Coombes, Arthur. Died 30th Jun 1915


Private 1788 Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Died 30 June 1915 from wounds, buried Croop Hill Cemetery, New Bilton, Rugby

Gravestone of Arthur Coombes at Croop Hill Cemetery, Rugby

Gravestone of Arthur Coombes at Croop Hill Cemetery, Rugby

Arthur was born in Shipton under Wychwood, Oxfordshire in 1883, son of Walter Coombes, a carpenter, and his wife Ann nee Barnes. His mother died when he was very young, and in 1891 his father married Fanny Maria Kilby as his second wife. Arthur aged 7 was living at home with them in 1891 in Shipton under Wychwood, his father’s occupation then is given as painter.

By 1901 Arthur now aged 18 had joined the Army, and was a private in the Rifle Brigade stationed at New Barracks, Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire. He presumably served his years and was discharged, as in 1911 he was a farm labourer at Mears Ashby in Northamptonshire, at Hill Farm run by John Beaty. Soon after this he moved to Rugby where he worked for British Thompson Houston (BTH) in the winding department. He married Lucy Warburton in Rugby in 1914, they had a son Arthur born early the following year who sadly died soon afterwards, so poor Lucy lost son and husband within a few months of each other.

As a previously serving soldier, Arthur would have been called up at the outbreak of war into a territorial unit. His records have not survived, but Soldiers Died in the Great War tells us that he was born in Shipton under Wychwood, and lived at New Bilton, Rugby. He enlisted in Rugby and served in the 1st Bt Royal Warwickshire Regiment. According to his medal card (in the name of Coombs) he was posted to France on 21 April 1915; he was wounded and presumably sent back to England as he died in Rugby from his wounds on 30 Jun 1915. He is buried in Grave G138 in Croop Hill Cemetery, New Bilton, and is also commemorated on the BTH Memorial which was moved from its position outside the former works when the site was redeveloped, and is now situated in Technology Drive.   He does not appear on the Shipton under Wychwood memorial, which confirms that he had severed his links with his birthplace many years before.

Arthur was awarded the Victory, British War and 1915 Star medals.

BTH Memorial

BTH Memorial



Webb, George William. Died 27th Apr 1915

George William Webb’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1885 in Dunton Bassett near Lutterworth, Leicestershire.

Picture of George William Webb from Rugby Advertiser 1st May 1915

Picture of George William Webb from Rugby Advertiser 1st May 1915

In 1891 he was aged 6 and at home with his parents William (Labourer) and Mary Ann Webb (nee Crane) in Dunton Bassett, with siblings Emma aged 7, Carrie aged 4 and Leonard aged 1.

In 1901 he was boarding with Mr and Mrs Hall at 43 Lawford Road, Rugby and was working as a Labourer at the Cement Works in Rugby.

He joined the militia of the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment (Regimental number 6548) in 1902, aged 17, having signed up for 12 years.   In 1905 his military record states he was fit for India.

However by 1911, aged 26, he was back living with his parents and younger brothers Alfred, aged 14 and Lewis, aged 10, and was working as a Bricklayers Labourer.

He married Carrie in about 1912 (name and date not verified) and had two children, one of whom was born after his death. He was working in the winding department of BTH when called up in August 1914, again into the 1st Battalion of the Leicester Regiment.  

On 19 August 1914 the Battalion moved to Cambridge and left for France landing at St Nazaire on 10 September 1914.

In the Spring of 1915 it appears George was involved in the action of Bois Grenier, which was a diversionary attack coinciding with the Battle of Loos.

On 28 April 1915 George was killed, aged 30, and is buried at

Y Farm Military Cemetery
Departement du Nord
Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
Plot: C

Bois Grenier is a small village in the Department of the Nord, about 4 kilometres due South of Armentieres.

George William Webb’s name also appears on the Memorial Cross, Main Road, Dunton Bassett.

Dunton Bassett War Memorial

Dunton Bassett War Memorial


A report of George Webb’s death was published in the Rugby Advertiser on 1 May 2015 stating that Lance Corporal G Webb was killed by the bursting of a shrapnel shell in his trench on Wednesday afternoon April 28th. Death was stated as instantaneous. He served 8 years in the Army, five of which were in India and four in reserve.

