Lee, Charles Robert. Died 6th Sep 1916

Charles Robert Lee was born in 1879 in Rugby and was baptised 20th Feb 1880 at St Andrews Church Rugby. He was the son of Mary Ann Lee (nee) Batchelor who was born in Rugby in 1859 and Henry Lee who was born 1857 in Derby and died circa 1880.

In 1881 he lived at 34 Railway Terrace Rugby, the home of his grandparents John Batchelor and Sarah Jane Batchelor (nee Brooks). Also at this address were his mother Mary Ann Lee and his brother Thomas Henry (who was born in 1877 in Derby), together with six of Mary Ann’s siblings.

In 1891 he lived at 18 Gas Street together with his mother Mary Ann who had now remarried James Barnett, a bricklayers labourer. His brother Thomas was living there too, together with two sons of James Barnett aged 3 and 3 months and Mary Ann.

Charles enlisted in the Coldstream Guards and served as Private No 876 in the 5th Battalion in the South Africa War. He served at the Belmont and Modder River and was wounded in eight places in his arm in the 2nd Boer War at Magersfontein on 11th Feb 1899. Following this he was partially disabled and received a pension.

In 1901 His mother Mary Ann was widowed again and a laundress. They lived at 11 Gas Street Rugby together with his brother Thomas (a brickmaker’s labourer and three step brothers, James Barnett born 1889, Frances Barnett born 1894 and Samuel Barnett born 1895. They had a lodger too, Walter Sansom born 1880 in Thornton Heath Surrey, a groom. Charles’ mother Mary Ann married Walter Sansom later that year.

On 13th August 1904 Charles married Elsie Rose Maltby, born in Daventry in 1882 and died in Rugby in 1944. The marriage was at St Andrews Church Rugby. They went on to have five children: Henry Thomas Lee born 1905, Winifred Lee born 1907, Rose Ann Lee born 1908, Daisy Lee born 1911 and Francis James Lee born 1912, all in Rugby.

He was a well known Rugby footballer and played for the Star New Bilton, Britannia, Rugby First, Northampton, Coventry and represented the Midland Counties.

He offered to rejoin his old regiment again in the First World War and served with the Coldstream Guards for eighteen months. He was admitted to the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby and died there following an operation on 6th September 1916. He is buried in Grave K279 at Clifton Road Cemetery Rugby together with his stepfather James Barnett. His stepbrother Samuel Barnett who died in the First World War on 25th September 1915.

Charles was awarded the Victory & British War Medals.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

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31st Jul 1915. Shirts, Socks and Wild Thyme

WILD THYME NEEDED FOR WAR PURPOSES.

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN.

Many people are anxious to help their country in the present crisis, and children will be interested to learn that there is a way in which they can assist. Wild thyme, which grows plentifully in certain localities—and also the cultivated variety for the matter of that—forms the basis of an important disinfectant, of which there is just now a great shortage.

At Rugby School Chemical Laboratory arrangements have been made in connection with some work asked for by the War Office, by which large quantities of thyme can be dealt with.

Here is a splendid opportunity for school children to render valuable aid, and an appeal is made to boys and girls of the district to collect as much thyme as they possibly can during the next six weeks, and forward the same to Mr B B Dickinson, 5 Barby Road, Rugby.

Of course, it is expected that this will be done voluntarily, as there is no fund from which payment can be made ; but no doubt many children will be glad during their holidays to gather the thyme growing wild in the locality near their homes, and if in each village community one or two leading residents will interest themselves in the scheme, and see that the thyme when collected is duly despatched to Mr Dickinson, their assistance will be much appreciated.

In most large gardens, too, there is sure to be a certain quantity of the cultivated thyme in the portion allotted to herbs, and this will also prove most acceptable. Anyone willing to contribute or help in any way is invited to communicate with Mr Dickinson, who will be glad to give further information.

SHIRTS AND SOCKS WANTED FOR “ E ” COMPANY.

Mrs Spencer, 17 High Street, Rugby appeals to the people of Rugby on behalf of the Rugby boys of the old “ E ” Company, serving in France, for shirts and socks, or subscriptions for purchasing same. The boys are badly in need of both shirts and socks, and Mrs Spencer will be pleased to receive same at her residence to forward to them. Some have already been sent out, but many more are needed, as there are between 60 and 70 boys of the old “ E ” Company serving in France.

