25th Mar 1916. Two Anniversaries

TWO ANNIVERSARIES.

WHAT A K.O.S.B. THINKS OF THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR.

Friday. March 17th, was the anniversary of the day in 1915 on which the K.O.S.B, and other regiments which were billeted in Rugby left their quarters to proceed to the Dardanelles. They formed part of the 29th Division, which earned immortal fame by their brave and arduous fighting at the landing at Gallipoli in the following April, and onwards through that ill-starred campaign. Of that Brigade, which left Warwickshire 20,000 strong after being reviewed by the King on the London Road at Stretton-on-Dunsmore, we are informed only about 1,000 sound men remain. The remnants of the K.O.S.B are at their depot in the North of England, and one of them—a sergeant—writing to a friend in Rugby, says :—

“ I am writing this so that it will reach you on Friday, 17th, the anniversary of ‘The Day’ we left Rugby to do a bit of ‘strafing.’ What a lovely time we had in Rugby. The two months we were there will always remain in the minds of the remaining members of the 1st Battalion The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, as the happiest time they have spent during their years of soldiering. One can scarcely believe that a battalion arriving straight from India to England, with perhaps a tendency to run wild owing to the majority having been away for years, could have been fostered and cared for, and our every comfort looked to, amongst utter strangers, in the kindly and homely manner in which you people of Rugby did. To sum the whole lot up, it was absolutely home. After our own homes, Rugby took second place in our thoughts whilst on service, and we came to the conclusion that both places were the finest in the world and were worth scrapping for. What do you think of the Conscientious Objectors ? It is hardly believable that there are such THINGS calling themselves men in this world. Let them take a look into the jungle, and they will very soon find that it is natural for all things, great or small, living in this world, to defend to the death their homes and families, and especially if the Conscientious Objector makes any attempt to harm or interfere in any way whatsoever, he will jolly quick find out that his presence and interference are objected to by another sort of Conscientious Objector, who is quite willing to fight and if need be, give life itself in the protection of its offspring. Just fancy any man saying it would be against his conscience to assist any person wounded by the explosion of a bomb from a Zep. That means to say, that if his own mother or sister, and if he be married, perhaps his little infant son or daughter, were lying wounded with a main artery severed, he would stand there heedless of their cries, watching them die, when a very little attention on his part would help to stop the bleeding till a doctor came, and perhaps be the means of saving their lives. On other hand, if he himself was wounded by same bomb, what would become of him if all the doctors were Conscientious Objectors ? He would lie there howling and shouting for all manner of curses and evil things to descend upon and make the life intolerable for the doctor who professes Conscientious Objection. Others say that they object to killing of any kind, going so far as to say they refrain from eating anything that has been bled or killed to supply his food. How many times have they eaten eggs, thereby killing the fruit of flesh and blood, and also killing what would eventually have matured to a thing of flesh and blood. Let them go across to Flanders or to Egypt and Mesopotamia. There they will find hundreds of thousands of the right sort of Conscientious Objectors, whose conscience pricks them very sorely to think that they are out fighting whilst a lot of COWARDS who call themselves Conscientious Objectors are doing their utmost to dodge their duty. Whilst carrying on this way, they secretly pray that Tommy will be able to keep the enemy back from them. The British soldier does not mind in the least fighting for the Conscientious Objector’s sisters, his mother, father, or small brothers, but he conscientiously objects to fighting for the Conscientious Objector himself. The Conscientious Objector who has taken religion on as his excuse has, I am afraid, kept the Bible more often on the shelf than on his lap open, or he would have come across various passages which are against him.”

The writer concludes :—“Dear Mr —-, You might have this put in the Rugby paper if you think fit to let all the people of Rugby know that the ‘ Jocks’ haven’t forgotten their kindness to them, and also what a member of the ‘Immortal 29th Division’ thinks of the ‘Conscientious Coward.’”

THE 7TH WARWICKS.

It was a year on Tuesday last when the 1/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Territorials) landed in France, having left England on the preceding day. Since then they have had their full share of work in the firing line, and have fully sustained the prestige of their county. We have from time to time published interesting letters from members of the Rugby contingent, and this week we received the following, dated March 14th :-

DEAR SIR,—Perhaps your readers will be interested in the doings of the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment and the old E Company boys. They are all in the highest of spirits, and are looking the picture of health despite the terrible hardships they have all endured through the trying winter months in mud and water ; and have made themselves feared by their neighbours the Huns.