Following his death his wife was delivered of his effects, listed below, and later his War and Victory Medals.

1 I Disc
2 photos, 1 purse
English money one half crown
French money 64 cents
1 watch (glass broken)
1 shilling stamp
1 fourpenny stamp

From November 1915 Carrie Webb was granted a pension of 18/6 per week for her and her two children.



Gurney, John Thomas. Died 25 Apr 1915

John Thomas Gurney. Lance Corporal. 1st Btn Royal Warwickshire  Regiment.  Died 25th April 1915.

John Thomas was the son of James & Minnie Priscilla Gurney,  he was born December Qtr 1884 in Catthorpe Leicestershire.  James was born in Rugby and became a cattleman and herdsman in Catthorpe Leics.  He later returned to live in Rugby.

John was the eldest of 6 children, only 3 were to survive to 1911. He helped his father on the farm and in 1901 aged 16 he was recorded a “Cowman on Farm” in Catthorpe.

By 1911, John now aged 25 years and single, had enlisted  in the Army, the 1st  Btn Royal  Warwickshire Regiment, and was serving in India and Ceylon, with the rank of Lance Corporal.  Reg No 316. John died 25th April 1915 aged 31 years.

He is Remembered With Honours in The New Irish Farm Cemetery. West Vlaanderen Belgium.  Known to the troops as “Irish Farm” and contained 54 soldiers,  later to be enlarged as time passed.

He was awarded 3 medals; Victory Medal, British Medal and Clasp. Qualifying date 19th September 1915. Killed in Action.



Smith, William Henry. Died 25 Apr 1915

William Henry Smith was born on 14th May 1887 and baptised 21st June in Hillmorton. His parents were John Henry Smith and Harriett (nee Kirby),who were married in 1884. John Henry was a builder’s labourer and the family lived in Upper Street, Hillmorton. By 1901 the family had moved to 5 Sun Street, Rugby. John & Harriett now had four sons – William Henry, at 13, was the second oldest. John was working as a bricklayer.

In September 1902, John Henry Smith, who was employed by Messrs Hollowell & Sons, was working in Clifton upon Dunsmore. He was in the process of demolishing a tall wall when it collapsed on top of him. He was severely injured and died in Rugby Hospital a few hours later. He was aged 37 and was buried in Clifton.

By 1911, Harriett, a 45 year old widow was still living in Sun Street. William Henry, aged 23, was living with her. He was an unemployed general labourer. In early 1914 Harriett married John Stemp.

William Henry joined up at the start of the war, on 6th August. Like his father, he had been working as a bricklayer. According to a report in the Rugby Advertiser he attended Cambridge Street Mission Church. He was keen player of football and cricket, and as a boxer he had won a silver cup in a competition. He was engaged to be married.

William Henry Smith, Rugby Advertiser 29 May 1915

William Henry Smith, Rugby Advertiser 29 May 1915

Private Smith joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (regimental no. 1672), and arrived in France on 11th Nov 1914

“He passed through several actions without a scratch, but he had two rather extraordinary escapes. In one case Corpl Bunn (a member of the Birmingham Police Force) asked him to move out of the way and let him stand in his place. The two had only just exchanged places when Corpl Bunn was shot dead. [23 Mar 1915] The next occasion was when he changed places with Norman Fox, of Rugby, who immediately fell to a German sniper. [21 Mar 1915]”
(Rugby Advertiser 20 May 1915)

It was not to be third time lucky. William Henry was killed in action at Hill 60 on April 25th 1915. Hill 60 was a spoil heap, south of Ypres. It was the first British operation in which tunnels were dug and mines laid. 5,200 lbs (2, 340 kg) of explosives were detonated on 17th April and fighting continued for several days.

He was buried locally and his body reburied at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery after the Armistice. Many of the surrounding graves are listed as “unknown soldier” but he was identified by a locket inscribed N. G. W. S.

Perhaps N.G. was his fiancée.



