16th Nov 1918. The Signing of the Armistice

THE SIGNING OF THE ARMISTICE.

In the early hours of Monday morning—at five o’clock, to be precise—the plenipotentiaries sent by the German Government to Martin Foch to negotiate an armistice signified their acceptance of the terms which that great General had given to them to think over ; and, in accordance with the initial clause of those terms, the cruellest and most terrible war that has ever scourged mankind virtually came to an end six hours later, viz, at 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. The people of the British Empire had been waiting with feverish anxiety over the week-end the decision of the German Government, and when it was made known that the sword had given away to the pen, and that the armistice was an accomplished fact, the pent-up feelings of suspense and uncertainty changed to expressions of intense joy and gratification. As far as the British Nation was concerned, this joyfulness was not manifested because our bitterest enemy lay at our feet, and that it was in our power to take revenge for the wrongs it had inflicted on humanity ; but because there was an end to the further slaughter and suffering of our sailors and soldiers, and because the agony of the past four years had at last borne fruit and brought into view that prospect of peace and a warless future, for which the whole civilised world was yearning and was earnestly appealing to a Higher Power.

LOCAL CELEBRATIONS.

The news that the Germans had signed the armistice was received with great jubilation in Rugby and district on Monday morning. Shortly after ten o’clock telephone messages, conveying the glad tidings were received at the Advertiser Office and in the town, but it was fully an hour before official confirmation was forthcoming. Many people at once left work before the pre-arranged intimation was conveyed by four blasts on the B.T.H blower. The signal was sounded just about noon, and was taken up by engine men on the railway who used their whistles vigorously. The employees poured out of the various works and joined those who had already left the smaller workshops and business establishments in the town. The streets were quickly filled with people joyously exchanging congratulations, and manifesting their feelings of relief and gratification in a variety of ways ; while frequently could be heard the emotional exclamation from delighted wives and mothers : “ Thank God, I shall soon have my boy home again.

Groups of soldiers on leave, wounded soldiers, young men who were just approaching the military age, and munition workers, carrying miniature flags or national colours, paraded the streets singing patriotic songs and making any noise that they thought would indicate the extent of their jubilation. Flags were run out at almost every window, and all the streets in the town were be-flagged in an incredibly short space of time.

Motor-cars, decked with flags driving hither and thither, added to the excitement gaiety of the scenes. The drapery establishments and other shops dealing in flags and bunting were eagerly besieged by purchasers, and limited stocks on hand were quickly disposed of. Joyous peals were also rung on the bells in both towers of the Parish Church and St Marie’s and neighbouring village churches. Most of the shops in the town closed for the remainder of the day.

In expectation of a favourable outcome of the armistice negotiations, a special meeting of the Urban District Council was held on Sunday afternoon to consider what form the celebrations should take, and it was decided to hold a united thanksgiving service in the Recreation Ground.

UNITED SERVICE IN RECREATION GROUND.

The principal feature of the celebration on Monday was of course, the united thanksgiving service in the Recreation Ground at 3 o’clcock in the afternoon, which was attended by several thousand persons. The service was held at the band stand, and amongst those present on the stand were : Rev C M Blagden (rector), Rev Canon Mitchison, Revs G H Roper, C Davis, T H Perry, S R Hart, A W Bunnett and Arnold Penman (Wesleyan), J H Lees (Baptist), W Vaughan (Primitive Methodist), A S Le Mare and Adjutant B Carter (Salvation Army). The Rev D J Griffiths (Congregational) was away from the town, fulfilling a preaching engagement. Members of the Urban District Council present were : Messrs J J McKinnell (chairman), W Flint (vice-chairman), Lieut C J Newman, Messrs T A Wise, W H Linnell, F E HANDS, T Ringrose, H Yates, W A Stevenson, and A Morson, M.B.E (clerk).

Just before the time fixed for the service a squadron of aeroplanes, at a low altitude, came into view through the misty atmosphere of a typical November afternoon, and as they passed over the Recreation Ground the vast crowd gave vent to their appreciation of what the R.A.F had done towards securing the victory by enthusiastic cheering and the waving of countless flags and bunting.

