25th Mar 1916. Two Anniversaries

TWO ANNIVERSARIES.

WHAT A K.O.S.B. THINKS OF THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR.

Friday. March 17th, was the anniversary of the day in 1915 on which the K.O.S.B, and other regiments which were billeted in Rugby left their quarters to proceed to the Dardanelles. They formed part of the 29th Division, which earned immortal fame by their brave and arduous fighting at the landing at Gallipoli in the following April, and onwards through that ill-starred campaign. Of that Brigade, which left Warwickshire 20,000 strong after being reviewed by the King on the London Road at Stretton-on-Dunsmore, we are informed only about 1,000 sound men remain. The remnants of the K.O.S.B are at their depot in the North of England, and one of them—a sergeant—writing to a friend in Rugby, says :—

“ I am writing this so that it will reach you on Friday, 17th, the anniversary of ‘The Day’ we left Rugby to do a bit of ‘strafing.’ What a lovely time we had in Rugby. The two months we were there will always remain in the minds of the remaining members of the 1st Battalion The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, as the happiest time they have spent during their years of soldiering. One can scarcely believe that a battalion arriving straight from India to England, with perhaps a tendency to run wild owing to the majority having been away for years, could have been fostered and cared for, and our every comfort looked to, amongst utter strangers, in the kindly and homely manner in which you people of Rugby did. To sum the whole lot up, it was absolutely home. After our own homes, Rugby took second place in our thoughts whilst on service, and we came to the conclusion that both places were the finest in the world and were worth scrapping for. What do you think of the Conscientious Objectors ? It is hardly believable that there are such THINGS calling themselves men in this world. Let them take a look into the jungle, and they will very soon find that it is natural for all things, great or small, living in this world, to defend to the death their homes and families, and especially if the Conscientious Objector makes any attempt to harm or interfere in any way whatsoever, he will jolly quick find out that his presence and interference are objected to by another sort of Conscientious Objector, who is quite willing to fight and if need be, give life itself in the protection of its offspring. Just fancy any man saying it would be against his conscience to assist any person wounded by the explosion of a bomb from a Zep. That means to say, that if his own mother or sister, and if he be married, perhaps his little infant son or daughter, were lying wounded with a main artery severed, he would stand there heedless of their cries, watching them die, when a very little attention on his part would help to stop the bleeding till a doctor came, and perhaps be the means of saving their lives. On other hand, if he himself was wounded by same bomb, what would become of him if all the doctors were Conscientious Objectors ? He would lie there howling and shouting for all manner of curses and evil things to descend upon and make the life intolerable for the doctor who professes Conscientious Objection. Others say that they object to killing of any kind, going so far as to say they refrain from eating anything that has been bled or killed to supply his food. How many times have they eaten eggs, thereby killing the fruit of flesh and blood, and also killing what would eventually have matured to a thing of flesh and blood. Let them go across to Flanders or to Egypt and Mesopotamia. There they will find hundreds of thousands of the right sort of Conscientious Objectors, whose conscience pricks them very sorely to think that they are out fighting whilst a lot of COWARDS who call themselves Conscientious Objectors are doing their utmost to dodge their duty. Whilst carrying on this way, they secretly pray that Tommy will be able to keep the enemy back from them. The British soldier does not mind in the least fighting for the Conscientious Objector’s sisters, his mother, father, or small brothers, but he conscientiously objects to fighting for the Conscientious Objector himself. The Conscientious Objector who has taken religion on as his excuse has, I am afraid, kept the Bible more often on the shelf than on his lap open, or he would have come across various passages which are against him.”

The writer concludes :—“Dear Mr —-, You might have this put in the Rugby paper if you think fit to let all the people of Rugby know that the ‘ Jocks’ haven’t forgotten their kindness to them, and also what a member of the ‘Immortal 29th Division’ thinks of the ‘Conscientious Coward.’”

THE 7TH WARWICKS.

It was a year on Tuesday last when the 1/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Territorials) landed in France, having left England on the preceding day. Since then they have had their full share of work in the firing line, and have fully sustained the prestige of their county. We have from time to time published interesting letters from members of the Rugby contingent, and this week we received the following, dated March 14th :-

DEAR SIR,—Perhaps your readers will be interested in the doings of the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment and the old E Company boys. They are all in the highest of spirits, and are looking the picture of health despite the terrible hardships they have all endured through the trying winter months in mud and water ; and have made themselves feared by their neighbours the Huns.

They have also been very highly praised for their splendid work out here by their Commander, and he hopes when the time for them to get to grips with the enemy arrives, they will still maintain the name they have made for themselves since they have been out here.

We are getting some sports up this afternoon among the officers and men. We enjoy ourselves when we come out for these short rests, after being in and out of the firing line for a month at a stretch. Hoping you will publish this in your paper, we remain—THREE OF THE OLD RUGBY COMPANY BOYS.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Staff-Sergeant W A Simpson, 21st Lancers, who has been awarded the D.C.M for going to the rescue of a comrade and an officer, and holding back the enemy with a revolver, is a Daventry man. He is a son of Mr P W Simpson, and grandson of the late Mr T Simpson, for many years manager of the Daventry Gas Works.