Fox, Norman Harry. Died 21st Mar 1915

Fox, Norman Harry
Died 21/03/15
Age 21
Rank Private
Number 2123
Unit 1st Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Address 2 Mill Road Rugby
War Grave Details Rations Farm.Annexe, Belgium
Grave Ref. I.D.9

Private Norman Harry Fox

Private Norman Harry Fox

Norman was born in Stoke Lyne Oxfordshire, to parents Edward Walter Fox and Sarah nee Dale in 1893. Baptised at the church of St. Peter Stoke Lyne, December 31 1893.

The 1911 census shows Norman (17) a Blacksmiths Striker, living at 15 George Street Rugby, with his parents,

The 1st Royal Warwicks, stationed at Shorncliffe Kent in the August of 1914, landed in France 22nd August 1914 as part of 10th Brigade 4th Division

Rugby Advertiser: 17/04/15

“News has been received from the War Office by Mr E.W. Fox of Mill Road Rugby, treasurer to the local corps of the Salvation Army, that his younger son – Pte. Norman Harry Fox of the 1st Royal Warwicks – was killed in action near Wulverghem on March 21st. Pte. Fox is an old Elborow School boy, and prior to the outbreak of the war was in the Officers Mess.
Lieut. Cockburn, writing to the deceased mother on March 23rd, says: “It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that your son was killed on the evening of March 21st, while on his way to the trenches, I had personally only just taken over the command of the platoon .He was undoubtly a good man, and well spoken of by officers and men, He died for his country as so many brave fellows have done.

On 24th March 1917 his family placed an In Memoriam notice in the Rugby Advertiser:

In Memoriam, 24 March 1917

In Memoriam, 24 March 1917



26 Dec 1914. No Cause to Grumble – At the Front


Pte J Richardson, of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, writing from the front on December 9th to his sister, says :—“ You saw it in the paper about the Coldstreams being praised up, but you can take it from me it was hard-earned, and not without losing some good lads over it. . . . We are about making a general advance right into Germany, so I expect by that we shall lose a few. Still, I know the lads will meet it with a good heart . . . We can’t grumble out here ; we get plenty of tobacco and clothes—as much as you can expect. Those who talk about it being cold on the moots just want to have a night in the trenches. The bombs and the ‘ Jack Johnsons ‘ keep you ‘ warm.’ I hope you will enjoy yourselves together at Christmas. Don’t bother about me ; I shall be all right. It would only disappoint me if I thought you were sitting worrying about me. If you send me anything, send me some cake or plum pudding, and some writing paper, as I have more tobacco now than I could smoke in a month. It is ‘ get out and get under ‘ all right here. You can hear them singing in the air—the fifth of November—a long time before they reach you ; but that is what we have to watch up above, dropping the little bomb down. You must remember me to all the ‘ boys,’ and tell them to be quick and give us a hand, or else there won’t be any left for them.”


The Warwickshire R.H.A, whose headquarters are at Warwick, went to France about six weeks ago, and after doing patrol and other work on lines of communication, eventually reached the firing line. They have been in action, and letters from gunners in the Battery state that they were successful in doing a good deal of damage to the enemy’s trenches. The Germans turned two heavy batteries upon them, and the “ Black Marias ” dropped all round the Battery, till at last the order was given to retire and leave the guns for the time being. The men retreated to a village a short distance to the rear while a heavy battery of 4.7-inch guns pumped shells into the enemy, and eventually silenced their batteries sufficiently to enable the Warwickshire men to return to their guns and man-handle them into a safer position. It was an absolute marvel how they managed to get out without being smashed up and without any casualties.


As we briefly announced last week, Pte W J Hutt (7698) Northamptonshire Regiment, of Church Lane, Clifton, was killed at the front on November 5th. Although early this week no official intimation had been received by his wife, to whom he had only been married a short time, there is no doubt that the news is true. From particulars furnished by a friend of his, and the four men who assisted in his burial, and who have returned home wounded, it appears that the unfortunate young man was killed near Ypres while writing a letter home. He was with his regiment in the trenches for five weeks in the Battle of the Aisne, during which time they made almost imperceptible progress. Their losses in this battle were very heavy. In one week Private Hutt went through five bayonet charges, and escaped without a scratch. Previous to being called up he was employed in the Winding Department at the B.T.H.. He would have been 26 years of age next month.



