RUGBY’S WAR MEMORIAL.
BIG MEETING FAVOURS A SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE.
MAJOR BAIRD PROMISES HIM SUPPORT.
If the tone of a public meeting held in the Empire Theatre, Rugby, on Sunday evening is any criterion of the feeling prevailing in the town, there is little doubt that Rugby’s war memorial will take the form of a club and institute for ex-service men. Mrs Arthur James presided over the meeting, which was attended largely by discharged and demobilised men, and the necessity for such an institute was eloquently set forth by all the speakers. Amongst those supporting Mrs James on the platform were Major J L Baird. C.M.G, D.S.O, M.P, Dr C R Hoskyn, Mr J J McKinnell, J.P, C.C, Major R Darnley, D.C.M, Messrs W Flint, C.C, C J Newman, H Yates, J Cain, Mr and Mrs van den Arend, Mrs West, etc.
In opening the proceedings, Mrs James referred to the pleasure it gave her to preside at that meeting, which had been called to give expression to the heartfelt wish of the Rugby men who were now returning, their warfare ended, and their work well done. These men were desirous of holding together. They had learned what fellowship meant in their days of trial, and now, in happier days, they still desired to hold together. For this purpose an Association had been formed. It was co-operative, self-governing, and based on the broadest lines, independent of party politics and creeds. It has a membership of over 700, and 150 new members joined that morning (applause). There was an urgent need, therefore, for adequate premises. At the end of last year, Mrs James explained, she called together a committee representative of all classes and interests in the town, and as a result temporary premises, consisting of a club room and a room for the Welfare Bureau, were provided at the Eagle Hotel. These were insufficient for the purpose, however, and it was necessary that the Association should have a permanent building. It had, therefore, been suggested that part of the money raised for the war memorial should be devoted towards building and equipping a club, and, if possible, a hostel in which men temporarily living in Rugby could be boarded and lodged. The first point which naturally arose was that of the site, and in this connection she mentioned that for some time she had been anxious to give a memorial to the town of Rugby in memory of her late husband. She consulted Mr McKinnell on this, and he informed her that the most pressing need of the men was an assembly hall. She accordingly bought a site at the corner of James Street and Albert Street, and on this she proposed to erect a hall. This hall, however, would not cover the whole of the site, and should it be acceptable she would be glad to offer a part of this plot (applause). These proposals had already been laid before the Urban District Council, who had approved of them, but the whole idea would have to be submitted to a meeting of townspeople, whose decision would be final. It was now for the discharged sailors and soldiers to prove to the people of Rugby that they really needed this Institute.
THE ASSOCIATION’S GOOD WORK
The need for the Institute was ably put by Mr Cain, Chairman of the Association. He said the Trades and labour Council were instrumental in forming them two years ago, and that body look a great interest in them in the beginning. The Association proved a rather unruly child, however, and he was afraid the Trades Council, like most parents, did not like to keep on with a child who did not see exactly eye to eye with them. They then numbered about 200, and the men who were discharged as physically unfit slowly drifted in. Fortunately they were able to enrol two members who had considerable influence in the town, and from that day they started to make progress. They had heard that that day they enrolled 157 members, and the previous Sunday they enrolled 53. The result was that their accommodation was insufficient. The chief object of the Association was to keep alive the spirit of comradeship amongst the men who had been out to fight. People talked of such far fetched ideals as the Brotherhood of man, but the spirit animating the discharged soldiers was something more sublime. This spirit could not be understood by those who had not served in the trenches. It was this spirit which had urged men to give their lives to save the life of a comrade ; it had urged men many a time when they were on short rations, and had an empty stomach, to give a crust away rather than eat it themselves, as they were strongly tempted to do. These men had got a spirit of their own and a code of their own, and this was why it was necessary that they should be banded together. Then there were their interests to be looked after, such as pensions and gratuities, and last, but not least, they had the widows and orphans of men who had made the supreme sacrifice to look after. It was impossible for these people, many of whom did not know to what they were entitled, to look after themselves. Of late they had set apart Monday nights for hearing the grievances of widows and dependents, and already they had been successful in remedying some of these grievances. This all went to foster a good spirit in the district. There was a spirit of unrest abroad, and they did not wish this to be communicated to the Association. If the Institute was not erected as the town’s war memorial, the Association was sure of getting one, although they might have to wait a little longer. However, the lack of adequate premises was seriously handicapping their work, and for this reason he urged all to support the resolution which would be put before them.
