RUGBY YEOMEN ON TORPEDOED TRANSPORT
There were six Rugby men—Lance-Corpl Cyril White, Troopers Ellis Reeve, Baker, Labraham, Cox, and Carew (R.T.H.), all of the Warwickshire Yeomanry on board the transport, Leasowe Castle, when she was torpedoed in the Mediterranean on May 27th. Lance-Corpl Cyril White, who is the son of Mr & Mrs Albert White, 155 Clifton Road, has this week returned home on leave, after an absence of three years and three months, having passed through many adventures, some very pleasant and others the reverse.
“ It was very early on Sunday morning—the Warwicks’ unlucky day,” he informed a representative of the Advertiser, “ that we were torpedoed. The sea was beautifully calm at the time, and the moon was shining brightly overhead. ‘ In the old days,’ he remarked, humorously, ‘ we often said, “ ‘What a glorious moon,’” “ but I can tell you we cursed it pretty well that morning after the ship was struck. At the time I was lying on the boat deck asleep. The force of the explosion threw me completely out of my bed, and the sudden rush of water swept my life-belt, equipment, &c, overboard. I was in charge of number 6 boat group, and after the explosion I got my crew together, and we managed to get three boats down. The spirit of the men was admirable, and as they were struggling in the water many of them sang, ‘ Swim, Sam, Swim,’ and other popular songs. While the men were being disembarked from the doomed vessel a Japanese destroyer circled round, throwing out a dense smoke screen, and at the moment when the bow of the vessel finally sank beneath the waves, dragging in her wake many brave fellows, the smoke obliterated the light of the moon, and the effect was most uncanny, the deathly stillness being broken only by the last despairing cries of some of the doomed men. The last I saw of our good old Colonel Col Cheape,” continued Corpl White, “ was just before the ship sank, when he was standing on the bridge talking to the Captain as calmly as if on parade. Sergt Viccars, whose wife lives in Wood Street, was unfortunately drowned. Together with another sergeant, he was attempting to carry an injured man to the side of the ship, when the vessel lurched forward, and he was swept away. The injured man and the sergeant were saved, but nothing more was seen or heard of Sergt Viccars, a very gallant N.C.O.—Corpl White added that the rescued men were taken on board a Japanese destroyer and very hospitably entertained. After a rest in Alexandria they embarked for Italy, and travelled overland to France, everywhere being most enthusiastically welcomed. While at Genoa Station he met a Rugby member of the Royal Warwicks, Mr J A Panther, of Little Church Street, who informed him that all the Rugby men in the R.W.R in Italy were quite well.”
FATAL AEROPLANE ACCIDENT.
PILOT’S MIRACULOUS ESCAPE.
The story of a pilot’s miraculous escape from death was told at an inquest held on Monday to enquire into the death of Air Mechanic Richard Smith, R.A.F (23), son of Mrs Smith, 67 Sturgeon Street, Rishton, Lancs, which took place following an accident on Sunday morning last.
The pilot, Lieut John Joseph McDonald, stated that on the previous morning he decided to make a flight in a scout machine, and as the air mechanic in charge said it was working all right he took off straight away. The engine sounded in good condition in all the cylinders. Air Mechanic Smith asked witness to take him up, but he replied that he was not accustomed to taking passengers. Finally, however, he decided to take him. He started to fly towards the west, and when he was about 50 yards up the engine began to splutter. He tried to adjust matters, but as the engine did not pick up he pulled the throttle right off, and started to turn to the left. The machine began to nose dive ; and witness, seeing that a smash was inevitable, stood up in the seat behind Air Mechanic Smith, and caught hold of him with the intention of keeping him from falling forward on to the petrol tank. When the machine struck the ground witness was thrown clear of the machine, and the passenger was thrown against the petrol tank. Had the machine been 500ft up he would have been able to plane down all right, but there was insufficient depth at the time that he attempted to turn.
Second Air Mechanic James McCarron deposed that he examined the engine of the aeroplane before the flight, and it was then working satisfactorily. The aeroplane went up all right, but after she had been in the air a couple of minutes she began to choke and misfire owing to too much petrol passing into the engine. The pilot tried to turn as if he was returning to the Aerodrome, and the machine then crashed to earth.
