Southern, Albert Edward Rainbow. Died 1st Jul 1916

Albert Edward Rainbow Southern was born in early 1883 in Rugby, the fourth of ten children and baptised on 13 May 1883 at Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, when his family had recently moved from one of the Tank Cottages in New Bilton, to 1009 Old Station, Rugby.

Albert’s father, William, was born in about 1852 in Rugeley, Staffordshire, and in 1881 was a [railway] fireman. Before 1891, he had been promoted to become an engine driver. Albert’s mother, Caroline ‘Carry’ née Rainbow Southern was born in about 1853, more locally in Pailton, Warwickshire, and her marriage with William was registered in Rugby in early 1876. In 1901, William Southern was no longer an engine driver, but now a labourer, although probably still with the L&NW Railway as he was working for the company as a ‘tube cleaner’ in 1911.

Albert Southern became a soldier and enlisted into the Northampton Regiment, and is understood to have served for some time in South Africa.   The 2nd Battalion sailed for South Africa in October 1899, and formed part of 9th Brigade.   The Battalion was involved in actions at Belmont, and Enslin in November and in early December near Graspan, all with comparatively low losses. In the autumn of 1900, the Battalion was in the south-west of the Transvaal, moving to the Central Transvaal in early 1901.[1]

However, by April 1901, now aged 19, Albert Southern, assuming that he had indeed been in South Africa, had returned to England, and was enumerated as a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment, stationed at the Verne Citadel, in Portland, Dorset. This is today a high security prison, but Verne Citadel was then a heavily defended artillery fortress overlooking Portland harbour.[2] Another source[3] suggests that from 1900-1901, it was the 3rd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment that was at Verne, however, the 1901 census returns confirm the presence of the 2nd Battalion and it was in the process of being replaced by the 4th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, which had already arrived.

By 1911 Albert had left the army and was enumerated back in Rugby as an ‘Ex Soldier’, and was lodging at the White Lion, at 20 York Place, Dunchurch Road, Rugby. This was behind Frosts, the printers at the top of Dunchurch Road.

When the First War broke out, and with recruiting stepped up, Albert Southern rejoined the Northamptonshire Regiment, as Private No.17672, on 24 March 1915. He had been working as a weaver, and was living at 77 Windsor Street, Rugby. When he rejoined, he was aged 31 years 11 months and was 5ft 4in tall. His military career is recorded in detail in his Service Record which is one of the few that have survived. This has details of his postings, at home, in France, back home and then back in France.   Despite, or perhaps because he was an ‘old sweat’, his discipline was perhaps far from ideal, with many minor offences, but the record also shows evidence of ill health, mainly resulting from his asthma, which possibly resulted from the poor living conditions at the Front.   At various dates his Service Record showed him with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the Regiment.

In the first three days after his enlistment, Albert was posted first to the Depot, presumably still in Northampton, and then on 27 March 1915 to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was then at Portland, which Albert would have known from his earlier military service, and then moved to Gillingham, Kent in May 1915, where on 24 July 1915, Albert was ‘absent from 8.45am parade’ and the next day ‘was absent from answering his name when a defaulter at 8.15am’. He received two days Confined to Barracks (CB). He was absent again on 27 July receiving three days CB. Then on 9 August he was absent for three days, forfeiting seven days pay (possibly later reduced to two or three days) and receiving two days CB.   Then on the 13 August he was both ‘I. Absent from bathing parade at 5.15pm’ and ‘II. Stating a falsehood to be an NCO’, and received another seven days CB. The latter offences were dealt with by the 3rd Battalion officers.

Perhaps they had enough of him! – or reinforcements were needed – but after 153 days ‘Home Service’ on 25 August 1915, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion in France, and joined them on 2 September.   He was then in France for 205 days, but not without incident.

The 2nd Battalion had been in Alexandria, Egypt on the outbreak of war and returned to England, landing in October 1914. It moved to Hursley Park near Winchester and initially came under command of 24th Brigade in 8th Division which had been formed by bringing together regular army units which had been stationed at various points around the British Empire. The 8th Division moved to France in November 1914, as a badly-needed reinforcement to the BEF and the 2nd Battalion landed in France at Le Havre on 5 November 1914.

Having been posted to France on 25 August 1915, Albert Southern would have missed the Battle of Auber’s Ridge in May 1915 when the 2nd Northamptonshire Battalion was in the northern pincer attack with 24th Brigade and took heavy casualties in the catastrophic attacks and where a number of Rugby men died.[4]

On 18 October 1915, the 24th Infantry Brigade was transferred to the 23rd Division in exchange for 70th Brigade.[5] From about 14 September, the 23rd Division took responsibility for a front line sector between Ferme Grande Flamengrie to the Armentieres-Wez Macquart road, this was just south of the Belgian border and some 10km. north-west of Lille and included the front at Bois Grenier.   They remained in this area for a considerable time until end January 1916.

On 9 October 1915 when ‘in the field’ Albert was charged with, ‘1. Reporting sick without a cause when wanted for digging. 2. Smoking whilst on sentry’ – he received ‘10 days field imprisonment No. 1’.[6] He also suffered from asthma, this being noted on his record on 31 October; 6 November, and a decision was presumably made to treat him in England as he was first transferred to Etaples; then on 15 November ‘Class A, joined Havre’.

A few days later, on 19 November 1915, he was at ‘home’ but was charged with ‘Having ball ammo in his trousers when parading …’ and he lost three days’ pay. Then an entry dated 28 November noted ‘To Front’. In December ‘in billets’ his offences continued … 5 days CB on 7 December for a now illegible offence; on 8 December ‘absent off guard mounting’ – 5 days CB; on 14 December ‘Losing by neglect his haversack’ – 3 days CB and an illegible note, possibly relating to its replacement. Then on 30 December he was ‘Unshaven on parade’ – 2 days CB. In his favour, at least it was recorded that there had been no cases of drunkenness! These offenses were during the ‘… dreadful winter in the trenches’, and on 6 January 1916, Albert was again ‘unshaven on parade’ and given seven days CB.

On 12 February he was admitted to ‘70 FA’ [?Field Ambulance] with ‘brownish catarrh’, and on 9 March he was classed as ‘sick’ and admitted to hospital with asthma and bronchial catarrh. He was transferred to Rouen on 12 March and then again back to England on 16 March, being posted to the Depot on 17 March 1916, on which date he was admitted to the ‘War Hospital, Clopton, Stratford-on-Avon’ with ‘Bronchitis’. Eleven days later, on 28 April, he was passed ‘fit for duty’ by the ‘Officer in Charge’. After his discharge, he was granted ‘furlough’ [leave] from 29 April to 8 May 1916 and on that date he was posted back to the 3rd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, until 30 May. He had spent a no doubt welcome period of 44 days in UK.

Albert would thus have missed the actions from 21 May 1916, when the Division was defending against the German attack on Vimy Ridge, although the action was more intense to its right. The 23rd Division was relieved by the 47th (London) Division on 11 June.

When Albert Southern was posted back to France on 31 May 1916, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, which was in the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. The Battalion had been in France since landing at Le Havre on 13 August 1914. Albert was now some 100kms or more further south than on his earlier French posting.

One service record entry suggests that Albert was then transferred in the field to the Essex Regiment[7] on 26 June 1916. However, his formal records still recorded him with the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. This was in the lead up to the Battle of Albert, which comprised the first two weeks of the Battle of the Somme.

