13th Nov 1915. Letter from old St Matthew’s boys

LETTER FROM OLD ST. MATTHEW’S BOYS.

Pte Frank Morley, R.A.M.C, an “old boy” of St Matthew’s School, writing from Gallipoli to Mr R H Myers, the headmaster, say :-

It is always a pleasure to receive the Advertiser and read of the doings of the “ old boys.” St Matthew’s has indeed contributed its quota, and I feel proud to be included amongst the number.

We, in company with the 11th Division, took part in the new landing on the Peninsula. As you are aware, we did not quite achieve our object, but I feel sure that the surprise landing demoralized the Turks, who were anticipating an attack from the Asiatic coast.

It seems to me that people at home are only just beginning to realise the gravity of the situation. The fighting out here is of a different character, and on a different scale to that in France. I think Mr Winston Churchill aptly described the position when he said, “ The armies there are like men fighting on a high and narrow scaffolding above the surface of the earth.” We must indeed be prepared to make great sacrifices before the final goal is reached.

I will not trouble you with details of the new landing. We certainly had an exciting time, and for the first ten days had to work like Trojans, We were generally up at 3.30 a.m, and walked fully three miles to the Regimental Aid Post to collect the wounded. Motor or horse transport was out of the question, as there were no roads, and the ground generally very rough and treacherous. It was a poor sort of “ joy ride ” the patients had, yet I cannot call to mind, a single word of complaint.

The Warwickshire Yeomanry came along a fortnight after the landing was made. They acquitted themselves well in their first engagement, for it was no easy task to cross an open plain with shells bursting thick and furious. They helped to carry out a good piece of work, and all honour due to them.

We have had a splendid opportunity of watching the Navy at work, and can fully appreciate their good work. Without their aid it would be absolutely impossible to land, let alone exist, on the Peninsula.

For the present we have turned our back on the Peninsula, and are now in a different country, where we await orders. Mr Censor will not permit me to disclose our whereabouts, so I must leave you guessing.

Pte Arthur Tacey, A.S.C, another “ Old boy,” writes to Mr Myers from the Dardanelles :- “ We are having a hard time of it out here, strenuous work every day and nothing to eat but biscuits, bully beef, and jam. Still, we are not downhearted, and keep looking for the bright side, which we hope will not be very long in appearing now, though we all feel that we are on a very funny outing. One’s thoughts often turn to the old school and the happy times spent there. In the waits in our dug-outs we often amuse ourselves with making up doggerel rhymes, and I send you my last contribution.”

Summerdown Convalescent Hospital,

E Division, Hut 1, Eastbourne.

5/11/15.

DEAR SIR,—I am writing to ask you if you would kindly be good enough to insert this in your paper, as you see by the above address that I am writing this from a convalescent hospital and pleased to say that I am progressing favourably. I should, however, like the people of Rugby to know how the boys answered the country’s call last August ; as near as I can say about 100 enlisted in the 5th Oxford and Bucks, and I am pleased to say there are still some of them left, although, perhaps, few. We had what they call our baptism of fire on June 16th while waiting in reserve for the 6th Division. Here we lost one officer and 50 N.C.O and men whale taking over the position on June 19th. I might say I unluckily got gassed and somewhat blinded, and was away from my regiment six weeks. When I did rejoin on August 17th I luckily escaped a shell, which burst only a matter of a few feet off ; but on September 25th I was wounded and now I am enjoying my convalescent rest. I tell you it is not really so bad being a soldier, and if this letter should reach the eye of any “ slacker,” I hope it will have some effect in changing his mind, for I can assure them that men are wanted and will be had. So play the game and join.

I am, yours faithfully,

PTE. E. JACKSON.

OUR YOUNGEST TERRITORIAL.