An ex-champion Public School boxer, Capt Ian D Dewar, son of Lord Dewar, one of the Scottish Lords of Session, has been killed in action. He had previously been wounded in August and September of last year. Capt Dewar when at Rugby won the Public Schools Lightweight Championship at Aldershot in 1911, and he captained the Boxing Club at Oxford.

Mr G H I Cowley, of Hertford Street, Coventry, solicitor, has joined an Officers’ Training Corps on the nomination of Colonel Courtenay, C.B, and during his absence his practice is being looked after by Mr Charles Martin, of 18 Hertford Street. Mr Cowley was educated at Rugby School, and is a member of a family having large landed interests in Northants, and is a grandson of the late Rev Charles Thorold Gillbee, M.A, D.D, for many years incumbent of the joint family livings of Barby and Kilsby.

Lance-Corpl Jack Bird, 12th K.R.R (son of Mrs Harris, 41 Now Street, New Bilton), is at present in Christ Church Hospital, Hants, suffering from a fractured collar bone and bruises, sustained as the result of the explosion of an aerial torpedo in the trenches. This is the second time that Lance-Corpl Bird has been wounded.

News was received on Monday that Pte Albert W Johnson, 9th Batt Royal Warwickshire Regt, and only son of Mrs Johnson, of 110 Abbey Street, Rugby, a widow, was killed in action on Jan 6th at Cape Holles. Pte Vertegans, also of Rugby, who was in the same section, put a cross, which he made himself, with a suitable inscription and verse thereon, at the head of his grave.

The number of men being called up locally has shown a considerable increase during the past week, and about sixty men have been passed through the Rugby Drill Hill. Of these only a small number were conscripts.

A notice about the “ starring ” of munition workers was issued by the Ministry of Munitions on Thursday night. In future men will only be exempted from military service if they are actually engaged on war work and can show that they are eligible for War Service badges ; not if they are engaged on private work and may be required for munitions work.

RUGBY TERRITORIAL ACCIDENTALLY KILLED.

Mrs Fidler, of Harborough Magna, has received intimation that her son, Pte William Fidler, was accidentally killed in France on March 7th, Pte Fidler was an old member of the E Company, and until quite recently he was attached to the Horse Transport Section. About a fortnight before his accident, however, he was transferred to the Warwickshire Infantry Brigade Machine Gun Company, and on March 7th he started out with a team of horses, which had recently arrived from a Remount Depot, and a wagon. Ten minutes afterwards he was found lying unconscious in the snow by the side of the load. He was taken in a motor ambulance to a field hospital which was close by, but, he only regained consciousness for a few minutes, and died in the evening. He was a quiet, reliable, and steady soldier, and will be much missed by his comrades. A sad feature is that he came home from the front on leave at Christmas to be married.

SERGT BALE TELLS HOW HE WON THE D.C.M.

The following letter has just come to hand from Sergt W J Bale. 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the St Matthew’s “ old boy,” whose home is in Lagoe Place, and who was included in the last list of recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal :-

“ On the night of Feb 8th I proceeded on patrol towards the enemy’s trenches, with one officer and six men. The duty of the patrol was to go and find out the condition of the enemy’s wire, and also to find out the strength of the enemy in a part of their trench called Mad Point. Everything went on all right until we were about twenty yards off their wire, when we were spotted by a German sentry, and heavy machine-gun and rifle fire was at once opened on us, and two of the patrol were slightly wounded. After it had got a bit quiet, we managed to get the patrol to safety, and following a short rest the officer and I went forward again to carry out the duty. We managed to get right up to the German wires, but after lying there for half an hour the officer got spotted and shot through the thigh, so that he was unable to move. Now I had my work cut out to get him and myself safely into our lines. I managed to get him on my back ; then I had to start and creep with him, which I can assure you is not an easy thing ; but after an hour’s struggle I got back to the lines with the officer. I received commendation for this, the second time in a month, and on March 16th, General Munro presented me with my D.C.M. medal ribbon.”

RUGBY SOLDIER REPORTED KILLED.

Rifleman F Pee, aged 19, who has been missing since July 30th, has now been reported killed in action on that date. His home was at 391 Clifton Road, Rugby, and before war broke out he worked in the machine shop at the B.T.H. He enlisted in the Rifle Brigade the beginning of September, 1914, and went to France the following May. He was in the liquid fire attack at Hooge on the 30th July, and was not seen afterwards. His name has been put on the Hooge Memorial.

BRAUNSTON.