Lieut Edward James Allman, R.A.F, corroborated this, and said when the pilot had half-turned the aeroplane the engine spluttered out as if it was choked. The aeroplane then spun round and nose dived to ground.
Surgeon-Major Chester Collins deposed that when he was called to the scene of the accident deceased was sitting in the wrecked aeroplane. He was quite unconscious, and while they were extricating him he had a severe haemorrhage. He was suffering from a fracture of the front of the skull, his right eye was completely destroyed, and his brain injured. He also received other injuries. The cause of death was haemorrhage. Had it not been for this he might have lived for some time, in which case in all probability meningitis would have set in, as it had in other cases investigated locally where the injuries were similar. Death took place an hour and a-half after the accident. Had the pilot been able to hold deceased back as he tried to he would not have received the injuries to the front of his skull. Witness understood that Smith was up for a “ joy ride ” when the accident occurred.
Verdict : “ Accidental death.”
ACCIDENTS IN THE AIR FORCE.—Major Baird (secretary to the Air Ministry), replying to Mr Outhwaite in the House of Commons on Thursday last week, said it was not in the public interest to state how many officers and men of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force had been killed by accident in this country during the past six months. There was no justification whatever for alarm on the ground that there was an undue number of accidents.
THE FATAL ACCIDENT AT RUGBY STATION.
The inquest on the young Australian cadet, Walter Reginald Pick, aged 22, whose dead body (as we reported in our last issue) was found lying on the line at Rugby Station on Friday, June 28th, was conducted by Mr E F Hadow on Monday.
Lieut William Richard Bishop, Australian Flying Corps, deposed that deceased was a cadet in the 6th Officers’ Cadet Battalion, and was stationed at Oxford. He was preparing to take up a commission, and he left Australia in November, 1915.
Fred Percy Clare, 23 Essex Street, carriage shunter, employed by the L & N-W Railway Company, deposed that at about 3.20 a.m. on June 28th, he saw an object which he at first thought was a brown paper parcel, lying across the rails on the up line, but on a closer examination he found it was deceased, lying face downwards, with his head in the 4-foot way. The Preston train had shortly before gone over the rails, and the body could not have been lying there long, or it would have been seen, because a number of people crossed the rails at that spot. He informed the signalman of the discovery, and the train from Carlisle, which was then due, was stopped. With the help of the assistant stationmaster the body was removed. There was no sign of any struggle having taken place. A telephone message was sent through to London, and deceased’s stick and coat were found in a carriage in the Preston train at Euston.
Albert George Whiting, assistant stationmaster, deposed that the platform at Rugby was on the reverse side to that at most stations. After the discovery of the body he sent a message along the line, asking that the train should be searched. The first-class compartments were searched without success at Willesden, and deceased’s possessions were found in a 3rd-class carriage at Euston. No door was found open, and had there been any passengers in the carriage they could have left the train at Willesden. Deceased was travelling in a Caledonian coach, the doors of which shut automatically. There was no means of detecting whether such doors were shut deliberately, or whether they shut through the movement of the train. There was nothing to suggest that deceased fell out of the train ; but from the evidence witness was of opinion that he got out deliberately, and when the train moved off he tried to jump in again, and fell on to the line.
Ernest Wm Lines, 87 Abbey Street, carriage examiner, deposed that he examined the Preston train when it was in Rugby Station, and everything was then in order. No doors were open, and he saw no one outside. From the position of the body, he concluded that three vehicles passed over it.
The Coroner described the accident as a mystery, and said, in his opinion, the theory of Mr Whiting was borne out by the external evidence. It was for the jury to say how the accident occurred, for that it was an accident he thought they were all agreed.
A verdict of “ Accidental death ” was returned, the jury adding that there was no evidence to show how he got on to the line.
LOCAL WAR NOTES.
Lance-Corpl C O Meates, Gloucester Regiment, of Rugby, has been awarded the Military Medal.