On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the Anglo-French infantry attacked on the south bank from Foucaucourt to the Somme and from the Somme north to Gommecourt, 2 miles (3.2 km) beyond Serre. Whilst there were some successes on that first day, in the area from the Albert-Bapaume road to Gommecourt, the British attack was a disaster, and this was where most of the approximate 60,000 British casualties of the day were incurred.

 Albert Southern was posted as ‘Missing’ on 1 July 1916, during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He had been back in France only 32 days. His father was ‘notified’ on 11 July 1916. His body was never found and it was presumed that he had ‘Died on or since’ 1 July and that he had been ‘Killed in Action’.

It was nearly a year later, on 30 April 1917, that his ‘next of kin (father) [was] notified’ formally of his death. An official letter dated 3 September 1917 instructed that any effects and his medals should be sent to ‘Mrs Carry Southern, 77 Windsor Street, Rugby’, and a letter dated 19 November 1921 noted that she was ‘his mother and sole legatee’. For some reason his mother had taken over these formal duties from his father. Albert was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal which were sent to his mother.

Albert Southern is remembered on Panel Reference: Bay 7, of the Arras Memorial, which commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and had no known grave. Generally the missing from the Somme were remembered on the Thiepval Monument, but the Northamptons were fighting toward the north of the Somme action, so this may have been an administrative matter.

Albert’s youngest brother Sidney Harold Rainbow Southern, M.M., was with the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and later with the Shropshire Light Infantry, attached to the 1st /1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment. Sidney was also killed in action, on 4 September 1918.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Albert Southern was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, May 2015.

[1]       Edited from: http://www.angloboerwar.com/.

[2]       Verne Citadel on the Isle of Portland was started in 1847 as a camp for prisoners building the Portland harbour breakwaters, and was extended during the 1860s, to house 8 RML guns with calibres up to 12″. For further information and photographs visit: http://www.subterraneanhistory.co.uk/2011/02/verne-citadel-portland.html.

[3]       See: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pbtyc/Misc/Verne_Reg.htm.

[4]       See report on ‘Rugby Remembers’ for the Battle of Auber’s Ridge and the Rugby casualties on 9 May 1915.

[5]       It returned to 8th Division on 15 July 1916 after the battle of the Somme.

[6]       Field Punishment was introduced in 1881 following the abolition of flogging, and was common during WWI. It consisted of the convicted man being placed in fetters and handcuffs and attached to a gun wheel or fence post, for up to two hours per day. During the early part of WWI it was often applied with the arms stretched out and the legs tied together, giving rise to the nickname ‘crucifixion’.

[7]       The 1st Battalion of the Essex regiment were also in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Advertisements

Phipps, Lionel Lush. Died 28th Sep 1915

Lionel Lush Phipps’ birth was registered in the second quarter of 1896, and he was baptised on 16 May 1896 at Hardingstone in Northamptonshire.

His father, Albert Edward Phipps was a solicitor, and his mother was variously recorded as Marie Quita; Mari Zuita (on Lionel’s baptism record); both Margarita and Mariquita (on her marriage transcriptions); and Mariquita (on Lionel’s CWGC record)!   Their marriage was registered in Portsea in Q2, 1890 and they lived in Hardingstone.

At the end of March 1901, aged 5, Lionel and his mother were staying with his aunts, Emma and Amy Lush, at the home of his grandfather, Joseph Lush at Ryde on the Isle of Wight.   Later, Lionel attended Repton School in Derbyshire, and was enumerated there, aged 15, in the 1911 census.

He would probably have been a member of the school cadet training force, and he joined the army ‘straight from school’. He was commissioned soon afterwards into the 7th Battalion of his local Northamptonshire Regiment as a

Temporary Second Lieutenant with effect from 22 September 1914.[1] His younger brother was in the same Regiment.

Lionel Lush Phipps portrait

After his death, a photograph appeared in the local paper.[2]

The 7th (Service) Battalion was formed at Northampton in September 1914 as part of K3 and came under command of the 73rd Brigade in the 24th Division.   They moved to the South Downs and into billets in Southwick between November 1914 and April 1915, and then on to Woking in June 1915.   On 2 September 1915 they landed at Boulogne.[3]

This agrees with Lionel’s Medal Card which recorded that he went to France on 2 September 1915.

 

There is fairly good information on their movements in the Diaries and reported on the Web.[4]

The 7th Battalion was part of 24th Division and had only just arrived in France when it was allocated as Reserve for the offensive at Loos on 25th September.

Already tired from the forced march, though only five men fell out, they were held back too far from the Front line (a decision that was instrumental in Sir John French losing his job) and did not arrive in the line until late on the 25th. Being relatively “unscathed” by the forced marches of the previous days, the 7th Northamptonshires were sent up to the battle before the rest of the division on the evening of the 25th rather than on the 26th like much of the rest of the division.

They were given no instructions at all on reaching the front line and instead they were just told to follow an officer of the 9th Division up to relieve one of the assaulting battalions. Led by ‘C’ Company the battalion crossed the battlefield in full kit negotiating seven trenches before they reached the battalion they were to relieve. They formed a defensive flank between the Hohenzollern Redoubt and Fosse 8 which they held overnight.   On the 26th they were then hit by a German counter-attack against ‘B’ Company trenches which were bombed, but the attack was repulsed. Lt. Morley of B Company would have been recommended for the VC that day, but both he and his senior officer, Colonel Parkin, who had intended to recommend him, were killed. On one occasion the battalion received instructions to retire and had withdrawn most of the way back to their lines before being sent back across 600 yards of ground to take up their positions back in the front line.

On Monday 27th September 1915, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies near Fosse 8 were attacked from the rear by Germans using bombs. Captain Mansfield collected a mixed force of men and counter-attacked to relieve ‘C’ Company. A further counter-attack to regain the village at Fosse was cancelled after several senior officers, including General Thesiger were killed by a shell whilst organising the attack.

The battalion held their positions for the rest of the day before being relieved on the evening of the 27th.

A more detailed account in the war diary noted:

27 September 1915: Auchy area: The men of 73rd Brigade holding the positions east of Fosse 8 are in an exhausted condition, having no food, water or sleep for 48 hours.

12.00 noon: Heavy enemy shelling of Fosse 8 and tracks to the North (Trois Cabarets) begins and continues all afternoon and evening.

Heavy enemy shelling of Fosse 8, tracks to the North (Trois Cabarets) and communication trenches leading up to the Hohenzollern Redoubt continues throughout the night.

2.30am: An attack against Fosse 8 by the 1/Royal Berkshires, detached from Carter’s Force, is halted 70 yards from their objective, after crossing half a moonlit mile under fire.

Dawn: German infantry attacks 21st Brigade in Stone Alley, adjacent to Vermelles-Hulluch road, but is beaten off by 2/Wiltshires. Shortly afterwards, an enemy attack in battalion strength hits 73rd Brigade in Fosse and Slag Alleys. (The men of this Brigade holding the positions east of Fosse 8 are in an exhausted condition, having had no food, water or sleep for 48 hours.)

7th Northamptonshires are forced back to cottages at Corons de Pekin, North of the Fosse 8 Dump [a slag heap from a coal mine]. The enemy places a heavy machine-gun on the slopes of the Dump, and brings the area between the Dump and the Hohenzollern Redoubt under fire.

