Leicester Trooper's Letter
Trooper H. W. Breeze, B squadron, Leicestershire Yeomanry, writing from the front to friends in Leicester says: "This line or two I write just to take advantage of a hard earned chance. At last we are resting after a fortnight in the thick of it, around Ypres, where the greatest battle of the war is raging. In the trenches, which we occupied together with the 1st and 2nd life guards and the Coldstream Guards, the water was nearly knee deep, and the roads to them the same depth in mud. For a fortnight we have been in the trenches periodically, wet through and no chance of a change. I took my boots off for the first time in three weeks on Tuesday, and have not been able to walk since. We are, to a man, foot sore, and ill health is very prevalent, but after a few days rest no doubt all will be fit again. The mud and water was relieved a few days ago by heavy snow, severe winter weather. In the trenches under either conditions it is awful one dare not go to sleep for when waking, one finds every limb frozen beyond feeling. Of course, then it only takes a sally on the enemy's side to make us warm. The Life Guards and Coldstream have lost very heavily, but the Yeomanry, I think, are the luckiest regiment at the front, having only three wounded. The Guards say we have been most lucky. A week ago we had 30 of our horses killed, and not one man was hurt. We were all asleep in a large house about 300 yards away. The shell fire is appalling, and unceasing day and night. On the march of Bivouarged we are heavily bombarded. We pass on route, many grim sights which force home the cruel, murderous and inhuman aspects of this war. It is beyond the greatest imagination it must be seen just one glance. It is frightful to see the fine old churches and historic buildings and peasants homes all laid low by German Guns.
"We are all well supplied with tobacco and cigarettes and we are just in receipt of some underclothing from the Queen and the women of the Empire. There is one thing we all crave for but cannot get for anything, that is chocolate.
"There will be no good old Christmas at home for us this year, but let us hope that this terrible carnage will be cut short by a crushing defeat to our enemies."
Within some six weeks of the outbreak of war Private W. Moore, of the first Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and a resident of Loughborough, found himself at the western front. He is now in the Bagthorpe Military Hospital suffering from "trench foot," having been previously away from the war zone in order to recover from shrapnel wound in the calf of the leg. During the time he has been serving his country, Moore has had many exciting experiences, some of which he narrated to a representative of the "Nottingham Guardian." It was in the battle of Neuve Chapelle that he first took part in a bayonet charge, and he retains vivid recollections of that desperate and sanguinary encounter. Right through three lines, of enemy trenches went the British troops, sweeping away all opposition. The reluctance of the Germans to face the bayonet was well known, but they were given no alternative, and there were many hand-to-hand fights. But he himself had scarcely got through the last line when he was struck by a piece of shrapnel, and had to crawl to a place of safety. All who took part in the advance had experience of the horrors of modern warfare in which so far as the Germans were concerned machine guns played an important part. His injury did not prove to be very serious, and he was only away from the fighting about six weeks.
The most interesting parties of a conversation with Lance Corporal James Hudson, who has come to his home, in Wellington Street, Loughborough, from the front dealt with the doings of his regiment, the 1st Leicesters, in the trenches across the river Aisne, where there were several engagements. The Leicesters line of retreat, if it had been necessary to retreat was a pontoon bridge. The permanent structure had long been destroyed by the big gun fire of the enemy, but though one of the Germans' pieces of heavy ordnance, firing a 90 pound shell, spent most of its time in attempting to destroy the bridge, and fired a shell every quarter of an hour at it, the pontoon was not destroyed. It was in those trenches that the Leicesters had their first big experience of the war. They relieved the Worcesters, and Royal Irish Rifles in the advanced trenches across the river, and were ordered to hold the position at all costs. This they did for 19 days, at the end of which period they were relieved by French troops, and the whole of the Brigade, of which the Tigers formed part, moved off across the pontoon which had defied the German artillery. During the time the Leicesters occupied these trenches their losses were comparatively light, and they had only 35 men put out of action. They were right in the front line of the battle, and did not have to advance against the German trenches, and consequently had no bayonet work to do. Cold steel, however, was used by the supporting forces on both their flanks. Their greatest difficulty while in the trenches was in obtaining water, which was a mile away. The roads to and from the trenches were given special names by the troops, one particularly bad one being designated "Rotten Row".
Experiences in The Sudan
First class Air Mechanic W. Swainson, of the R.F.C., writing to his brother, who lived at 22 Cartwright Street, Loughborough, from Egypt, says that he has recently been promoted from Second class air mechanic, and probably by the time the letter arrived he would have been made full Corporal. This was following a short but sharp campaign, in which he took part, which he describes as being independent of the big war, and which ended successfully by the occupying by our troops of the hostile Sultan's capital, "somewhere in the Sudan". After suffering at 125 degrees, in the shade for a period, he was sent back, a three weeks' journey to the base in Egypt. At times during the days of the return journey nothing but a towel was worn, which could have been wrung as though it had been washed. Swainson nevertheless refers to the agreeable experiences he had met with, and added that one of their commanders, a captain, had been promoted for having been nine and a half hours in the air reconnoitering at a temperature of 125 degrees, in the shade, which was really a wonderful piece of work. He concludes that he would have been home for a rest, but they had just been transferred to a reserve division, and expected being moved shortly. First class Air Mechanic W. Swainson was the son of Mrs. Swainson, of Barrow Street, Loughborough.