Pte J Lickorish, of the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment, has written a lengthy letter home, in which he recounts a number of interesting experiences. Referring to their first taste of modem warfare, he says :— “ We hastily entrenched, but had to evacuate them, as the German guns were getting terribly close. We retired behind a farm in open formation, the — Regiment leading the way, and our regiment following. It was here I saw the first horrors of war. The Germans got the range on the farm, and dropped shells all round it, killing and wounding several men. As we lay waiting for the next move a shell burst directly in front of me, and the time fuse went “ plonk ” into the earth about a yard in front of me. At first I thought it was a piece of dirt, as I could see it coming, and my pal reached out for it, but soon dropped it ; it was so hot. I have got it as a souvenir. Our captain, who was afterwards taken prisoner, behaved splendidly here, and it was a treat to watch him walking about, laughing and chatting to us, while we were under shell fire. By-and-bye a battery of ours dashed up, and so diverted the shell fire from us, and we were able to retire again in safety : but about half-a-mile to our right we could see the deadly shrapnel following our troops up with hellish persistency, but with few casualties on account of the open formation. We kept this up until nightfall. Up to this we had not sighted the enemy, but behind us was one consistent rifle fire, which showed that our troops were giving the Germans some of their own medicine. . . . We could see the — Regiment piling arms. All of a sudden a whole nest of German machine guns opened fire on them, and in less than five minutes the greater part of the battalion was either killed or wounded. We could see it all, but could not help them. Transport and all was lost. That morning, and for several days afterwards, we had to live without rations as best we could. In a graphic account of an artillery duel, and relating how 2,000 Uhlans who charged the British guns were repulsed, the writer says : “ Our guns were greatly outnumbered, and gradually gun after gun of the battery was put out of action, and the gunners killed of wounded. We were forced to retire again and again and leave the guns, which we took back off the Germans the next day. Those brave gunners sang and whistled during the whole time.” The writer refers to the retirement of the Germans, and says : “ Here we could see where they had left their trade mark behind them-guns, ammunition, two aeroplanes ; in fact, nearly everything military, and thousands of empty wine bottles. They had also smashed the village and shops, and had left numbers of their dead and civilians lying about. Occasionally we scooped up numbers of prisoners. . . . A German aeroplane dropped two bombs close to us, and killed a woman and two children, causing a great panic among the people. British and French aeroplanes fought the German in mid-air and brought him down.” Describing a sanguinary fight, in which both sides lost heavily and the gallant major of his regiment was killed, the writer says : “ It was here that the Germans hoisted the white flag, and shot our men down. Can you wonder after this that we used our bayonets mercilessly ? The Germans have behaved rotten in this war so far. . . . In one place he says 1,200 German shells were fired over their trench in 24 hours, nine-tenths of which failed to explode, being very old ammunition, and this goes to prove, he adds, that the German supplies are running short.”


The squadron of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, to which Q.M.S Goodman, of Flecknoe, belongs, has for some time past been on active service at the front. The men have taken their turn in the firing line, and find the conditions in the trenches bitterly cold. One member of the squadron has had his feet frost-bitten ; but the yeomen write cheerful letters to friends, although for obvious reasons the exact locality in which they are serving with the Expeditionary Force is not disclosed.

Another trooper in the regiment writes:—“ Well, we are absolutely right among it. The Northamptonshire Yeomanry are taking their turns just as infantry in the trenches, doing three days and three nights—72 hours in all—six days’ rest before going in again. However, before we went to the trenches we did a lot of patrolling and scouting on our horses. and it was then that I found the benefit of being able to ride, which I learnt to do when following the hounds in Old England, In fact, it’s just like hunting ; only no hounds, but bullets instead. Quite half our Yeomanry are fellows who hunt, and whenever we meet another troop the first thing that happens is the giving of the ‘ View Hallo,’ so you, can rest assured that we are in high hopes of seeing the fox as well as hearing the ‘ View Hallo’ next season. Only you must keep the thing going while we are away, as you see it does good in more then one one way. Many a soldier has got a good horse out here and able to get over this country who would not be able to do so had his horse not been schooled in the hunting field, so whatever you do you must keep it going ; if you don’t,there will be no fellows to join another Yeomanry.”

