MIDLANDS VISITED BY ZEPPELINS.
WANTON SLAUGHTER OF CIVILIANS.
59 KILLED AND 101 INJURED.
Many people in Warwickshire did not regard it as probable, or even possible, that Zeppelins would ever come so far inland as the centre of the country, but that feeling of security was shattered on Monday night when it became known that German aircraft were cruising over a wide district, which included the Midlands and the Eastern Counties, and The Official Report from the War Office was eagerly awaited and this was issued in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Supplementary reports being issued in the evening.
From these it was gathered that the raid was undertaken by six or seven Zeppelins, and covered a larger area than on any previous occasion ; but the raiders were hampered by the mist. After reaching the coast they steered various courses, and dropped over two hundred bombs in Norfolk, Suffolk, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, and Staffordshire. Considerable material damage was caused in one part of Staffordshire, but in no case was there any military damage.
The latest particulars of the casualties are :—
Killed : Men, 33; women, 20; children, 6; total, 59.
Injured : Men, 51; women, 48; children, 2; total, 101.
Total killed and injured, 160.
One church and a Congregational chapel were badly damaged, and a parish room wrecked. Fourteen houses were demolished, and a great number damaged less seriously by doors, window-frames, etc, being blown out. Some damage, not very serious, was caused to railway property in two places ; only two factories, neither being of military importance, and a brewery were badly damaged, and two or three other factories were damaged slightly.
In many localities pre-arranged regulations for extinguishing all lights and taking other precautions were promptly carried out, and it would appear that those places suffered most where such means to baffle the invaders were not adopted.
Trains on railways were brought to a stand-still, and in many instances passengers had to remain seated right through the night while Zeppelins were passing and repassing over them, and bombs were being dropped in the vicinity.
Some very pathetic fatalities are recorded, Staffordshire seems to have suffered somewhat badly. Two visits were paid to some districts in that county, and there was considerable loss of life.
In one house a man and his wife, with their daughter and son-in-law and their two children, were killed instantly. The bombs fell on footpath of the narrow thoroughfare, smashing in the front of the house. The occupants, who were sitting round the fire, were terribly mangled.
A boy walking along the street received the full force of the explosion and was killed on the spot, while a man standing in front of his house some distance away also met with instant death. In another case a man was carrying on his business in a small shop, and the place collapsed and he was killed. One of the bombs, falling in a field, made a hole 6ft or 7ft deep and 10ft square.
Another bomb fell in front of a public house and demolished it, but the, landlord, his wife, and their two sons had a wonderful escape.
Passing on, the Zeppelins dropped five bombs on a small township some miles away. A man walking along was killed. In an adjoining borough some heavy bombs fell, and damage was done to small houses. A family of five, sitting together here, met with an instant and terrible death, a bomb dropping directly on the roof of the house and scattering the brickwork and furniture in all directions.
In another borough, one man was killed instantly, and another has since died. The Mayoress was struck by a fragment of a bomb, and seriously injured, and now lies in a critical condition. A bomb removed a portion of the roof of a congregational church, and another dropped in a public park.
Some of the victims were killed as they hurried through the streets. In one street a woman and her child lost their lives, while another woman had both legs blown off. Over an area of about one and a half miles several bombs were dropped in all direction.
On the other hand,a great many bombs were dropped on open spaces, where they did no damage except to excavate enormous holes ; but generally speaking the raiders paid particular attention to localities where lights were visible.
The Zeppelin fleet was observed passing the coastline between 4.30 and 7 o’clock on Monday night, and most of the damage in the Midlands was done between the latter hour and about 1 a.m.
THE LIGHTING REGULATIONS.
One result of the Zeppelin raid over the Midlands on Monday night has been to convince those who considered restrictions with regard to lighting which have been enforced in Rugby unnecessary and vexatious, that the authorities were right after all. The fact has been established all too clearly that these airships can reach the Midlands, and that in all probability many towns within the area covered by the visitation of the Zeppelin fleet owe their immunity from damage to the happy circumstance that the regulations had been complied with, and being in total darkness they could not be located by the navigators.