They have also been very highly praised for their splendid work out here by their Commander, and he hopes when the time for them to get to grips with the enemy arrives, they will still maintain the name they have made for themselves since they have been out here.

We are getting some sports up this afternoon among the officers and men. We enjoy ourselves when we come out for these short rests, after being in and out of the firing line for a month at a stretch. Hoping you will publish this in your paper, we remain—THREE OF THE OLD RUGBY COMPANY BOYS.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Staff-Sergeant W A Simpson, 21st Lancers, who has been awarded the D.C.M for going to the rescue of a comrade and an officer, and holding back the enemy with a revolver, is a Daventry man. He is a son of Mr P W Simpson, and grandson of the late Mr T Simpson, for many years manager of the Daventry Gas Works.

An ex-champion Public School boxer, Capt Ian D Dewar, son of Lord Dewar, one of the Scottish Lords of Session, has been killed in action. He had previously been wounded in August and September of last year. Capt Dewar when at Rugby won the Public Schools Lightweight Championship at Aldershot in 1911, and he captained the Boxing Club at Oxford.

Mr G H I Cowley, of Hertford Street, Coventry, solicitor, has joined an Officers’ Training Corps on the nomination of Colonel Courtenay, C.B, and during his absence his practice is being looked after by Mr Charles Martin, of 18 Hertford Street. Mr Cowley was educated at Rugby School, and is a member of a family having large landed interests in Northants, and is a grandson of the late Rev Charles Thorold Gillbee, M.A, D.D, for many years incumbent of the joint family livings of Barby and Kilsby.

Lance-Corpl Jack Bird, 12th K.R.R (son of Mrs Harris, 41 Now Street, New Bilton), is at present in Christ Church Hospital, Hants, suffering from a fractured collar bone and bruises, sustained as the result of the explosion of an aerial torpedo in the trenches. This is the second time that Lance-Corpl Bird has been wounded.

News was received on Monday that Pte Albert W Johnson, 9th Batt Royal Warwickshire Regt, and only son of Mrs Johnson, of 110 Abbey Street, Rugby, a widow, was killed in action on Jan 6th at Cape Holles. Pte Vertegans, also of Rugby, who was in the same section, put a cross, which he made himself, with a suitable inscription and verse thereon, at the head of his grave.

The number of men being called up locally has shown a considerable increase during the past week, and about sixty men have been passed through the Rugby Drill Hill. Of these only a small number were conscripts.

A notice about the “ starring ” of munition workers was issued by the Ministry of Munitions on Thursday night. In future men will only be exempted from military service if they are actually engaged on war work and can show that they are eligible for War Service badges ; not if they are engaged on private work and may be required for munitions work.

RUGBY TERRITORIAL ACCIDENTALLY KILLED.

Mrs Fidler, of Harborough Magna, has received intimation that her son, Pte William Fidler, was accidentally killed in France on March 7th, Pte Fidler was an old member of the E Company, and until quite recently he was attached to the Horse Transport Section. About a fortnight before his accident, however, he was transferred to the Warwickshire Infantry Brigade Machine Gun Company, and on March 7th he started out with a team of horses, which had recently arrived from a Remount Depot, and a wagon. Ten minutes afterwards he was found lying unconscious in the snow by the side of the load. He was taken in a motor ambulance to a field hospital which was close by, but, he only regained consciousness for a few minutes, and died in the evening. He was a quiet, reliable, and steady soldier, and will be much missed by his comrades. A sad feature is that he came home from the front on leave at Christmas to be married.

SERGT BALE TELLS HOW HE WON THE D.C.M.