Note: the heaps alongside them [the pits] are called Fosses. Most important areas included the dump at Fosse 8, in front of Auchy, and the Quarries in front of Hulluch.   Both positions were strongly fortified by the enemy, the one at Fosse 8 being called the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

Phipps - Loos - Fosse 8 - Trenches

Attack on Fosse: 28 September 1915: 9.30am: 85th Brigade of 28th Division, supported by 83rd Brigade, attacked at the Dump and Fosse 8. Many casualties were suffered by both sides in desperate fighting in the confined trenches around the Hohenzollern Redoubt. At around 4.00pm, 2nd Guards Brigade attacks Puits 14 bis, but after suffering very heavy casualties from machine-guns firing from in front of Bois Hugo they are ordered to halt.

There were heavy losses – Battalions at the time had some 650-750 men: the 7th Northamptonshires lost 377, of which 11 officers, including their Lt. Col. A. Parkin, in the attacks around Fosse 8.

For more information go to ‘Battle of Loos’ on Rugby Remembers or for a more detailed report on the Battle of Loos, go to: http://www.1914-1918.net/bat13.htm.

Overall in the Battle of Loos, more than 61,000 British casualties were sustained: 50,000 in the main fighting area between Loos and Givenchy and the remainder in the subsidiary attacks. Of these, 7,766 men died.

A more specific mention of Lionel Phipps is given in a later history of the Battalion.[5]

The casualties had been heavy in numbers, but numbers alone do not represent the seriousness of the loss to the battalion.   … Captain V. D. Shortt, Lieutenant L. L. Phipps, both of whom had already been wounded earlier in the battle, were killed; … What the battalion owed to these officers cannot be expressed in words, but those who served under them or with them cannot hear the Battle of Loos mentioned without recalling their characters to memory with love and pride. … The casualties amounted to 402 all ranks, and included very many of the best of the battalion, and it was not long before rumour reached Northampton that the battalion had been ‘wiped out’, … the Battle of Loos in 1915 from its very newness to all ranks, was the severest trial that the 7th Northamptonshire Regiment was called on to face during four years’ constant fighting in France and Flanders.

Temporary Lieutenant Lionel Lush Phipps, was just one of the 402 who were wounded and died at and around Loos on 28 September 1915. He had been in France and Belgium for a mere four weeks.

He is buried at the Noeux-Les-Mines Communal Cemetery, in plot I. K. 12., and is remembered also on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

He was awarded the British and Victory Medals and the 1914-15 Star. His file is available at The National Archives at Reference: WO 339/14355.

In fact the date of Lionel’s death was never entirely clear. The memorial notice inserted in the local newspaper read ‘Phipps, killed in action in France, on 26th or 27th September … younger son …’.[6] A notice elsewhere in the same newspaper confirmed that he was ‘… educated at Repton and joined the 7th Northamptonshire regiment on leaving school.   He was a very popular young officer and an all-round sportsman. His father is a Captain in the National Reserve, and his brother Ronald was recently wounded in the foot whilst serving in France.’

Whilst Lionel is remembered in Rugby, as yet, no connection with the town has been found!

As noted above, his older brother, Lieutenant Roland H. Phipps, was also a Lieutenant in the Northamptonshires and had been wounded in the foot, a few months earlier.[7] He survived the war and died in 1964, aged 66.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

[1]       The London Gazette, 22 September 1914, Issue:28910, Page:7488.

[2]       Northampton Mercury, Friday, 8 October 1915.

[3]       http://www.1914-1918.net/northants.htm

[4]       http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=49720

[5]       H. B. King, M.C., 7th (S.) Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, 1914-1919, Gale & Polden, Ltd., 1919.

[6]       Northampton Mercury, Friday, 8 October 1915.

[7]       Northampton Mercury, Friday, 6 August 1915.

Reynolds, Frank. Died 9th May 1915

Frank Reynolds’ birth was registered in the third quarter of 1893 in Rugby, when his family were living in Campbell Street, Rugby. His father was Tom Reynolds, a well-known local builder who in 1908 then carried out his business from 18 Dunchurch Road, Rugby.[1] His mother was Tom’s first wife, Emma Julia (née Burnham), who died in 1899. His father then married Maria (née Bagnall) in 1900.   Sadly Maria also died, in March 1915, just before Frank left for the front in April 1915.

In the 1901 the family was still living in Campbell Street, Rugby and comprised father Tom aged 37, his wife Maria aged 27, sons John H G aged 9, Frank aged 7, and Herbert aged 4.

In 1911 Frank was a footman at Michell House, one of the Boarding Houses for Rugby School, at 3 Barby Road and at the outbreak of War, Frank, though still a footman, was now employed by Mrs Cross of Cottesbrooke Grange, Northamptonshire.

Cottesbrooke Grange

 

 

Frank Reynolds joined the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment and according to his medal card went to France as Private No.16483 on 22 April 1915. He probably formed part of the reinforcements after the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915.

Frank’s two brothers also joined up and an article and photograph (below) of the three boys in uniform with their father appeared in the Rugby Advertiser just after Frank had been reported missing and a colleague stated therein that he was ‘… killed … and that his body was afterwards missing’.[2]

Reynolds pic2

The 2nd Northants were in the 24th Brigade in the northern pincer of the attack at Aubers Ridge, on 9 May 1915. The Diary of the 2nd Northants records difficulties with communication and the conditions … ‘Several attempts were made to get in touch with the front line, but communication was impossible and the view was much restricted by the trees in front.’[3] Several Northants men were awarded the DCM that day and the citations give some idea of the extreme conditions, ‘… the intervening ground was so swept by machine gun fire that the companies could not be supported.’[4] ‘… one portion of a trench was being vacated owing to intense artillery fire.’[5]

A fuller report is available on the action at Aubers Ridge on 9 May, where several other Rugby men in the Rifle Brigade died.   There were more than 11,000 British casualties, most within yards of the front-line. It was one of the highest casualty rates of the war. The battle was a disaster for the British, no ground was won and no tactical advantage gained.

Reynolds pic3

Frank’s body was not recovered and his death, on 9 May 1915, is remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium. Frank Reynolds was awarded the Victory, British and Star Medals.

Frank’s brothers also joined up. John was a Corporal in the 2nd Grenadier Guards and Herbert, also a Corporal, in The Rifle Brigade. All three were killed in action. Frank on 9 May 1915, Herbert on 5 September 1916 and John on 20 November 1916.

Their father, Tom Reynolds, died in 1936 aged 75 years, his three sons Private Frank Reynolds, Corporal Herbert Reynolds and Corporal John H C Reynolds, and his second wife Maria (née Bagnall) are remembered on a grave in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

Reynolds pic4

On 22 March 1922 Rugby War Memorial Gates were unveiled, dedicated and formally opened. Tom Reynolds, the father of three deceased Rugby soldiers, was asked to open the Rugby Memorial Gates.

A report on the opening is reproduced below:

Rugby War Memorial Gates


The Gates were unveiled on Sunday 12th March 1922, which fortunately, in view of the fact that this was a completely outdoor event, was a sunny day. The unveiling was carried out by Field Marshal Earl French of Ypres, assisted by Mr & Mrs Hardman, who had lost three sons in the war. The ceremony attracted thousands of the general public, while the inner area was reserved for subscribers and families of the fallen.