MAJOR BAIRD’S APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE DISCHARGED MEN.
Major Baird then addressed the meeting in support of the proposal, and said an Institute such as that proposed would not serve merely as a rallying point for discharged sailors and soldiers, but it would be able to help widows and orphans to get their due, and help also the men to obtain the allowances and pensions. The Government was daily improving the organisation in London for dealing with such matters, but there was an immense lot still to be done, and they would never get the organisation so perfect that it would work without the co-operation of the people directly concerned in the districts. He was greatly indebted to Mr Cain and his Association for the information and assistance they had given to him at his request in regard to cases which had been brought to his notice, and he hoped that between them they had done some useful work. That alone appeared to him to justify every citizen, male and female, giving their utmost support to the Association.
With regard to their War Memorial, it seemed to him that any memorial which failed to recognise specifically what they owed to the Navy, Army, and Air Forces would be singularly inappropriate to the object which they had in view. After all, of all the wonderful things which had happened during the past 4½ years, of all the marvellous developments and self-sacrifice they had seen in the country, there was nothing more remarkable than the growth of the British Army. They knew their Fleet was invincible ; they knew that they were a manufacturing nation, which could turn its hand to any form of manufacture and produce results, second to none, but what they did not know, and what no one would believe, was that they could produce in four years the best Army in the world, an Army better organised, better equipped, and a better fighting machine than the Continental Armies which were the result of generations of military tradition (applause). They must never forget that. There was all the more need for a tangible memorial from the determination which they had all formed that, so far as it lay within their power, no stone should be left unturned to secure that in the future a cataclysm such as mankind had just passed through, must not be repeated ; that if the nations disagreed, their disputes must be settled in ways different from the barbarous methods employed during the past four years. Nowhere was this feeling more strong than among those who had been out and fought. Could anything measure the magnitude and extent of the debt which they owed to their Army ? Was there anything they could do which would hand on to those who cane after them a clear appreciation of the incredible efforts and sacrifices that the Army had made ? It was not merely a professional Army ; the nation was the Army, and the Army was the nation (applause). Was there anything they could do which they could afford to leave undone ? In his opinion they could not possibly do enough to show their gratitude and respect for those who went out and fought for them and won the war (applause). Therefore, any memorial they might desire to erect should be something that the soldiers would appreciate. Such a one was the sort of place described by Mr Cain—an Institute where the men could foregather, where they would instinctively and automatically go for advice and assistance, and where they could hold meetings to celebrate the great days in the history of the local regiment.
SUCH AN INSTITUTION WAS WANTED, and they would never have a more appropriate opportunity for providing it, and he should, therefore, exert all his influence to endeavouring to persuade any—if there were any—who did not share these views. As Mr Cain had said, people who had not served could not possibly understand the bond of union which bound together men who had fought side by side. There was one thing every one of them who had been out there realised—there was not one who could not look back upon some moment when he had to make up his mind and take a decision—Which would he do ? There was the easy thing and there was the difficult thing, and the majority chose to do the difficult. That was why they won the war. He wanted this spirit kept alive, and for the boys of the future, the sons of the soldiers of to-day, to be proud of the fact that their father is a member of the Institute, and to look forward to the day when he goes there to take part in the celebration of some victory in which he had his share (applause). The regimental spirit was utterly and absolutely opposed to what was commonly known as Militarism. They had fought against militarism and had beaten it, and they had beaten it because of
THE REGIMENTAL SPIRIT, which he could only liken to the spirit which imbued a school football team, although the football simile was absolutely inadequate to convey the intensity and keenness of the feeling which necessarily inspired men who had served together in the same unit. The eight regular and Territorial battalions of the Warwickshire Regiment had been expanded to 26 battalions during the war, but that by no means covered the effort put forward by Warwickshire. Warwickshire men had served in innumerable regiments and innumerable branches of the service, and there was not a single theatre of war in which Warwickshire men had not played a prominent, an honourable, and a glorious part (applause). What did that mean ? How did the war end ? It began to finish when they started pulling to pieces the compact machine which Germany had forged in her fight against civilisation. Who started that pulling to pieces procedure ? The British Army, and no one else. It started in Salonika, it went on in Palestine, and it was continued in Mesopotamia. With regard to Salonika, they would find that the magnificent effort of the Serbians—and nothing more splendid had been done in the war—would not have been possible unless a relatively small British force had held in check the bulk of the Bulgarians and Turks, so that the Serbians could break through the line which was thinned in sections. In Mesopotamia, British and Indian soldiers did the whole thing, and in Palestine, though their French Allies and a few Italians were represented, the overwhelming bulk of the forces was British, and the Commander-in-Chief was one of the finest British Generals any man could serve under. He referred to Gen Allenby (applause). That was what started the victory ; that part was played by the British Army, in which Warwickshire men took a glorious part. Therefore, he asked them to ensure that when they put up a memorial worthy of Rugby, the main feature of it should be an Institute worthy of the men in whose honour they intended to erect it (applause).