The service commenced with the singing of the Old Hundredth, “ All People that on Earth do Dwell,” after which a lesson taken from the 2nd chapter of Joel and the 126th Psalm was read by the Rev J H Lees, and prayers of thanks to God for the great mercies He had shown to us during the past few day were recited by the Rector.

After the hymn, “ O God our help in ages past ” had been sung,

Mr J J McKinnell, J.P, C.C, addressed the gathering, and said : “ Fellow citizens, men and women of this our dear old town of Rugby, this our day (applause). The day has come, and we are filled with a very deep sense of thankfulness to Almighty God. That is the feeling that is uppermost in our hearts this day. The British nation has again fought against tyranny and oppression, not for the first or the second time in the history of the world, and has won the day (applause). Twice at least in the history of Europe did this country maintain the flag of liberty when other countries were in a very bad way. Take your minds back to the glorious times of Queen Elizabeth. Think what world have happened if the English Fleet had not brought about the destruction of the Spanish Armada. The tyranny of Spain would have engulfed the whole of Europe. Then, again, what nation was it that stuck up to Napoleon ? What nation was it that did not know when she was beaten, as Napoleon admitted ? It was the British Nation. And, again—I do not want to be vain—glorious—what nation is it to-day which has brought about this great victory ? Where would poor France have been if Great Britain had not gone to help her ? We were not immediately menaced ourselves. We simply went into the War because it was the only decent and right thing to do. Thank God we did go in, and now we have gone through with it, and we are all very, very happy. Now there is just one thing in our hearts to-day, and that is our feeling of sympathy with those among us who have lost their dearest and their best. Many, many homes in this good old town have been very hard hit, and I am quite sure that in everybody’s mind to-day is a strong feeling of sympathy for them and the hope that God will, in His great goodness, help them. This is no time for speech-making, but I want to thank you, my fellow citizens, for helping us through these four years. I think Rugby has been absolutely splendid ; from start to finish we have been steady and good, and when the recruiting was on we were the best in England at one time. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The National Anthem was then sung, and the gathering dispersed after three rousing cheers had been given for King George.

The singing was led by the Salvation Army Band, under the direction of Bandmaster Burton ; and the service, which was marked by earnestness and reverence was deeply impressive.

After the service the B.T.H Band, followed by a large crowd, marched through the centre of the town playing patriotic and popular airs.

THANKSGIVING SERVICE AT THE PARISH CHURCH.

In conformity with the expressed wish of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a service of thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church in the evening. The members and officials of the Urban District Council attended, and the church was filled to its utmost capacity. The service commenced with the hymn, “ God of Mercy, God of Grace,” and this was followed by a confession of sin ; Psalm 121, “ I will lift up mine eyes into the hills,” and the lesson, Isaiah xl 1-11, “ For ye, My people.” Special prayers of thanksgiving for the signing of the armistice, the victory of the Allies, and the endurance and courage of our country were said, and after the hymn, “ Jesus shall reign,” the Rector (Rev C M Blagden) gave an address. He pointed out that the uppermost thought in their minds that day was that bought out by the special service in the Recreation Ground. They saw that, though God had used them as His agents, and they were proud to have been able to serve Him, yet the results which they had achieved all came from Him. It was not their word which had helped them, but God Who had saved them from destruction. So their thanksgiving ought to be sober and solemn. A great task lay before the Empire—a task greater than many which they had yet undertaken. This would consist of solving the problems both at home and abroad which would arise when peace was finally restored ; for then they would need all the unity, forbearance, and brotherly love which they had been displaying during the past four years. There must be no exultation over the fallen enemy. Stern and just they must be, but revengeful never. On a day like that one must not forget those who had given their own lives and those who had lost the lives of their dear ones in the service of their country. These lives had been given that others might live, and the good seed which they had sown must yield an abundant harvest.

The congregation then stood up, and together made certain acts of thanksgiving ; and after reciting the Lord’s prayer, sang the hymn, “ Lights abode, celestial Salem.” The service concluded with the Blessing and National Anthem.

The Baptists held a thanksgiving service on Monday evening, conducted by the Pastor (the Rev J H Lees). Thanksgiving prayers were offered by deacons and members of the congregation, and the choir sang the hymn, “ Lest we forget.”