APPRECIATION OF RUGBY LANDLADIES’ MESSAGE.

To the Editor of the Rugby Advertiser.

DEAR SIR,—Seeing in a copy of your excellent paper a message for “ the boys from the landladies,” I now take the opportunity on behalf of my comrades of letting you know how much the letter, or rather message, was appreciated,

I myself received the paper while in the Red Cross Hospital at Giza, Cairo, Egypt, where I am recovering from wounds received in Gallipoli, and after perusing its columns I blue-pencilled the message and re-posted this good old Advertiser to my chum on the Peninsula. A few days afterwards I received a letter telling how the paper was passed from hand to hand along the trenches of my regiment (the Inniskillings), and how the message brought memories back and gave the battalion something to talk about—for landladies were the sole topic in the trenches for the next week, and all were saying how they would enjoy themselves in Rugby when they had completed the job on hand, viz, dealing out to their “ Oriental friends ” a very-much-needed lesson.

Well, I will close now, wishing you and your paper the best of luck. Hoping I am not intruding on your valuable time, and at the same time thanking the people who inserted the message,—I am, sir, yours truly,

C BEST (Bandsman),
Inniskillings,
Red Cross Hospital, Giza, Cairo, Egypt.
July 15th, 1915.

NEW BILTON GUARDSMAN’S EXPERIENCES.

Pte George Walden, of the 2nd Coldstream Guards, who went out to the front with the original Expeditionary Force, is visiting his patents at 20 Campbell Street, New Bilton, on sick leave, having been wounded in the wrist at La Bassee on June 15th. During the ten months that he was at the front Pte Walden took part in the big engagements in which the British were concerned, vis, the Retreat from Mons, the Battle of the Aisne, the first attempt on Ypres, and the glorious charge in the La Bassee brickfield. In his opinion the worst engagement, however was the rearguard action in the retreat from Mons, when the British covered 186 miles in eight days. Personally, Pte Walden has been very lucky, for although practically the whole of the original battalion to which he belongs has been wiped out, it was ten months before he was hit, although on more than one occasion he has had narrow escapes. On one occasion during the fighting round Ypres he had an exceedingly close shave. Being a staunch teetotaller, he refused tea with rum in it, and went out to fetch some water. The Germans caught sight of him, however, and opened fire with a machine gun. Realising his danger, he fell on to his stomach, and crawled the remainder of the way. On his return he was again fired upon, but luckily reached the lines safely. Our representative then asked Pte Walden what was his opinion of the personnel of the German army, and whether the stories to the effect that it was not so good now as at the beginning of the war were true ? In reply, he stated that there was little doubt but that the flower of the German Army had been destroyed, but the present troops were quite as good as their predecessors in trench warfare. It was in advances and retirements, however, that the difference was apparent, and in these directions the German troops of to-day were vastly inferior to those Germans who faced the British in the early days of the campaign. The original Prussian Guards were a fine body of fighters, but by the Kaiser’s orders they were pitted against the British Brigade of Guards, who completely wiped them out. Pte Walden paid a tribute to the marksmanship of the German troops and to their effective use of the hand-bombs. In conclusion, he wished to remind readers through the medium of this paper that the most acceptable gift at the front is “ Woodbine ” cigarettes, which are in greater request than any other brand.

STRETTON-ON-DUNSMORE.

WOUNDED SOLDIERS ENTERTAINED.—A party of nineteen wounded soldiers from the “ Ashlawn ” Hospital, Rugby, were very kindly entertained on Tuesday last week, by Mr and Mrs Wilcox, of “ The Knob,” Stretton-on-Dunsmore. The party, in charge of a nurse, arrived about three o’clock by break, which Mr Wilcox had sent for them, and various amusements, including whist, were indulged in till four o’clock, when tea was provided indoors, as, owing to the uncertain weather, it was not thought advisable to sit outside. After tea the party spent the time strolling round the garden. A start was made for home about six o’clock. The wounded men were very hearty in their thanks, and were loudly cheered by the villagers when they left. On the kind invitation of Mr and Mrs Wilcox, many of the inhabitants assembled to meet the soldiers, and were hospitably entertained afterwards. Among the wounded guests were some men who were present with their regiments when the King inspected the famous 9th Division on the London Road, a few days before their departure to the Dardanelles. The drive down the London Road was, therefore, particularly interesting to those men.