While the raid lasted, it was a very anxious time for the heads of police in the various localities.
As far as Rugby is concerned, Superintendent Clarke is much gratified with the way in which the inhabitants have fallen into line with the requirements. At Northampton about 100 tradesmen and householders were summoned this week for non-compliance, but at Rugby it has not been found necessary in any case to do anything more than to point out here and there that a little more might be done, and in every instance the suggestions of the police have been cheerfully and promptly carried out.
Superintendent Clarke feels sure the inhabitants will continue to do their best to keep their lights subdued or screened for the next few weeks, especially on dark, still nights, and, where possible, go a little farther in securing total obscuration.
In order to minimise the danger to pedestrians during the dark evenings, the posts in the Church Walk and other narrow passages in the town have been painted white. A much needed improvement has also been effected near the Lawrence Sheriffe Almshouses, where the protruding arm of the iron railings and the awkward step have been removed and the path levelled.
DEFENCE OF THE REALM.
The “London Gazette ” contains a long list of new regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act. They deal with a variety of offences. One of the regulations provides that if any person without lawful authority or excuse, by the raising of blinds, removal of shades, or in any other way uncovers wholly or in part any light which has been obscured or shaded in compliance with any directions given in pursuance of such an order, he shall be guilty of a summary offence against these regulations.”
Another regulation provide that “if any person (a) without lawful authority or excuse kills, wounds, molests, or takes any carrier or homing pigeon not belonging to him ; or (b) having found any such carrier or homing pigeon dead or incapable of flight, neglects forthwith to hand it over or send it to some military port or some police constable in the neighbourhood, with information as to the place where the pigeon was found ; or (c) having obtained information as to any such carrier or homing pigeon being killed or found incapable for flight, neglects forthwith to communicate the information to a military post or to a police constable in the neighbourhood; he shall be guilty of a summary offence against these regulations.”
With regard to intoxicants, it is laid down that if any person gives, sells, procures, or supplies, or offers to give, sell, procure, or supply, any intoxicant (a) to or for a member of any of his Majesty’s forces with the intent of eliciting information for the purpose of communicating it to the enemy, or for any purpose calculated to assist the enemy ; or (b) to or for a member of any of his Majesty’s forces when not on duty with the intent to make him drunk or less capable of the efficient discharge of his duties ; or (c) to or for a member of any of his Majesty’s forces when on duty either with or without any such intent as aforesaid ; he shall be guilty of an offence against those regulations.”
HELPING THE ENEMY.
A substituted regulation sets forth that “if any person assists any prisoner of war or interned person to escape, or knowingly harbours or assists any such person who has escaped, or without lawful authority transmits, either by post or otherwise, or conveys to any prisoner of war or interned person any money or valuable security or any article likely to facilitate the escape of any prisoner of war or interned person, or in any way to interfere with the discipline or administration of any place of detention for prisoners of war or interned persons, he shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations.
RECRUITING AT RUGBY.
The figures for Rugby have shown a distinct falling off during the past week, and only about twenty men have attested. All of these have enlisted under the Group System, and there have been no volunteers for immediate service.
The departmental, non-combatant units are now closed, and only fighting men are needed.
The recruiting appeal tribunals for the Urban and Rural districts have held several sitting during the last few weeks, and we understand that a large number of men have been either exempted or put back until later groups.
WORK FOR DISABLED SAILORS & SOLDIERS.
Employers desirous of obtaining assistance in nearly every occupation, could obtain such help by means of disabled sailors or soldiers on application to the Recruiting Officer, Drill Hall, Park Road, Rugby, who would see that these are forwarded to the proper quarter ; or by applying direct to the Soldier’ and Sailor’ Help Society.
LIEUT. T. A. TOWNSEND, R.A.M.C., PROMOTED.