RECRUITING DAYS RECALLED.
Major R Darnley, D.C.M, also spoke, and reminded the gathering that 4½ years ago, when he was doing recruiting work at the Drill Hall, the greatest difficulty was to drive men away and tell them to “ Come to-morrow.” The greatest number recruited in one day was 305, and by September 17th the number who had passed through the Drill Hall was 5,800. They could not all get into the Warwickshire Regiment, but when they heard that the County Regiment was closed they did not despair or say they would wait until it was open, but they said at once, “ Anything you like ; let’s get at them ” (applause). These lads had done a lot for the country, and the least Rugby could do was to do something for them (applause) ; and he hoped they would obtain this institute, and thus preserve the same harmony in civil life as prevailed in the various battalions. For this reason he asked them all to strive to further the scheme suggested.
Mrs West also gave her support to the proposal, and, in doing so, mentioned the great assistance the association had given her in carrying out the Government pension work in Rugby. She considered that their war memorial should consist of something which would help the soldiers who were returning, and at the same time would be worthy of those who had made the great sacrifice. Above all, she hoped there would be no quarrelling over the form the memorial should take. It would be a most grievous mistake if there was any quarrelling or any ill-feeling about it ; and she therefore, strongly appealed for unity on this point.
Mr F van den Arend then moved :—“ That this representative meeting of discharged and serving members of H.M Forces, together with those interested, is unanimously of opinion that a club and institute should form a part of Rugby’s War Memorial.” It was not a question, he said, of whether there should be a club and institute or not, but whether it should be a part of the War Memorial. Even if they did not provide such an institute as a town war memorial, he did not think the association would have to wait very long for one, because he believed there were sufficient public-spirited men in the town to put up the necessary money (applause). The memorial should be worthy of the men who had fought and worthy of the town. It was not simply a question of putting a few bricks and some mortar together on the cheap. They must have the most magnificent stone and building material that had ever been seen within 50 miles of Rugby (applaud). They must make the building material suit the materiel which went out and fought for them (applause).
In seconding, Mr G Cooke said it was absolutely necessary that freedom of thought and freedom of action should be allowed in the institute.
RUMOURS WHICH SHOULD BE CHECKED.
Dr C R Hoskyn followed with a characteristically racy address. “ I won’t address you as gentlemen,” he began, “ but as men. I know you are the finest gentlemen that ever lived, but also know you as men. I have cursed you coming out of the ambulance ; I have cursed you when you tried to ‘ swing the lead ’ (laughter), and I cursed you on the Somme when many of you thought you had got shell shock (renewed laughter). I have seen you under the worst conditions, and I have seen you—although you may not know it—when you were at your very best. I have seen you go over the top once, and you looked very funny—much worse than when you were going to an operating theatre. You did not look at your best then, but when you came back muddy, wet and cold, that was when you looked at your best.” Dr Hoskyn then referred to several criticisms he had heard in the town regarding the proposed institute, and he advised the members to find out who started these mis-statements and smash them. Then they should ensure that every discharged and demobilised soldier and those who were ” demobilised on the reserve ”—he did not know what it meant, nor did he suppose Major Baird did, but they could not get their pension or gratuity, and heaven only knew what they could get—should join their association.