STOCKTON.

GRENADE-THROWER WOUNDED.—Recently Messrs F W Neal and Thomas Neal went to London to see their brother Jack, who lies badly wounded in the King George Hospital. Jack Neal was one of 25 picked men who were instructed to throw hand-grenades into the German trenches, which were only about 13 yards away. Before throwing the soldier pulls a piece out of the ball, which leaves him only a few moments before it goes off. Somehow one that Jack Neal was going to throw went off in his hand, which it very badly damaged. The extent he does not yet know. He has part of a finger off and one hanging loose ; he is also badly wounded down the right leg, and it is said it is miraculous that he escaped alive. Jack Neal enlisted in December. The other week he just escaped with his life. His company were asleep in the trenches with someone on watch when his pal (Tibbs, from Napton) shouted to them to get out quick. He had to call several times before the worn-out soldiers heard him, and just as they bolted to safety a shrapnel shell came down where they had been asleep. It killed the fellow who followed Jack Neal when racing from the spot, and smashed up Neal’s rifle.

SAPPER C W WALTON’S LUCKY ESCAPE.

Sapper Charles W Walton, of the Royal Engineers, youngest son of Mr E Walton, 81 Claremont Road, recently had a remarkable escape from death at the front. On July 1st, at Festubert, he was working with a small party, including Sapper Snook, of Rugby, who, as we reported last week, was also wounded, when he was struck by a bullet in the region of his heart. Upon examination it was found that the bullet had struck a pay book and wallet, which were in a pocket immediately over Sapper Waltons heart. These evidently diverted the course of the bullet, and saved the young man’s life. The book and wallet, together with the contents of the latter, were considerably damaged, and at first sight bear the appearance of having been gnawed by a mouse. Sapper Walton joined the Army in August, and is now in the Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, where he is doing well. On Friday last week his photograph appeared in a daily paper in connection with a garden party given for wounded soldiers there.

THE WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY IN EGYPT.

A Rugby member of the Warwickshire Yeomanry in writing to a friend, states that they are now encamped in one of the best parts of Alexandria, close to the sea, where there is some fine bathing. The regiment has been turned into an army of occupation, so that there is little prospect at present of them seeing any fighting ; and this, the writer says, has given rise to a certain amount of grumbling, the men not liking their inactivity. He states that he receives the Rugby Advertiser each week, and notices that recruiting is still going on, and ventures the opinion that some of those who are hanging back ought to go to Egypt and see some of the wounded Australians, who had been brought back from the Dardanelles. These had not only bullet wounds, but deliberate atrocities had been committed upon them by the Turks. “ If these men could only see such sights as we who are here do Lord Kitchener would have 3,000,000 men.” At present, he says, the Yeomanry are doing routine work, principally training the horses they received to replace those which were on the Wayfarer. They recently experienced a dust storm. The wind blew half a gale, carrying dust and sand with it, and filling everything with fine sand. The temperature was 108 in the shade and 132 in the sun, and the men of the regiment, who were in “ stalls ” at the time, went into the sea and stood with the water up to their chins for two hours. The storm lasted from 9 a.m to 3.30 p.m ; and the men, he facetiously adds, were “ eating ” sand for two days afterwards. He concludes with the opinion that there is no place to beat Warwickshire, with its green fields, even if it is cold and wet. One can have too much sand and sunshine.

BRITISH TROOPS IN A FAVOURABLE POSITION.

RUGBY SOLDIER’S OPINION.