The Gates were then dedicated by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Dr A A David, a former Headmaster of Rugby School. Mr Tom  Reynolds, a local builder who had also lost three sons in the war, formally opened the Gates with a large key presented by Foster & Dicksee, a local firm of building contractors. He was allowed to keep this key as a souvenir.

After Mr Reynolds had walked through the gates, those assembled sang “O God our help in ages past”, and the ceremony concluded with the laying of wreaths.[6]

A further article recently appeared in the Rugby Advertiser requesting information about the whereabouts of the key. [7]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

[1]       Edinburgh Gazette, May 1908.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, from http://trees.ancestry.co.uk/tree/22135023/person/1190040266.

[3]       War Diary, 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment.

[4]       Walker, R. W., and Chris Buckland, compilers. Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914–1920, Naval and Military Press, 2007

[5]       Northampton Mercury, Friday, 6 August 1915.

[6]       http://www.rugby.gov.uk/info/200257/local_history_and_heritage/962/war_memorial_gates

[7]       Rugby Advertiser, 11 November 2011.

[8]       http://www.rugbyadvertiser.co.uk/news/local-news/do-you-hold-the-key-to-rugby-s-war-memorial-gates-1-3240322

9th Jan 1915. Local War Notes and Christmas at the Front

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

At the Rugby Cattle Market, on Monday next, Mr W Wiggins will sell by auction a sheep, which has been presented for the purpose, the proceeds of which will be given to the Belgian Relief Fund.

Mr R G S Anderson, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who was wounded, has now re-joined his regiment.

Mr P A Morson, son of Mr Arthur Morson, of Rugby, has joined the Foreign Service Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company.

Sergt-Instructor Bird, of the Stores Department of the B.T.H Company, has been appointed to a commission in the Northants Regiment in connection with Lord Kitchener’s Army.

Mr C G Richards, late of Rugby, is now with Royal Army Medical Corps at Diss, in Norfolk, and he expects to sail for Egypt with a detachment of the Corps in a few weeks’ time.

H Welsby, T Lee, T Batchelor, and H Webber (Rugby), and C Batchelor (Hunningham) hare joined the reserve battalion of the 7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The battalion has now more than 1,000 men.

Mr C F E Dean, partner of Mr W G B Pulman, solicitor, Rugby and Lutterworth, has enrolled in the Public Schools Battalion attached to the Royal Fusiliers, and left to take up duty in London on Saturday.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

Recruiting still continues fairly satisfactory at Rugby. During the past week 36 men enlisted, the best day being Monday, when 15 came [?]d. So far the total for Rugby is 2,102.

AMUSING RECRUITING INCIDENT.

The recruiting officer in charge at the Drill Hall had an amusing experience on Wednesday morning. Two little boys from Pinder’s Lane-one aged 6 years 10 months and the other aged 7 years-presented themselves, and stated quite seriously that they wished to enlist as buglers, The sergeant, instead of informing the youngsters that this was impossible, entered into the spirit of the joke, got out the papers, and began to fill in the particulars. The would-be recruits expressed their willingness to join any corps to which they could be sent, and subsequently left the hall fully satisfied that they might at any be called to serve.

A SOLDIER’S THANKS.

Pte J T Meadows, of the 1st Northants Regiment, writes from the London General Hospital : ” Will you allow me space to convey my many thanks to the people of Rugby, who have so generously thought of me this Christmas and New Year, and who have made it so happy for me in my sufferings from terrible wounds received in action. The names of engagements I am unable to state, only the one where I was put out of action (Ypres). I regret to say my recovery is very slow. Through it all I remain quite happy.”

RUGBY SHUNTER’S NARROW ESCAPE.

S S Alfred Wood, of the 1st Artillery Division, who previous to being called up for active service was employed at Rugby L & N-W Railway Station as a shunter, in a letter to a friend says :-

“Things have been a bit rough at the front, but are a little better now. He was having a fortnight’s rest from the firing line, and it seemed quite a change to be away from the ‘ coal boxes.’ He was hit once, but it did not do any damage, the bullet going through his jacket and just grazing his back. One of his mates from Rugby got killed, and another had his eye taken out with a piece of shell at Ypres. In one passage he says: ‘ When we got back from the battle of Ypres they had completely blown the town to atoms. We were in a wood one day, and the

Germans started to shell us just us we were going to have a bit of breakfast—such as it was. One of our sergeants was having a wash, when over came a German shell and shot him dead. Five more were killed and wounded, and also about a dozen horses. So you see we have been through a bit. At the battle of the Aisne we had a rough time, losing nine guns out of eighteen in the Brigade and a lot of men. We lost two guns and about 40 men one day ; the Germans captured them and took them prisoners.”

KITCHENER’S RECRUIT AT THE FRONT.

Driver Jack Jones, son of Mr Rowland Jones, brewery agent, Claremont Road, who joined the new heavy battery, Garrison Artillery, in connection with Lord Kitchener’s Army, in August, was selected for the front early in November, and must have been among the first in Kitchener’s Army to go. He has written several letters home, in each of which he states that he is quite well. In one letter he says : “ Our guns have gone very well up to now, without a casualty, so I think we have been very lucky. I think we have to put all that down to the officers, because they are all very clever men. They know how to find the enemy, but the enemy has not found us yet, and I hope they won’t.” In another letter he says : “ Things out here are a bit quiet. We have been in action now about one month.”

HOW THE WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY SPENT CHRISTMAS.

At the time of the German raid on Scarborough the Warwickshire Yeomanry were stationed on the coast not a hundred miles from the scene of hostilities. General regret was expressed that their bit of the coast had not been selected for the attack instead of the Yorkshire coast.

A week before Christmas the regiment was moved from the coast to a few miles inland. The change was not appreciated, for the men are now quartered in a Little village of about 300 inhabitants, and five miles from any town. The last place they were at was about the size of Warwick, which, besides the ever-present attraction of the sea and shipping, boasted a couple of picture shows, and a hall where writing, &c, could be done. Also the men were billeted on private people, and consequently lived very well and had real beds to sleep in, which, after sleeping on bags of straw for the last few months, was Paradise. Army rations went down very badly after billeting for a month, after Christmas fare was a welcome break in the monotony of bread and meat and bread and jam. Most of the men are now billeted in empty houses, a troop to a house. Six or seven men occupy a room, and with the coming of Christmas hampers many enjoyable, if informal, dinners and teas were held. A whip round is made periodically for coal, and the same method was adopted to buy a couple of kettles. Some queer meals have been eaten lately ; pineapple chunks, pork pie, and cake and tea have provided many a meal, some of which have been breakfasts, others dinners or teas. Each room usually has its own store of small groceries, and every man ought soon to be a complete housekeeper. If one room is short of tea, it can often be obtained from the next by swapping a piece of coal for it. In the same way a couple of mince pies area equal to half a candle. The latter are indispensable articles of the men’s housekeeping, as there is no other means of lighting the houses, and friends sending parcels might with advantage slip a few in. A very pleasant Christmas was spent, each squadron having a real Christmas dinner, followed by a concert in the evening. Everyone enjoyed the Christmas spread, which was done in real style, turkeys, geese, roast beef, plum puddings, with fruit, nuts, and drinks ad lib. After living more or less on bully beef, this was a welcome change, and everyone enjoyed it to the full. The concert also was a great success, and was kept up till 10.30 p.m, a very late hour for soldiers, who on ordinary occasions must be in their billets by 9.30 p.m.