We reproduce a photograph of Alfred Charles Hayward, son of Mr H E and Mrs Hayward, of 38 Winfield Street, Rugby, who is, we understand, the youngest of Rugby’s Territorials. Before the outbreak of war he was attached to E/Company of the 1/7th Warwickshires, and went with them to Rhyl for the annual encampment during the August Bank Holiday week in 1914. He was then within a month of being 14 years of age. As will be remembered, the battalion had scarcely, arrived in camp when they were ordered to mobolise at their war station in the south of England. They were eventually moved by stages to Leighton Buzzard, from whence they had a route march of 135 miles through Dunstable, Hitchin, Ware, Epping, Brentwood, Stock, Chelmsford, and other places to Totham. This occupied 11 days, and the distances covered each day ranged from 3 to 20 miles. On another occasion they went out on a three days’ march. Young Hayward marched with them, and never had to fall out. The sight of such a youngster striding along with the regiment naturally attracted much attention from spectators, and if is said that sympathetic mothers were often moved to mingle tears with admiration. He was medically examined and reported fit, but not old enough for active service, and when the battalion went to France, Bugler Hayward returned to Coventry to act with the reserve lines. He is still there waiting for the time when he can go on active service. It would be interesting to know whether there if a younger territorial in the country.

 

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Lance-corporal Arthur Mason, 6th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, who has been spending eight day’s leave at his mother’s resident 40 Rutland Gardens, Hove, returned to Flanders on November 6th.

Mr J Walker, of 58 Lawford Road. Rugby, who went to East Africa with Colonel Driscoll’s Legion of Frontiersmen in April, is now serving as second-lieutenant, the promotion dating from September 8th.

It is reported that six members of the 1/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment-the County battalion—have been reported for Distinguished Conduct in the Field : Second-Lieuts Brian Ash and Sherwood ; Pte P W Hancocks (a Warwick man), Lce-Cpl Berry, Sergt Gerrard, and Q-M Shepherd.

A considerable number, of the clerical staff at the London and North-Western Railway Company’s works at Crewe have received permission to join the colours, and their places will be taken temporarily by women. Many of the unmarried men are enlisting under Lord Derby’s group scheme.

Mr H Pratt, of 4 School Street, Rugby, has enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps, and left Rugby for the Farnborough Flying Station yesterday (Friday) morning.

Since it was drafted to the front in June last, the 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, in which many Rugby and district men enlisted, has been continuously engaged in strenuous work in an important position of the British line where fighting had been most desperate, and it has nobly upheld the glorious traditions of this famous regiment. The casualties have been exceptionally heavy, and are as under : Officers killed, 13 ; wounded, 19 ; N.C.O’s and men killed, wounded, and missing, nearly 900.

THE KING’S MESSENGER.

Corpl Fred Clarke, who carried out instructions to summon a doctor to attend his Majesty the King on the occasion of his recent accident in France, has been recognised by Hillmorton people from his portrait in a pictorial paper as a soldier of the same name who at the time he enlisted resided in the village.

ANOTHER LOCAL SOLDIER MISSING.

Pte Percy Woodhams, of the 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, is reported to have been missing since September 25th, the date of the great advance by the Allies in France. At the time Pte Woodhams enlisted, shortly after the outbreak of war, his father resided in Cambridge Street but he has since left the neighbourhood. Pte Woodhams was working at the B.T.H until within a short time of his enlistment.

TWO LOSSES IN TWELVE MONTHS.

Official news was received by Mrs Dodd on Saturday that her son, Corpl E Dodd, of the 5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action on October 16th. Corpl Dodd, whose home was at 11 Bennett Street, joined, the regiment when the war broke out. He formerly worked at the Gas Works and subsequently for Mr Young, contractor. He was 37 years of age and single. He became a smart soldiers and five weeks after enlistment was made corporal. Although he joined in August, 1914, he did not go out till October 1st, and he was killed on the 16th. On the 20th October last year his father died from the effects of an accident, so that Mrs Dodd has sustained two heavy losses within the twelve months, and the greatest sympathy will be extended to her.

LORD DERBY’S RECRUITING SCHEME.

CANVASSING COMMENCES LOCALLY,

The great efforts to secure recruits for the Army inaugurated by Lord Derby it now in full swing locally. Sub-canvassing committee rooms have been opened in the various wards, the blue cards were issued on Monday, and canvassing commenced the same evening.