INTERESTING LETTER FROM THE BALKANS.-An interesting letter has been received by his friends from one of the sixteen Braunston boys belonging to the 7th Royal Berkshire Regiment, who are now serving with the Salonika Force. After explaining how they were bivouacked on the side of a mountain in nice little dug-outs, and two in a hole, he says :-We are still getting lovely weather, and the hills are covered with wild crocuses, so you can tell it is warm. We get the papers you send, and although the news is a bit old when we get them, we sometimes read them over two or three times when we can’t get any books. I wonder how the Braunston Armlet men will like soldiering. I bet they get a surprise when they start ; but I am pleased they didn’t stay till they were dragged, although they stayed long enough. It is very interesting out here to watch the natives in their mountain villages. They are just as you read about them in the Bible—the old bullock waggons, and shepherds with their crooks, and the women carrying their water pitchers on their heads and shoulders. The men squat about in baggy trousers, and never seem to do any work. They seem quite satisfied to remain as they are, and I shouldn’t think they have advanced a bit for a thousand years.

The Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund.—WASTE NEWSPAPER DEPARTMENT.—The organisers of the old newspaper scheme desire to draw the attention of householders and others in Rugby and surrounding districts to the collections of old newspapers which are being organised by the Boy Scouts Association in aid of the Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund. Communications should be sent to Geo R Payne, Hon Sec Rugby Scouts Association, 13 Park Road, Rugby ; parcels to either Murray School between 9 a.m and 4 p.m, or B.T.H Troop Room, Lodge Road, 7.30 p.m to 9 p.m, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Only morning, evening, weekly, and Sunday papers are required, Coloured paper is acceptable, but must be bundled separately.

IN MEMORIAM.

DODSON.—In loving Memory of our dear son William Ernest, who died of wounds in France, March 24th, 1915.
“ No loved one stood beside him
To hear his last farewell ;
No word of comfort did he leave
For those he loved so well.”
From his loving Father, Mother, Sister, and Brothers.

FOX.—In everlasting love and sweetest remembrance of our dear son, Norman Harry Fox, who fell in action on March 21st, 1915.
“ One year has passed, oh ! how we miss him.
Some may think the wound has healed ;
But they little know the pain and sorrow
Deep within our hearts concealed.”
His sorrowing Father, Mother, Brother and Sisters.

 

Hughes, John William George. Died 18th Jun 1915

John (Jack) William George HUGHES

Lance Corporal 2006 1st/7th Btn Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Killed in action 18 Jun 1915, buried Rifle House Cemetery, Ploegsteert

Hughes, J W G

John was born in 1891, his birth being recorded in Rugby RD in the September quarter.   His parents were John and Betsy Maria nee Wills who were married September Qr 1890 in St Albans RD.

His baptism has not been found in the Rugby area, but brother Harry was baptised at Bilton in 1893, sister Edith Matilda at St Andrew Rugby in 1895, and brother Charles also at Rugby St Andrew in 1905 (parish registers).

In the 1911 census the family was at 13 Paradise Street, Rugby, which runs alongside the Clifton Road Cemetery; the three boys were with their parents, but not daughter Edith. George and Betsy had been married 21 years, and had four children all living. George was a grocer’s vanman, born in Buckinghamshire, John was an engine cleaner.   All except George were born in Warwickshire, no place named. No railway service records have been found for John.

In the 1901 census, also at 13 Paradise Street, George was a coal merchant’s drayman born at Hardwick Bucks.   He had a boarder, another coal merchant’s drayman, who was probably working with George for a local coal merchant.   Betsy was born in Dunchcurch, the three children (Charles was not yet born) all in Rugby. Betsey Maria Wills was baptised at Dunchurch 27 Oct 1872, daughter of John, labourer, and Eliza (parish register).

John and Betsy were living in Weedon near Aylesbury in 1891, aged 24 & 21, George an agricultural labourer.

John was sent to France with his regiment on 22 March 1915, and was killed in action on 18 June 1915.   He is buried in Rifle House Cemetery at Ploegsteert, twelve miles south of Ypres, together with 8 other members of the regiment who were killed 18-25 June 1915.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

5th Jun 1915. Too much news from “Our Soldiers”?

“OUR SOLDIERS” IN THE DARDANELLES.

HONOURS GAINED BY FORMER GUESTS.

The following are included in the honours list published in connection with the recent fighting in the Gallipoli Peninsula.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER.

Capt C Ridings, 1st Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers, and Capt E W Atkinson, 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDALS.

Sergt S D Bean, 2nd South Wales Borderers; Pte S G Bidgood, 1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers; Company Sergt-Major W Magee, 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; Pte T Millward, 2nd South Wales Borderers; Lance-Corpl W Morrisey, 1st Border Regiment; Corpl E Mott, 1st Border Regiment; and Lance-Corpl D O’Neil 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

HOW “ OUR SOLDIERS ” FOUGHT AT GALLIPOLI.

We have received the following extracts from a letter received by a resident of Rugby from Sergt-Major C G Douglass, of the 1st K.O.S.B. who was billeted upon him, and is now in the Gallipoli Peninsula. He writes :-

“ While I am writing this I am watching Turkish shells falling not too far from us. We are just out of the trenches for a couple of days’ rest ; but still the Turks send us a few shells in the morning and evening to say ‘ Good morning ‘ and ‘ Good night.’ There is some sort of a scrap on in front now as rifle fire is pretty brisk. Two aeroplanes are flying over our heads, keeping watch on the Turkish movements, and the Navy’s guns are dropping big shells away ahead of us ; but, forgetting all that, the sun is shining brightly over a country which looks quite nice, and the sea is a most wonderful blue and as calm as a mill pond. This would be a glorious place to come for a holiday cruise ; but let me out of it and dear Old England will suit me for the rest of my life.