The regiment has been engaged in very interesting work and schemes lately, much of which has involved a good deal of cross-country riding.

A CHRISTMAS DAY TRUCE.

In a further letter home, Pte Sheasby says that on Christmas Eve they were ordered to some new trenches. We hadn’t been there many minutes before we started shouting the compliments of the season to the Germans, who were entrenched about 250 to 300 yards in fronts of us, and to our surprise they shouted back : “ Hello ! you English, if you won’t fire we won’t over Christmas ” ; so, of course, we shouted : “ All right; we won’t fire till you do.” Of course, the sentries were at their posts just the same ; but we felt more free, and hadn’t to keep bobbing down to miss stopping a bit of lead. At the same time we hardly expected them to keep to their word ; but there was not a shot fired that night by us or by the Germans opposite, although there was firing going on on our right and left. The next morning as soon as it got light and we had had breakfast, we took a walk through our barbed wire entanglements, and met them halfway between the two trenches. After hand-shakes and “ A Merry Christmas ” we exchanged cigars and cigarettes, and all had a chat and smoke together. I took a drop of whiskey, and we had a drink. They were very eager after the whiskey, you bet ; and they also seemed very eager after food too. . . Our officer came out and took our photograph, about 20 of us, Germans and British mixed together, and he has promised me one if he can get them away to be done. . . We fixed things up that neither side would fire on the other unless we were ordered to, and then we were to fire in the air until after Boxing Day ; but one of the Germans came over and volunteered the news that he had seen their orders, and that they were to make an attack on us that (Boxing night) at 12.15 p.m. Of course, we got prepared, and all stood to arms at about 11.30 with fixed bayonets, all at our posts, anxiously waiting for them. And then our big guns started to let them have it for a few minutes after that, and shelled their trenches for about three-quarters of an hour, dropping shells right into them. I think that must have put them off it and made them think that we were about to make another attack. Anyway, we stood to our posts till 2.30, and nothing happened.”

26 Dec 1914. No Cause to Grumble – At the Front

NO CAUSE TO GRUMBLE.

Pte J Richardson, of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, writing from the front on December 9th to his sister, says :—“ You saw it in the paper about the Coldstreams being praised up, but you can take it from me it was hard-earned, and not without losing some good lads over it. . . . We are about making a general advance right into Germany, so I expect by that we shall lose a few. Still, I know the lads will meet it with a good heart . . . We can’t grumble out here ; we get plenty of tobacco and clothes—as much as you can expect. Those who talk about it being cold on the moots just want to have a night in the trenches. The bombs and the ‘ Jack Johnsons ‘ keep you ‘ warm.’ I hope you will enjoy yourselves together at Christmas. Don’t bother about me ; I shall be all right. It would only disappoint me if I thought you were sitting worrying about me. If you send me anything, send me some cake or plum pudding, and some writing paper, as I have more tobacco now than I could smoke in a month. It is ‘ get out and get under ‘ all right here. You can hear them singing in the air—the fifth of November—a long time before they reach you ; but that is what we have to watch up above, dropping the little bomb down. You must remember me to all the ‘ boys,’ and tell them to be quick and give us a hand, or else there won’t be any left for them.”

THE WARWICKSHIRE R.H.A IN ACTION.

The Warwickshire R.H.A, whose headquarters are at Warwick, went to France about six weeks ago, and after doing patrol and other work on lines of communication, eventually reached the firing line. They have been in action, and letters from gunners in the Battery state that they were successful in doing a good deal of damage to the enemy’s trenches. The Germans turned two heavy batteries upon them, and the “ Black Marias ” dropped all round the Battery, till at last the order was given to retire and leave the guns for the time being. The men retreated to a village a short distance to the rear while a heavy battery of 4.7-inch guns pumped shells into the enemy, and eventually silenced their batteries sufficiently to enable the Warwickshire men to return to their guns and man-handle them into a safer position. It was an absolute marvel how they managed to get out without being smashed up and without any casualties.

CLIFTON SOLDIER KILLED WHILE WRITING HOME.

As we briefly announced last week, Pte W J Hutt (7698) Northamptonshire Regiment, of Church Lane, Clifton, was killed at the front on November 5th. Although early this week no official intimation had been received by his wife, to whom he had only been married a short time, there is no doubt that the news is true. From particulars furnished by a friend of his, and the four men who assisted in his burial, and who have returned home wounded, it appears that the unfortunate young man was killed near Ypres while writing a letter home. He was with his regiment in the trenches for five weeks in the Battle of the Aisne, during which time they made almost imperceptible progress. Their losses in this battle were very heavy. In one week Private Hutt went through five bayonet charges, and escaped without a scratch. Previous to being called up he was employed in the Winding Department at the B.T.H.. He would have been 26 years of age next month.

 

RUGBY SOLDIER’S EXPERIENCES.

Pte J Lickorish, of the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment, has written a lengthy letter home, in which he recounts a number of interesting experiences. Referring to their first taste of modem warfare, he says :— “ We hastily entrenched, but had to evacuate them, as the German guns were getting terribly close. We retired behind a farm in open formation, the — Regiment leading the way, and our regiment following. It was here I saw the first horrors of war. The Germans got the range on the farm, and dropped shells all round it, killing and wounding several men. As we lay waiting for the next move a shell burst directly in front of me, and the time fuse went “ plonk ” into the earth about a yard in front of me. At first I thought it was a piece of dirt, as I could see it coming, and my pal reached out for it, but soon dropped it ; it was so hot. I have got it as a souvenir. Our captain, who was afterwards taken prisoner, behaved splendidly here, and it was a treat to watch him walking about, laughing and chatting to us, while we were under shell fire. By-and-bye a battery of ours dashed up, and so diverted the shell fire from us, and we were able to retire again in safety : but about half-a-mile to our right we could see the deadly shrapnel following our troops up with hellish persistency, but with few casualties on account of the open formation. We kept this up until nightfall. Up to this we had not sighted the enemy, but behind us was one consistent rifle fire, which showed that our troops were giving the Germans some of their own medicine. . . . We could see the — Regiment piling arms. All of a sudden a whole nest of German machine guns opened fire on them, and in less than five minutes the greater part of the battalion was either killed or wounded. We could see it all, but could not help them. Transport and all was lost. That morning, and for several days afterwards, we had to live without rations as best we could. In a graphic account of an artillery duel, and relating how 2,000 Uhlans who charged the British guns were repulsed, the writer says : “ Our guns were greatly outnumbered, and gradually gun after gun of the battery was put out of action, and the gunners killed of wounded. We were forced to retire again and again and leave the guns, which we took back off the Germans the next day. Those brave gunners sang and whistled during the whole time.” The writer refers to the retirement of the Germans, and says : “ Here we could see where they had left their trade mark behind them-guns, ammunition, two aeroplanes ; in fact, nearly everything military, and thousands of empty wine bottles. They had also smashed the village and shops, and had left numbers of their dead and civilians lying about. Occasionally we scooped up numbers of prisoners. . . . A German aeroplane dropped two bombs close to us, and killed a woman and two children, causing a great panic among the people. British and French aeroplanes fought the German in mid-air and brought him down.” Describing a sanguinary fight, in which both sides lost heavily and the gallant major of his regiment was killed, the writer says : “ It was here that the Germans hoisted the white flag, and shot our men down. Can you wonder after this that we used our bayonets mercilessly ? The Germans have behaved rotten in this war so far. . . . In one place he says 1,200 German shells were fired over their trench in 24 hours, nine-tenths of which failed to explode, being very old ammunition, and this goes to prove, he adds, that the German supplies are running short.”

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE YEOMANRY AT THE FRONT.

The squadron of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, to which Q.M.S Goodman, of Flecknoe, belongs, has for some time past been on active service at the front. The men have taken their turn in the firing line, and find the conditions in the trenches bitterly cold. One member of the squadron has had his feet frost-bitten ; but the yeomen write cheerful letters to friends, although for obvious reasons the exact locality in which they are serving with the Expeditionary Force is not disclosed.

Another trooper in the regiment writes:—“ Well, we are absolutely right among it. The Northamptonshire Yeomanry are taking their turns just as infantry in the trenches, doing three days and three nights—72 hours in all—six days’ rest before going in again. However, before we went to the trenches we did a lot of patrolling and scouting on our horses. and it was then that I found the benefit of being able to ride, which I learnt to do when following the hounds in Old England, In fact, it’s just like hunting ; only no hounds, but bullets instead. Quite half our Yeomanry are fellows who hunt, and whenever we meet another troop the first thing that happens is the giving of the ‘ View Hallo,’ so you, can rest assured that we are in high hopes of seeing the fox as well as hearing the ‘ View Hallo’ next season. Only you must keep the thing going while we are away, as you see it does good in more then one one way. Many a soldier has got a good horse out here and able to get over this country who would not be able to do so had his horse not been schooled in the hunting field, so whatever you do you must keep it going ; if you don’t,there will be no fellows to join another Yeomanry.”

E Wiggins, son of Mr Wiggins, Rugby, a member of the Northants Yeomanry, writes under date December 13th :— We returned from the trenches on Thursday last. We went in on the previous Monday. I will not describe it. All I can say is, I am thankful to have returned safely to our billet. We had our first christening under fire, and were up to our knees in mud and water most of the time. We had one casualty and some narrow escapes. The fighting went on all the night, and we were digging and making up the trenches in the daytime. We were along with an infantry regiment, and real good chaps, too, who would do anything for us. They had been in action several times. . . . and gave us some useful tips, the chief being, as the ‘ Scotties’ say, ‘ To keep your head below the bone.’ The Germans made a charge on our left, but were repulsed with loss. They charged shoulder to shoulder in hundreds. You have only to keep your head and blaze away, and bowl them over right and left. They are forced to charge, poor beggars ; and all those who retire are shot by their own officers. The Germans are very much afraid of the Gurkhas, who steel up their trenches armed only with their ‘kuris’ (long knives), and do them in. We left our horses at the farm in charge of our No. 3’s. We ride in sections of 6, and the third looks after the horses while we are away. They do not do any fighting, as we ride only within two miles of the firing line, and they bring our horses back to the billet. . . . I am pleased to say we have a good billet in a big loft, and all sleep like tops. It is a terrible job getting on and off our top coats, which get plastered from top to bottom. It is a rough lot out here, but I hope to get back soon.”

THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE TRENCHES.

GRAPHIC STORY BY A RUGBEIAN.

“ We always manage to enjoy ourselves, and I never get depressed,” wrote a Rugby tradesman’s son, serving at the front with the Honourable Artillery Company, in a letter just received by his parents. This remark followed a description of three days and three nights in the trenches during a drenching rain, and under very trying conditions. “ I am off again to the trenches,” he wrote light-heartedly. “ The strain of war has been too much for a lot of our fellows, but the physique of the H.A.C is recognised as being quite as good as that of any regiment.

NOVEL HAIR-CUT.

“ At, present I am billeted in a barn at a farmhouse. This is the best barn we have been in up to the present ; it is rainproof and not so draughty. You should have seen me in this barn, sitting on an up-turned tub having my hair-cut with a pair of nail scissors by our drummer-boy ! We are like schoolboys when the mail comes in. If General French could see us, he would say, ‘ The morale of the troops is excellent.’

“ I have just returned from three days and three nights in the trenches. Fortunately, there was only one killed out of the Company, but two officers had to be taken away ill, and several men are queer to-day as the result of the trying time we have had.”

The march to the trenches in the early morning through a turnip field, with mud over the shoe-tops and rifle fire in progress, was next described.

“ At one place we had to cross an old trench and I tried to jump it. Instead of clearing it I fell in and sank over my knees in mud and water. I scrambled up the bank and through a hedge, just in time to see our bugler disappear in another trench. I helped him out, and we presently reached our trenches in safety, although the fellow immediately behind me had a bullet through his cap.”

WITHIN FIFTY YARDS OF THE ENEMY.

The mud in the trenches was awful, but, fortunately, the part I was in was drier, being covered over with old doors and straw. We were only fifty yards from the Germans, and you can tell we had to keep a sharp look out. We had half an hour on guard and one hour off. The first day we had plum pudding for dinner and afterwards cigars supplied by the officers and the chocolate father sent. . . . It rained all night, and, in spite of our covering, the rain came through. At about 9.0 o’clock in the morning there was a very furious rifle fire, so we all jumped up and opened fire, thinking the Germans were attacking, and expecting every minute to see them rushing through the fog not 20 yards away. We kept up a terrific fire for a short time and then ceased. We were told afterwards it was an attack. When the fog cleared some of our fellows played the Germans at their own game of sniping and killed four of them.”

Orders came for the Company to spend another 24 hours in the trenches. About 20ft of the trench in which the writer was situated fell in, and he spent most of the third day on his back repairing it. There being no other food supply for the third day, the men had to draw upon their emergency rations-consisting of “ bully ” beef, biscuits, Oxo, etc.

DEAD FRENCHMEN.

“ We felt it was rather risky drinking the water,” he went on, “ as dozens of dead Frenchmen were lying all about. I fell over one on my way back in the darkness, and it was a gruesome sight. Whilst we were repairing the trench we came across a dead body. I don’t know whether it was a Frenchman or a German—the body was so decomposed. On the third day the Germans fired on our No 4 Section, and the Company drew their fire and apparently created a panic in the German lines. We were glad when the relief came, and it was a tiring march over the fields to the village. One fellow tumbled into a stream, for me to pick him out, and Turner, a ‘ Prudential ‘ man, collapsed. I carried his rifle and helped to get him to the village, where we were given some tea and had a good night’s rest.

ALWAYS CHEERFUL.

“ It was very fatiguing—three days and nights without lying down and without proper sleep. However, I am quite well and happy, but very tired. . . . Chocolate is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. I don’t know what I should have done if I had not had what father sent to me. At present we are pulling crackers. We always manage to enjoy ourselves, and I never get depressed. We don’t mind if the mud is over our boot tops. We thank goodness it to not over our knees ; and if a sniper shoots at us in the trench, we have a competition as to who can be the first to ‘spot’ him. Our officer says we all have wonderful hearts. At present I am cook. I have to get supper ready for two fellows who will be back late, and cook bacon for forty in the morning.” In conclusion the correspondent put in a good word for his officer, whom he describes as “ a Jolly good sport, and as cool as a cucumber under fire, so you need not worry about our losing heart.”

 

19th Dec 1914. News From The Front

WITH THE H.A.C. AT THE FRONT.

MR McKINNELL’S SON RELATES HIS EXPERIENCES.

J J McKinnell, the only son of Mr McKinnell (chairman of the Rugby Urban District Council), who is with the Honourable Artillery Company at the Front, has sent home a number of interesting letters, giving accounts of his experiences. Writing on November 18th he says :—

“ We have stayed for a week at the place from which I last wrote. My section had a comfortable billet in the front room of a cottage. We had straw down on the floor, and so got pretty warm at night ; whereas some other unfortunate people were up in a barn without a door, and places nearly as bad.

REAL WARFARE.

“ It has been a week of real war for us. One night we made a night march of three hours to reserve trenches a thousand yards behind the firing line, which we had to occupy in case we were wanted. There were one or two anxious moments on the march, owing to the “ range finders ” shot into the air by the enemy—that is, brilliant lights which enable a man with glasses , to pick out, and get the range of, objects in the distance. However, we had no shells our way.

“Just after we settled down in the trenches our artillery behind opened a tremendous cannonade on the Germans, firing from three batteries, at a rate which, I am sure, was four shots a minute. At the same time the British Infantry made an attack. This cannonade was continued for two hours or so, and then slackened off.

“ I was told afterwards, that the object of the attack was to drive some German sharp-shooters from dead ground between the English and German trenches, and that this end was achieved.

“ Our part of the battle was simply to sit still and keep our heads well down to avoid any chance bullets, which, as a matter of fact, never came. Our company had to be without overcoats, as we had not got our new ones, and it really was awfully cold. However, we must be thankful that there was no rain. very few people felt any ill-effects from the nocturnal excursion, so yon see we are pretty fit.

SPADE WORK UNDER SHELL FIRE.

“ On three other days we have been digging reserve trenches at another point about 400 yards behind the firing line. The first day we had several shells explode round us, but none nearer than 200 yards, and a few stray rifle bullets. The second day, on which I was absent on officers’ mess, they were treated to some shrapnel quite close to the trenches, and had to keep down in them for a quarter of an hour or so, as well as to rifle bullets which were obviously aimed.

“ Next day two companies went out. One company had got into position, and were digging. The other company were going along a ditch by a certain road in single file, when the Germans began to sweep the road with shrapnel fire. We all lay down in the ditch, with our faces as near the ground as they would go, for two hours, while the shells kept bursting near us. Fortunately nobody was hit. Some of the shells were only 30 yards away from us. The other company fared worse than we did, and six men were wounded, but only one at all seriously.

“ About one o’clock an Indian doctor came along the road and told us to move on and get into a safety trench, running at right angles to the road, to avoid their shelling. We did so, and sure enough before long they started shelling the road again. There were some trenches behind the road with Indian troops in them, and I think they must have got it badly this time. We remained in our trenches until dusk, and then got out and marched back.

“ By the way, shrapnel is the most deadly kind of shell there is, as it bursts in the air and shoots out bullets towards the ground. Other shells don’t burst till they bit the earth, and generally do nothing more than make a big hole. As you can imagine, there are many shell holes near the firing line.

“ Other evidences of war are villages half-destroyed and churches with only the walls standing. One church we saw was destroyed by our own shells, as the Germans had placed two quick-firing guns in it.

“A staff officer told us that a trick of the German artillery is to pick up a mark, such as a cottage, and simply shell it to pieces, the only possible object being to prevent troops billeting close up to the firing line ; otherwise it is sheer wantonness.” — P.S. We have our overcoats now.

In a letter dated November 28th the writer says :—

“ The only incident of note that I have to record is the fact that the four companies of a H.A.C have each spent 24 hours in the FIRING LINE TRENCHES, and of these two companies have had another 24 hours. “ Our own company’s little experience was to parade at 3.15 a.m, after six hours sleep, march for two miles or so along a road up to the trenches, and then walk in single file avoid attracting attention if searchlights were turned on the country for a mile along a field path to the front trenches themselves. These were much more comfortable than the reserve trenches I told you of, being wide and deep with straw at the bottom.

“ We got in about an hour before dawn. There was nothing much to do on this particular day. The German trenches were 450 yards away from us, and gave us no trouble, hardly a shot being fired from them all day. We were troubled all day with snipers, who come out beyond the trenches and direct cross-fire on the trenches when they can, even getting behind them by some means or other. Only a few of our men saw anything to fire at that day. I did not fire my rifle. . . . I expect you don’t take much notice of the things you see in the papers about the H.A.C in action. I even heard, that it is said that our drum and fife band played us to and from the trenches!! Of course, this is absolute nonsense.”

Writing still later, Mr McKinnell, jun, said the company had moved again, and were supposed to be having a rest, which probably meant that they had to work harder than before. Our section is unfortunate in its billet this time, having the top storey of a barn, which is not quite so comfortable.

A RUGBEIAN IN THE BATTLE OF YPRES.

Pte J T Meadows, of the 1st Northants Regiment, who is in hospital in London with a smashed arm, has sent his parents an account of his experience prior to and in the Battle of Ypres.

“ About October 22nd we had to take up a position on the edge of a very thick wood. It was in the middle of the day—a very bad time for us-because the Germans could see us advancing, and they let us have it for all they were worth. Battery after battery let go at us, but without effect, for the 1st Division has got used to such encounters. At 3.30 p.m we reached the desired spot, and immediately we started to entrench under the buzz and bang of shot and shell. At 5.30 p.m, the trenches finished, sentries were posted, and the vigil went on through the night till the order came along at 4.30 a.m to stand to. That meant everybody at his post, for an attack at dawn was expected—and it came, too, in full force. It was lovely popping them over in hundreds, until they got too numerous for us, and we had to retire into another wood, where we had some old trenches. We dived into them like rabbits, and waited ; but not long, for we could see them coming through the trees. Then again the banging started, but still they came on in ever-increasing numbers, until they got a bit too cheeky, so we started a bayonet charge, and we cleared the wood of them. They made awful noises, just like pigs being killed. This engagement finished at 12.30 p.m on October 23rd.

“ Nothing more occurred until October 24th at 6.15 p.m. It was very dark, and I was taking first turn on sentry. I had been on duty about 40 minutes when I discovered something creeping along turnip field in front of our trench. To make sure my eyes were not deceiving me, I ran along to the next sentry. He also had seen the night bird, so I passed word down to the officer. The order, ‘ Stand to,’ was passed back, and all were on the alert. The order not to fire was given, two men crept out of the British lines, and in two minutes that night bird, was plucked of his rifle and ammunition, and marched off a prisoner. Nothing more happened till the night of the 25th, when we received the old torments, an audience of only 6,000 waiting for us. This lasted until the 28th ; then, to our surprise, we were removed to another position. This was 10.30 p.m on the 28th. We started digging a new trench, and stuck to it all night till 4.30 a.m, when the order ‘Cease digging’ passed along. The engineers had been at work all night as well putting barbed wire about 100 yards in front of our trench. We all knew too well what that meant: the position had got to be held. From 8.30 that morning until 5 p.m shells had been bursting, and so it continued, the big battle having begun at last, and it went on night and day from the morning of the 29th until November 4th. At 11.30 a.m a bursting shrapnel shell smashed my left arm. My officer was killed by the same shell that hit me. My comrade on the left of me had a shrapnel bullet right through the neck. He went, down like a log. I bound him up and laid him along the trench. It was hard working with one hand, but I forgot my own troubles. I walked along the trench to another comrade ; I asked him to load my rifle for me, and so we went on side by side, banging away round after round of ammunition, the fusilade telling its terrible tale for seven hours. I stuck this with my one good arm till the order to charge was given, for the Germans had broken through the wire entanglements. I saw my mate, who assisted me through those terrible hours, answer the Commander’s call ; but he only went about a dozen yards, poor fellow. His turn had came. I made a hurried retreat into the wood, as I was no good for a bayonet charge. I walked three and a-half miles to a hospital, and had my arm placed at an angle of 45 degrees, and it is likely to remain so for a long, long time. I am quite happy, though wounded. It was for dear old England that I fought. We won the battle at the rate of 12 to 1.”

In an accompanying letter Meadows says if he has the fortune to get better before the war is over he shall go back and finish his duty.

In a letter written on board the hospital ship he says: “ I never thought I should get back again after days and nights, weeks and months of that terrible slaughter of human beings. I have had the gruesome work of placing some of my brave comrades in their last resting-places with only a prayer to the One above. This task is very trying to a man with the strongest nerves. It was pitch dark when I had to work with pick and hovel ; but now I am wounded I can do no more. My heart is good, but my arm won’t let me.”

17th Oct 1914, Local War Notes

Among recent casualties is the name of 2nd Lieut F A Sampson (R. Fus), wounded and missing. Sampson represented both Rugby and Cambridge at racquets.

The King motored from Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to Epsom Downs, and there inspected the Public Schools Brigade, which several Rugbeians have joined.

Fireman Fred Wood, of the Rugby Fire Brigade, son of Mr W F Wood, Market Place, left Coventry on Tuesday morning last, where he has been training, to join his unit, the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, at Chelmsford ; also Mr Tom Lane, son of Mr J H Lane, the Windmill Hotel.

According to statistics gathered by the “ Railway News,” it would appear that 11 of our railway systems have contributed over 35,000 men to the colours. The L & N-W Company has supplied 9,400, and the Great Central 1,300.

On Wednesday the King reviewed 20,000 Territorials of the South Midland Division in Hylands Park, Chelmsford. His Majesty was accompanied by General Sir Ian Hamilton and General Heath, commanding the division, to whom he expressed his pleasure at the physique and bearing of the troops.

The number of employees of the B.T.H Company now serving with the Colours is upwards of 1,000, and a complete list of these, with rank, regiment, number, and other particulars, will appear, in a special enlarged war issue of the “ Asteroid”—the organ of the B.T.H Social Club—which will be published this month.

LOCAL NAMES IN THE CASUALTY LIST.

Mrs F Bennett, of 8 Gladstone Street, New Bilton, has received news from her son, Driver Charles Bennett, Army Service Corps, that he is at present in Netley Hospital suffering from a bullet wound in the foot, received in France. He states that “ it is terrible at the front ” ; and adds : “ The French people are very good to us all.” Driver Bennett’s parents visited him on Tuesday, and he is progressing satisfactorily.

Pte A Phelps, Rifle Brigade, 11 Gladstone Street, New Bilton, is a prisoner in the hands of the Germans.

No further news has as yet been received of the three Rugby men, all members of the Royal Warwicks—Pte Walter Geo Goodman, Pte W Busson, and Lance-Corpl Hancox, who were reported as missing after the fighting round Ligny on August 26th.

The 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (including the Rugby Company) were under orders to move to Coggerstell yesterday (Friday) morning, and in doing so would have to march about 14 miles.

THE NEW WARWICKSHIRE BATTALION.

Steps are being taken to secure 600 recruits from Coventry and district for the 7th Home Service Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which Colonel H J Nutt is raising. Recruiting for this commenced at 10 a.m on Monday at the following stations :—The Barracks, Coventry ; the Labour Exchange, Leamington ; the Law Courts, Nuneaton ; the Drill Hall, Rugby; the Town Hall, Stratford-on-Avon; and the men will be billetted at the Old Artillery Barracks, Coventry.

At Rugby, where Major A Welch has been in charge recruiting has been rather slow, only about a dozen having been accepted. We are asked to point out that all Rugby men joining will be placed in the same company, and at least 62 are required to complete the company now training at Chelmsford, but more than this number will be welcomed.

NECESSARIES FOR THE 9th ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT.

To the Editor of the Rugby Advertiser.

DEAR SIR,—I have been asked by Lieut Coates to make an appeal to provide for the Commanding Officer of the 9th Service Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment a fund for the supply of the many extras that the Government grants do not cover, such as the purchase of extra range finders, field glasses for picked men, and many other necessaries. A sum of £200 is required, and to meet this any donation sent to me shall be forwarded to the proper quarter.—Yours faithfully,

J J McKINNELL,

Chairman, Urban District Council,

Benn Buildings, Rugby, October 15th.

 

Messrs Sam Robbins, Ltd, have supplied the Northamptonshire Yeomanry (now stationed at Hurst Park, Winchester) with five “ Triumph ” 3-speed motor cycles, and also with 15 “ B.S.A.” bicycles. It is understood the motor cycles are for despatch work.

 

MAINTAINING BRITISH TRADITIONS.

Private J T Meadows, of the 1st Northampton Regiment , now serving in France (whose home is at Inwood’s Cottages, near Bilton Grange), has written stating that he is in the pink of condition. He adds : “ Times are getting better now, as you know that we are progressing favourably. The travels of the troops have been great, but the duty has been well done. The high traditions of the British Army are still maintained by the sons of many an anxious mother. Time will prove this. I suppose George and Herbert are still hard at work. Never mind ; one wing of the family is flying along. The weather is terribly hot in the day-time, but at night it is the extreme reverse ; but all these little hardships we look upon as nothing when such a prize is at stake. Four of us from Rugby are still all together.”

RUGBY YEOMANRY TROOP GETTING READY.

For some weeks past “ C ” Squadron (which includes the Rugby Troop) of the Warwickshire Yeomanry has been in training with the 1st South Midland Mounted Brigade at Newbury. It was understood that this week the Squadron would move out to Donnington Mill, about a mile from the Racecourse, All the local men are reported to be fit and well ; and having volunteered for active service, they expect in due time to embark for France, where it is presumed they will be required to assist in guarding communications.

RUGBY PRINTERS IN LORD KITCHENER’S ARMY.

Fredk Favell, a member of the Rugby Typographical Association, and formerly an employee of G Over, and who has joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, has written from Woolwich Common to the local Secretary, and says : “ It is a bit of a drop from Rugby rate to 7s a week, but I should not like to be walking about where the girls are six to one.” After stating that the food is rough, but plentiful, he goes on to say: “ We shave every morning now in cold water, and as there is only one small mirror for ten men in our tent, you can believe me when I say that one does not know whether he is shaving his own face or somebody else’s there are so many round the glass.” From a letter Mr Favell has Written to his fellow-workmen it would appear that he and his friend, Mr D Kennard, from the same office, are having a good time and are keeping in good health.

“ GIVING THE GERMANS ALL THEY WANT.”

Pte T Cockerill, of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, now serving with the Expeditionary Force, has written a card to his mother (Mrs Grumble, of 33 Gas Street), in which he says : “ I think things are going on the right road. It is so with our Brigade. We seem to be giving the Germans all they want, for every day we keep advancing, and that means a lot. We are getting plenty of good, food, and that is a lot more than the enemy can say. . . . Tell Harry I shall have a lot of pints to sup before I am straight up, as there is no such thing as beer here ; but if I do get down for Christmas we will make up for lost time.”