Bombardier Turner, of the Royal Field Artillery, whose home is at 21 Plowman Street, and who has been at the front since the commencement of the war, visited his home for a few days this week. This is the second time Bombardier Turner has been home on leave, the first occasion being in January last. Although he took part in the retreat from Mons, and has been in most of the great fights since then, he has, fortunately, so far escaped injury. Nevertheless, he has had many narrow escapes. He is now attached to the grenade section with the Royal Engineers, and his duty consists in keeping the infantry men well supplied with hand grenades and operating the trench mortars. In his opinion, the British force is now in a better position than it has been in since the commencement of the war-in fact, had they been as strong last August the retreat from Mons would never have taken place. They now had plenty of ammunition, good serviceable guns and men, and, he added : “ If Mr Lloyd George will only keep on giving us ammunition like he is now doing we shall be all right.” Life at the front is evidently not all hard work, although there is plenty of that and to spare, for Bombardier Turner informed our representative that the trenches have now been made very comfortable, with arrangements for pumping out water in case of floods, and facilities for games are provided. Sports of various kinds are arranged in the rest camps, and recently a horse-jumping competition for a small gold cup, presented by King Albert, took place between the British and the Belgians, ending in a win for the latter. In an international football match the British Cavalry Division defeated the Belgians, and secured the medals given by the King of Belgium. Cricket and other games are also indulged in, and Bombardier Turner, who left on Thursday for the front, volunteered the information that the troops were quite cheerful and only waiting to “ slash it across the Germans.”

RUGBY MEN WIN THE D.C.M.

News has just been received in Rugby that one of the first volunteers to enlist from the B.T.H Works has been decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal. This decoration has been awarded to Pte A Hotz, of the 1st East Surrey Regiment, for conspicuous gallantry on Hill 60, where he placed himself in front of a communication trench occupied by the enemy, and on the enemy advancing attacked them with hand grenades and dispersed them. Pte Hotz was employed in the construction department at the B.T.H Works, and the members of the staff are naturally very pleased that this award for gallantry has been received by one of their number.

Lce-Corpl P V Stent, of the 5th Service Batt Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, whose parents live at 28 Worcester Street, Rugby, has received the D.C.M for valour in the trenches, He was a bomb-thrower, and succeeded in taking a trench almost entirely by himself. He brought back with him an explosive mine and showed it to his Colonel. Lce-Corpl Stent was for seven years in “ E ” Company, Rugby, and when he enlisted at the beginning of the war was employed as a moulder at Willans & Robinsons.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

The following have been recruited at Rugby Drill Hall during the past week :-H Smith, R.W.R ; J Ryan, Scottish Rifles ; J Clowes, R H Lucas, R S Hirons, H R Hirons, and H Matthews, East Kent Regiment ; E Humphries Webb, Oxon and Bucks L.I ; E J Dalzel, J Welch, and H Lines. R.A.M.C ; C A Goodman, R.F.A ; J Andrews, R.G.A.

More recruits are still wanted, and arrangements have been made for each town to raise its own Company, to be drilled together. At present those who are willing to join are asked to send in their names to the Recruiting Officer, Drill Hall, Rugby. When sufficient men have been obtained to start training they will be called up.

 

Docker, Leonard George. Died 7th Jul 1915

LEONARD GEORGE DOCKER

Private 13106 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards

Killed in action 7 July 1915, buried Cambrin, Pas de Calais, France

Rugby Advertiser 24 Jul 1915

Rugby Advertiser 24 Jul 1915

Leonard was the youngest son of Oliver Atkins Docker and his wife Martha nee Freer, who were married at Rugby St Andrew on 8 Jun 1881 when both were of Dale Street, Oliver being a railway fireman.  Leonard was born 7 Jul 1896 and baptised at St Andrew 11 October 1896, his father was still a fireman, living at 144 Oxford Street.  He had four older brothers, Ernest Frederick b 1882, William John b 1883, Arthur Oliver b 1887 and Albert Edward b 1889.  All the children were baptised at St Andrew.

In 1901 Leonard was aged 4, living with his parents and three brothers (William had died as an infant) at 50 Oxford Street.  His father by now was an engine driver, born at Exhall on the outskirts of Coventry.  In 1911 the family was living at 155 Grosvenor Road, Oliver was employed by the LNWR, still as an engine driver.  Only Albert and Leonard, then aged 14 and a winder at an electrical works, were still living at home.

His obituary in the Rugby Advertiser of 17 July notes that Leonard attended Murray School, and had sailed for Canada at the end of March 1913 on the SS Dominion, stating he intended to take up farming, and settled at Brissevain in Manitoba.  On the outbreak of war, as he was too late to join the Canadian Contingent, he immediately came back to England aboard the SS New York, arriving at Liverpool on 8 October 1914, and enlisted straight away at Birmingham.   He arrived in France on 27 Apr 1915, went to the Front in early May and was killed by a shell on his nineteenth birthday in July (de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1919).