The voluntary system is now on its trial, and only three weeks remain in which to prove whether it will or will not suffice to give up the number of men required to carry the war to a successful issue. To make the scheme a success every eligible man who can be spared should enlist, either for immediate service, or in the reserve, and it therefore behoves everyone to ask themselves whether the reasons which the held to be valid for not enlisting are not, after all, mere excuses.

Rugby has already done remarkably well—few towns have done better-but there are still many young men who could well be spared and who have no legitimate excuse for holding back, who should answer to the call ; and the fact that the single men are to be called on first will doubtless assist many married men, hesitating between two duties, to make a decision.

So far, the result of the canvass has been disappointing, and eligible men have not responded to the call with the readiness which was at one time anticipated. Only a few men have, so far, enlisted under the group system. The only regiments which are open at present are infantry of the line.

The groups in which recruits may place themselves are for single men numbered 1 to 23, for each year of age respectively, from 18 to 40; and for married men the groups are numbered 24 to 46 inclusive for ages respectively 18 to 40.

The following have enlisted during the past week :-W J Timms, G Beck, A Frisby, S H Garlick, B Hardy, T C Manby, E C Long, J R M Cave, R.G.A ; T W Rennison, 13th Batt E Yorks ; L A Fudge, H W Driver, R.H.A ; P Smith, W Nown, W J Dunkley, G Baker, C Allen, G Hollis, R.F.A ; E G Bristow, W G Heighton, H C Robinson, W J Riley, F J Hornby, A Varney, A Richardson, R.W.R ; C P Croft, C T Newcomb, K.R.R ; A Varney, 220 F Co, R.E ; J Masters, Coldstream Guarda ; W Parrett, F C Warren, C W Maycock, G Blundell, R.E ; J O’Brian, and J Webster, R Scots Fusiliers.

10th Jul 1915. News from the front – Missing and Killed

REPORTED MISSING.

News has been received that Pte G W Coleman, of the 5th Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, son of Mr Walter Coleman, a carpenter in the employ of Messrs Foster & Dicksee, living at New Bilton, is missing. The message came from a friend of Pte Coleman, who writing to his own father, asked that Mr Coleman should be informed that his son did not answer to the roll call when the Company left the trenches on a recent date. This is corroborated by another correspondent, who states that when coming out of the trenches Pte Coleman was killed. The young fellow was one of the many who enlisted from the B.T.H Works and had only been at the front a few weeks.

OFFICER FEARS HE IS KILLED.

Writing to the parents, on July 1st, Captain Webb, the officer commanding the Company, states:—“ I very much grieve to say that your son, Pte W G Coleman, is missing since a charge we made on the night of the 22nd. While in the cases of one or two missing men, they have been found wounded in various hospitals which they reached from the battlefield, I think it would not be wise or just to yourself to build on the hope that such is the case of your son. I fear he is killed, and I am more than deeply sorry for you. It is a terrible thing, and the suspense is awful. We made a charge and were driven back. Countless deeds of bravery were done, and all the wounded were brought in and some of the dead. Still, several men are missing, one an officer, and I’m afraid we must give them up for dead. Perhaps, when we again advance we shall be able to clear the matter up, and I will at once let you know if I am spared. The officers and men offer you their deepest and sincerest sympathy, and will do all in their power to put an end to your suspense.”

Mr Coleman has also received a communication from the Infantry Record Office at Warwick, dated July 5th, stating that a report had been received from the War Office to the effect that Pte W G Coleman was posted as “missing ” after the engagement in France on June 22nd.

NEWBOLD-ON-AVON.

ANOTHER NEWBOLD MAN MISSING.

Mr and Mrs Williams, Newbold, have received a communication from the War Office that their son, John Williams, a private in the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, is missing, nothing having been heard of him since the 10th of May. Rifleman Williams joined the army at the commencement of the war, and was drafted to the front about twelve weeks ago. He was 20 years of age, and previous to joining the army was employed at the Newbold Works of the Rugby Portland Cement Company.

