LOCAL HEROES IN THE ZEEBRUGGE RAID.
Chief Motor Mechanic W Gilbert, who as stated in our last issue, was one of those who volunteered and took part in the naval raid on Zeebrugge, is the son of Mr T Gilbert, who resides at the picturesque old cottages near Bilton Church. He was one of the first Bilton lads to volunteer for Kitchener’s Army, but when in training he unfortunately received injuries while trench digging, in consequence of which he was, much to his disappointment, eventually discharges. He came home, and worked at Messrs Robbins’ Motor Garage, Warwick Street, as motor mechanic, and was one of the first to drive the Southam mail van when the motor was adopted by the Postal Authorities in lieu of the old horse-driven vehicle. But his desire to get back into active service was keen, and his skill as a mechanic and driver enabled him to find his way into the Navy. After passing his examination at Southampton promotion soon followed, and ultimately, he was appointed chief motor mechanic on one of the motor launches engaged in the important work of patrolling the Channel off Dover. He had taken part in several hazardous runs, and when the Zeebrugge business came along it afforded him an opportunity he could not resist. On a postcard to his parents afterwards he briefly wrote :—“ I have been and come back again O.K. Zeebrugge is a hot place. We had a shell through the deck, but no one was hit. We were more lucky than some. It was hell. Got back at 12 o’clock—just 24 hours’ run.” In a subsequent letter he says :—“ I am pleased I was there on Monday night. It was worth seeing. We ‘smoked’ for the Vindictive, so you can guess how far we were in. I think it is the finest bit of work that has been done in this War ;” and he winds up humorously : “ Talk about ——’s birthday and the fireworks—that’s washed out now.”
Mr W T Coles Hodges, headmaster of the Murray School, has received a cheery postcard from Pte Will Clark, R.M.L.I, now an inmate of a military hospital at Dover, who took part in the Zeebrugge Raid. He writes :—“ As you see by my address, I am ‘ in dock’ again once more, and, by the way, having a grand time. The last time I told you I told you I should have another go before long. Well, I volunteered to be one of the landing party at Zeebrugge, and we visited the Huns on Monday last (midnight). We had rather a warm time while it lasted, but they did not like the look of when we got on the Mole. Do you think it was my face that frightened them? My sister said it was. Anyhow, I know what it was—so many of us had had a good schooling like you always gave us. We had several Rugger players of note aboard us, including Lieut-Commander Harrison and Lieut Walker. I am pleased to say I have played against both. Really, sir, I am a very lucky man, as my wounds are quite light—a few small pieces in the head, slight concussion, and sprained back. I am looking forward to seeing you and the school again very soon.”
Pte Clerk is a grandson of the late Mr E Allen, for many years stationmaster at Rugby.
Pte Clerk, who is a son of Mr H Clark, 8 Winfield Street, Rugby, and an Old Murrayian, joined the R.M.L.I eight years ago. In a letter his sister, who has visited him at the hospital, says :—“ He has got shrapnel wounds about the head and face, and has hurt his back ; a shell exploded and blew him off a scaling ladder. There were 40 killed round him, but he was lucky. Unfortunately he any on the deck all night soaked in blood and rain, as they were all mixed up anyhow—dead, dying and wounded. . . . They had a dreadful time, but did what they set out to do.”
FATAL AEROPLANE ACCIDENT AT RUGBY.
While flying near Rugby on Thursday evening last week Second-Lieut David Percival McIntyre (19), of the Royal Air Force, whose home is at Broughton Ferry, Scotland, collided with some telegraph wires, and received injuries from which he died shortly afterwards in the Brookfield Nursing Home.
At the inquest, which was held on Monday by Mr E F Hadow, Second-Lieut Norman Maximilian Smith said his attention was attracted to the deceased officer by the fact that he was flying very low down and diving over hedges and trees. He then turned towards the sun, and came down lower, apparently trying to fly under the telegraph wires which were set back a considerable distance from the road. He crashed into the wires and the machine toppled over.
The Coroner : Have you ever seen this done before ?—Answer : No. but I have heard some wild stories about it, and I have heard of pilots who have flown under the wires and have lived to tell the tale. He added that there should have been 2ft of space under the wheels and 2ft between the top of the plane and the wires had deceased been flying straight.—The Coroner : That is cutting things very fine.—Witness expressed the opinion that deceased made a mistake in judgment. He was not flying right in the face of the sun at the time of the accident.
Major Leslie Frederick Forbes deposed that the deceased officer had graduated as a pilot and was very competent.
The Coroner enquired whether trick flying low down was necessary.—Witness said not altogether, but overseas a pilot is supposed to do a certain amount of low flying. He added that when a pilot was competent he was allowed to fly rather low. After the accident he visited the spot and concluded that deceased had fallen from a height of 20 to 30 feet, while travelling at 100 miles an hour. He must have been going very fast because some parts of the machine were found some distance away. The top part of the plane struck the under part of the wires and deceased was evidently trying to fly underneath them. This was often done by pilots, but in this case he was not sufficiently competent. Deceased was flying against the sun and might not have seen the wires.