The resolution was carried unanimously, and the meeting closed with the “ National Anthem,” after a vote of thanks had been accorded to Mrs Arthur James for presiding, and Mr Morris for the use of the hall, on the proportion of Mr J J McKinnell, seconded by Mr C J Newman.
THE MEMORIAL WINDOW.—The Parish Magazine for February gives a detailed description of the artist’s design for the memorial window. The window consists of five “ lancets ” or lights. The central lancet, beginning at the bottom, pictures the Incarnation, the Christ Child and His Mother. In the centre comes the Crucifixion, and over it the words : “ In hoc signo vinces,” (In this sign thou mayest conquer.) The top picture represents the living glorified Christ. On either side is St Michael, the Archangel of Justice, and St Gabriel, the Messenger of Peace and Goodwill. The three figures represent the ideals we have been fighting for, viz, Justice, Righteousness, and Peace. The first light, beginning at the top, represents Alfred the Great, the real founder of England’s national greatness ; St Nicholas, the Patron Saint of Sailors, and St Edmund, the Martyr King of East Anglia. The second light represents our own Royal Saint, Oswald, with a wooden cross in his hand, which in obedience to a vision before the Battle of Hexham he used as a standard for his army. Underneath it St Leonard, the Patron of Prisoners and Captives. The fourth light represents St Alban, the first Martyr in Britain to give his life for his religion, and underneath St Stephen, the first man in the history of the Church to lay down his life for his faith. The fifth light (to illustrate our connection with our brave Allies the French) gives St Louis, St Martin, and St Denis (all French Saints). At the bottom of each light are the four Patron Saints of Great Britain—St George of England, St Andrew of Scotland, St Patrick of Ireland, and St David of Wales. The Cross in the central light is represented as a tree, its branches stretching out through all the window, illustrating the truth that all acts of heroism, nobility, and self-sacrifice have their source from Him, who said, “ Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
VILLAGE HALL FOR DUNCHURCH.
RESIDENTS HANDSOME GIFT.
A parish meeting was held in the Village Hall on Tuesday to discuss the question of erecting a permanent memorial to the men of Dunchurch and Thurlaston who have laid down their lives in the war. Considerably over 100 people were present, and Mr Wm Butlin (chairman of the Dunchurch Parish Council) presided. It has been felt in Dunchurch for some time that a hall and buildings for social purposes are very badly needed, and there was a strong feeling that a Memorial Hall which would meet this need might possibly be erected. But at the opening of the meeting it was announced that Mr S J Waring intends to build a hall, etc, in the village which will meet all the social requirements of the inhabitants. It was decided to send a very hearty vote of thanks from the parishioners assembled to Mr Waring. The form of the War Memorial was then discussed very thoroughly, and after a number of people had spoken on the subject, a committee was appointed consisting of 21 members, four ladies being included, to consider the following schemes and report to another parish meeting at an early date :—(1) The erection of a Cross on the village green. (2) The erection of a statue in the village. (3) The erection of a Cross in the Churchyard. The meeting agreed that in addition to one of the above, some form of memorial be placed in the church, and a brass tablet inscribed with the names of the dead, in each of the places of worship. The meeting was informed that two memorials will be erected to the old boys of Dunchurch Hall who have fallen in the war.
OLD RUGBEIANS AND THE WAR.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SCHOOL MEMORIAL.
A SUM OF £50,000 SUBSCRIBED.
For the Rugby School War Memorial a sum of £50,000 has been subscribed. The first charge upon this fund is the education of sons of fallen old Rugbeian officers, at Preparatory Schools, and subsequently at Rugby. The second object is the erection of a visible memorial in the School grounds. No final decision has yet been made as to the form which the building will take, but general opinion inclines to (1) a small Memorial dispel attached to, but not a part of, Rugby Chapel, and connected with it by a Cloister ; and (2) a Memorial Cross near the cross roads outside New Big School. These projects are being considered by Committees of the Fund. When these two objects have been fully provided, it is proposed to draw upon any balance that may be left for the educational assistance of sons of Old Rugbeians who have suffered financially by reason of the war.
THE SCHOOL’S WAR RECORDS.
Rugby School has just issued a new edition of a War Register, giving in detail the service, of over 3,100 of her sons. The numbers of killed and missing are 635, and the total casualties 1,700. There are 2,231 War Honours, comprising 1,057 Decorations and 1,264 Mentions in Despatches. Rugbeians are invited to obtain a copy from the School bookseller, so that entries may be checked for a complete and final edition.
NEWS OF CAPT. T. A. TOWNSEND, MM.
A repatriated prisoner, Pte Hope, R.A.M C, has furnished Mrs T S Townsend with several details which throw further light on the fate of Capt T A Townsend, M.C, R A M.C (only son of the late Mr T S Townsend, Clifton Manor), who has been missing since the German offensive of March 21st last. Pte Hope, who was one of the gallant Captain’s stretcher bearers, states that Capt Townsend was badly wounded in the abdomen, and when the Germans came up he was left behind, as he was believed to be dying. When they reached the enemy lines, however, the Colonel persuaded a German officer to take a stretcher party to bring Capt Townsend in. News has also been received, from an indirect source, to the effect that Capt Townsend died after teaching the German hospital.
RUGBY MAN’S LIFE AT RUHLEBEN.
FAMOUS JOCKEY RELATES HIS HARDSHIPS.
Fred Davis, a well-known jockey, of Hillmorton, has just returned home from Germany. He was one of the first Englishmen to be interned at Ruhleben. His captivity thus beats every record for duration. “ You see, I’ve had no trouble to keep down my weight,” was his first remark. Davis, who was trained at Mr Reginald Day’s stable at Newmarket, was riding for Mr Robert Utting, of Hamburg, when war broke out. In 1913 he finished second on the list of successful jockeys in Germany, being only beaten by the American jockey Archibald.
In Hamburg, at the beginning of August, 1914, Davis was told by the local authorities that British subjects were given 48 hours to clear out. He did all he could to get away, and after getting his papers in order he was awaiting a train to take him out of Hamburg to Denmark when he was arrested by an officer on the Hamburg Station platform. He found himself landed in Hamburg gaol, where 12 days’ solitary confinement gave him his first taste of German war manners. Then he was sent to an emigrant ship in the harbour for two months, and later to Ruhleben, where he remained until the camp was broken up by the revolution.
His story of Ruhleben is that it was hell until the American Ambassador, Mr Gerard, visited the place, and gave the Germans a piece of his mind. From that moment parcels arrived, and prisoners were no longer forced to work, though every now and then money was offered to them if they would consent. Needless to say, they refused. Davis spent most of his time woodcarving.
The camp officers were insulting according to the tide of German military success. When there had been a victory somewhere they abused their prisoners in the most shameful Hun fashion, “ British swine ” being their mildest epithet. When Germany suffered a reverse it was the old “ Kamerad ” song once more. British imperturbability got the better of both attitudes. At Ruhleben there were no “ food ” conditions at all, as there was no food to speak of.
Davis added, “ My former employers in Hamburg acted quite decently to me after I left camp, and gave me a glowing certificate, but added that they did not think there would be any chance of employing English jockeys or any jockeys at all in Germany for the present.” He intends to ride in this country when the flat racing season commences.
LONDON ROAD AVENUE.
A TRANSFORMATION—AND A SUGGESTION.
Owing to wartime restrictions on private motoring, the discouraging and obstructive influences of bad weather and worn roads upon cyclists and the lack of vehicular facilities, few people have had an opportunity of seeing what has been happening to the famous Avenue on the London Road during the past few months. Our readers will recollect that the Duke of Buccleuch in the autumn of 1917 arranged with the Warwickshire County Council to transfer to them his interest in the avenue of firs and elms along the road from Dunchurch to Knightlow Hill, on condition that the Council assumed the care and control which had hitherto been exercised by his Grace. A suggestion had been previously put forward by the Rugby Advertiser that the Avenue should be preserved as far as possible as a picturesque feature of the landscape. and also as a memorial to the troops of the 29th Division which passed along the road when reviewed by the King prior to their departure to the Mediterranean, where they were destined to win immortal fame—and, sad to say, were grievously decimated. This suggestion was eventually adopted by the County Council, and a Sub-committee was appointed to inspect the Avenue and report as to the condition of the trees and the best means of maintaining it.
It was obvious that most of the elm trees which lined the road from Blue Boar to Knightlow Hill had seen their best days and were likely to be dangerous to passing traffic ; and in stormy weather disastrous to the important lines of telegraph wires along each side of the road. This, in fact, had happened on several occasions. The Committee, after consulting experts from Kew and elsewhere, decided that it was advisable to clear off the whole of these trees and replant the avenue with young ones of various kinds, devoting a section to each variety ; and that the memorial purpose should be recorded by a monolith to be erected on the triangular plot of turf at the intersection of the London and Fosse Roads, where the King stood and admired the troops of the 29th Division as they marched past.
In the early autumn of 1918 the trees were submitted as they stood to public auction, and were acquired by a timber merchant from Arley, near Atherstone, for £1,700, which was, in fact, the controlled maximum price. The work of cutting down was commenced at once, and before the end of the year every tree was lying low. The wide margins on each side of the road, strewed with the massive boles, the lop and top and other debris, presented a weird and regretful picture, conveying a mild idea, perhaps, of what has happened to many of the well timbered parts of France and Belgium.
But while the necessity for this effacement, as far as the elm trees were concerned, is realised, there exists a strong feeling among people residing in the district that the work has been carried out all too ruthlessly, and that a little more discrimination might have been exercised. Here and there, fine chestnuts, sycamores, and other sound trees added diversity and beauty to the Avenue. These did not appear to be dangerous, but unfortunately they are no longer in the picture.
The clearing away of the arcade and its umbrageous canopy gives one a better idea of the imposing width of the road, and as the hedgerows on the adjoining land are well timbered, the scene of desolation is not so painfully obvious as might have been expected. A ride down the road will still be a pleasant journey, and as years roll by and the new trees which are to be planted grow up, the vistas which present themselves will no doubt be quite as striking as they have been in the past.
By the terms of the sale the purchaser of the trees is allowed till October to remove them, and of course there will be no replanting till next autumn and winter. It has not transpired whether the sub-committee have decided to range the new trees along the old lines eight to ten feet from the edges of the metalled road, but before a decision is come to on that point we would suggest that a more irregular arrangement would be quite as picturesque and not so monotonous as the old straight lines were.
But there is another question to consider. The work of reconstruction is coming along in the country ; the main and trunk roads are to be made more suitable for the heavy transport traffic that is to be thrown upon them. This can only be done by relaying the surface with harder material—and more closely bound with tar or otherwise. Experience has proved that the smooth surface thus produced is not suitable for horse traffic—it as slippery and therefore dangerous—and there is a strong temptation for drivers to take to the side of the road to obtain a better foothold for their horses. Already the side paths which have been made along the London road have been cut up in this way, notably down the hill from Dunchurch to Woolscott bridge, where the path has been destroyed altogether.
Unless the farrier can devise some method of shoeing horses which will enable them to stand up on slippery roads it seems certain that special provision will have to be made where such surfaces prevail, and macadamised tracks on each side of the road exclusively for horse traffic are likely to form part of main road construction in future. There is space on the sides of the London Road between Dunchurch and Knightlow Hill for additional tracks, and the sub-committee, before making their final arrangements for replanting, should take this aspect of reconstruction into consideration, and not establish the new trees too near the metalled road.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
THE SHORTAGE OF HOUSES.
DISCHARGED SOLDIER’S PLEA.
SIR,—I wish to call attention to a long-standing grievance. It has been the same ever since I came to Rugby several years ago. It is the housing question. What are the powers that be doing about it ?
I think it would surprise those who have the matter in hand if a census of the town were taken of the number of married people who are having to live in apartments owing to the shortage of houses. I was discharged from the Army four months ago, and have searched in vain for a house ever since. I know several men in the same predicament as myself, both discharged and demobilised soldiers, and I consider it up to Rugby to get a move on and remedy the matter.
There is some talk of building a theatre. That in my opinion is a secondary matter. Let us have houses first, and you will then be doing some good to those who have been across the water and done their bit. We want no “ Wait and See ” in Rugby. That didn’t win the war. Let us have some Coalition promises realised.— Yours etc,
ELLIOTT.—In fond and loving memory of Lance-Corpl H. J. ELLIOTT, Rifle Brigade, who fell in action on February 12, 1917.
“ Could we have raised his dying head,
Or heard his last farewell,
The grief would not have been so hard
For them that loved him well.”
—From his sorrowing Mother, Dad & Brother.