STRETTON-ON-DUNSMORE.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR.—Another young man, the third from the village, has given his life for his country. News was received by the parents of Charles Hancox, of the London Road, some days ago that he was dangerously wounded, and was lying in the base hospital in France. This was soon followed by news of his death. He was a good-natured lad, and was much liked by his companions. Great sympathy is felt for his parents in their trouble. A memorial service was held in the Parish Church on Sunday last, at which there was a full congregation. Suitable hymns were sung, and a touching, inspiring address was given by the Vicar.

RUGBY SOLDIER WOUNDED BY SHRAPNEL.

Pte Ernest Tomlinson, son of Mr and Mrs E Tomlinson, of 20 James Street, Rugby, is lying in Norwich Hospital suffering from a scalp wound, caused at the front by shrapnel. He was employed as a fitter at the B.T.H Works, and enlisted on September 2nd in the King’s Royal Rifles. He was sent to France in May, and within three weeks, whilst trench digging, was rather badly injured by a shrapnel shell. He has lost, for the time being at all events, his speech, and the use of his right hand, so that the news received by his parents has come through other sources, a soldier in an adjoining bed having sent particulars. It is gratifying to learn that Pte Tomlinson is improving, and hopes are entertained that in time his speech will be restored. He is understood to be suffering from shock as well as from wounds. Mr and Mrs Tomlinson have a younger son, William, serving his country at the front, also in the King’s Royal Rifles, but attached to a different battalion. He has been in the fighting line for some weeks now, and his last letter, received on Monday, stated that he was quite well.

FORMER MEMBER OF THE BOYS’ BRIGADE WOUNDED.

News has been received by Mr and Mrs Hayward, of 43 Lodge Road, that their son, Pte George Hayward, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, has been wounded and having been in hospital for some time is now at a convalescent home at Hampton-in-Arden. Pte Hayward was for 11 years a member of the 1st Rugby Company the Boys’ Brigade, and when he enlisted in August was employed at Messrs Willans & Robinsons Works. He was shot in the fighting in Flanders, one bullet entering his cheek, injuring his jaw and affecting his eyesight, and another lodging in his hip, after passing through the water-bottle that formed part of his equipment.

MEMBER OF RUGBY HOWITZER BATTERY ACCIDENTALLY SHOT.

A BROTHER’S PAINFUL EXPERIENCE.

The painful task of travelling from the front to break the news of his brother’s death this week befell Gunner George Sutton (Newton), of the Rugby Howitzer Battery. From what we can gather, the Howitzer Battery recently returned to a rest camp, and on Sunday evening it was reported that a man had been shot. Gunner Sutton, proceeded to the spot to see who was the victim, and was horrified to find his younger brother, William, a driver in the Ammunition Column, lying dead. As the result of an enquiry it was established that death was due to accident, and Gunner Sutton was graded several days’ leave of absence to convey the sad tidings to his parents. The circumstances were detailed in a letter from Capt Saunders, of the Ammunition Column, which Gunner Sutton brought home :-“ It is with much regret that I have to inform you that your son, William Sutton, was found shot at about 10 p.m on the 4th of this month. A Court of officers enquired into the circumstances very carefully, and from the evidence decided that death was due to accident, and that there was no question at all of foul play. The funeral was conducted by an Army Chaplain of the Roman Catholic Church, and a cross is being provided with an inscription suitably worded. The N.C.O’s and men of the Ammunition Column are ordering a wreath and the grave will be well cared for. It has been arranged for your other son to proceed home on leave to-day, and I hope this will help to comfort you in your loss. Please accept the sympathy of officers of the Ammunition Column, in which your son was serving.”

Driver Sutton, who was the second son of Mr Wm. Sutton, was 21 years of age, and had been a member of the Battery about two years. Previous to the war he was employed by Mr Scott Howkins, and was very popular, and highly respected by all who knew him.

NEW BILTON RECRUIT DIES OF SEPTIC FEVER.

Sympathy will be felt with Mr and Mrs Pegg, of 1 Addison Road, New Bilton, in the death, on Thursday, from septic fever, at Felixstowe Military Hospital, of their son Harold, the youngest of three who had responded to their country’s call. Deceased was a printer’s apprentice, in the employ of Mr George Over, and about two months ago enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment He was only 19 years of age, and expressed a liking for the military life so far as he had become conversant with it. He was very popular with the men in Mr Over’s printing office, and all have signed a letter of sympathy with Mr and Mrs Pegg in their sad bereavement.