” I have just heard that we can give any news of events that are a fortnight old, and I will tell you what happened to our regiment on last Sunday fortnight : We were ordered to do a special duty along with a few other troops-very few indeed considering the task-I am not allowed to say anything about numbers of troops-but we were to land some miles up the coast and hold on to the cliff edge for all we were worth until the main army came up with us. We transhipped on to two cruisers, which took us as close as they dared, and then we jumped into small boats and dashed ashore. The boats could not get nearer than 40 or 50 yards, and we had to jump into the water and wade ashore. We had awful loads on our backs, and I personally jumped over the bow of the boat and went clean out of my depth, right over the head, and had to swim a good bit before I found my feet. We got ashore somehow and made for the cliff, and it did not take us long to get to the top, as only one shot was fired at us. We took up positions around a gully, and after a couple of shells had landed amongst us and killed a couple of men it did not take us long to get dug into the earth. The Turks left us alone from then (6 a.m) till 3 p.m. Then the fun started, and from then until the next day at 10 a.m we went through hell. We have learnt since that the force attacking us outnumbered us by 6 to 1. The whole afternoon and livelong night the fight went on at white heat—rifle fire, shell fire, bayonets, and even entrenching tools were used to beat back the Turks. One of my men killed a German officer with a shovel. You can judge what close fighting it was. Several times they pressed us back to the edge of the cliff by sheer weight of numbers, and we managed to drive them back again by bayonet charges. The last charge took place just after dawn, and we suffered then. You remember my quartermaster-sergeant in Rugby (Quartermaster-Sergt Brown)—he was killed then, and others you know. Look out for the casualty lists, and you will see them all. Well, we hung on to that hill for a few more hours, and then our ammunition began to run out, and we knew we could not hold out another night. We received orders to re-embark. It took us hours to do this and getting the wounded on board. Anyhow, we got round to the bottom of the Peninsular, and next day landed on the beach, and the same day got into another scrap and lost more men, and we have been at it ever since until yesterday. I am afraid I have poorly described the scrap, but I could talk for hours on it if I were only near to you. The landing of the remainder of the division on the south of the peninsular was costly too. You can judge this all from the casualties.

You remember the major in command of my company at Rugby—Major Welsh. Well, I think the fact that we are here to-day, and that we were not completely annihilated that night, is entirely due to him. He was a wonder ; but, worse luck, he has since been wounded, and is at Alexandria. I cannot tell you any more now, but hope some day to have a good old yarn with you.”

AN OPEN LETTER TO “ OUR SOLDIERS.”

MY DEAR BOYS,—How pleased we were to hear from you, and how we do hope you are still safe. How anxiously we wait, and yet fear to read down the lists. One after another come the names we know, or our friends know. ” Not him. surely !” we say. Then hope against hope that the report is wrong. Oh, the cruel war! Some of you, our Rugby guests, are fighting the Turks, and some the Germans ; but wherever you are, be sure somebody or other is thinking of you. Even people who did not speak to you speak of you and enquire often now that you are in danger. No need to ask when the mails are in. See the girls stop in the street to read the letters, and see the landladies run hatless down to see if there’s “ one of their boys ” when a train load of wounded comes in ; and when there is one see how his face lights up. Some have gone through the station along with Australians and New Zealanders to Manchester and Birmingham and other hospitals, and about 40 have come to “ Ashlawn ” this last week. Some have had their Rugby friends visit them in hospital, and some are coming here to finish their sick leave.

How it grieves us to know of the terrible number that can never come back, who are sleeping their last sleep in the Dardanelles. You will get most of the news in the local papers which we send. Is there any small enclosure we might send you ? While thinking of our own kith and kin in khaki we shall not forget you boys. With best wishes for good luck and God-speed from

SEVERAL OF YOUR OLD LANDLADIES.

(We have been asked to publish the above letter in order that other landladies who find that it expresses’ their own feelings may postmark copies of the Advertiser to “ the boys ” who lodged with them. We do so with pleasure, and hope the letter may be the means of conveying encouragement and pleasure to those who are left of the gallant 87th Brigade at the Dardanelles.—

ED.R.A)

 

Rugby, May 25th, 1915.

REMONSTRANCE FROM THE TRENCHES.

