missing since September 25th, the date of the great advance by the Allies in France. At the time Pte Woodhams enlisted, shortly after the outbreak of war, his father resided in Cambridge Street but he has since left the neighbourhood. Pte Woodhams was working at the B.T.H until within a short time of his enlistment.

TWO LOSSES IN TWELVE MONTHS.

Official news was received by Mrs Dodd on Saturday that her son, Corpl E Dodd, of the 5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action on October 16th. Corpl Dodd, whose home was at 11 Bennett Street, joined, the regiment when the war broke out. He formerly worked at the Gas Works and subsequently for Mr Young, contractor. He was 37 years of age and single. He became a smart soldiers and five weeks after enlistment was made corporal. Although he joined in August, 1914, he did not go out till October 1st, and he was killed on the 16th. On the 20th October last year his father died from the effects of an accident, so that Mrs Dodd has sustained two heavy losses within the twelve months, and the greatest sympathy will be extended to her.

LORD DERBY’S RECRUITING SCHEME.

CANVASSING COMMENCES LOCALLY,

The great efforts to secure recruits for the Army inaugurated by Lord Derby it now in full swing locally. Sub-canvassing committee rooms have been opened in the various wards, the blue cards were issued on Monday, and canvassing commenced the same evening.

The voluntary system is now on its trial, and only three weeks remain in which to prove whether it will or will not suffice to give up the number of men required to carry the war to a successful issue. To make the scheme a success every eligible man who can be spared should enlist, either for immediate service, or in the reserve, and it therefore behoves everyone to ask themselves whether the reasons which the held to be valid for not enlisting are not, after all, mere excuses.

Rugby has already done remarkably well—few towns have done better-but there are still many young men who could well be spared and who have no legitimate excuse for holding back, who should answer to the call ; and the fact that the single men are to be called on first will doubtless assist many married men, hesitating between two duties, to make a decision.

So far, the result of the canvass has been disappointing, and eligible men have not responded to the call with the readiness which was at one time anticipated. Only a few men have, so far, enlisted under the group system. The only regiments which are open at present are infantry of the line.

The groups in which recruits may place themselves are for single men numbered 1 to 23, for each year of age respectively, from 18 to 40; and for married men the groups are numbered 24 to 46 inclusive for ages respectively 18 to 40.

The following have enlisted during the past week :-W J Timms, G Beck, A Frisby, S H Garlick, B Hardy, T C Manby, E C Long, J R M Cave, R.G.A ; T W Rennison, 13th Batt E Yorks ; L A Fudge, H W Driver, R.H.A ; P Smith, W Nown, W J Dunkley, G Baker, C Allen, G Hollis, R.F.A ; E G Bristow, W G Heighton, H C Robinson, W J Riley, F J Hornby, A Varney, A Richardson, R.W.R ; C P Croft, C T Newcomb, K.R.R ; A Varney, 220 F Co, R.E ; J Masters, Coldstream Guarda ; W Parrett, F C Warren, C W Maycock, G Blundell, R.E ; J O’Brian, and J Webster, R Scots Fusiliers.

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