THE SCENES AT NIGHT.

As the day advanced the spirits of the people became more exuberant, and it is some years since the streets of Rugby presented such an animated appearance as they did on Monday night. The Market Place and the streets in the centre of the town were thronged with happy merry-makers of both sexes and all classes, and until a late hour the joyful sounds were continued, and occasionally fireworks were discharged.

A patriotic concert was given by the Salvation Army Band in the Market Place, and this was listened to with appreciation by a large crowd.

The official intimation of the modification of the lighting restrictions was not received early enough to allow many householders to arrange for illuminated decorations. In several instances, however, such decorations were essayed, and the front garden of Mr W H Linnell’s house in Clifton Road was prettily arranged with fairy lamps, and the passers-by were asked to contribute towards Lord Roberta’s Memorial Workshops for Disabled Soldiers.

The satisfactory sum of £8 8s 7d was realised, and the little collectors (Joan, Hugh, and Lawrence Peddell) wish to thank those who contributed.

CELEBRATION ON TUESDAY.
GRAND PROCESSION AND SALUTING THE FLAG.

At a special meeting of Urban District Council on Monday afternoon it was decided to continue the celebration on Tuesday, and that this should take the form of a grand procession round the town, followed by the saluting of the Union Jack in the Recreation Ground. The arrangements were referred to a small committee, consisting of the Chairman (Mr J J McKinnell), Lieut C J Newman, and Messrs Linnell and F Hands ; and, despite the shortness of time at their disposal, the details were so carefully mapped out that everything passed off without a hitch. The various bodies taking part in the parade assembled at the Recreation Ground, and a few minutes after two o’clock—the pre-arranged hour—the procession moved off, preceded by a section of the Police Force, under Supt Clarke. The Band of Rugby School Officers’ Training Corps led the way, followed by Lieut-Col F F Johnstone and the O.T.C, under Capt C P Evers and other officers. A contingent of wounded soldiers from the V.A.D Hospitals, some marching and others in brakes and motor-cars, together with the V.A.D nurses, come next. The land girls made a brave show, and they were followed by a considerable body of discharged soldiers (including Bombardier Joe Norman, the old Crimean veteran) and Lieut C J Newman. Then came the Salvation Army Band, the Town Volunteer Corps under Capt C H Fuller, members and officials of the Urban District Council and other public bodies, the Headmaster and staff of Rugby School in their scholastic robes ; Rugby Town Volunteer Fire Brigade, with the steamer and manual ; Willans & Robinson’s Brigade and the B.T.H Brigade, with their respective steamer drawn by motor lorries. The B.T.H Band was followed by four clowns, after which came the St John’s Ambulance Brigade, the Divisional Boy Scouts with their colours, and a motor lorry full of khaki-clad lasses belonging to the Women’s Royal Air Force. The rear of the procession consisted of a contingent of school children in improvised military accoutrements, carrying flags and patriotic colours. These were headed by a clown as attendant-in-chief to a realistic Guy Fawkes, borne on a small box truck.

The route taken by the procession, which was lined with thousands of people, was Whitehall Road, Clifton Road, Oxford Street, Craven Road, Manor Road, Lancaster Road, Newbold Road, Market Place, Chapel Street, Warwick Street, School Street, and Hillmorton Road to the Recreation Ground.

In front of the band stand a flag staff had been erected. Around this the representative bodies assembled, and the military units were drawn up in line in front of it ; the crowd, which numbered several thousands, forming the other three sides of the square. After the Salvation Army Band had played “ Rule Britannia,” the Union Jack was run up on the staff by Clr W H Linnell, marshall and was greeted with hearty cheering and the waving of flags. The School O.T.C then fired a feu de joie, and between each of the rippling rounds the band played a few bars of the National Anthems of the Allies. The flag was then saluted, Col Johnstone receiving the. salute at the saluting base. The various contingents marched past, the wounded soldiers and the nurses receiving a great ovation from the crowd. Cheers were then given for the King, and also, at the invitation of Mr J J McKinnell, for his Majesty’s Forces on land, sea, and in the air. During the whole of this ceremony several aeroplanes, decked with flags of the Allied States, flew over the ground and gave a thrilling and daring exhibition of “ stunt ” dying, which to many, particularly the younger element, proved even more interesting than the actual ceremony.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, and after the crowd had left the ground, Lieut-Colonel F F Johnstone addressed the wounded soldiers, the discharged soldiers and nurses thanking them in turn for what they had done for the country. He expressed the hope that the wounded and discharged soldiers would be soon be restored to health. No doubt many of them would take the marks of their injuries to the grave, but they would have the satisfaction of knowing that they had done their duty to their country. To the nurses he expressed his thanks for their kind and gentle help in nursing the soldiers back to health. He did not know what England would have done without them.