Lieutenant Thomas Ainsworth Townsend, R.A.M.C, has been gazetted Captain—promotion to date from December 25th.
Captain Townsend, who is in France, is regimental surgeon to the 24th London Regiment, which has done so splendidly in and around Loos and the Hohenzollern Redoubt. He has had a very busy time of late, and on the occasion of the visit of the sailors from the Grand Fleet to his trench, the Germans exploded five mines close to them.
We are glad to learn that he is well, and in a recent letter to his father, Captain Townsend says :—
“ We have had rather a strenuous time of late and you can imagine how welcome news is, and the Rugby Advertiser is always a joy. We are now resting in very pleasant surroundings till probably ——, when we go up to a fresh line of trenches. Last week we had a mine attack, and have had a very thrilling time on the whole. This piece of line was always rather a nasty bit and I think we got out of it pretty luckily. Strangely enough, on the day they blew up the mines, quite close to us, we had a visit from the Navy! I was fortunate enough to be in the front line at the moment, and our Colonel had taken up —(who was in command of the Naval chaps) that day. Tremendous explosions followed—hell let loose—but our men had manned the parapets in no time, and the sailors were soon letting fly with anything they could lay hands on. I only had about thirty casualties, I am thankful to say.
“ We had a pretty lucky escape in our Aid Post, which was a dug-out and unusually close to the front line—in the support trenches. An hour or so after I had got back, blest if the back part of it wasn’t blown in by a shell, and we were lucky to get off with a few bruises. My orderly (who was in rubber trench boots at the time) had one of them cut right across and got his toe damaged, and I was well bruised over the right leg and left foot—as I was standing at the time — writing up my cases !
“ I must have had a near shave, as we were all temporarily laid out for a second or two.
— behaved awfully well, as it was our second dug-out that day, in fact, -—’s third, and he took it in very good part.
“ Tea is a wonderful stand-by, and after a bit of a rest I enjoyed a very good dinner, but was simply covered with mud from head to foot. We had a pretty disturbed night, and units, from all and sundry, came in from the Brigadier downwards, through the night.
“ The next day cooled off considerably, and we have now moved into reserve, and all is well with us.”
LOCAL WAR NOTES.
HILLMORT0N SOLDIER KILLED.
Official news was received in Hillmorton on Friday last week that Pte Walter Brown, of the 11th Hants Pioneers, whose home is in School Street, Hillmorton, had been killed in action on January 23rd. Pte Brown, who leaves a widow and two children, was at one time employed in the Locomotive Department on the L & N.-W Railway, but he afterwards became a bricklayer’s labourer.
The following letter has been received by Mrs Brown from the officer in charge of his company:
DEAR MRS BROWN.—It is with regret that I have to inform you of the death of your husband, Pte W Brown, No 12272. He was wounded by rifle fire last night, and died about 8.45 a.m to-day. He was buried this evening, and the service was conducted by the Rev Webb Peploe (Major), Chaplain to the Forces. His loss will be deeply felt by all in the company and by myself, as he was always a good soldier, keen and smart, and a great example to all those with whom he came in contact, and he received his wounds whilst bravely doing his duty. In extending to you my sincere sympathy, I feel that it may be of some help to you in your loss, to know his end came quietly and he died in the execution of his duty.—Yours faithfully, CAPT. ANDREWS.
[Walter Brown is remembered on the Hillmorton War Memorial]
1 /7th WARWICKS IN THE FIGHTING
In a recent letter to his brother and sister a private of the 1st/5th Warwickshire Regiment states that they went into the trenches again on January 28th. The company they relieved had a very trying time, the Germans sending over about 2,000 shells of all sizes. Fortunately only two men were killed. The enemy also sent a bombing party to the trench, but they were soon driven out. The Germans left a chalk line so that they should be able to find their way back to their own trenches. The 7th Warwicks had to stand at attention all night as the Germans made a gas attack on the left of the Warwicks’ position, but no infantry attack followed.