The following letter has just come to hand from Sergt W J Bale. 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the St Matthew’s “ old boy,” whose home is in Lagoe Place, and who was included in the last list of recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal :-

“ On the night of Feb 8th I proceeded on patrol towards the enemy’s trenches, with one officer and six men. The duty of the patrol was to go and find out the condition of the enemy’s wire, and also to find out the strength of the enemy in a part of their trench called Mad Point. Everything went on all right until we were about twenty yards off their wire, when we were spotted by a German sentry, and heavy machine-gun and rifle fire was at once opened on us, and two of the patrol were slightly wounded. After it had got a bit quiet, we managed to get the patrol to safety, and following a short rest the officer and I went forward again to carry out the duty. We managed to get right up to the German wires, but after lying there for half an hour the officer got spotted and shot through the thigh, so that he was unable to move. Now I had my work cut out to get him and myself safely into our lines. I managed to get him on my back ; then I had to start and creep with him, which I can assure you is not an easy thing ; but after an hour’s struggle I got back to the lines with the officer. I received commendation for this, the second time in a month, and on March 16th, General Munro presented me with my D.C.M. medal ribbon.”

RUGBY SOLDIER REPORTED KILLED.

Rifleman F Pee, aged 19, who has been missing since July 30th, has now been reported killed in action on that date. His home was at 391 Clifton Road, Rugby, and before war broke out he worked in the machine shop at the B.T.H. He enlisted in the Rifle Brigade the beginning of September, 1914, and went to France the following May. He was in the liquid fire attack at Hooge on the 30th July, and was not seen afterwards. His name has been put on the Hooge Memorial.

BRAUNSTON.

INTERESTING LETTER FROM THE BALKANS.-An interesting letter has been received by his friends from one of the sixteen Braunston boys belonging to the 7th Royal Berkshire Regiment, who are now serving with the Salonika Force. After explaining how they were bivouacked on the side of a mountain in nice little dug-outs, and two in a hole, he says :-We are still getting lovely weather, and the hills are covered with wild crocuses, so you can tell it is warm. We get the papers you send, and although the news is a bit old when we get them, we sometimes read them over two or three times when we can’t get any books. I wonder how the Braunston Armlet men will like soldiering. I bet they get a surprise when they start ; but I am pleased they didn’t stay till they were dragged, although they stayed long enough. It is very interesting out here to watch the natives in their mountain villages. They are just as you read about them in the Bible—the old bullock waggons, and shepherds with their crooks, and the women carrying their water pitchers on their heads and shoulders. The men squat about in baggy trousers, and never seem to do any work. They seem quite satisfied to remain as they are, and I shouldn’t think they have advanced a bit for a thousand years.

The Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund.—WASTE NEWSPAPER DEPARTMENT.—The organisers of the old newspaper scheme desire to draw the attention of householders and others in Rugby and surrounding districts to the collections of old newspapers which are being organised by the Boy Scouts Association in aid of the Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund. Communications should be sent to Geo R Payne, Hon Sec Rugby Scouts Association, 13 Park Road, Rugby ; parcels to either Murray School between 9 a.m and 4 p.m, or B.T.H Troop Room, Lodge Road, 7.30 p.m to 9 p.m, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Only morning, evening, weekly, and Sunday papers are required, Coloured paper is acceptable, but must be bundled separately.

IN MEMORIAM.

DODSON.—In loving Memory of our dear son William Ernest, who died of wounds in France, March 24th, 1915.
“ No loved one stood beside him
To hear his last farewell ;
No word of comfort did he leave
For those he loved so well.”
From his loving Father, Mother, Sister, and Brothers.

FOX.—In everlasting love and sweetest remembrance of our dear son, Norman Harry Fox, who fell in action on March 21st, 1915.
“ One year has passed, oh ! how we miss him.
Some may think the wound has healed ;
But they little know the pain and sorrow
Deep within our hearts concealed.”
His sorrowing Father, Mother, Brother and Sisters.

 

19th Jun 1915. Soldiers at the Dardanelles

SOLDIERS AT THE DARDANELLES.

Quite number of the soldiers who spent a memorable and happy two months in Rugby at the beginning of the year, have again written to those with whom they were billeted, letters having arrived at many homes this week. The feeling of gratitude for the treatment extended to the troops, and a desire to return to the town when opportunity occurs, appear to be pretty general, whilst, unfortunately, in too many cases soldiers known to Rugby people are reported to have been either wounded or killed.

For instance. Drummer Joe Devenny, of the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was billeted with Mr and Mrs Burn, of 16 Corbett Street, writing from a hospital in Malta, states that he has been wounded in the left hand, but expects soon to be back in the firing-line. He is one of those who speaks of his intention to pay a return visit to Rugby if he comes safely through the war.