Major J L Baird, M.P, C.M.G, D.S.O, was unable to attend the ceremony, owing to pressure of work at the Air Ministry, and in connection with the Demobilisation Scheme.

The Weather on Tuesday was less like that of a November day—the air was keen and crisp, and the sun shone brilliantly the whole of the day. The respective Works still being closed, the streets were again crowded with people till long after nightfall.

For the first time since the lighting restrictions came into force the clock of the Jubilee Tower was illuminated and allowed to strike the hours, and a number of additional street lamps were also lighted.

A concert, arranged by Mr J Paton was given by the Rugby Male Voice Choir in the Market Place. Mr J Cooper was the conductor, and the programme consisted of unaccompanied part songs, most of which were of a very appropriate character, and was much appreciated by a large crowd.

Nowhere was the news more joyously welcomed than among the wounded soldiers, and on Monday evening dances, to which each patient was allowed to invite a friend, were held at the Infirmary and Te Hira V.A D Hospitals. At Fitzjohn’s Hospital an impromptu concert and dance was held on Monday, and this was followed by a whist drive on Tuesday.

AT RUGBY POLICE COURT.

Before proceeding to the business of the Court at Rugby Petty Sessions on Tuesday, Dr Clement Dukes (chairman) said : “ the occasions on which I have a word to say from the Bench are usually painful, but to-day they are words of rejoicing. Yesterday we passed through one of the greatest crises we, as a nation, have yet experienced, and we come out, once again, free men of this renowned and glorious country, instead of the slaves of that arch-fiend, the fugitive Kaiser, who is condemned by the whole world, including his own people. To-day we stand as a race sorely stricken in our hearts and in our lives, but full of pride at the greatness of our sons. What we have to do now is not only to rejoice in the peace we have gained, but to show our courage in peace as well as we have shown it in war in order to wipe out the effects of the War as speedily as possible.”

Throughout the celebrations the people behaved with commendable restraint, and there was an utter absence of the regrettable incidents which so often mar occasions of national rejoicing.

Work was generally resumed on Wednesday morning, and the town returned to its normal conditions.

In all the villages around the inhabitants put out flags, etc, as soon as they heard the good news, and at the thanksgiving services, held in most instance, at the Parish Church in the evening, there were crowded and devout congregations.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Pte F Garratt (36), R.W.R, 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, has been killed in action. Previous to joining the Army he was employed at the B.T.H.

AUSTRALIAN SOLDIER’S SAD DEATH.

An exceptionally sad death of a young Australian soldier, Sergt Frank N Knight, son of Mr Isaac and Mrs M O Knight, Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia, has occurred from pneumonia following influenza. The deceased soldier, who was 23 years of age, “ joined up” in Australia in March, 1916. He was in France for the greater part of 1917, and had been at the front since March, 1918. On November 2nd he crossed over to England on 16 days’ leave, which he was spending with his uncle at Leicester. On the evening of his arrival he collapsed on reaching his uncle’s house, and, despite the best of medical and nursing attention, passed away as stated. Sergt Knight was of a Leicestershire family. His father was engaged by T Fielding Johnson, spinners, Leicester, and Nuneaton. Afterwards Mr & Mrs Knight removed to the Crown Hotel, Rugby, and seven years ago went to Australia. During their residence at Rugby the deceased was educated at the Lower School. Afterwards he took up engineering, and had a promising career before him.

ANOTHER OLD MURRAYIAN KILLED IN ACTION.

