6th Feb 1915. Narrow Escapes and an Opinion of the German Troops


Thursday’s papers contained in the list of soldiers wounded at the war the name of Pte H Goode, of the Lancashire Regiment. Pte Goode is the son of Detective-Inspector Goode, of Rugby, and when the war broke out was called up as a reservist, being at the time foreman cleaner in the locomotive engine-sheds. He went through several of the earlier engagements of the war, and his friends in Rugby hope his wounds are not serious.


Driver F H Johnson, 115th Heavy Battery R.G.A. of West Leyes, Rugby, who enlisted in Lord Kitchener’s Army at the outbreak of the war, is at present in a hospital at Sheffield, suffering from wounds received at the front. In a letter to his friends he states that he got up last week for the first time since he was wounded-eight weeks ago. His hand and arm are nearly well, but he cannot use his fingers yet. At the time he was hurt his horse had its head blown clean off. Driver Johnson had a marvellous escape, as the horse fell before he could clear himself from the saddle. The horse rolled right over him, injuring his hand and back terribly. He really thought he should never see Old England again.


Bombardier W Hudghton, Royal Field Artillery, of 21 Jubilee Street, New Bilton, who is at present in Lincoln Hospital suffering from injuries received while acting as a dispatch rider about a fortnight ago, passed through a very unpleasant experience, from which he was only extricated by his own coolness. From a letter written to his wife, it appears that he was carrying a message from one General to another, and while he was galloping across a ploughed field his “ old friend,” his horse, received three shots, and “ the poor beggar died.” Bombardier Hudghton was pinned under his horse, and two Germans, observing this, and presumably thinking that he was incapacitated, advanced towards him. They, however, failed to perceive him take his carbine from its place, and he managed to shoot one. The “ other bloke ” then pointed his rifle at the New Bilton man, but the latter got his shot home first, thus accounting for the pair. Bombardier Hudghton is now suffering from injuries to the knee caused by his horse falling with him.



A member of the Rugby Police Force, who was called up to his regiment on the outbreak of hostilities, paid a brief visit to Rugby this week, and in an interview gave a few of his experiences to our representative. He took part in the initial fighting round Mons and the glorious retreat, and also in subsequent engagements, and thus has an interesting story to relate.


He saw a very brave act performed by a German. The Company to which he belonged charged a German natural trench and took the enemy by surprise. The bulk of the Germans threw up their hands in token of surrender, while others ran away, but were immediately shot down. One man, however, fought on, and an Englishman went for him with a bayonet. The German seized the bayonet with one hand, and when another man went for him he took hold of his bayonet with the other hand. A third man came up, however, and with a well-directed thrust accounted for him ; the German, grinding his teeth, made use of a few choice expressions as he fell. Upon searching this man they found him to be in possession of the Iron Cross.


As has already been reported, the opposing troops fraternised together on Christmas Day at various parts of the line, but at one point an exceedingly unfortunate incident occurred. The Rugby man, thinking he had some friends in the Monmouthshire Regiment, walked along to their trenches, and there saw a sergeant who had been mortally wounded while trying to fraternise with the Germans. It appears that the sergeant had advanced unarmed towards the German trenches, carrying a box of cigarettes, and motioned to the enemy to come the remainder of the distance, but they refused to do so. He, therefore, returned to his trench, but shortly afterwards started off again, intending to go the whole way this time. When he got half across, however, a shot was fired, and over he went, but, although he was mortally wounded, he managed to get up again and run to his own trench, not, however, before one of his mates had accounted for one of the Germans, who were sitting outside their trenches, so that it was “ a life for a life.” Firing went on as usual then for a time, but, subsequently a better spirit prevailed, and the Germans apologised to the Monmouths for shooting their sergeant, explaining that it was an accident.

The Rugby sergeant’s Christmas dinner consisted of chicken, boiled cabbage, and potatoes and splendid plum-pudding. He explained that it was only with the Saxons that the English fraternised. These men were far more gentlemanly than any other German race, in fact, they “ played the game.” The Prussians, who, with the Uhlans were mainly instrumental for the outrages, did not believe in that sentiment