E Wiggins, son of Mr Wiggins, Rugby, a member of the Northants Yeomanry, writes under date December 13th :— We returned from the trenches on Thursday last. We went in on the previous Monday. I will not describe it. All I can say is, I am thankful to have returned safely to our billet. We had our first christening under fire, and were up to our knees in mud and water most of the time. We had one casualty and some narrow escapes. The fighting went on all the night, and we were digging and making up the trenches in the daytime. We were along with an infantry regiment, and real good chaps, too, who would do anything for us. They had been in action several times. . . . and gave us some useful tips, the chief being, as the ‘ Scotties’ say, ‘ To keep your head below the bone.’ The Germans made a charge on our left, but were repulsed with loss. They charged shoulder to shoulder in hundreds. You have only to keep your head and blaze away, and bowl them over right and left. They are forced to charge, poor beggars ; and all those who retire are shot by their own officers. The Germans are very much afraid of the Gurkhas, who steel up their trenches armed only with their ‘kuris’ (long knives), and do them in. We left our horses at the farm in charge of our No. 3’s. We ride in sections of 6, and the third looks after the horses while we are away. They do not do any fighting, as we ride only within two miles of the firing line, and they bring our horses back to the billet. . . . I am pleased to say we have a good billet in a big loft, and all sleep like tops. It is a terrible job getting on and off our top coats, which get plastered from top to bottom. It is a rough lot out here, but I hope to get back soon.”



“ We always manage to enjoy ourselves, and I never get depressed,” wrote a Rugby tradesman’s son, serving at the front with the Honourable Artillery Company, in a letter just received by his parents. This remark followed a description of three days and three nights in the trenches during a drenching rain, and under very trying conditions. “ I am off again to the trenches,” he wrote light-heartedly. “ The strain of war has been too much for a lot of our fellows, but the physique of the H.A.C is recognised as being quite as good as that of any regiment.


“ At, present I am billeted in a barn at a farmhouse. This is the best barn we have been in up to the present ; it is rainproof and not so draughty. You should have seen me in this barn, sitting on an up-turned tub having my hair-cut with a pair of nail scissors by our drummer-boy ! We are like schoolboys when the mail comes in. If General French could see us, he would say, ‘ The morale of the troops is excellent.’

“ I have just returned from three days and three nights in the trenches. Fortunately, there was only one killed out of the Company, but two officers had to be taken away ill, and several men are queer to-day as the result of the trying time we have had.”

The march to the trenches in the early morning through a turnip field, with mud over the shoe-tops and rifle fire in progress, was next described.

“ At one place we had to cross an old trench and I tried to jump it. Instead of clearing it I fell in and sank over my knees in mud and water. I scrambled up the bank and through a hedge, just in time to see our bugler disappear in another trench. I helped him out, and we presently reached our trenches in safety, although the fellow immediately behind me had a bullet through his cap.”


The mud in the trenches was awful, but, fortunately, the part I was in was drier, being covered over with old doors and straw. We were only fifty yards from the Germans, and you can tell we had to keep a sharp look out. We had half an hour on guard and one hour off. The first day we had plum pudding for dinner and afterwards cigars supplied by the officers and the chocolate father sent. . . . It rained all night, and, in spite of our covering, the rain came through. At about 9.0 o’clock in the morning there was a very furious rifle fire, so we all jumped up and opened fire, thinking the Germans were attacking, and expecting every minute to see them rushing through the fog not 20 yards away. We kept up a terrific fire for a short time and then ceased. We were told afterwards it was an attack. When the fog cleared some of our fellows played the Germans at their own game of sniping and killed four of them.”

Orders came for the Company to spend another 24 hours in the trenches. About 20ft of the trench in which the writer was situated fell in, and he spent most of the third day on his back repairing it. There being no other food supply for the third day, the men had to draw upon their emergency rations-consisting of “ bully ” beef, biscuits, Oxo, etc.