Much sympathy is felt for Mr and Mrs F Webb, of 16 Alexandra Road, who received news on Sunday of the death of their only son, Pte Arthur Edward Webb, of the 1st Leicestershire Regt. The sad event has been conveyed to the lad’s parents by the chaplain of his battalion in a sympathetic letter. Pte Webb, who was 22 years of age, was educated at the Murray School, where he was most popular with his schoolmates. He served an apprenticeship at Messrs Willans & Robinson’s as a turner and fitter. Prior to joining up, early in May, he was employed at Leicester. He had been in France just over a fortnight. His chum, Pte Percy Tyers of Leicester (who was apprenticed at Messrs Willans & Robinson’s) was killed a week previously.

Mrs McFie, 33 Albert Street, Rugby, has now received official intimation that her son, Pte Horace Horsley, of the Manchesters, who was reported missing on March 21st, is now presumed to have been killed on that date. He was 21 years of age. At the time he joined up, in May, 1917, he was an apprentice at the B.T.H. He went to France in November of the same year, and was in the big fighting during the following March, when he lost his life.

DUNCHURCH.
On Monday last, when it became known that the armistice had been signed, the whole village was soon decorated with flags. At Bilton Grange there was a large bonfire at night, and all the boys and masters marched up to the fire with flags, and singing “ God save the King.”

On Tuesday last the death took place at Dover of Pte J Hughes, of the Oxford & Bucks Regt, and who was only ill a short time. He was the second son of Pte J Hughes, Daventry Road, Dunchurch.

MONKS KIRBY.
MUCH sympathy is felt for Mr & Mrs Busby, “ Brockhurst,” who received a telegram informing them of the death of their second son, Corpl George Busby, 8th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, on October 24th from wounds received in action. Corpl Busby had been transferred from Italy to France only a month when he received the gunshot wound in his side, from which he succumbed. Mr Busby has two other sons at the front—one in Egypt and one in France.

LONG ITCHINGTON.
WALTER HART KILLED.—Mr & Mrs Hart have received an official intimation that their younger son, Lance-Corpl Walter Hart, K.K.R, was killed in action on the 6th ult. The sad news was nearly a month in arriving. Deep regret is felt at the untimely death of this promising young soldier. He volunteered early in the War, and had been practically four years in khaki. He had seen much fighting, and had been wounded three times. He visited home about a year ago.

BOURTON-ON-DUNSMORE.
A MEMORIAL SERVICE was held in the Parish Church last Sunday for Pte Fred Knight. He enlisted on September 4, 1914, and for the last three years was in France. He was esteemed by all who knew him. His parents have received the following letter from his officer :—“ I am exceedingly sorry to have to inform you that your son, Pte F Knight, was killed in action on the 23rd inst. daring our attack upon an enemy position. At the time of his death he was in charge of a Lewis gun section, and was leading them forward when a shell burst among them, killing your son and one other man, and wounding the remainder of the section. I have only been in charge of the platoon for a short time, but I had already found your son to be one of the best soldiers, and we could ill-afford to lose him.”

WITHYBROOK.
THE news has arrived that Pte Charles Eversden, R.W.R, was killed in action on October 23rd. He was very much respected in the village, and a letter has been received from his officer, stating that he was an excellent soldier. Mr Eversden had four sons serving, and two of them have lost their lives. Previous to joining he was employed at the Sketchley Dye Works, Hinckley. Much sympathy is felt for his father, brothers, and sister.

ABSENTEE.—At Rugby Police Court on Wednesday, before Mr J Carter, Pte George Hunt, R.W.R, was charged with being an absentee since November 7th. He was remanded to await an escort.

Recruiting has been suspended and calling up notices cancelled.

SOCIAL.—Christmas parcels will still be needed by our soldiers and ‘sailors, and, as the Rev D J Griffith remarked at the Congregational Y.P.A social on Wednesday evening, they will be the happiest gifts this year. The social, in aid of the Christmas Parcels Fund, was in every way a success. A musical programme had been arranged by Messrs Boynton and Phillips. Mr Mewis gave monologues, Miss Gibbs, Mr Phillips, and Mr Warden sang, and Mr Boynton accompanied. Refreshments were served, and games were enjoyed.

INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC ABATING.