The Coroner enquired whether there were any restrictions on young officers playing such tricks.—A : We have restrictions for officers who have not completed their time, but others have rather more latitude, and are sent up to do as they like. It is strictly against the regulations to fly at low altitudes over towns.
Air Mechanics Coles and Muir deposed that the engine and rigging were in good condition before the ascent.—Surgeon Major Cester Collins deposed that deceased was found 20 yards away from the machine. He had a fracture at the base of the skull, partial dislocation of the vertebrae of the neck, fracture of the left leg, and rupture of the internal organs. His machine must have struck the wires with a tremendous impact.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”
LOCAL WAR NOTES.
Gunner W E Wellens, R.F.A, who removed from an ambulance train in a dying condition, died at the Hospital of Cross on Wednesday.
Pte Alfred Charles Williams, R.W.R, son of Mr A Williams, 29 William Street, has written home stating that he was taken prisoner by the Germans during the heavy fighting of March 22nd.
Pte C W Oakley, R.W.R, only son of Mr & Mrs Oakley, 21 Sandown Road, Rugby, has been wounded in three places. Before joining up in 1917 he worked at Rainsbrook.
Pte T H Bosworth, Lancashire Fusiliers, youngest son of Mr Samuel Bosworth, Lutterworth, of whom nothing had been heard since March 17th, has now written to say that he is a prisoner of war in Germany. He has served in Egypt and France for three years.
Mr A D Stocks, formerly of Misterton, Lutterworth, and later with Messrs Seabroke & Son, solicitors, of Rugby, has for some time been in training at Bushey in the Officers’ Cadet Battalion in preparation for joining the Coldstream Guards.
Mrs J Lee, Regent Street, Lutterworth, received news last Saturday that her brother, Pte H W Lee, Royal Berkshire Regiment, has been missing since March 21st. He is 19 years of age, and had only been in France five weeks. Any news of him will be gratefully received by his brother and sister at the above address.
Second-Lieut C Pridmore Dunn, son of Mr F Dunn, at one time on the staff of the National Provincial Bank, Rugby, and later with the Cement Company, is reported missing. In a letter to his parents the Colonel says that he had fought well, and that he had recommended him for his gallantry.
Mr & Mrs Cowley, of 17 James Street, Rugby, have received a postcard from their only son, Pte W F Cowley, of the Wiltshire Regiment, saying that he is a prisoner of war in Germany, and is slightly wounded by a bullet in the stomach. He is 19 years of age, and was before joining up employed at Messrs Badham’s, High Street.
News been received by Mrs Joseph E Walker, 41 Pinfold Street, New Bilton, that her husband, a lance corporal in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed action on March 30th. Lance-Corpl Walker, who was 29 years of age and joined the Army in January, 1916, formerly carried on business as a greengrocer in Bridget Street.
Pte T Eaton-Shore, son of the late Mr J Eaton-Shore, formerly works manager for Messrs Willans & Robinson, who been out in France for two years and seven months with the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, has recently been offered a commission. He is now in training with the 18th Officers’ Cadet Battalion at Bath. Before the War he was well-known in Rugby, especially in cricket and hockey circles.
In their report to the Warwickshire County on Wednesday the General Purposes Committee reported :—“ We regret to learn that Lieut J Greenwood, formerly assistant master at Rugby Eastlands Boys’ School, has been invalided out of the Army, and that he will never able to resume work as a teacher. We regret to find that the Local Government (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1916, makes no provision for the Council to pay any allowance in such a case. We understand that Mr Greenwood will receive a pension.”
Miss E G M Bryant, daughter of Mr William Bryant, of Rugby, who was appointed matron of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Mont Boron, Nice, A.M. In 1908, has been decorated with the French Medaille d’Argent des Epidemics, the hospital having during the War been taken over by the French Government for military purposes. Last year, when dressing wounds, Miss Bryant contracted blood poisoning in the right hand, and in consequence had to have the little finger amputated and thumb shortened. It is now hoped that she will ultimately regain the use the remaining portion, which at one time it was feared she would lose altogether.
SERGT J. FREEMAN.
Sergt John Freemen, R.W.R, Bennett Cottage, Bennett Street, a son of Mrs Freeman, Lancaster Road, has been reported missing since March 22nd. He had been a member of “ E ” Company for 12 years when war broke out, and held several shooting cups which he had won. He was formerly employed at the B.T.H. as a carpenter. He had been in France a little over twelve months.
B.T.H MEN KILLED.
News has been received at the B.T.H that Rifleman H Corbett, Rifle Brigade, late of the Works Stores, was killed in action on March 28th, and that Pte J E Garner, Leicestershire Regiment, formerly employed in the Pattern Shop, died from wounds on April 24th.