A member of “ E ” Company of the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment writes :-

“ DEAR SIR,- I should like to say a few words about the preference given to the soldiers who were billeted in Rugby and men at the Dardanelles over the members of the local forces, i.e, ‘E’ Company and Howitzer Battery. It would be appreciated by us in France if we could see a little more in the local papers about the Rugby men, who seem to be forgotten since ‘ Our Soldiers’ were at Rugby. I think if we had been in the Dardanelles we might have done just as well. In the position we are in at present, with the enemy strongly entrenched in a ridge, over-looking our lines, it is practically impossible for us to make a move yet ; but no doubt, when the time comes, we shall not be found wanting. I might say we have had some rough times since we landed in France. We are being continually shelled and sniped at. As you can, doubtless, guess, it is much more aggravating to be hit by someone you cannot see than to able to have a fair and square go at them. We, being Englishmen , don’t want you to think we are running our comrades down. We all wish the soldiers in the Dardanelles the best of luck, and are sure they wish us the same out in Flanders. I hope you will take this letter in the sense in which it is sent.

[If there is a dearth of news about our local Territorials it is because none has come to hand either from the men themselves or friends to whom they write. We shall be pleased to insert news from our men-so far as the censorship regulations will permit-whenever it is sent to us.-Ed, R.A.]

RUGBY MEN SERVING WITH THE WARWICKS.

News of the Rugby men serving in the 7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment does not reach us often, but we know full well they are doing their duty in a hot corner of the firing line. In a letter received from one of these brave soldiers by a Rugby resident the suggestion is made that the men of the Rugby Company may have been forgotten ; but it is to be sincerely hoped, with the multiplicity of interests Rugby people have in the Dardanelles and elsewhere, this is not the case. In fact, we are sure the Rugby Infantry Company, although for obvious reasons little is published of their doings, still retain a warm place in the affections of the inhabitants, as do the Howitzers and all who have responded so nobly to their country’s urgent call from Rugby homes. The writer referred to mentions that the girls in the B.T.H offices have sent the Rugbeians some pipes for distribution. “ I can tell you,” he adds, “ they were a very nice present. . . .” He continues: “No doubt if I could write home and tell you what we are facing it is quite as bad as the others. For instance, the last four days we have been facing —— (name of certain German troops), who, I can assure you, are a tough lot.”

 

Clowes, Reginald. Died 2nd Jun 1915

Reginald Clowes was the fifth child of Leonard and Annie Clowes of 40, Windsor Street, Rugby.  He was born in Crewe Cheshire in 1894. In the 1911 census he had 5 sisters and 1 brother, the other sibling presumably older and away from home is not mentioned.  Also in the 1911 census his occupation is listed as fitter with railway company.

Reginald Clowes

He enlisted in Rugby, Warwickshire with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment 7th battalion.  His service no. was 1402 and his rank was lance corporal.  He was wounded while fighting in the trenches in France on 27th May 1915 and died on the 2nd June.  Medals that he was awarded were the British War Medal + Victory Medal and 1914-15 Star.

He was buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in France. The words on his headstone read:

Died of Wounds
Tranquil you Lie
Your Knightly Virtue Proved

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Johnson, Thomas Frederick. Died 9th May 1915

Thomas Frederick JOHNSON was born on 14 April 1894 in Kirkby Mallory, Leicestershire.

His parents Thomas and Margaret, née Littlefair, Johnson were born in the north of England and then moved south: to Grendon, Atherstone where in 1891, Thomas senior was a ‘coachman domestic servant’; then to Kirkby Mallory in Leicestershire before April 1894 when Thomas junior was born; and then to Street Acton, Warwickshire in the later 1890s. By 1901, the family was living in Monk’s Kirby where Thomas senior was a ‘coachman and groom’ and by 1911 they had moved to Rugby where he was a ‘coachman domestic’.

Thomas was one of their seven children and in 1911 he was still living with his parents at 76, Lawford Road, Rugby, and was a fitter in the meter department of an engineering works.

When war was declared he joined up as No.751, in the 1/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR). The Battalion was formed in August 1914 in Coventry and was part of Warwickshire Brigade, South Midland Division. At some point Thomas was promoted to Corporal.

Despite hopes that it would be posted abroad, the Brigade remained for a time in Essex with the South Midlands Division. There was some reorganisation in March 1915, which suggested that a move was imminent. They entrained to Southampton, and crossed the Channel to Le Havre on 22 March 1915.   Thomas Johnson’s Medal card confirms his arrival ‘in theatre’ on 22 March 1915.

They moved to Cassel by train and then on 28 March marched to Bailleul and on 1 April to Armentieres. The units served an ‘apprenticeship’ in the trenches learning the ‘art’ of trench warfare and when not in the line were billeted in Bailleul. On 12 April, the 7th Batalion started rotating into the trenches at Douve and Steenbecque, north-east of Ploegsteert (‘Plug Street’) village. Their first priority was to improve the trenches and make them continuous, however, the high water table caused problems.

The Brigade continued to be ‘eased into trench life in April and May: casualties were low and the weather was warm and dry.’ Indeed, at that date there was an informally operated ‘live and let live’ policy. Despite the quiet, there were casualties, from sniping, shelling or night patrolling, and ‘… in May the figures were forty-six [killed] and one hundred and sixty-seven [wounded]’.[1]

Sadly Corporal Thomas Johnson was one of those casualties that ‘wilted down the fighting strength of the Brigade’. He was killed on 9 May 1915.