The continued bright, dry weather, combined probably with the invigorating influence of the good news of the past week, has happily led to the abatement of the influenza epidemic, and the death-rate for the past week, although still high, showed a considerable decrease on that of the preceding weeks. The total number of deaths from the epidemic in Rugby and district now exceeds 100, and of these 18 have occurred during the past week.

In our last issue we mentioned that the wife, sister-in-law, and infant child of Mr Newman, of Houston Road, Brownsover, had all died of influenza, and we are now informed that Mr Newman’s four-year-old son died from the same complaint during the weekend.

DEATHS.

GARRETT.—On October 23, 1918, Pte. F. GARRETT, R.W.R., killed in action in France.
“ I pictured your safe returning,
And longed to clasp your hand ;
But God postponed our meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.”
—From his loving wife Alice.

HALL.—On November 5th, at the Fort Pitt Hospital, of influenza, in his 20th year, PEVERIL AUSTIN (TOMMY) HALL, 2nd-Lieut., Royal Engineers, of the Brompton Barracks, Chatham ; and Yelvertoft Rectory, Rugby ; fourth son of the late E. A. Hall, Esq., Mozufferpore, India. Interred at Yelvertoft, November 9th.

HORSLEY.—In loving memory of Pte. HORACE HORSLEY, of “ Scotia,” 33 Albert Street, Rugby, who was killed in action on March 21, 1918 ; aged 21[?] years.
“ A loving son, a faithful brother,
One of the best towards his mother.
He bravely answered his country’s call ;
He gave his life for one and all.
We pictured his safe returning,
We longed to clasp his hand ;
But God has postponed our meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.”
—From his loving Mother and brother Freeman.

JONES.—On November 1st, Pte. GORONWY JONES, Machine Gun Corps, who died of wounds in France, the beloved fifth son of Mr. & Mrs. John Jones, Red House, Shuckburgh ; aged 22.
“ A loving son, a faithful brother,
One of the best towards his mother ;
He bravely answered his country’s call,
he gave his life for one and all.
We pictured his safe returning,
We longed to clasp his hand ;
But God has postponed our meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.”

WEBB.—In loving memory of ARTHUR EDWARD, the dearly beloved and only son of Frederick and Fanny Webb, of 16 Alexandra Road, killed in action (in France) on October 23, 1918.—“ Until the day breaks.”—From his sorrowing Father, Mother and Sisters.

IN MEMORIAM.

CLARKE.—In loving memory of WALTER, younger son of the late Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Clarke, of 19 Temple Street, Rugby, who was killed in action in France on November 15, 1915.
“ There is a link death cannot sever,
Love, and remembrance live for ever.”
—Never forgotten by his Brother and Sisters.

EVERSDEN.—In loving memory of Pte. CHARLES EVERSDEN, killed in action in France on October 23, 1918 ; aged 36 years. Also of Pte. WILLIAM EVERSDEN, who died of wounds in France on November 12, 1917 ; aged 33 years.
“ For our loss we must not weep,
Nor our loved ones long to keep ;
From the homes of rest and peace,
Where all sin and sorrow cease.”
—From his loving Father, Brothers, Sister, and Alice.

PATCHETT.—In loving memory of Trooper W. I. Patchett, who died of wounds received in action on November 14, 1917. Buried at Beersheba, Imara Military Cemetery, Palestine.
“ Give me sweet thoughts of heavenly joy,
My longed-for rest ;
Where I shall sing through endless days
Songs of the blest.”
—From his loving Wife and Children.

PATCHETT.—In loving memory of WILLIAM IVENS, who died of wounds received in action near Gaza, Egypt, on November 14, 1917.
“ No father’s care did him attend,
Or o’er him did a brother bend ;
No sister there to shed a tear,
Or even his last words to hear.”
—From Dad, Brothers and Sisters.

ROBINSON.—In loving and sacred memory of our dear and only son, KENNETH, and all the brave Kitchener’s Army boys who fought and died for their friends and country at Gallipoli in 1915.—From B. & E. ROBINSON, 23 Stephen Street, Rugby.