Ptes Brown and McAneny were billeted with Mrs Rushton, of 15 Corbett Street. Both are wounded, and have written giving some of their experiences on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Pte McAneny says he was lying down firing when a bullet just missed his head by about three inches. It tore a hole in the arm of his coat, and went clean through his boot and toes. “ But I can say one thing,” he adds, “ the Turk who hit me, and a good many of his chums, are all in their graves now.”

Referring to the fighting in the Dardanelles, Pte Brown says: “ We are driving the Turks back, and have captured a lot of them and their forts. . . . When we got there we advanced about three miles. The battle lasted from early morning till late at night. It was a hot bit of work. The Turks were just retiring from one trench to another, and had to be dug out with the bayonet. Our navy was making mincemeat of them from the sea. That night the Turks kept on attacking the trench. They came up like droves of sheep, only to be cut down by rifle fire. In the morning there were only heaps of dead in front.”

Corpl Giblin, 1st Royal Inniskilling, writing to Mr and Mrs Spencer, 35 Winfield Street, says :—“ We landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th of April, and we weren’t half an hour on shore before, we had a go. We were just digging a bit of a trench when they started to fire at us, so we hopped into the trenches and let them have it. They tried to overpower us with their numbers, but it was ‘no hat,’ they had to retire, and I don’t believe we lost a single man, although the fight lasted nearly all night. So that wasn’t a bad baptismal fire was it ? The next day we started again and beat them back. The navy are doing splendid work with their guns. The only thing we miss here are cigarettes, but, of course, we are not always without them, because every time we capture some Turks we are almost sure to get some tobacco or cigarettes. We get plenty of food, and that’s the main thing.”

Sergt W E Emmett, of the same Regiment, in a letter to Mr C Mitchell, of Thurlaston Orange, states that he is in the best of health, and had just returned to the base after twelve days hard fighting. He expected to be in the firing-line again soon afterwards. He adds : “ I hope you are still carrying on with the drill. Have you formed a Company at your place yet ? If you have, I hope they are getting on well.”

Mr J Lord, Castle Street, has heard from two men of the Border Regiment, who were billeted with him. Sergt F C Ansell, who had been wounded in his right-hand, and had to write with his left, states that he had been in hospital a month and underwent an operation. He was going on well and looking forward to the day when he could pay Rugby another visit. He adds : “ We had a terribly rough time at first, and I would sooner do anything than that landing again. It was a proper death-trap. Never mind, roll on till I come back to old Rugby. I could do with one of your good meals now.”—Pte H Harrup expresses the wish that they could be back in Rugby again for a time, as it is a bit too hot for us. “ Very sorry to tell you some of the boys have gone who used to stop with you, and I got wounded in the knee. Better than having my head blown off. Towers got killed the 1st day of going into action. I think this place is worse than France. It is very hot in the day, but cold at night.”

A DARDANELLES HERO.

We learn from a North Country contemporary that Sergt H Corbridge, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who during the visit of the troops to Rugby was billeted with Mr M Watkiss, 14 Cromwell Road, has been congratulated by the General Officer commanding the 29th Division for gallantry in the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Sergt H Corbridge, who previous to the war was an inspector of the Liverpool Corporation Health Department, has written an interesting letter to his friends, in which he says:—

“ The 29th Division, have had a warm time of it at Gallipoli. At the landing the water literally bubbled with bullets and shrapnel as we rowed ashore. Dead and wounded troops were lying in the water and on the beach, and we had to wade through 5ft. of water after getting out of the boat, while underneath the water were barbed wire entanglements. For two days the medical men were kept busy attending to the wounded. The Turks tried to rush them, but on seeing the British fix bayonets they turned and fled, their retirement being followed by the guns from the Queen Elizabeth, Triumph, and Goliath. Next day the ground was found covered with scores of dead and wounded Turks. The circumstances under which I received the acknowledgement card were that I and Capt Taylor were out collecting and dressing wounded, using a disused barn as a place of shelter. Word was brought that Lieut Sherbrooke, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was lying badly wounded in a ravine about a quarter of a mile away. We went and found him, although the shrapnel and rifle fire was severe, and bandaged him up, and then I carried him to safety. I then went up the ravine to a private, who was shot through both legs. As a flank fire was coming down the ravine all the time I carried him into a crevice, applied bandages, and made him comfortable, and left him for a stretcher squad when there was a lull in the firing. At the time the shooting was very severe, and, looking back upon the exploit, I wonder how it was I was not hit several times, bullets pinging past me and burying themselves in the clay bank just about breast high. I thought no more of the affair until the following Friday, when a parade was ordered, and I was handed the card after a nice flattering speech by the General.” The card referred to contains the following inscription:—“ The General Officer commanding the 29th Division congratulates No. 455, Sergt H Corbridge, Royal Army Medical Corps, on the gallant action performed by him.”