“ We felt it was rather risky drinking the water,” he went on, “ as dozens of dead Frenchmen were lying all about. I fell over one on my way back in the darkness, and it was a gruesome sight. Whilst we were repairing the trench we came across a dead body. I don’t know whether it was a Frenchman or a German—the body was so decomposed. On the third day the Germans fired on our No 4 Section, and the Company drew their fire and apparently created a panic in the German lines. We were glad when the relief came, and it was a tiring march over the fields to the village. One fellow tumbled into a stream, for me to pick him out, and Turner, a ‘ Prudential ‘ man, collapsed. I carried his rifle and helped to get him to the village, where we were given some tea and had a good night’s rest.


“ It was very fatiguing—three days and nights without lying down and without proper sleep. However, I am quite well and happy, but very tired. . . . Chocolate is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. I don’t know what I should have done if I had not had what father sent to me. At present we are pulling crackers. We always manage to enjoy ourselves, and I never get depressed. We don’t mind if the mud is over our boot tops. We thank goodness it to not over our knees ; and if a sniper shoots at us in the trench, we have a competition as to who can be the first to ‘spot’ him. Our officer says we all have wonderful hearts. At present I am cook. I have to get supper ready for two fellows who will be back late, and cook bacon for forty in the morning.” In conclusion the correspondent put in a good word for his officer, whom he describes as “ a Jolly good sport, and as cool as a cucumber under fire, so you need not worry about our losing heart.”


19th Dec 1914. News From The Front



J J McKinnell, the only son of Mr McKinnell (chairman of the Rugby Urban District Council), who is with the Honourable Artillery Company at the Front, has sent home a number of interesting letters, giving accounts of his experiences. Writing on November 18th he says :—

“ We have stayed for a week at the place from which I last wrote. My section had a comfortable billet in the front room of a cottage. We had straw down on the floor, and so got pretty warm at night ; whereas some other unfortunate people were up in a barn without a door, and places nearly as bad.


“ It has been a week of real war for us. One night we made a night march of three hours to reserve trenches a thousand yards behind the firing line, which we had to occupy in case we were wanted. There were one or two anxious moments on the march, owing to the “ range finders ” shot into the air by the enemy—that is, brilliant lights which enable a man with glasses , to pick out, and get the range of, objects in the distance. However, we had no shells our way.

“Just after we settled down in the trenches our artillery behind opened a tremendous cannonade on the Germans, firing from three batteries, at a rate which, I am sure, was four shots a minute. At the same time the British Infantry made an attack. This cannonade was continued for two hours or so, and then slackened off.

“ I was told afterwards, that the object of the attack was to drive some German sharp-shooters from dead ground between the English and German trenches, and that this end was achieved.

“ Our part of the battle was simply to sit still and keep our heads well down to avoid any chance bullets, which, as a matter of fact, never came. Our company had to be without overcoats, as we had not got our new ones, and it really was awfully cold. However, we must be thankful that there was no rain. very few people felt any ill-effects from the nocturnal excursion, so yon see we are pretty fit.


“ On three other days we have been digging reserve trenches at another point about 400 yards behind the firing line. The first day we had several shells explode round us, but none nearer than 200 yards, and a few stray rifle bullets. The second day, on which I was absent on officers’ mess, they were treated to some shrapnel quite close to the trenches, and had to keep down in them for a quarter of an hour or so, as well as to rifle bullets which were obviously aimed.

“ Next day two companies went out. One company had got into position, and were digging. The other company were going along a ditch by a certain road in single file, when the Germans began to sweep the road with shrapnel fire. We all lay down in the ditch, with our faces as near the ground as they would go, for two hours, while the shells kept bursting near us. Fortunately nobody was hit. Some of the shells were only 30 yards away from us. The other company fared worse than we did, and six men were wounded, but only one at all seriously.

“ About one o’clock an Indian doctor came along the road and told us to move on and get into a safety trench, running at right angles to the road, to avoid their shelling. We did so, and sure enough before long they started shelling the road again. There were some trenches behind the road with Indian troops in them, and I think they must have got it badly this time. We remained in our trenches until dusk, and then got out and marched back.

“ By the way, shrapnel is the most deadly kind of shell there is, as it bursts in the air and shoots out bullets towards the ground. Other shells don’t burst till they bit the earth, and generally do nothing more than make a big hole. As you can imagine, there are many shell holes near the firing line.