The sergeant’s opinion of the German troops was that they were first-class soldiers ; they were very clever and had their share of pluck. One advantage the British had ; the Germans were not so good at pushing home an attack as the British were. As an illustration he stated that on one occasion the Germans were massed in preparation for an attack, but they were observed by the British just in the nick of time, and a heavy rifle and Maxim fire was directed upon them. They could hear the German officers, who were at the rear of the men, urging them on in very strong terms, but without avail, and the enemy soon turned and fled, whereas the British would have pushed the attack home at all cost. At the commencement of the war they leaned to the opinion that the German infantry were not good shots, but they had since learned, differently ; and they had discovered that the Germans had corps of snipers who were deadly. While the German officers were fine men, who knew their work, the British officers were the bravest men in the world. As an example of coolness and pluck, he stated that he was one day in a building with a captain, when a shell came hurtling through the roof. They both escaped via the window, and almost before the masonry had ceased to fall, the captain had whipped out a camera and obtained a snap-shot. Speaking of the German artillery, the sergeant’s experience was that its bark was worse than its bite. Whereas the British only fired when they had a target, the Germans were continually blazing away whether there was a target or not, and they must have wasted a great quantity of ammunition in this way.


After relating to our representatives stories of outrages on women, and the manner in which three British cavalrymen were done to death and mutilated by the Uhlans, the sergeant stated that the British had had a great number of there stretcher-bearers shot by the Germans. At the commencement of the war they always put the Red Cross flag in a prominent place upon the buildings, which were used for treating the wounded, but it was found that the flag only drew fire, and the hospitals were invariably shelled. Now, instead of putting the flag in a prominent place it was simply stuck in the ground near the hospital, to show the troops where to take the wounded.




A meeting of the Warwickshire War Relief Fund Committee was held at the Shire Hall, Warwick, on Wednesday, Lord Algernon Percy presiding.

The Organising Committee reported that the conditions of trade throughout the area of the County Committee seemed good, and very little distress existed up to the period ending January 30th, the number of civil cases of distress dealt with by the local committees was 66, the total sum thus expended in relief being £112 12s 9d. Further grants amounting to £185 had been made to local committees. This brought the total amount of the grants made to local committees to £325.

The Hon Treasurer reported that the balance at the bank was £6,083, including £500 already ear-marked for the Warwickshire Branch of the Red Cross Society. It was decided to send £3,275 to the Prince of Wales’s Fund as a second instalment.

Mr Batchelor, the chairman of the Belgian Refugees’ Sub-Committee, reported that the number of refugees at present in the county area was about 1,300, excluding the large towns. The question of employment had proved to be a most difficult problem. A few farmers had applied for agricultural labourers, but in most cases they could not undertake to find accommodation for the families, which was essential. The question of whether refugees, receiving hospitality and earning wages, should contribute towards their maintenance, had been much discussed, and finally the Birmingham Committee, in conjunction with managers from various homes, had agreed to recommend that refugees should be asked to contribute one-third of their wages towards their maintenance, and that they be advised to bank as much as possible of the remainder for the day of repatriation.


On Saturday, Mrs H H Mulliner and Mr F van den Arend visited the Alexandra Palace, London, to select more refugees for Newton House and “ The Beeches ” Clifton. From the 4,000 refugees in this building they chose the following :- Aloysuis Ogiers, cabinet-maker, Buoght, and his wife and seven children ; and Andrie Avaerts, coachman, Antwerp, and his wife and four children. They also brought away a tailor and his wife and child, for the Welford Refugees’ Committee ; and Sidoni Buylaert, the wife of a soldier, her five children, and brother, Henri Torfs (who has volunteered for service but been rejected), for the Barby and Kilsby Committee, who have provided an excellently furnished house for their reception.

On Wednesday, Mr Van den Arend fetched another family, Edward Hoeyendonck, railway worker, his wife and four children, for “ The Beeches.” This family comes from the neighbourhood of Malines, and left on August 24th, since when they travelled from place to place, reaching London a fortnight ago.

We are informed that there are now 83 Belgian refugees working in the town, who are not receiving the hospitality of any committee, and these are all registered by the Board of Trade at the office of the Newton House War Refugees’ Committee, which is regarded by the authorities in London as the official committee in Rugby. We understand that the Newton House Committee only provides funds for the refugees there, which, with those at “ Beeches,” now number 102, and that they will shortly apply for financial assistance from the residents of Rugby. Money has been sent by several people, including a very acceptable cheque for £75 from Mr W Wiggins, part of the proceeds of the sale of a sheep in Rugby Market.


The past week has been one of the slackest experienced at the Drill Hall for same time. The following have been attested :- A.S.C : F H West, E S Watts, A Turrall, and A V Brown. R.W.R : W F Woolfe, A F Brown, W Warland, and E W Nicholls. Oxon and Bucks L.I : R Megson. Coldstream Guards : C R Lee. 16th Lancers : J H Toomey. R.F.A : W F Hessey. R.M.A.C : John Clarke.