Four other members of his regiment were killed with him and his parents were informed that all five were buried at the time in the same grave.   Indeed, four other men from the same Battalion are buried at Cambrin, although dates of death given by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are between 6th and 10th July.

Leonard was granted the three medals, Victory, British War and 1915 Star.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Dixon, John Tinley. Died 17th Jan 1915

John Tinley Dixon was born at Bishops Wearmouth, Sunderland in 1880. He was the eldest son of Thomas Grieves Dixon and Amelia (nee Pearson?). Thomas worked in a Cattle Spice Works and later as a Mineral Water Syrup Maker (1911).

In 1911 John Tinley Dixon was a single man, living with his parents at 15 Howarth Street, Sunderland. His occupation was an Engineers Turner at Engine Works. The following year he was living at 40 Hunter Street, Rugby and he was still an engineer, although it is not known where he worked. On 3rd August that year, he married Lillian Elizabeth Cleaver of Queen Street, daughter of Thomas Daniel Cleaver, a window cleaner.

In 1901 John had not been living with his parents. He had joined the army and was at Chelsea Barracks in London. Aged 20, he was a soldier in the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards. No service record has been found, so it is not known if he fought in South Africa. He must have been in the reserves by 1914 as he was called up at the start of the war and arrived in France with the British Expeditionary Force on 21st August 1914.

He would have fought in the Battle of Mons and the First Battle of Ypres. He was probably killed in the winter operations of 1914-15, when trench warfare was becoming established.

Lance Corporal J T Dixon, 1858, 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards died on the 17th January 1915 and was buried at Le Touret Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L’avoue.

He was awarded the 1914 Star and the Victory and British Medals

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Sanders, Alfred Edwin, died 30th Dec 1914

Alfred Edwin Sanders was born in Barrowden, Rutland in 1893. He was the eldest son of William Cooper Sanders and Sarah Agnes (nee Betts). Formerly an agricultural labourer, William Sanders was a labourer in a stone quarry in 1901 and in 1911 a labourer at a lime works. In 1911 Alfred was a 19 year old farm labourer and living with his parents.

By 1914 he was working for the L. & N.W. Railway in Rugby and when the war started he joined the army as a private in the 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards (regimental number 11020). He returned at Barrowden for a visit in October before arriving in France on 11th November 1914.

On 23rd December he celebrated his 22nd birthday and on Christmas Day he wrote a letter home.

“I got your parcel all right on Christmas-eve, and also one from Mrs Cave (Barrowden), one from where I used to lodge at Rugby, and one from Edie Clarke (Barrowden), and also a letter from dear Jane. So I think I got on all right for Christmas, don’t you, in the three parcels I got? Besides yours was socks and cigarettes. I shall be thinking about you at home this Christmas ‘scoffing’ plum-pudding and cake. And poor me living out here in the wet and cold, and the bullets and shells flying about something awful. Yes, my dear mother, if I get out of this alive I shall be a lucky boy, as the Germans are not half ‘hot stuff,’ and it’s most awful to see the poor soldiers as they get shot … I also got Mrs Stapleton’s (Barrowden) parcel. I hope you have had a good holiday this Christmas, and also Jack. But I don’t expect it will be much of Christmas in England this year, with so many lives being lost. I feel proud to think that people at home all think so much about me … I cannot write any more this time, as my hands are so cold, and there are no fires out here. Give all the kiddies a Christmas kiss for me, especially little Reggie. So long!”

(Grantham Journal, 16 Jan 1915 – http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ )

On the 30th December 1914 he was shot in the head while fighting in the trenches and died six hours later. He was buried in the Bethune Town Cemetery, Grave number III. B 20

A photo postcard of the King and Queen, received at Christmas, was forwarded home for preservation.

Alfred Edwin Sanders is also remembered on the Memorial in St Peter’s Church, Barrowden

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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

NO CAUSE TO GRUMBLE.

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 IN ACTION.

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.

CLIFTON SOLDIER KILLED WHILE WRITING HOME.

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.

 

RUGBY SOLDIER’S EXPERIENCES.

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.”

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE YEOMANRY AT THE FRONT.

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.”

THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE TRENCHES.

GRAPHIC STORY BY A RUGBEIAN.

“ 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.

NOVEL HAIR-CUT.

“ 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.”

WITHIN FIFTY YARDS OF THE ENEMY.