He was buried in Grave V.C.5. at La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery which was begun in April 1915 by the 48th (South Midland) Division and continued in use until May 1918.

The Cemetery is some 10.5 kms. south of Ypres. La Plus Douve was a farm which was generally within the Allied lines. It was sometime used as a battalion headquarters. It was also known as ‘Ration Farm’ because battalion transport could approach it at night with rations.

Although killed on the same date as several other Rugby soldiers who lost their lives in the attack at Auber’s Ridge, this was coincidental; Thomas Johnson and the 1/7th RWR were some miles further to the north, much nearer to Ypres.

[1]       Quotation and general text edited from, Peter Caddick-Adams, By God They Can Fight, A History of the 143rd Infantry Brigade 1908-1995, 143rd (South Midlands) Brigade, 1995.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

1st May 1915. News from the Trenches

RECREATIONS BEHIND THE FIRING LINE.

Letters from members at the 7th Warwickshire Territorial Battalion continue to arrive. One of them says : “ We are having a good time out here, plenty of work, and also a lot of time for amusements. After our last four days in the trenches we arranged a couple of football matches, one between C Company and the Howitzer Battery, which ended in a draw 3—3. The second game between Coventry and Rugby men of C Company ended in Coventry’s favour. Near our billet is a large pond and it is interesting to see out fellows, indifferent to the German shells, fishing for carp. The country-side looks very beautiful in spite of the ruined homesteads, and farmers carry on as usual. We are now back in the trenches and yesterday the Germans shelled a village 200 yards from us, paying special attention to the church, which is practically in ruins. Our gunners soon silenced them, and we have had a quiet day to-day.

A private writes to his wife :—“ We are all happy and enjoying ourselves. I would like you to see us in our little dug-out, we are like gypsies. We do enjoy our meals, though bullets and shells are flying over our heads all the time. We are getting so used to them that we do not take the least bit of notice. The most dangerous work we have to undertake is going to and from the trenches, for no matter how quiet you are the Germans spot you, up goes one of their star shells, and a Maxim gun is trained on you immediately. Then it is a case of laying low till they have finished.

A corporal writes “ I should like some of our friends to have seen us when we were going to the trenches, as we were like the donkeys in Spain, loaded with provisions, and we are looking well now, as we haven’t had a wash or shave for some days, and are feeling a bit ‘grimy.’ We can’t help it, as we can’t get water for washing, but I suppose we have got to put up with it far a while.”

FOOTBALL BEHIND THE TRENCHES.

A Rugby Sergeant tells us that on April 19th an exciting football match took place between teams picked from Rugby men (of the late E Company, now C Company) and Coventry men. After a well-contested game, the Rugby men came out winners 2—0. When it is known that the losers had such well-known players as “ Chummy ” Lombard, “ To and From ” Read, “ Cast Iron ” Loake, etc, etc, it will be seen what a good performance was put up by the winners. “ Bleb ” Hill scored the first goal after fifteen minutes’ play. Then “ Knobby ” Clarke scored just before the interval, but was ruled off-side by the referee. Immediately before the call of time Baker scored. Iliff (the Dunchurch pet) was in the thick of the fray all through the match.

 

Pte L Stewart, of the Advertiser staff, who is with the 7th Warwickshire Territorial Battalion at the front, writes under date of April 26th :—We are situated the same as when last I wrote. The 7th have had another spell in the trenches, without any casualty whatever. They came out of the trenches Saturday night, but Sunday morning found them in the best of health and spirits, and seemingly none the worse for their experiences. They had several narrow shaves from shells—in fact, they had marvellous luck-but a miss is as good as a mile. The weather is really grand, we live practically an open-air life, and early to bed, early to rise, is our motto. I shall be opening the office at six in the morning when I get back, unless a bed makes me revert to the old habits. Time slips by here—every day seems alike ; but I never forget what Friday (publishing day) is with you—all so busy as of old. Sergt Dodson is attached to the Army Ordnance Store just across the road. He was soon over here to get a squint at the old “ R A.” Another private writes:—I will give you a few details of what we have to do. First of all we get here at night and relieve the other regiment who have done their four days. Night sentries are posted and their duties are to warn for any approach of the enemy, who is not very far in front of us. They do two hours on and four off, but that four off is not for rest by any means for we all have to work hard during the night, re-building shelled trenches and improving same. Then there is a party to go and fetch water, about 10 or 12 of us. This has to be fetched from a dilapidated farmhouse about 1 ½ miles away, and we are walking on open the whole of the way, so you see this is a very risky job. We are up all the night and have to stand to at 3.30 a.m for an hour in case of attack, which I am thankful to say has not yet happened. We always have bacon for breakfast and plenty of tea ; we bring a little fresh meat and bread with us. The four days we had out of the trenches were a bit rough, for although we had a little rest in the day time, we were out every night from about 7.30 to 3 a.m making and repairing trenches right in front of the German lines, which is a very much more dangerous position than in our own trenches, for we are not under any cover and the bullets whiz past our ears. Oh ! for a bed. When we go out on Saturday we get billeted in a little better place, for we then have eight days’ rest which will be very acceptable. The Germans are firing at us all day long, and my word they can shoot ; we hardly dare show our caps above the trench else all is over, but I think we have them beaten as regards artillery fire, for we keep shelling their guns and position on and off all day. It is rather a nerve shaking job this night sentry, for one is responsible for the safety of all the regiment and you cannot see many yards in front of you, so before you could say knife the enemy would have cut the wire entanglements and be on you if you did not keep up a good look out.