RUGBY HOWITZERS COMPLIMENTED.

Driver C W Packwood, of the Rugby Howitzers, now serving in France, son of Mr C J Packwood, of St Matthew Street, in a recent letter home states that after three months in the firing line the section of which he belongs is now in a rest camp, the change being appreciated, especially the privilege of sleeping once again in a bed. Driver Packwood also says that the Rugby Battery has been very highly complimented on their accurate firing by the officers they have come in contact with, and the word of praise has naturally had a cheering effect upon the men.

VOLUNTEERS FOR THE FRONT.

L J D Pepperday, son of Mr J H Pepperday, of High Street ; P Morson, son of Mr Arthur Morson, of Newbold Road ; and Neville and Roland Bluemel, sons of Mr C Bluemel, of Moultrie Road, were included in a draft of 150 who volunteered for the front to fill up gaps in the 1st Battalion of the Hon Artillery Company. The draft left for France on Thursday last week.

WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY IN EGYPT.

Trooper E Amos, youngest son of Mr W Amos, farmer, Dunchurch, writing home from Alexandria, says :- We go out for bugle practice every morning at 6, mounted. This gives us a good chance to have a look round. We see the corn crops growing, chiefly maise, all in bloom now (middle of June) and six feet high, any amount of tomato fields, and the plants seem loaded ; then you see the fig trees and the banana trees. We also see a tremendous lot of cotton coming down the Nile in barges, pulled by men instead of horses. We have had a job this last week unloading wounded off the ships from the Dardanelles. There are thousands of them, mostly Australians, but there are a lot of soldiers who were billeted in and around Rugby. There are a lot of fine hospitals here, and that is why they keep bringing so many wounded.

PLUCKY RESCUE BY A RUGBY ATHLETE.

The “ Yorkshire Observer ” records a plucky act recently performed by Lance-Corpl Arthur Gibson, now in training with the Royal Engineers at Salisbury Plain, who was until he enlisted on the staff at Messrs Willans & Robinson’s Works, being employed in the drawing office. It appears that Lance-Corpl Gibson was on a visit to a sister at Morecambe, when he noticed that a boy, who was bathing, was in difficulties. Promptly divesting himself of his tunic, he plunged into the water ; and although the tide was running strongly, he brought the lad safely to shore. He was complimented on his bravery at the time, but quickly disappeared, and it was not until some time later that his identity was established.

It will be remembered that whilst Mr Gibson was at Rugby he assisted the Football Club as a wing three-quarter. He also took part in Association six aside matches played on Willans’ Athletic Ground, being included in the team that represented the Drawing Office, and assisted Messrs Willans & Robinson’s side in their inter-firm football with the B.T.H representatives. Mr Gibson’s old comrades at Rugby will be interested to learn of his plucky rescue, and glad it has not been allowed to escape public attention altogether.

AIR RAIDS.

RUGBY FIRE BRIGADE.

A preliminary drill took place on Wednesday last, Messrs Baker, Highton, Robbins, and the Central Garage Company lending cars, and a number of Boy Scouts attended. Everything worked smoothly, and it is hoped that fires (if any) caused by a raid will be speedily extinguished.

It is desirable to have motor-cars, because those already engaged may not be available at the moment.

The Chief Officer hopes that at least four more cars will be offered for a preliminary drill on Thursday 22nd inst., at 8 p.m. More scouts are also required, and only one drill is necessary.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

The following have been accepted at the Drill Hall, Park Road, during the past week :—W J Hirons and H W Appleton, 220th (Rugby) Fortress Company, R.E ; C A Davis, R.W.R ; G J Smith, Cheshire Regiment ; H J Ford, Oxon and Bucks L.I ; T W Ingram, Royal Inniskilling Fusliers ; F Hawkins, Seaforth Highlanders ; W J Holliday, Royal Berks ; R W Cave, Army Veterinary Corps ; D A Leist, A.S.C ; A Townsend, Military Mounted Police ; J P Betts, Royal Engineers.