“ Other evidences of war are villages half-destroyed and churches with only the walls standing. One church we saw was destroyed by our own shells, as the Germans had placed two quick-firing guns in it.

“A staff officer told us that a trick of the German artillery is to pick up a mark, such as a cottage, and simply shell it to pieces, the only possible object being to prevent troops billeting close up to the firing line ; otherwise it is sheer wantonness.” — P.S. We have our overcoats now.

In a letter dated November 28th the writer says :—

“ The only incident of note that I have to record is the fact that the four companies of a H.A.C have each spent 24 hours in the FIRING LINE TRENCHES, and of these two companies have had another 24 hours. “ Our own company’s little experience was to parade at 3.15 a.m, after six hours sleep, march for two miles or so along a road up to the trenches, and then walk in single file avoid attracting attention if searchlights were turned on the country for a mile along a field path to the front trenches themselves. These were much more comfortable than the reserve trenches I told you of, being wide and deep with straw at the bottom.

“ We got in about an hour before dawn. There was nothing much to do on this particular day. The German trenches were 450 yards away from us, and gave us no trouble, hardly a shot being fired from them all day. We were troubled all day with snipers, who come out beyond the trenches and direct cross-fire on the trenches when they can, even getting behind them by some means or other. Only a few of our men saw anything to fire at that day. I did not fire my rifle. . . . I expect you don’t take much notice of the things you see in the papers about the H.A.C in action. I even heard, that it is said that our drum and fife band played us to and from the trenches!! Of course, this is absolute nonsense.”

Writing still later, Mr McKinnell, jun, said the company had moved again, and were supposed to be having a rest, which probably meant that they had to work harder than before. Our section is unfortunate in its billet this time, having the top storey of a barn, which is not quite so comfortable.


Pte J T Meadows, of the 1st Northants Regiment, who is in hospital in London with a smashed arm, has sent his parents an account of his experience prior to and in the Battle of Ypres.

“ About October 22nd we had to take up a position on the edge of a very thick wood. It was in the middle of the day—a very bad time for us-because the Germans could see us advancing, and they let us have it for all they were worth. Battery after battery let go at us, but without effect, for the 1st Division has got used to such encounters. At 3.30 p.m we reached the desired spot, and immediately we started to entrench under the buzz and bang of shot and shell. At 5.30 p.m, the trenches finished, sentries were posted, and the vigil went on through the night till the order came along at 4.30 a.m to stand to. That meant everybody at his post, for an attack at dawn was expected—and it came, too, in full force. It was lovely popping them over in hundreds, until they got too numerous for us, and we had to retire into another wood, where we had some old trenches. We dived into them like rabbits, and waited ; but not long, for we could see them coming through the trees. Then again the banging started, but still they came on in ever-increasing numbers, until they got a bit too cheeky, so we started a bayonet charge, and we cleared the wood of them. They made awful noises, just like pigs being killed. This engagement finished at 12.30 p.m on October 23rd.

“ Nothing more occurred until October 24th at 6.15 p.m. It was very dark, and I was taking first turn on sentry. I had been on duty about 40 minutes when I discovered something creeping along turnip field in front of our trench. To make sure my eyes were not deceiving me, I ran along to the next sentry. He also had seen the night bird, so I passed word down to the officer. The order, ‘ Stand to,’ was passed back, and all were on the alert. The order not to fire was given, two men crept out of the British lines, and in two minutes that night bird, was plucked of his rifle and ammunition, and marched off a prisoner. Nothing more happened till the night of the 25th, when we received the old torments, an audience of only 6,000 waiting for us. This lasted until the 28th ; then, to our surprise, we were removed to another position. This was 10.30 p.m on the 28th. We started digging a new trench, and stuck to it all night till 4.30 a.m, when the order ‘Cease digging’ passed along. The engineers had been at work all night as well putting barbed wire about 100 yards in front of our trench. We all knew too well what that meant: the position had got to be held. From 8.30 that morning until 5 p.m shells had been bursting, and so it continued, the big battle having begun at last, and it went on night and day from the morning of the 29th until November 4th. At 11.30 a.m a bursting shrapnel shell smashed my left arm. My officer was killed by the same shell that hit me. My comrade on the left of me had a shrapnel bullet right through the neck. He went, down like a log. I bound him up and laid him along the trench. It was hard working with one hand, but I forgot my own troubles. I walked along the trench to another comrade ; I asked him to load my rifle for me, and so we went on side by side, banging away round after round of ammunition, the fusilade telling its terrible tale for seven hours. I stuck this with my one good arm till the order to charge was given, for the Germans had broken through the wire entanglements. I saw my mate, who assisted me through those terrible hours, answer the Commander’s call ; but he only went about a dozen yards, poor fellow. His turn had came. I made a hurried retreat into the wood, as I was no good for a bayonet charge. I walked three and a-half miles to a hospital, and had my arm placed at an angle of 45 degrees, and it is likely to remain so for a long, long time. I am quite happy, though wounded. It was for dear old England that I fought. We won the battle at the rate of 12 to 1.”