MRS H EDMONDS, The Heath, Dunchurch, who received official news on April 18th that her husband had been wounded, has since received a card from him saying he is a prisoner of war in Badam, Germany, with bullet wounds in shoulder and face. He writes very cheerfully, and says he is going on all right, and being treated well. Pte H Edmonds has served 18 months in France, and has been through some hard fighting on the Western front. He was in the Cambrai attack in November, 1917. Before joining up he was employed at Messrs Alcock & Sons, tailors, Dunchurch.
BRANDON & BRETFORD.
SIGNALLER A L IRESON WOUNDED.—Mr and Mrs E W Ireson have received news that their son, Signaller A L Ireson, of the R.F.A, has received a shrapnel wound in the head. Before volunteering, at the age of 17¼ years, he was a draughtsman at the Drawing Office of Coventry Ordnance Works. He had been in France for nearly two years, where he had seen much fighting. His elder brother, who was similarly wounded, has now got his discharge and returned to Canada, from whence he came to fight for the Old Country.
On Sunday, which happened to be Hospital Sunday in the parish, a Memorial Service was held at the Parish Church in the afternoon for Gunner Henry Howkins, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Chas Howkins, who was officially reported as having died in hospital in France on March 30th. The family being members of the Primitive Methodist body, the memorial was really a joint service of the two congregations, and the Rev W Vaughan, of the Primitive Methodist Church, Rugby, attended it and took part by reading the Lesson, the Service used being the one authorised in the Diocese, and the Vicar giving an address. A very large congregation assembled to show their sympathy with and respect for the family, including a numerous deputation from the Village Benefit Club. A substantial addition to the Hospital Fund was collected, in view of its work amongst wounded soldiers.
ROLL OF HONOUR.—Mr & Mrs W Coling have received official notice that their eldest son, Sergt P Coling, has died from wounds received on April 10th. He joined the Army on the outbreak of war, and had participated in much of the fighting, and had had some very narrow escapes. This is the second son Mr & Mrs Coling have lost in the War, and much sympathy is felt for them locally.
REMARKABLE REDUCTION OF VAGRANTS IN WARWICKSHIRE.
At the annual meeting of the Warwickshire County Vagrancy Committee it was reported that during the quarter ended March 31st the number of casual poor relieved in the county was 2,581 men, 604 women, and 6 children, making a total 3,191, as compared with a total of 7,086 for the corresponding quarter of last year. The total number of food tickets issued by the unions during the quarter was 2,256, of which 1,938 were produced to tradesmen.—The Chairman moved the approval of the statistics, saying that they revealed a healthy reduction in the number of admissions.—The annual report, which was approved, recorded a pronounced reduction in vagrancy in the county.
BENFIELD.—Died at 39 Stationary Hospital, Aire, France, from wounds received in action on April 16th, 1918, Pte. BERTRAM GEORGE BENFIELD, of the D.C.L.I., eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Benfield, Northend.
“ God takes our loved ones from our homes,
But never from our hearts.”
—Deeply mourned by his Father (in France), Mother, Brothers and Sisters.
CHANT.—In loving memory of my dear husband, who fell in action on March 22, 1918 ; aged 37 years.
“ There is a link death cannot sever ;
Love and remembrance last for ever.”
—From his loving Wife and Baby.
COLING.—In ever-loving memory of Sergt. P. Coling, who died of wounds received in action on April 10th ; aged 24 years. Deeply lamented.
HALL.—In ever-loving memory of SYDNEY GEORGE, only dearly beloved son of Mr. & Mrs. G. Hall, 31 Alexandra Road, Rugby, who killed in action on April 12th ; aged 21 years.
JONES.—E. H. JONES, Second-Lieut., R.F.A., 87th Brigade, killed in action on April 25th ; son of Mr. John Jones, Cosford.
PACKWOOD.—In loving remembrance of WILLIE, the very dearly beloved son of Mr. & Mrs. C. J. Packwood, St. Matthew’s Street, who was killed in action on April 12, 1918.
TABOR.—In loving memory of ALICK JOHN TABOR, aged 19, of the Durham Light Infantry, killed in action on March 25, 1918 ; youngest son of Mr. G. Tabor, of Woolscott.—Deeply mourned by his Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters.
DEMPSEY.—In loving memory of Sergt. P. DEMPSEY, K.O.S.B., who died of wounds in France on April 30th, 1916.
HOPCRAFT.— In loving memory of JOHN ANDREW HOPCRAFT, who was accidentally killed whilst on duty on May 3, 1915.
“ We pictured your safe returning,
And longed to clasp your hand ;
But God postponed that meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.
Some may think that we forget him
When at times they see us smile ;
But they little know the sorrow
Which is hid behind that smile.”
—From his devoted Wife and Children.
STEBBING—In loving memory of Gunner SYDNEY REGINALD STEBBING, Motor Machine Gun Section, R.F.A., who died of wounds received in action at Zonnebeke on May 4, 1915.—From his sorrowing Father, Mother, Sisters and Brothers.—R.I.P.