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.

DEAD FRENCHMEN.

“ 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.

ALWAYS CHEERFUL.

“ 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.”

 

14th Nov 1914. Soldiers’ Stories From The Front

A Lance-Corporal in the Welsh Fusiliers, whose parents are Old Rugbeians, writing from the trenches on November 4th, says :-“ We have been in the trenches now for 14 days, and it is awful. They are shelling us continually all day. Our regiment has lost about 300 killed and wounded so far. Just about 50 yards in front of our trench there are plenty of Germans that we killed about ten days ago. The shells are doing all the damage. I have got a German helmet for a souvenir if I come safely through it. I am lucky, as the chap next to me got killed the first day. . . . It is a shame to see old people and little children trudging along the road with no home. You can see our troops giving them something to eat when possible. I saw a Rugby Advertiser to-day ; I notice it has got some soldiers’ stories in it. I will keep you interested when I come home with them. . . . . I could do with a wash-have not had one for 16 days. We are all the same. . . . You should see the damage the Germans do to the villages. You can’t realise it. There is a church facing us—smashed to bits by shells. Every night you can see flares in the sky. It is the Germans building up their reputation by burning up the villages. Every day a drove of aeroplanes comes over us looking for our position so as to bring effective fire on to us.”

Sergt Freemantle, 123rd Battery R.H.A, writes under date October 29th :—“ We are all well here and getting plenty of supplies up. Only just a few “ Jack Johnson’s ” to keep us company. The weather is fine, but cold. The day has been favourable again for us. One of our Batteries, 80th R.F.A, is reported to have wiped a whole German Battalion out. The German prisoners are surprised when they are told that the Germans have not captured London or Paris. All prisoners say how pleased they are to be taken by the English. One boy, about 17 years old, walked into our trenches, with a dixie full of chicken stew. He had lost his way, so one can imagine his surprise when we collared him. I have not received one mark up to now, although our Battery had bad luck at Mons, Le Cateau, Sossoins, Aisne. The Germans have been trying to find us now for days, but I don’t think they can hit anything now only houses. The Indian troops with us seem to frighten them. The only thing that grieves us most are the snipers. They sit on haystacks or trees and have pot shots at us. One of our fellows (known in Rugby) was sent to find a sniper in the Brewery at —. He found three civilians with a maxim. They are now very happy. Our Battery, 123rd R.F.A, has been repaying old debts. We suffered at Le Cateau, but now we have turned the tables. We have five Legion of Honour men in our Brigade.

A Rugby man, a private in the South Wales Borderers, writing home on October 25th, says :-” You will read in the papers about the quantity of shells bursting around us day and night, and those who come out of it are lucky. We lost a great lot of officers and men on the 21st-my birthday, which will be one to remember. With God’s help I hope to be with you soon, as I think they (the Germans) must see by now that they are a beaten army, and the sooner they give in the better. We had 31 days in the trenches under fire, and then two days and nights riding in a train—if you can call it so with forty in a truck with our equipment, so you can guess it was a treat—and right into the firing line again.”

Capt Mortimer, of the 27th Battery, 32nd Brigade, R.F.A, who was for several years the Adjutant of the Rugby and Coventry Howitzer Batteries, has been awarded the Cross of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour for saving the guns by “ man handling ” them under heavy fire, at Ligny, in France, on August 26th. On the same day a D.S.O was awarded to one of the officers of the Battery and D.S.M to seven of the men.

WOUNDED.

Pte A W Bottrill, 2nd Co. 1st Coldstream Guards, has written to his parents, residing at 94 Bridget Street, Rugby, stating that he is in hospital suffering from rheumatism and a shrapnel bullet wound in the shoulder. He was being transferred to Versailles, near Paris. Pte Bottrill, who is a reservist, was employed in the Turbine Department of the B.T.H, and was called up on August 5th—two days after his marriage. In one of the postcards he has sent home he states that he has heard from some of the Royal Warwicks that his brother Frank, who is a reservist in that regiment, was wounded, but so far the parents have received no confirmation of this.