HOW THE K.O.S.B.’S LANDED AT GALLIPOLI.

Sergt Kater, of the K.O.S.B, writing to a friend in Rugby, gives a graphic description of the landing of that regiment. He says:—We landed at 5.30 a.m from small boats, and proceeded to climb a cliff 200 feet high. Having met no opposition at the point of disembarkation, we commenced to dig trenches, but were attacked by the enemy before we could get properly started, and the majority had to lie in the open with no shelter ; but we hung on—some 2,000 of us against a hostile force of 13,000. At night a German officer came close to our trench and said : “ Scotch, are you ? We’ll give you Scotch.” Our fellows just answered and said: “ Come on and try it then.” They did try it, but to no avail, because what we have we generally hold ; so we just rattled into them, and gave them such a hammering that they withdrew the following morning, leaving piles of dead in front of us.

We were landed at this particular part to draw the enemy from another part, so that a large force could land some miles further round. So having performed what was wanted we went back into the boats, had a night’s rest after fighting for 36 hours, and then landed where the remainder of the force had landed, and advanced under shrapnel fire right up to the firing line. Everything was quiet until Sunday, the 2nd, when we had another burst up, and the enemy retired again, leaving hundreds of dead behind them. Since then they have left the Scotch severely alone.

After four days in trenches we were relieved by the Terriers, and immediately the enemy attacked them, and gave them an awful time, but the lads held on till we came up, when the enemy chucked firing. The Terriers went back for a rest, and we held the trenches for eight more days, when we were again relieved—this time by the Ghurkas. The same thing happened again, and the enemy gave them a rough time, until they learned what sort of metal Ghurkas were made of. It would seem the Turks have had about enough of us, because we haven’t fired a shot since Sunday, the 2nd, while they have attacked other regiments daily. You will be sorry to hear that Graham was killed Monday morning (26th April), the day after we landed. He died like every soldier should—at his post. It is three weeks to-day (May 16th) since we started, and we have pinched over seven miles of the enemy’s country—so we are not doing so badly.

THE RUGBY TERRITORIALS AND THE SOLDIERS.

To the Editor of the Advertiser.

SIR,—It is with regret that we men of the Border Regiment in hospital read of the “ E ” Company and the Howitzer Battery men feeling so downhearted about such a term as “ Our Soldiers,” which the people of Rugby so courteously conferred upon us, and we trust you will allow us as we greatly wish to give those brave Rugbeians an explanation on behalf of the Border Regiment and others stationed in Rugby.

In the first place Sergt-Major Hopewell ought to remember that the very fact of our coming from India caused great interest in the citizens’ minds—something like a mystery—and everywhere one went for the first week or so you could hear only the one cry, especially from the children, “ Have you got any buttons or Indian coins to give us, mister ?”

Then, again, our bands, although not too good in our opinion, gave the people a great pleasure to sit in the Park on Sundays and listen to them. Then there was the coming and going of our battalion, at all times things natural to a line battalion, but which had not been seen before by the Rugbeians.

Well, we feel it our duty to say that as we were treated as the people’s friends we could not help doing our level best to repay the many kindnesses bestowed on us, and did our best to create a good impression amongst the civil population. In my case, I and my three comrades were treated as sons of the house, and we got to call the landlady “ Mother,” and she called us “ her boys.”

What we do want is to ask the brave Rugbeians fighting for us in France, not to judge the people like this, for we are sure that they could not possibly be forgotten by so kindly a people. The thing is impossible.

Trusting you will think this worth inserting as a poor kind of explanation.—I am, Yours deeply indebted, LESLIE CAMPBELL (acting drummer), for men of 1st Border Regiment, Western General Hospital, Manchester.