Pte J E Hensman, R.W.R, of Rugby, is reported missing.
Pte A Moore, Leicestershire Regiment, Lutterworth, has been wounded.
Lieut T W Walding, Machine Gun Battalion, son of Mrs Walding, of “ The Limes,” who was recently reported missing, has written stating that he is a prisoner of war in Germany.
Lance-Corpl Cox, of the Military Police, who before joining the Army was stationed at Dunchurch, has been awarded the Military Medal.
Mr J A Phillips, of St Aubyn, Hillmorton Road, has received a letter, dated June 1st, from his son, Second-Lieut K Me N Phillips, 3rd Northumberland Fusiliers, attached 1/5 Durham Light Infantry, who was posted as missing on May 27th, stating that he is safe and well, but is a prisoner of war at Limburg, Nassau. He was in the 50th Division at Craonne.
Capt Rudolph Elwes (Coldstream Guards), second son of Mr Gervase and Lady Winefride Elwes, has been awarded the Military Cross. He was recently taken prisoner after taking part in the glorious 48 hours’ stand made by the Coldstreams from April 12th to the 14th. His company was eventually surrounded and cut off. Mr Gervase Elwes has sufficiently recovered from his recent operation to be able to return to Billing Hall.
We have received a letter from Corpl F Joyce, R.F.A, of Bilton, enclosing a copy of the “ Balkan News ” for June 15th, which contains the announcement that : “ An Old Rugbeian dinner will be held at the Officers’ Rest House, Salonica, on July 2nd. Hon Sec, Lieut W F Hawkins.” In his letter Corpl Joyce says he has been a constant reader of the Rugby Advertiser many years, and he always looks forward to it, as it keeps one “ in touch with things going on in the good old town of Rugby.”
Mr & Mrs H Colston, 82 York Street, Rugby, have been notified that their elder son. Pte Ernest H Colston, Royal Berkshire Regiment, was killed in action on June 19th. Pte Colston, who was only just 19 years of age, had been in France since last December. He was an “ old boy ” of St Matthew’s School, where he was very popular, and was head boy when he left to enter the L & N-W Railway offices at Coventry. He was a member of the St Matthew’s XV, which won the Schoolsa’ Union Shield in 1913. He had been in St Matthews’s Church Choir for eight years. In a letter of sympathy to his parents his officer speaks of him as a young soldier of the highest promise.
Mr & Mrs Alfred Eyden, “ Denaby,” St Matthew’s Parade, Northampton, have been advised that their younger son, Lieut Maurice V Eyden, 2nd Northants Regiment, reported missing on May 27th, is a prisoner of war in Germany and quite well. His only brother (Royal Engineers) was killed in France on May 19, 1918.
Mrs Ingram, 61 Victoria Avenue, New Bilton, has received a letter from the Captain of the Company to which her son Leonard, who died from wounds on May 29th, belonged. The writer says : “ He was wounded on the 29th by a machine gun bullet in the right side under the ribs. . . Your son was a splendid fellow, the ‘ life and soul ‘ of my Company, and was always so cheerful and full of good humour under the most trying circumstances. He was a very gallant soldier, and in the heavy fighting we had here for the first three days—April 12, 13 & 14—he did most excellent work for me by taking urgent messages to the Battalion Commander, running through an absolute hell to deliver them. This he volunteered to do when I had lost my Company runners. His were deeds of gallantry I shall never forget.”
IN ENEMY HANDS.—Subscriptions to the Rugby Prisoners of War Fund during the past week have shown a marked improvement, £120 being received from all sources. The knowledge that in the absence of local support the men would become a charge on the funds of the British Red Cross Society has, no doubt, stimulated interest. To continue to provide in full for the Rugby and district men in enemy hands £400 per month has now to be raised for this branch of Red Cross work. Fortunately no additional names have been reported to the Rugby Prisoners of War Help Committee this week. There are now 130 Rugby and district men prisoners of war in Germany.
WAR BONDS.—During the week ended June 29th, Rugby contributed £1,030 to National War Bonds. The weekly quota for the town is £10,870.
ON THURSDAY (Independence Day) the Stars and Stripes were flown from several buildings in the town.
INFLUENZA is now very prevalent in the town, several hundred cases having occurred.
MRS H WEBB, Coventry Road, has received news from the War Office that her husband, Pte H Webb, of the Warwicks, is missing.—Pte P Grant, Mill Street, has been wounded in the leg, and is at St John’s Hospital, Barby Road, Rugby.
MRS W RICHARDSON, The Banks, has received news that her second son, Sergt L Richardson, of the K.R.R, has been killed. This is the second son Mrs W Richardson has lost. Sergt Richardson was a member of the Dunchurch Brass Band, and one of the best performers. He was very much respected in the village, where the news of his death has caused deep regret
MISSING.—Mr F Isham has received official news that his son, Pte David Isham, of the Royal Devons, has been reported missing in France since May 26th. He has been previously reported missing, but proved to be away from his unit.
GASSED.—Sergt C T Tiff, Royal Shropshire Light Infantry, is in a base hospital suffering from gas poisoning.
WOUNDED.—Information has been received by Mrs Fell that her husband, Corpl E T Fell, of the Machine Gun Corps, has been wounded severely by a shell in the thigh. He is now progressing favourably in hospital in Italy. It is just twelve months ago since Corpl Fell had a narrow escape and received very bad shell shock in France.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
SCHOOLBOY LABOUR ON THE LAND.
To the Editor of the Advertiser.
DEAR SIR,—A considerable number of boys of 14 and 15 are anxious to help on farms during the holidays. They are too young for the ordinary camps, but capable of doing very useful work locally. If local farmers will let me know of their requirements I shall be pleased to pick out suitable boys. Only one reply was made to my former letter, and there, I understand, the boys did valuable work.—Yours faithfully,
Lower School. Rugby,
S R HART.
ASTILL.—In loving memory of Pte. HERBERT ASTILL, who died from wounds received in action on June 29, 1915. “Gone, but not forgotten.”—From his sorrowing Mother.
BLAND.—In loving memory of our dear son, Pte. C. BLAND, killed in action on July 1, 1916.
“ God takes our loved ones from our homes.
But never from our hearts.”
—From his loving Mother and Father, Brothers and Sisters.
COLLINS.—In loving memory of our dear son, Pte. H. E. COLLINS, who was killed in action in France on July 3, 1916.
“ Days of sadness still come o’er us,
Tears in silence often flow.
Thinking of the day we lost him :
Just two years ago.
Too far away thy grave to see.
But not too far to think of thee.”
—Never forgotten by his loving Father, Mother, Sisters & Brother, of 45 New Street, New Bilton.
COOPER.—9178 Sergt, JOHN COOPER, Yorks & Lancs. Regt., killed in action in France on July 1, 1916.
“ Sleep on, dear brother, in a far-off grave,
A grave we may never see ;
But as long as life and memory lasts
We will remember thee.”
—From Mother, Sister and Brother.
EADON.—In ever-loving memory of Pte. GEORGE EADON, of the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was killed in action in France on July 1, 1916.
“ Some where abroad our dear one sleeps,
A hero laid to rest.”
—Never forgotten by his loving Father, Mother, Sisters and Brother.
SEENEY.—In loving memory of Signaller BILLY SEENEY, killed in action on July 2, 1916 ; aged 18.
“ Sleep on, dear one, in your foreign grave :
A grave we may never see ;
But as long as life and memory lasts
We shall remember thee.”
—Sadly missed by his Mother, Sisters and Brother.
WATSON.—In loving memory of Pte. ARTHUR JAMES (JIM), dearly beloved son of Thomas and the late Harriett Watson, 51 Pinfold Street, New Bilton, who was killed in action on July 2, 1916.
“ He bravely answered duty’s call ;
He gave his life for one and all.”
—From his Father, Brothers and Sisters.
WHITE.—In loving memory of ALBERT JAMES, dearly beloved husband of Ethel Maud White, and eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. James White, of 70 Murray Road, who gave his life for his country on June 30, 1917.