NEWS OF THE RUGBY HOWITZERS.

Mr C J Packwood, of St Matthew Street, Rugby, has recently received a letter from his son, Driver C W Packwood, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, now in France. He describes the place at which the battery is stationed as “ very slow.” The men living in the vicinity appear to be indolent, the women and dogs doing the bulk of the work. Driver Packwood states that the members of the battery are in excellent health, and they are always thankful to receive letters and parcels from friends at home.

In a letter dated April 25th, which arrived on Thursday, Driver Packwood says:—“ At the present time I am on observation duty. There is an officer and three men, myself included. We are right up in the front trenches with the Infantry, We watch the effects of our shells and report on same, being connected with the Battery by field telephone. The German trenches are only 200 yards away. We can see them in the trenches quite plainly. We have got quite familiar with their snipers. One we call Fritz, another Ginger, and another Peter. Fritz shot one of the infantry clean through the head last night. He is a crack shot. The scenes round here are really wonderful, and are a sight worth seeing. There is not a house standing-they all are absolutely blown to bits. Yesterday I went for about two miles along the first line infantry trenches, and observed the German trenches through a periscope. This letter I am sending by the man who brings our rations. He is just coming, so I must close now.

 

THE KING AND THE WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY.

The Warwickshire Yeomanry, which left Avonmouth for foreign service three weeks ago, before they left received the following telegram from the King :—

“ I am glad to hear that the 2nd Midland Division is about to leave for the front, and much regret not to have been able to inspect the troops. I feel confident, after these months of training at home, the division, wherever employed, will give a good account of itself. Please assure all ranks that they will constantly be in my thoughts and prayers, and convey to them my best wishes for success.”

The horses belonging to the regiment, which were on board the Wayfarer when it was torpedoed, have now been taken over by the authorities and distributed, so it is understood, among other regiments. The Warwickshire Yeomanry have thus been deprived of mounts to which they had become very closely attached, and the loss will be keenly felt by the men. The men from the Wayfarer who were fortunate to escape will join their regiment at the earliest possible moment.

About 160 men were detailed off for duty on the Wayfarer, and had charge of about 1,000 horses and mules. On leaving port the officers were informed of the presence of two enemy submarines, and were warned to keep a close watch. They failed to escape the danger.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

The 1st Warwickshire Yeomanry Reserve Regiment left Warwick on Monday for Cirencester Park

It has transpired that in all five men from Warwickshire were killed by the explosion on the Wayfarer. Three horses were drowned.

Harold M Over, son of Mr Samuel Over, and grandson of the late Major S Over, has been gazetted second-lieutenant in the 20th Battalion the Royal Fusiliers, He has been Musketry Instructor to D Company of this Battalion, in which position he has shown exceptional ability.

Pte W Gardner, 3rd Coldstream Guards, an ex-police-constable from this neighbourhood, writes he is now in England wounded, lying at Longshawe Lodge, Derbyshire (lent by the Duke of Rutland for British). He was wounded in the head, back, and right knee at the Battle of Le Bassee, where the Coldstreams and the Irish Guards made their famous charge. He was in hospital in France for a time, and then was sent to hospital in Sheffield, and from thence to the convalescent home.

Driver Johnson, of the Army Transport Section, who was wounded at Ypres on December 18th, and is still in hospital, spent last week-end at his home, 20 West Leyes, Rugby. Driver Johnson was wounded in the right hand, but his horse laid on him for 24 hours before he was found, and as a result of this he has lost all power in his left aide. Although the medical authorities are sanguine that he will in time regain the use of his injured limbs, they all agree that a considerable time will elapse before he does so—probably 12 months. Driver Johnson, who was one of the earliest to enlist from Rugby, was before the war employed by Messrs Willans & Robinson as a driller.

THE RUGBY FORTRESS COMPANY OF ROYAL ENGINEERS.

PARTICULARS ABOUT THE NEW UNIT.