In an accompanying letter Meadows says if he has the fortune to get better before the war is over he shall go back and finish his duty.

In a letter written on board the hospital ship he says: “ I never thought I should get back again after days and nights, weeks and months of that terrible slaughter of human beings. I have had the gruesome work of placing some of my brave comrades in their last resting-places with only a prayer to the One above. This task is very trying to a man with the strongest nerves. It was pitch dark when I had to work with pick and hovel ; but now I am wounded I can do no more. My heart is good, but my arm won’t let me.”

Royal Warwickshire Regiment 1914

1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment was in Shorncliffe at the outbreak of the war on 4 Aug 1914 and was in the 10th Brigade which was part of the 4th Division in which it remained till the end of the war. They landed in France on the 22 Aug and took up positions.

On the outbreak of war the 4th division was quartered in the Eastern command (Woolwich, Shorncliffe, Dover and Colchester) and mobilised there. The division concentrated at Harrow on the 18 and 19 Aug began entraining at Harrow on 21 Aug crossed to France on 22 Aug entrained for the front on the 23 along the 24 detrained at Bohain, Busigny, le Cateau, and Bertry. On the 25 the 4th division advance to cover the withdrawal of the 3rd division (3 Corps) and 19th Infantry Brigade

2nd Battalion was in Malta at the outbreak of war on 4 Aug 1914. They landed in England 19th Sep and joined the 22nd Brigade 7th Division at Lyndhurst. They landed at Zeeburgge 6th October 1914 and took up positions.

The division had no existence before the outbreak of war; it was gradually assembled at Lyndhurst between 31 Aug and 4 Oct 1914. The 12 infantry battalions included the 3 remaining unallotted regular battalions left in England, as well as 9 battalions brought back from various overseas stations, viz Guernsey (1), Gibraltar (2), Malta (2), Cairo (1), Natal (1) and the Transvaal (2). The mounted troops included an existing Yeomanry Regiment as well as a cyclist company, formed on mobilisation. The Field Artillery was made up by one RFA brigade (XIV of 2 batteries) and one the RFA Brigade (XXXV) still left at home, together with one RFA Brigade (XXII) from the Transvaal. The 2 heavy batteries were new units formed at Woolwich after the outbreak of war, and the field companies came from Chatham and Pretoria. The three ASC companies (39, 40 and 42) came from Gibraltar, Malta and Pretoria but the remaining company 86 was a new formation.

The 7th division embarked at Southampton on the 4 and 5 Oct and began disembarkation at Zeeburgge on 6 Oct. The division moved to Bruges on 7 Oct and reach Ghent on 9 Oct. During the night of 11/12 Oct retirement on Ypres was begun and the place was reached on the 14. The 7th division served on the Western front in France and Belgium until 17 Nov 1917.

Emblazoned Battle Honours Great War 1914
Le Cateau 26th Aug
Battle of the Marne 6 to 9 Sep
Ypres 1st Battle Sep – Oct

Accredited Battle Honours Great War 1914
Retreat from Mons: 25 Aug – 5 Sep
Aisne 13 to 20 Sep
Langemarck 21 to 24 Oct
Armentieres 13 Oct to 2 Nov
Nery 1st Sep (1/Royal Warwickshire Regiment and 2/Royal Dublin Fusiliers 10th Brigade)