Pte G John Wills, a reservist of the North Staffs. Regiment, has written informing, his wife, who lives at 77 Jubilee Street, that he has been wounded. He says : “ I have had a rough time since I wrote last. We have been shelled night and day, and the Germans have been trying to break through time after time. We took up some fresh trenches to relieve another regiment, and in front of them were scores of dead Germans. Our company’s turn to go into them came on the night of Nov. 1. They shelled a few times up till five o’clock ; then they let loose (talk about being in hell, that’s not in it !) as hard as they could with their guns on our few trenches ; then, when they had finished, they attacked us. I got wounded in the arm and shoulder, not severely, and don’t know how I got out. I am at a field hospital.”

Pte Chas King, 1st R.W.R, of 47 Pinfold Street, New Bilton, has written to his mother to the effect that he was wounded in the muscle of the right arm on October 27th, but is “ still carrying on.” He has previously been in hospital with gout, caused by service in the trenches. Pte King is a reservist, and has seen active service in India among the Afridis. Pte King mentioned that he had seen nothing of the three Rugby men—Corpl Hancox, Pte W G Goodman, and Pte W Busson, who had been reported as missing from the R.W.R. ; but pointed out that units were continually becoming detached.

Mr W J Farn, of the Mechanical Transport, Department, A.S.C, who was wounded at the Battle of the Aisne, has received a card from his brother, Scout J Farn, of the Second Worcester Regiment, stating that he has been wounded, and is in a base hospital. Scout Farn, who, like his brother, went through the Battles of Mons, Marne, and the Aisne, was, before he enlisted, in the employ of Mr Bradby, Barby Road. Driver Farn’s leave of absence expired this week, but this has been extended because he has not fully recovered from his wound. While at the front he had several exciting experiences, and witnessed the annihilation of about 2,000 Germans in a British ambush, and also the treachery of the Germans with the white flag when opposed to the Northamptonshire Regiment in the trenches, and the speedy retribution with the aid of a machine gun which overtook the Germans.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Both the Leicestershire and the Northants Yeomanry Regiments have gone on foreign service.

Rather more than 100 recruits are required to complete the 7th (Reserve) Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which is fixed at 600.

The Warwickshire Yeomanry are still in their Berkshire quarters, but with everything ready to go abroad at a few hours’ notice when required. The order may come at any moment, or they may remain for some time yet.

The 7th Warwickshire Territorial Battalion is busily preparing to join the Expeditionary Forces, orders for which may be expected any time after the end of the month.

THE 7th BATTALION, R.W REGT.

There have been considerable changes in the personnel of the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the last few weeks. Col Freer Ash is not now in command, having been gazetted to the 8th Reserve Battalion. The whole battalion has been, to a certain extent, reorganised. The main body are in Essex, and are taking part in work of an important character, the nature of which, owing to the censorship, cannot be disclosed. A part of the battalion are still doing guard duty at a Government ammunition factory near London.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY IMPROVING.

Although the figures of recruits in the town during the past week show a considerable improvement on those of recent weeks, the numbers are by no means so satisfactory as could be desired. Since Friday last week 20 have been attested for the New Army, as against eight the previous week. The recruiting sergeant is very optimistic, however, and is of opinion that there will shortly be another boom, as many villages in the neighbourhood have so far hardly been affected at all by the call for men.

A detachment of about 50 men of the National Reserve, who in future will act as bridge guards, has arrived.

A RUGBY SAILOR’S GRATITUDE.

A local sailor on H.M.S Zephyr, torpedo destroyer, writes :—“ Dear Sir,—I should like to give a word of thanks to the Rugby people for getting subscriptions up for warm clothes for the North Sea flotillas, as I am a Rugby man and doing patrol duty in the North Sea. I think they are much needed for the coming winter. No one would hardly realise what we have to go through in all weathers, night and day, with hardly any sleep, risking our lives where there are such a lot of floating mines. We have been very busy getting rid of them. We found out and sunk 19 in one day, so you see the risk we are under. We are very grateful to Admiral Powlett for what he is doing on our behalf, and hope the funds will increase. The writer goes on to say : I hope I shall be able to have a go at the Germans before long, as I should not be satisfied with myself to be blown up with a mine. They get frightened as soon as they see our ships, and run for all they are worth. There’s no doubt we shall spend Christmas in the Navy this year, when I was hoping to be back with the wife and family ; but, never mind, we are not down-hearted, and hope to finish them off before long. I get the Advertiser sent to me every week, and see how things are going on. Good luck to the North Sea Flotilla Fund.”