ROUND.—In proud and ever-loving memory of our dear son and brother, WILLIAM ALFRED (WILL) ROUND, who died of wounds received in Egypt on November 14, 1917.
“ A day of remembrance, sad to recall :
The loss of our dear one, loved by us all.
We think of him in silence, and his name we oft recall,
But there is nothing left but his photo on the wall.
Fondly we loved him, he is as dear to us still ;
But in grief we must bend to God’s Holy Will.
If we could have raised his dying head or heard his last farewell.
The grief would not have been so hard for us that loved him well.”
—Too dearly loved to be forgotten by his loving Mother, Father, Sisters, and brother Fred.

 

 

5th Dec 1914. News From The Front

Mr John Wicks, Long Itchington, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who signs himself “One of the Kaiser’s contemptible little army,” in a letter from the front to a friend, says :-“We are doing fairly well here for food, but the worst of it is we can’t get much sleep. It is like being in hell at times. When “ Jack Johnson’s ” are flying about it is like a big thunderstorm with vivid lightning. . . . It is shameful the way they (the Germans) treat some of the people here in the villages. We found one man, woman, and daughters tied up outside a house naked. It makes you feel mad with them.”

LETTER FROM LIEUT C HART.

Many Rugby people who have attended hospital fetes will remember with pleasure Staff-Sergt-Major Hart, who was in charge of the Lancers, whose displays were such a popular features of the holiday. Since the war Staff-Sergt-Major Hart has been promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant. He has also been mentioned in dispatches. Mr C J Newman, secretary to the Children’s Ward Committee, received the following brief but characteristic letter from him a few days ago :-

“ DEAR MR NEWMAN,-Thanks ever so much for you kind and welcome letter. I am afraid we shall be unable to give you a display in Rugby for some time to come, but if you could make a pilgrimage out here there is no doubt you would see some much more interesting items than those performed by us at your fete. Nevertheless, I hope the time is not too for distant when some of us will have the pleasure of participating in much more peaceful pastimes than are at present available. We haven’t fared too badly. A few of the Rugby performers helped to pay the price of this war, but our heaviest losses are amongst the officers. We do very well indeed in the way of food, clothing, etc, which is a great blessing. I thank you very much for offer of cigarettes, which I will be very grateful for. I also thank you for congratulations, and I trust we shall meet again soon, when all is peaceful. Remember me to all old friends.-I remain, Yours sincerely, C Hart.”

EXTRACTS FROM A BILTON ARTILLERY-MANS DIARY.

Sergt Woolgar, of the 51st Battery, R.F.A, paid a flying visit to his wife (formerly Miss Rainbow), at Old Bilton last week, he having been granted five days’ leave of absence. Sergt Woolgar has been at the front from the commencement of the war, and participated in the Retreat from Mons, the Battle of of the Aisne, and the recent heavy fighting round Ypres, and naturally he has some exciting experiences to recount. Despite the fact that he has been in several hot corners and had more than one narrow escape, he has so far received no injury. A week or so ago his battery suffered severely, and they were withdrawn from the firing line and sent to a rest camp to refit, he being the lucky man from his battery to be allowed leave of absence. He returned to the front last Saturday. While he was at the front Sergt Woolgar kept a diary, which contains a number of interesting incidents, several of which we reproduce :—

August 23rd.—Ordered up to the assistance of the —–, who were at Mons. The Germans, dressed as civilians, shot down the —– (171 out of 1,126) from the windows. They had civilians in front of them waving handkerchiefs. Hard pushed at about 6.0 p.m, and went straight into action and entrenched. . . . The German scouts were very near to us on the night of 22nd 23rd August as near as 2½ miles, and we saw the village, which they had burnt, smouldering and in ruins, and the homeless villagers, as we went into action. . . . Very heartrending to see the little children and sick women being assisted along the road.

September 14th.—Marched at 7.0 a.m, and immediately went into action at —–. A terrible action ; our troops were simply mown down. Saw hundreds of German prisoners, and the village was full of dead and dying [Mention is made under this date of several British regiments which lost severely owing to the German abuse of the white flag.]