The decision of the Urban District Council to raise a Rugby Fortress Company of the Royal Engineers, as reported in our last issue, has met with general approval in the town, and the hope it expressed on all hands that the number of men necessary to complete the unit will be speedily obtained, so that the name of Rugby may be associated with another company at the front. In addition to commissioned officers and sergeants, only 94 men are required for the company, vis: Corporal (mounted), 1 ; lance-corporal (mounted), 1 ; shoeing and carriage smith, 1 ; drivers (including batmen), 15 ; blacksmiths, 9 ; bricklayers, 12 ; plasterer, 1 ; slater, 1 ; carpenters (including joiners), 20 ; clerks, 2 ; draughtsman (architectural), 1 ; electricians (field), 2 ; engine drivers (field), 3 ; fitters and turners, 4 ; harness maker, 1 ; masons, 7 ; platelayers, 2 ; plumbers (including gas fitters), 3 ; surveyor, 1 ; wheelwrights, 2 ; miscellaneous, 5.

The company must be raised on a regular basis, and the enlistment must be for three years or the duration of the war, and must be carried out at a regular recruiting office. The age for enlistment is between 19 and 38 years.

The pay of all ranks will be at the some rate as that prescribed for the Royal Engineers ; and the company, when raised, will have to be clothed, housed (by the hire of buildings or billeting only), and fed at rates approved by and to be paid for by the War Office. It is stated that the company will remain at Rugby during the initial training ; and that men, if they so desire, may be billeted in their homes. In this connection the War Office point out that unmarried soldiers necessarily living at their own homes, and not messed by their units, will draw a consolidated allowance of 2s per day. If living at home and messed by their units, they will draw a lodging allowance of 9d per day.

The expense of raising the company will for the most part, it is hoped, be provided in the town. The War Office points out that money expended by municipalities, communities, and individuals authorised to raise local units on advertisements, posters, concerts, bands, and similar items in connection with recruiting has in many cases been found by local funds, but that where this is not the case the Army Council are prepared to refund expenditure actually incurred in this direction up to a maximum of 2s for each recruit raised. In addition to these expenses, there will, doubtless, be other items which will have to be met by a local fund ; but, according to Mr J J McKinnell, to whom belongs the honour of initiating the idea of raising a local company, the total sum required should not exceed £50. Rugby has responded so liberally to all patriotic appeals during the last few months that we are sure that the promoters of the company will not find their activities crippled through lack of funds.

The Army Council will allow the sum of £8 15s for the equipment of each dismounted man, and £9 15s for each mounted man, but these sums are believed to be rather below the actual cost of equipment, and any balance will thus have to he made up out of local funds. It is hoped to commence recruiting at the Park Road Drill Hall on Monday next.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

The following have been attested at the Park Road Drill Hall during the past week —Royal Warwickshire Regiment, T Morriss ; A.S.C, H J Merrick ; R.E, J W foster and G Clarke ; Bedfords, H Seaton, H Pegg, P Cleaver, and A W Leeson ; Reserve Signal Co, R.E, A J Brasher ; Rugby Fortress Co, R.E, T H Hands, J Wise, and E G Smith.

RUGBY POST OFFICE STAFF AND THE WAR.

Quite a number of the men from the Rugby Post Office staff have joined the colours, and those remaining are working at high pressure. Amongst those who have recently enlisted in the Royal Engineers, where their duties will consist mainly of telegraph work, are : Messrs J T Healey, A Miller, R J Sheldon, A E Goldfinch, and A J Brasher. The latter left Rugby on Monday, and another member of the staff (Mr G D Tennant) expects to take his departure next week. To cope with the situation, a number of postmen are now doing indoor work, and other vacancies are being filled by women and girls, female labour being almost entirely used in the instrument-room.

Green, John Henry. Died 26 Apr 1915

John Henry Green was baptised on 24 October 1880 at Newbold on Avon, the son of Thomas Green and Rhoda (nee Matthews). On their marriage in the same church in 1876, Thomas’ occupation was labourer and they both resided in Long Lawford.

In 1881 Thomas, an agricultural labourer, and Rhoda were living in Newton. Neither John nor his elder brother Thomas were listed with them on the census. By 1891 Thomas was an engine driver and the family were living in Catthorpe. John was aged 10 and there were three more children: George (9) and Sarah Ann (7). The family was still in Catthorpe in 1901, when John was a 20 year old labourer/carman.

The following year John Henry Green married Elizabeth Annie P S Wheeler and by the 1911 census the couple were living in Catthorpe with their four children. John was a farm labourer.

It is not known when he joined the 7th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment (regimental no. 16825), but he served for less than six months. We have been unable to find him on the medal rolls, so perhaps he never went abroad. He died in Tidworth Military Hospital on 26th April 1915 after an operation and was buried in Catthorpe Churchyard.

“There were many beautiful floral tributes, and in addition to those sent by the relatives, from the following friends:- “A” Company 7th Leicesters; N.C.O.’s and men of 7th Leicesters; A Friend; Alice and Bernard Robinson; His Village Friends; Mr & Mrs Nash and his Fellow Workmen on the Catthorpe Estate; Miss Emily Lloyd Spier.
Mrs Green, the widow, desires to thank all the parishioners and friends outside for their sympathy and kindness in her time of sorrow.”
(Rugby Advertiser 1 May 1915)

CWGC grave of John Henry Green in Catthorpe Churchyard

CWGC grave of John Henry Green in Catthorpe Churchyard

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM