Packwood, William Henry. Died 12th Apr 1918

William Harry PACKWOOD was born in 1897, in Rugby. His birth was registered in Q3, 1897, in Rugby and he was baptised, on 3 December 1897, at St Matthew’s, Rugby, when his father was a ‘Post Office Clerk’.

He was the son of Charles John Packwood, born in about 1859 [-1933] in Rugby, and Alice Ruth née Davies Packwood who was born in about 1862 [-34] in Shrewsbury. They were married on 17 January 1882 at St. Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury.

For the 1901 census, the family were living at 10 St. Matthew’s Street, Rugby. William Harry was aged three, then the second youngest child of nine siblings, all born in Rugby. His father was now a ‘Chief Clerk, Post Office’.

In 1911, the family were still in the same house, which had 12 rooms, which were probably needed as there were now two more children. William’s father was now a ‘Post Office Superintendant – Civil Service’. William was 13 years old and still at school. He would attend Lawrence Sheriff School.

It is uncertain exactly when William joined up, but a report in the Rugby Advertiser in December 1915, noted.

‘The third son (William Harry) of Mr Chas Packwood, of, Warwick Street, Rugby, has joined the 2nd Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company (Infantry). Mr Packwood now has three sons serving with the Colours.’[1]

This enabled the correct William Harry Packwood’s Medal Card to be located, which shows him initially as a Private in the Honourable Artillery Company (infantry), Number: 5777, and later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Territorial Force).

His Medal Card also gave two dates when he went to France: 3 October 1916 and 6 December 1917. The former is probably when he went with his HAC Battalion.

2nd Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company (Infantry) was raised at Finsbury on 2 September 1914. It moved to Belhus Park, going on in November to Blackheath, in February 1915 to the Tower of London, in August to Richmond Park, in November to Wimbledon, in January 1916 to Orpington, in July to Tadworth (Surrey), and it returned to the Tower in September 1916. On 3 October 1916, the Battalion landed at Le Havre and was placed under command of 22nd Brigade in the 7th Division. After William had left it later went to Italy.

William thus went to France with his Battalion on 3 October 1916 and by 12 October they were in trenches and being ‘mortared’. Later in December they were in trenches at Beaumont Hamel where some trenches were ‘obliterated’. During the earlier part of 1917 the Battalion was much involved with training – however in April 1917 William was granted leave prior to training for a commission. A further news report in April 1917, gave information on his progress,

A SON OF MR C J PACKWOOD RECEIVES A COMMISSION.
W H Packwood, fourth son of Mr C J Packwood, of St Matthew’s Street, Rugby, has been granted a month’s leave. Since September he had been out in France with a trench mortar battery of the H.A.C, and has had varied experiences. On the recommendation of his Captain – although still under twenty years of age – he has been offered a Commission, and after his furlough will go into training for his new duties as an officer.[2]

In October 1917, a further report advised,
‘Cadet W H Packwood, H.A.C (Infantry), son of Mr J C Packwood, has been given a commission and posted to the 6th Royal Warwicks.’[3]

His Officer’s Military Service Record[4] is held at The National Archives, but has not been consulted at present, as a sufficient outline of his military career is available from the local paper.

There were two 6th Battalions – 1st/6th and 2nd/6th – however as the 1st/6th were in Italy, it seems he must have been commissioned into the ‘2nd/6th Battalion (Territorial)’ of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR).

2nd/6th Battalion RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line Battalion. It became part of the 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division and then in August 1915 it was re-designated as part of the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. The Battalion had landed in France on 21 May 1916, but William would have joined the Battalion later, going to France for a second time on 6 December 1917, and missing the disastrous attack at Fromelles in 1916 and the various actions of 1917.[5].[6]

The Battalion War Diary[7] gives brief details of the Battalion’s activities throughout the war, but the following information has been abstracted for the period before William’s death.

During February 1918, the Battalion was much involved in improving defences and burying signal cables and the like. During the first week in March, the Battalion was in the front line near St. Quentin. They were then relieved and after a week’s training, returned to relieve the 2nd/8th Worcesters, west of Holnon in the Battle Zone. The Battalion then comprised 21 Officers and 700 Other Ranks.

On the night of 20/21 March, two companies raided the enemy trenches at Cepy Farm and took 12 [or 15] prisoners and a machine gun. The prisoners were from ‘… three different infantry divisions on a front usually held by one regiment, lending little doubt to the certainty that the offensive was imminent.’[8] They lost one killed and four wounded.

The anticipated attack by the Germans, Operation Michael, was launched on 21 March 1918, against the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army. The German artillery targeted command and communications; then, the destruction of artillery; and then the front-line infantry. The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war. Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

William and the 2nd/6th Battalion were bombarded on 21 March from 4.45am to 11.30am, and then over the next two days were subject to various attacks, and because of the overwhelming strength of the attacks, were then ordered to retire to preserve the line and were almost surrounded.

Thus commenced the Battle of St Quentin and the Actions at the Somme Crossings. The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division was holding the forward zone of defences in the area northwest of Saint Quentin in the area of Ham and lost many men as it fought a chaotic, but ultimately successful, withdrawal back over the Somme crossings over the next ten days.

In the initial clash, the South Midland Division faced three enemy Divisions and only began to retire on the afternoon of 22 March, when ordered to do so, in consequence of the enemy’s progress at other parts of the line.

From 21 to 26 March, even the ‘surplus’ 2nd/6th personnel were brought into action and a separate ‘diary’ was kept for them.   Meanwhile, from 22 to 23 March, the Battalion withdrew westward, through Fayett, Attilly, Matigney, Vyennes, to Breuil and Billancourt. By 24 March, the Battalion was only about 140 strong and at Buverchy, where it occupied the west bank of the Canal du Nord.

The Battalion, or what remained of it, continued a fighting withdrawal from 25 March to 3 April towards the outskirts of Amiens. By the time the Battalion was relieved, after fighting back to Amiens in the First Battles of the Somme 1918, the Division had been involved in continuous action since August 1917 and was exhausted.

The Battalion casualties from 21 March to 5 April 1918 were some 16 Officers and 450 Other Ranks. The remnants of the exhausted Battalion – and the 61st Division – were transferred from the XVIII Corps on 10 April 1918. Lt. General Ivor Maxey wrote a message of congratulations to the 61st Division, which had ‘… established for itself a high reputation for its fighting qualities and its gallant spirit …’.

The Battalion were moved north to what had been a quieter part of the line near Bethune. They were entrained at Rue St Roch, Amiens and taken north to Berguette, and then on to Le Cornet Malo to join 153rd Brigade. However, rather than having some rest, the Battalion had to prepare immediately for a counter attack, as the Germans had just launched the second phase of their offensive on 9 April 1918. The Division became involved and many more casualties were incurred.

The actions until 12 April were reported in a separate appendix of the Battalion War Diary, but only the reports for ?10 and 11 and 12 April survive. A trench map with the War Diary shows the 2nd/6th Battalion was in positions just south of Merville. It concludes by stating that ‘The casualties of the Battalion between 10th and 14th April inclusive were 9 Officers and 133 Other Ranks’.

Another Rugby man in the 2nd/6th Battalion was killed on the 11 April (see Sidney George HALL)  and at some stage on 12 April 1918, during this second major German attack, on this ‘quieter part of the line’, William Harry Packwood was ‘shot through the head’ and ‘killed in action’.

SECOND-LIEUT W H PACKWOOD. Second-Lieut W H Packwood, R.W.R, third son of Mr & Mrs C J Packwood, of St Matthew Street, Rugby, who, as we reported last week, was posted missing on April 14th, has been reported killed in action April 12th. A brother officer, writing to the bereaved parents, says: “He died with his face to the enemy, rallying the men during a counter-attack by the Germans. It may be a little comfort to you to know that he died instantly, shot through the head, and we managed to bury him and erect a little cross to his memory. His pleasant disposition and resolute courage will always in our minds and with you, whose loss must be so much keener, we grieve at his death.” The gallant young officer was 20 years of age, and was educated at the Lower School.[9]

Sadly, the ‘… little cross to his memory …’ was lost and his body was never found again or else not identified. He is remembered on Panel 2 or 3 [Stone 2K] of the Ploegsteert Memorial which stands in the Berks Cemetery Extension, which is located 12.5 kms south of Ieper [Ypres].

The Ploegsteert Memorial commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave. The memorial serves the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton to the north, to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes to the south, including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe, and Ploegsteert Wood. The original intention had been to erect the memorial in Lille. Most of those commemorated by the memorial did not die in major offensives, such as those which took place around Ypres to the north, or Loos to the south. Most were killed in the course of the day-to-day trench warfare which characterised this part of the line, or in small scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of the major attacks taking place elsewhere.

William Harry PACKWOOD is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[10] which reads,
‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’

His Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

William’s parents appear to have left Rugby after the War. In the CWGC records, William is noted as the son of Charles John and Alice Ruth Packwood, of ‘Minsterley,’ 15, St. Ledgers Road., Bournemouth. By 1922, his father’s address on William’s Medal Card, was Cheapside, Langport, Somerset.

Four of the five Packwood sons were involved in the First World War and their progress was reported by the Rugby Advertiser,[11] as it reproduced information from their letters home.

Charles William Packwood, the eldest son, joined the Rugby Howitzer Battery in September 1914; he was wounded in August 1916 and again in August 1917 when he had ‘… been wounded in the chest in two places during the recent fighting’.   The second son, Walter Davies Packwood, volunteered for the Canadian contingent, and joined the Balcartier Camp at Quebec; in October 1914, he had arrived with the force at Plymouth, and was in training at Salisbury Plain. In March 1917, John Norman Packwood was joining up and entering the wireless department of the Royal Naval Reserve. Their cousin, Herbert M Packwood, who had worked at Willans and & Robinson, had also joined up in September 1914, probably also in the Rugby Howitzer Battery as he had a similar number and went to France on the same day as his cousin, Charles William Packwood.

These other three brothers and their cousin survived the war. The fifth brother, Noel, the youngest, was too young to enlist.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on William Harry PACKWOOD 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 RFHG, January 2018.

[1]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/4th-dec-1915-interesting-letter-from-an-old-murrayian/; and see also, Rugby Advertiser, 4 December 1915.

[2]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/14th-apr-1917-baptist-local-preacher-killed/; and Rugby Advertiser, 14 April 1917.

[3]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/27th-oct-1917-ladies-war-services/; and Rugby Advertiser, 27 October 1917.

[4]       2/Lieutenant William Harry PACKWOOD, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, TNA file ref: WO 374/51812.

[5]         http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/

[6]       Based on: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/316/royal-warwickshire-regiment/.

[7]       WWI War Diaries, 1914-1920, 2/6 Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 61st Division,

[8]       Murland, Jerry, Retreat and Rearguard Somme 1918, the Fifth Army Retreat, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-78159-267-0.

[9]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 4 May 1918.

[10]     Information from https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/lawrence-sheriff-school-plaques.

[11]     Details are available from the author, or search https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/ for ‘Packwood’.

14th Apr 1917. Baptist Local Preacher Killed

BAPTIST LOCAL PREACHER KILLED.

News has been received this week of the death in action of Sergt Albert Leeson, of the Bedford Regiment. Sergt Albert Leeson, who was 22 years of age, was before the war employed as a printer by Mr G E Over. His parents reside at Leicester, but he had lived with his grand-parents at Newbold practically all his life. It appears from a letter which has been received, that he was killed by a shell while his unit was following up the German retreat. His death has caused widespread sorrow in local Baptist circles, where he was greatly beloved as a local preacher, and as late secretary to the Christian Endeavour Society. He was a very earnest worker, and, starting to preach at the early age of fifteen, he was a great favourite in the village churches. A young man of considerable intellectual power, he contributed letters and poems to “ The Pioneer,” the Baptist Magazine.

A SON OF MR C J PACKWOOD RECEIVES A COMMISSION.

W H Packwood, fourth son of Mr C J Packwood, of St Matthew’s Street, Rugby, has been granted a month’s leave. Since September he had been out in France with a trench mortar battery of the H.A.C, and has had varied experiences. On the recommendation of his Captain-although still under twenty years of age-he has been offered a Commission, and after his furlough will go into training for his new duties as an officer.

SECOND-LIEUT VICTOR RALLISON KILLED.

General regret will be felt at the news, which was received early this week, that Second-Lieut Victor Rallison, of Manchester Regiment, was killed in action on Saturday. Second-Lieut Rallison, who was 30 years of age, was called to the colours on August 4, 1914, as a reservist, and was granted a commission on October 23rd last. Prior to the War he was for 2 ½ years a member of the Rugby Police Force, and by his unfailing courtesy and tact he made himself very popular not only with his colleagues but with the public generally. He had been married about six months, and his wife resides at her home at Churchover.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Pte W F W Satchell (Royal Warwicks), son of Mr W Satchell, 94 Park Road, Rugby, has again been wounded, this time by shrapnel, in the right knee.

Major Leonard Parker, cousin of the Earl of Macclesfield, and nephew of the Hon A E Parker (late master of the North Warwickshire Hounds),has been killed in an air duel at the front.

The parents of Trooper P W Labraham, Warwickshire Yeomanry, 23 Little Pennington Street, have received intimation that he was wounded on March 27th in Egypt.

The death took place from measles, in a military hospital on April 8th, of 3rd Air Mechanic M Bruce Andrews, who joined the Royal Flying Corps about three weeks ago. Prior to joining the army A.M Andrews was employed in the Cashiers Dept at the B.T.H.

Mr and Mrs Kirby of Birmingham, late of Winfield Street, Rugby, have received this week official news of the death of their eldest son, W Kirby. He was reported missing from July 1, 1916. He belonged to the Territorial Battalion R.W.R some time before the war broke out, and was drafted to France soon afterwards. Pte Kirby was 19 years of age, and when living in Rugby was employed at the B.T.H.

MARRIAGES.

BRASSINGTON.-Chown.-On April 10th, at the Parish Church, Daventry, by the Rev. A.S. Lindsay (Rector), ALEXANDER FRANK (Fitter, R.F.A.), son of Mr. and Mrs. John Brassington, Murray Road, Rugby, to DORA AUGUSTA, eldest daughter of C.S.M. H. Chown (Northants. Regt.) and Mrs. Chown, “Express” Office, Sheaf Street, Daventry.

DEATHS.

ANDREWS.-On Easter Sunday, at Aldershot Isolation Hospital, of bronchial pneumonia, following measles, 3rd A.M. MELVIN BRUCE ANDREWS, Royal Flying Corps, dearly beloved son of S. M. Andrews and the late Thomas Andrews ; aged 22 years.

KIRBY.-On July 1st, 1916, W. J. KIRBY (BILLY), eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Kirby, late of Winfield Street, Rugby, now of Witton, Birmingham, aged 19 years. Killed in action in France.

MANSFIELD.-In loving memory of 2nd Lieutenant H. E. MANSFIELD, of the 1st Cheshire Regiment, late of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, who died in France, April 12th, 1916.-Gone, but not forgotten.-M. G. W.

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

REPORTED MISSING.

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

OFFICER FEARS HE IS KILLED.

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

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

NEWBOLD-ON-AVON.

ANOTHER NEWBOLD MAN MISSING.

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

STRETTON-ON-DUNSMORE.

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

RUGBY SOLDIER WOUNDED BY SHRAPNEL.

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

FORMER MEMBER OF THE BOYS’ BRIGADE WOUNDED.

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

MEMBER OF RUGBY HOWITZER BATTERY ACCIDENTALLY SHOT.

A BROTHER’S PAINFUL EXPERIENCE.

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

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

NEW BILTON RECRUIT DIES OF SEPTIC FEVER.

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

RUGBY HOWITZERS COMPLIMENTED.

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

VOLUNTEERS FOR THE FRONT.

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

WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY IN EGYPT.

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

PLUCKY RESCUE BY A RUGBY ATHLETE.

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

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

AIR RAIDS.

RUGBY FIRE BRIGADE.

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

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

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

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

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

 

15th May 1915. Rugby Victims of Poison Gas

A RUGBY VICTIM OF POISON GAS.

Pte A Angell, 1st Royal Warwicks, son of Mrs Angell, of 17 Little Pennington Street, Rugby, is at present in a hospital at Lincoln suffering from the effects of the ghastly German poison gas. In a letter to his mother, written on May 9th, he says: “ I have been poisoned by that gas which the German murderers use. I went into action three weeks ago. After marching two days and two nights we arrived within 50 yards of the German trenches, and when we halted they opened fire on us.” The writer then goes on to tell of the losses suffered by the Battalion, and said that of five Rugby men who went into action he was the only one left. They were forced to retire, and he and 20 others took shelter in a “ Jackson hole.” Five of the party were unwounded, one died in the writers lap, and the others were suffering terrible agony. They were only 100 yards from the German trenches, and had to remain in the shelter from 4.45 a.m to 8.30 the following evening, and numerous shells dropped all around them. “ After this we were in the trenches for nine days. The Germans were not satisfied with our losses, s they poisoned us out of it. We must have lost many more men by this means. I am a very lucky chap. I was picked up half unconscious by a Frenchman in the centre of Ypres, on the main road. I wonder what the English people would think if   they could see Ypres as it is—burnt down to the ground.” Pte Angell concludes with the hope that he will be home on leave shortly.

A CHURCH LAWFORD MAN’S EXPERIENCE OF POISON GAS.

W Cooke, son of Mr H M Cooke, has written home to his parents. His letter is dated May 6th, and he says :-“ A few lines at last I I’ll bet you have been worrying at not hearing from me, but I am all right. We have been advancing and I could not write until now. I dare say you will see in the papers that our Regiment has been cut up, and we have only a few hundreds left. We have been relieved now, and it will be some time before we take any active part again. We have been through hell this last eight days, and I never want another time like it. The German shelling is awful, but I thank God we are back out of it now. Alf was wounded in the leg, and Hancox is among the missing. I would not mind if they would fight fair, but the dirty dogs have been using that gas on us. One has to fight with a wet cloth over one’s nose and mouth, and I have seen some of our fellows go raving mad. My nerves are a bit shattered now, but otherwise I am all right, so don’t worry. We have not had any letters while we have been advancing, so I expect I shall have a few from you, Mother, altogether. Write me along letter soon.”

(The Alf mentioned in the letter is Alfred Day, of Bishops Itchington, who enlisted with W Cooke, and before enlistment worked as a blacksmith at Church Lawford. Charles Hancox was a labourer from Kings Newnham.)

 

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Two trains, each containing two hundred wounded, passed through Rugby (L & N-W) on Sunday evening between six and eight, and were supplied with refreshments by the Rugby Town Red Cross Society. The men had been fighting as recently as Sunday last, and had crossed the Channel on Sunday morning.

News has come to hand that wounded soldiers belonging to the different regiments which were billeted in Rugby and took part in the invasion of Gallipoli are now in hospital at Malta.

A movement is being organised in Warwickshire to secure the services of more transport drivers for the Army. An appeal is to made to motor-car owners in Warwickshire to release their men wherever practicable.

Mr and Mrs William Matthews, of Churchover, received news on Monday that their son, Pte John Matthews, of the Rifle Brigade, was wounded on May 5th by a shrapnel bullet in the leg just above the knee. He is at present in hospital in Manchester. Pte Matthews, who is 21 years of age, joined the army early in September, and was drafted to the front on April 1st. He was for some years footman at Mr B B Dickinsons’ boarding-house in Rugby.

Driver Harry Batson, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, writing home to his sister at 35 Bridget Street, Rugby, states that he has been on duty at observation posts in the trenches, which were knee deep in mud and water. When traversing the trenches it is necessary to keep well down to avoid being seen by the enemy’s snipers. The trenches were only 50 yards apart. The enemy’s guns had been very active round here of late, and had succeeded in setting fire to some ruined farms close to.

Mr Charles Henry Lister, a grandson of Mr Henry Lister, 105 Clifton Road, Rugby, was an engine-room artificer on H.M.S Maori, which was lost off the Belgian Coast through striking a mine on Saturday. The friends of Mr Lister have received intimation that he is a prisoner of war at Doebritz, Germany. Mr Lister’s brother, Rifleman Herbert Edward Lister, who joined the Rifle Brigade on the outbreak of war, is now in a hospital in London, suffering from a bullet wound in the left hand.

Second Lieutenant H J Gwyther, attached to the 2nd Manchester Regiment, now with the expeditionary force in France, has been wounded. Mr Gwyther, when engaged at the B.T.H Co, Rugby, was a prominent playing member of the Rugby Hockey Club.

In Saturday’s “ London Gazette ” appeared the announcement that the late Lieut Michael FitzRoy, son of the Hon E A FitzRoy, M.P, and Mrs FitzRoy, had been gazetted captain. He was selected by his Colonel for the command of a company shortly before the battle of Neuve Chapelle, in which, unfortunately, he was killed. The late Lieutenant was nearly the youngest officer in the regiment, being but nineteen years of age and he had only been in the army six months.

HOWITZER’S “ SHELLING COMPETITION.”

Two further letters have just been received by Mr and Mrs C J Packwood, of St Matthew’s Street, from their son, Charles, who is serving at the front with the Rugby Howitzer Battery, and   from these we make the following extract :- “ Things go on just about the same. We have a sort of shelling competition between ourselves and the Germans. It is their turn now. They are shelling a ridge. I expect they think we are there, but we are not. I expect later on we shall have our go, and we always register the most points. All the ‘bhoys’ are ‘in the pink’ ready for earthing.”

HOT MEALS IN THE TRENCHES.

A hot dish of curried fowl or a hot beef-steak and kidney pudding, are luxuries not usually found on the battlefield, but these and a host of other appetising dishes, may now be enjoyed by the aid of a new invention just put upon the market by Messrs, Crosse and Blackwell. This unique and valuable adjunct to the soldier’s kit is known as the “Joffrette” Heater, and costs but 1s. 6d. complete. Its construction is so simple and yet so effectual that a tin or bottle of preserved food can be thoroughly heated is a few minutes by simply lighting the cake of solidified alcohol supplied with the Heater (additional cakes costing but 3d. each). It is without doubt one of the cheapest yet one of the greatest boons which can possibly be suggested for use in trenches.

The Heater cannot explode or get out of order, the flame is invisible and impervious to wind, and while it is of peculiar utility at the present time, it is equally serviceable for boating parties, picnics and household use where a hot maid or a cup of tea or coffee is quickly required. The “Joffrette” Heater is stocked by all the principal Grocers. Ask your Grocer for one.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.

NATURALIZED GERMANS AND THE MAGISTERIAL BENCH.

SIR,—Though Rugby may contain few, if any, enemy Aliens, it is surely essential that Mr Merttens, although naturalized, should resign immediately his seat on the Bench, which he appears to have vacated during wartime.

The idea of even a naturalized German sitting in judgment on Rugby citizens after the war is repugnant, and especially one with views such as Mr Merttens has in the past expressed. If he has not already resigned, Rugby will expect his fellow Magistrates to see that he does so.-Yours truly, CITIZEN.

1st May 1915. News from the Trenches

RECREATIONS BEHIND THE FIRING LINE.

Letters from members at the 7th Warwickshire Territorial Battalion continue to arrive. One of them says : “ We are having a good time out here, plenty of work, and also a lot of time for amusements. After our last four days in the trenches we arranged a couple of football matches, one between C Company and the Howitzer Battery, which ended in a draw 3—3. The second game between Coventry and Rugby men of C Company ended in Coventry’s favour. Near our billet is a large pond and it is interesting to see out fellows, indifferent to the German shells, fishing for carp. The country-side looks very beautiful in spite of the ruined homesteads, and farmers carry on as usual. We are now back in the trenches and yesterday the Germans shelled a village 200 yards from us, paying special attention to the church, which is practically in ruins. Our gunners soon silenced them, and we have had a quiet day to-day.

A private writes to his wife :—“ We are all happy and enjoying ourselves. I would like you to see us in our little dug-out, we are like gypsies. We do enjoy our meals, though bullets and shells are flying over our heads all the time. We are getting so used to them that we do not take the least bit of notice. The most dangerous work we have to undertake is going to and from the trenches, for no matter how quiet you are the Germans spot you, up goes one of their star shells, and a Maxim gun is trained on you immediately. Then it is a case of laying low till they have finished.

A corporal writes “ I should like some of our friends to have seen us when we were going to the trenches, as we were like the donkeys in Spain, loaded with provisions, and we are looking well now, as we haven’t had a wash or shave for some days, and are feeling a bit ‘grimy.’ We can’t help it, as we can’t get water for washing, but I suppose we have got to put up with it far a while.”

FOOTBALL BEHIND THE TRENCHES.

A Rugby Sergeant tells us that on April 19th an exciting football match took place between teams picked from Rugby men (of the late E Company, now C Company) and Coventry men. After a well-contested game, the Rugby men came out winners 2—0. When it is known that the losers had such well-known players as “ Chummy ” Lombard, “ To and From ” Read, “ Cast Iron ” Loake, etc, etc, it will be seen what a good performance was put up by the winners. “ Bleb ” Hill scored the first goal after fifteen minutes’ play. Then “ Knobby ” Clarke scored just before the interval, but was ruled off-side by the referee. Immediately before the call of time Baker scored. Iliff (the Dunchurch pet) was in the thick of the fray all through the match.

 

Pte L Stewart, of the Advertiser staff, who is with the 7th Warwickshire Territorial Battalion at the front, writes under date of April 26th :—We are situated the same as when last I wrote. The 7th have had another spell in the trenches, without any casualty whatever. They came out of the trenches Saturday night, but Sunday morning found them in the best of health and spirits, and seemingly none the worse for their experiences. They had several narrow shaves from shells—in fact, they had marvellous luck-but a miss is as good as a mile. The weather is really grand, we live practically an open-air life, and early to bed, early to rise, is our motto. I shall be opening the office at six in the morning when I get back, unless a bed makes me revert to the old habits. Time slips by here—every day seems alike ; but I never forget what Friday (publishing day) is with you—all so busy as of old. Sergt Dodson is attached to the Army Ordnance Store just across the road. He was soon over here to get a squint at the old “ R A.” Another private writes:—I will give you a few details of what we have to do. First of all we get here at night and relieve the other regiment who have done their four days. Night sentries are posted and their duties are to warn for any approach of the enemy, who is not very far in front of us. They do two hours on and four off, but that four off is not for rest by any means for we all have to work hard during the night, re-building shelled trenches and improving same. Then there is a party to go and fetch water, about 10 or 12 of us. This has to be fetched from a dilapidated farmhouse about 1 ½ miles away, and we are walking on open the whole of the way, so you see this is a very risky job. We are up all the night and have to stand to at 3.30 a.m for an hour in case of attack, which I am thankful to say has not yet happened. We always have bacon for breakfast and plenty of tea ; we bring a little fresh meat and bread with us. The four days we had out of the trenches were a bit rough, for although we had a little rest in the day time, we were out every night from about 7.30 to 3 a.m making and repairing trenches right in front of the German lines, which is a very much more dangerous position than in our own trenches, for we are not under any cover and the bullets whiz past our ears. Oh ! for a bed. When we go out on Saturday we get billeted in a little better place, for we then have eight days’ rest which will be very acceptable. The Germans are firing at us all day long, and my word they can shoot ; we hardly dare show our caps above the trench else all is over, but I think we have them beaten as regards artillery fire, for we keep shelling their guns and position on and off all day. It is rather a nerve shaking job this night sentry, for one is responsible for the safety of all the regiment and you cannot see many yards in front of you, so before you could say knife the enemy would have cut the wire entanglements and be on you if you did not keep up a good look out.

NEWS OF THE RUGBY HOWITZERS.

Mr C J Packwood, of St Matthew Street, Rugby, has recently received a letter from his son, Driver C W Packwood, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, now in France. He describes the place at which the battery is stationed as “ very slow.” The men living in the vicinity appear to be indolent, the women and dogs doing the bulk of the work. Driver Packwood states that the members of the battery are in excellent health, and they are always thankful to receive letters and parcels from friends at home.

In a letter dated April 25th, which arrived on Thursday, Driver Packwood says:—“ At the present time I am on observation duty. There is an officer and three men, myself included. We are right up in the front trenches with the Infantry, We watch the effects of our shells and report on same, being connected with the Battery by field telephone. The German trenches are only 200 yards away. We can see them in the trenches quite plainly. We have got quite familiar with their snipers. One we call Fritz, another Ginger, and another Peter. Fritz shot one of the infantry clean through the head last night. He is a crack shot. The scenes round here are really wonderful, and are a sight worth seeing. There is not a house standing-they all are absolutely blown to bits. Yesterday I went for about two miles along the first line infantry trenches, and observed the German trenches through a periscope. This letter I am sending by the man who brings our rations. He is just coming, so I must close now.

 

THE KING AND THE WARWICKSHIRE YEOMANRY.

The Warwickshire Yeomanry, which left Avonmouth for foreign service three weeks ago, before they left received the following telegram from the King :—

“ I am glad to hear that the 2nd Midland Division is about to leave for the front, and much regret not to have been able to inspect the troops. I feel confident, after these months of training at home, the division, wherever employed, will give a good account of itself. Please assure all ranks that they will constantly be in my thoughts and prayers, and convey to them my best wishes for success.”

The horses belonging to the regiment, which were on board the Wayfarer when it was torpedoed, have now been taken over by the authorities and distributed, so it is understood, among other regiments. The Warwickshire Yeomanry have thus been deprived of mounts to which they had become very closely attached, and the loss will be keenly felt by the men. The men from the Wayfarer who were fortunate to escape will join their regiment at the earliest possible moment.

About 160 men were detailed off for duty on the Wayfarer, and had charge of about 1,000 horses and mules. On leaving port the officers were informed of the presence of two enemy submarines, and were warned to keep a close watch. They failed to escape the danger.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

The 1st Warwickshire Yeomanry Reserve Regiment left Warwick on Monday for Cirencester Park

It has transpired that in all five men from Warwickshire were killed by the explosion on the Wayfarer. Three horses were drowned.

Harold M Over, son of Mr Samuel Over, and grandson of the late Major S Over, has been gazetted second-lieutenant in the 20th Battalion the Royal Fusiliers, He has been Musketry Instructor to D Company of this Battalion, in which position he has shown exceptional ability.

Pte W Gardner, 3rd Coldstream Guards, an ex-police-constable from this neighbourhood, writes he is now in England wounded, lying at Longshawe Lodge, Derbyshire (lent by the Duke of Rutland for British). He was wounded in the head, back, and right knee at the Battle of Le Bassee, where the Coldstreams and the Irish Guards made their famous charge. He was in hospital in France for a time, and then was sent to hospital in Sheffield, and from thence to the convalescent home.

Driver Johnson, of the Army Transport Section, who was wounded at Ypres on December 18th, and is still in hospital, spent last week-end at his home, 20 West Leyes, Rugby. Driver Johnson was wounded in the right hand, but his horse laid on him for 24 hours before he was found, and as a result of this he has lost all power in his left aide. Although the medical authorities are sanguine that he will in time regain the use of his injured limbs, they all agree that a considerable time will elapse before he does so—probably 12 months. Driver Johnson, who was one of the earliest to enlist from Rugby, was before the war employed by Messrs Willans & Robinson as a driller.

THE RUGBY FORTRESS COMPANY OF ROYAL ENGINEERS.

PARTICULARS ABOUT THE NEW UNIT.

The decision of the Urban District Council to raise a Rugby Fortress Company of the Royal Engineers, as reported in our last issue, has met with general approval in the town, and the hope it expressed on all hands that the number of men necessary to complete the unit will be speedily obtained, so that the name of Rugby may be associated with another company at the front. In addition to commissioned officers and sergeants, only 94 men are required for the company, vis: Corporal (mounted), 1 ; lance-corporal (mounted), 1 ; shoeing and carriage smith, 1 ; drivers (including batmen), 15 ; blacksmiths, 9 ; bricklayers, 12 ; plasterer, 1 ; slater, 1 ; carpenters (including joiners), 20 ; clerks, 2 ; draughtsman (architectural), 1 ; electricians (field), 2 ; engine drivers (field), 3 ; fitters and turners, 4 ; harness maker, 1 ; masons, 7 ; platelayers, 2 ; plumbers (including gas fitters), 3 ; surveyor, 1 ; wheelwrights, 2 ; miscellaneous, 5.

The company must be raised on a regular basis, and the enlistment must be for three years or the duration of the war, and must be carried out at a regular recruiting office. The age for enlistment is between 19 and 38 years.

The pay of all ranks will be at the some rate as that prescribed for the Royal Engineers ; and the company, when raised, will have to be clothed, housed (by the hire of buildings or billeting only), and fed at rates approved by and to be paid for by the War Office. It is stated that the company will remain at Rugby during the initial training ; and that men, if they so desire, may be billeted in their homes. In this connection the War Office point out that unmarried soldiers necessarily living at their own homes, and not messed by their units, will draw a consolidated allowance of 2s per day. If living at home and messed by their units, they will draw a lodging allowance of 9d per day.

The expense of raising the company will for the most part, it is hoped, be provided in the town. The War Office points out that money expended by municipalities, communities, and individuals authorised to raise local units on advertisements, posters, concerts, bands, and similar items in connection with recruiting has in many cases been found by local funds, but that where this is not the case the Army Council are prepared to refund expenditure actually incurred in this direction up to a maximum of 2s for each recruit raised. In addition to these expenses, there will, doubtless, be other items which will have to be met by a local fund ; but, according to Mr J J McKinnell, to whom belongs the honour of initiating the idea of raising a local company, the total sum required should not exceed £50. Rugby has responded so liberally to all patriotic appeals during the last few months that we are sure that the promoters of the company will not find their activities crippled through lack of funds.

The Army Council will allow the sum of £8 15s for the equipment of each dismounted man, and £9 15s for each mounted man, but these sums are believed to be rather below the actual cost of equipment, and any balance will thus have to he made up out of local funds. It is hoped to commence recruiting at the Park Road Drill Hall on Monday next.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

The following have been attested at the Park Road Drill Hall during the past week —Royal Warwickshire Regiment, T Morriss ; A.S.C, H J Merrick ; R.E, J W foster and G Clarke ; Bedfords, H Seaton, H Pegg, P Cleaver, and A W Leeson ; Reserve Signal Co, R.E, A J Brasher ; Rugby Fortress Co, R.E, T H Hands, J Wise, and E G Smith.

RUGBY POST OFFICE STAFF AND THE WAR.

Quite a number of the men from the Rugby Post Office staff have joined the colours, and those remaining are working at high pressure. Amongst those who have recently enlisted in the Royal Engineers, where their duties will consist mainly of telegraph work, are : Messrs J T Healey, A Miller, R J Sheldon, A E Goldfinch, and A J Brasher. The latter left Rugby on Monday, and another member of the staff (Mr G D Tennant) expects to take his departure next week. To cope with the situation, a number of postmen are now doing indoor work, and other vacancies are being filled by women and girls, female labour being almost entirely used in the instrument-room.