October 21st.-Moved off at 3.30 p.m as advance guard, and marched to the village of —–, where we came into action against the enemy. Fired l28 rounds per gun, and saw all the village on fire. We had rather a lively time. A Company of —– was properly wiped out in taking a large mill and building. Remained in action all day-22nd October. Up at day-break and started firing. Later on my gun was ordered “percussion,” and fired at 2,200 yards at a windmill, which was being used by the enemy as an observing station. Anyhow, we succeeded in hitting it eight times and smashed it up. . . Was congratulated on the good firing of my gun, and saw the mill in flames.

October 29th.-Revielle at 5.0 a.m, and opened fire to support infantry attack. About 8.30 a.m had a very close shave, a “ Black Maria ” burst under my wagon limber, and blew it up, setting fire to the ammunition, etc. In fact it got so warm that we had to leave our guns for a time.

November 1st.-Opened fire about 10 a.m, but got a very hot reception. In return was absolutely bombarded by the enemy’s big guns for about two hours.

November 2nd.-Had a narrow squeak in the night ; shelled all night. Had to move bed three times.

November 20th.-To-day was a very bad day for us. We were shelled all day, and had 17 killed and 19 wounded.

Some idea of the conditions under which the fighting has been conducted is contained in the following entry under October 18th :- Went straight to the guns for the fifth day in succession. Got clothes dry this morning. As yesterday it simply poured in torrents all day; no shelter. We were simply drowned rats and smothered in mud and gun grease. Stayed in action until dark then bivouacked. Had a night attack about 1.30, which was repulsed. Raining hard; wet through again.

HOME FROM THE WAR.

Rifleman Ernest Shaw, of the 1st King’s Royal Rifles, who was wounded in the fighting near Ypres, returned to his home at 6 Union Street, Rugby, early on Monday morning, after spending three weeks in a hospital at Belfast. As we reported in a previous issue, he was wounded in the cheek, the bullet penetrating just below the eye and passing out at the back of the neck, so that he really had a very narrow escape from death. Rifleman Shaw went out to the front at the commencement of the war, and had seen a fair amount of active service before he received his wound. He was in the open at the time he received a bullet coming from the direction of a house 200 yards away, from which Germans had been expelled, though obviously some of their marksmen had returned. The rifle fire became so persistent that the Englishmen deemed it expedient to retire from the locality. The sight of Pte Shaw’s right eye has been so affected by the wound that he cannot see distinctly with it, and although he is due to report himself at the depot on the 12th inst, he does not expect that he will ever be again fit for service at the front.

B.T.H MAN’S EXPERIENCES.

Pte H R Lee, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, an employee of the B.T.H, has written from the front to his wife, and states :—We are just finishing our three days’ rest, after having five weeks in the trenches, in all that snow and rain. We have had to sleep and lie down in three inches of water, besides having to stand up in it all day long. One day, while we were in the trenches, I was boiling three fowls, and the Germans were sending “ Jack Johnson’s ” all round us, but they could not hit us. We took cover, but did not mean to miss having the fowls, so I and my two mates had a good dinner after all. The Germans are a dirty cowardly lot. Last week they shelled a town and set it on fire and killed 200 poor innocent women and children. How would English people got on if it was them. They (the Germans) run like mad when they see our bayonets. It is that that frightens them. I            have had one on my bayonet, and hope to have more before long. I don’t think it will last much longer.—Pte Lee mentioned that some cigarettes which his wife sent to him were spoilt through not being put in a tin, and added : “ I received a parcel from Miss —–, (a Rugby Lady) containing a pair of mitts, a bottle of meat lozenges, a tin of vaseline and four bars of chocolate.”

MADE COMFORTABLE AT THE FRONT.

Private W H Tidey, a shoeing-smith attached to the 5th Division, Army Corps in the Field, writing to Mr Hipwell at the Portland Cement Works, New Bilton, says :-“ Although the weather is horribly rotten out here, under no circumstances is one of us allowed to be uncomfortable. I am sure we find it more a pleasure to soldier under our officers. They all “muck in” with the rest. If any man gets into trouble out here, it is entirely his own fault. . . . As you say, things are going on fairly well, but we all hope that the Germans will see their folly in keeping up such a struggle. . . . I haven’t much time to write, for there’s plenty do out here in my line, especially since the snow and frost came, but the cold is better by far than the mud and slush we have bean staggering through lately.