A Loughborough Boxer
Private T. Brooks, R.A.M.C., writing from France says: "I am now writing you a few lines to let you know that the Loughborough Boys out here are doing well, and are full of sport. Well, although it's been very wet and we've been up to the neck in sludge, the boys are still as cheery as ever. Well, I was passing through a village on our way to the trenches when I heard that there were going to be a few boxing bouts, and by chance I heard that a Loughborough lad was going to fight so as we were going to stop in a village about half a mile away I got a pass to go and see the bouts take place. Well, when I got there I went to find the lad from Loughborough who was going to fight. Well, we found him sitting in an old barn waiting of his chum to go with him to the ring. Well, sir, W. Smith, late with Carter's pork butcher, was the lad and met a Canadian by the name of Dan Lowe, who he beat in the fifth round with a knock-out blow, and can tell you the few local lads didn't half give him a cheer and a hearty shake of the hand, and after that we had a nice little concert of our own in an Estaminet. Well, sir, I thought the Boys at home would like to hear about the Boys and the sport out her, and we'll hope that our comrade will have the luck of winning a few more fights out here."
A Visit to Jerusalem
A Most interesting account of a tour through Jerusalem and its environs has been received by Mr. F. B. Brewing from Staff Sergeant Downing, A.S.C. We regret we have not space for the letter, of which the following is an extract.
"The next place we visited was the church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has been built of the tomb of our Lord. The Church is very dark inside, and we are each given a taper at the door, as it is impossible to see anything without a light. Just inside is a stone slab upon which our lord was laid and anointed after being taken down from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea, before laying him in the Sepulchre. A few yards away is the Sepulchre or the tomb of our Lord. This place will not hold more than six persons at a time. Inside is supposed to be the actual tomb, on the top of which is a marble slab with a huge crack across the centre which is believed by the Greeks to have been struck by fire. It is a very weird place, but one is struck by the number of lamps there are inside, all being made of solid gold and silver, and sent from all corners of the world. In the centre of the church there stands a large marble ball, which marks the spot believed to be the centre of the world, and from where salvation comes, and a little further on we saw the place where the cross was found by Constantine. Leaving here, we go up to Mount Calvary and see the place where our Lord was crucified. This place is marked by a huge altar erected by the Greeks, and behind this Altar is a life-sized statue of Christ upon the cross, all in gold. To the left of the altar is a glass case, containing a wax bust of the Blessed Virgin Mary, upon which is placed presents sent from all parts of the World. The presents are simply magnificent, as they are all either diamonds or solid gold. Looking through a slide under the altar, one can see the rock, which forms part of Mount Calvary. All the places and structures which are contained in the Holy Sepulchre are kept spotlessly clean and in excellent repair, - nearly as soon as one has raised his foot from the floor a nun or some other person dusts the place where one has trodden, but what strikes one most is the quite, solemn and gloomy appearance of its surroundings, which is not thoroughly realized until one has left. This finished our first day's tour.
We then returned to the new part of the city, and after taking tea we moved off to the theatre, which is now run by British Tommies. They served up a very amusing entertainment which lasted one and half hours, and was greatly appreciated by all. I for one, not having seen such a show or heard such a band during the time I have been abroad. Meeting our officers at 9am we were informed they were unable to obtain vehicles to take us to Bethlehem, so we decided to walk. Shortly after starting we observed two Jerusalem merchants' carts, and after arguing for nearly half an hour we were successful in obtaining a ride. It was of a rough and ready type, as we had to balance ourselves time after time to prevent the cart from overturning, and one could nearly see through the animals. Passing Rachel's Tomb on our right, we arrived at Bethlehem, and arranged for the cart to wait and take us back. We visited the beautiful church of the Holy Nativity built over the stable where Christ was born, which looked more like a cave than a stable."
Battle of Mons, what a Loughborough Man saw
An interesting account of the fighting at Mons where the British troops were engaged is given by Mr. Bert Taylor, of Loughborough, who had been working as an engineer at Quievrain, a village not far from the town, and close to the French frontier.
He said the British army arrived in the village on Saturday to take up their position in the firing line, and they were warmly welcomed by the villagers, Mr. Taylor being in great demand as interpreter. On Sunday evening the soldiers left for the front, and the approach of the enemy was signaled. The Church bells rang the tocsin, and the non-combatants left the village. A scattered rifle fire broke out, and then the woods were fired by the soldiers.
Mr. Taylor and his wife crossed the frontier, making for Valenciennes. He paused on a railway bridge and looked back. The woods were burning fiercely and the rifle fire was now continuous, broken by the heavy boom of artillery. A great battle was in progress, but of its result he did not hear. He came on to England. He confirms the stories of German atrocities. The statement of the clubbing to death of eleven Belgians was told to him by a woman who saw the dead bodies of the victims.
News which comes to hand shows how severe was the fighting in the Allies advance on July 1st and the following days. Early this week the Loughborough Hospital received a further company of wounded soldiers, amongst whom were some who had received slight wounds whilst fighting in the advance. These men in conversation treat the battle lightly, though one is conscious that they have passed through an ordeal such as one cares not to linger upon. They confirm the statement contained in a letter below, which speaks of the Germans soldiers being chained to the machine guns, and also of existence of the cat o' nine tails in the trenches. The fellows talk freely of the part they took in the rush, and of the section wherein they fought. Sergeant Putt, of the 5th Leicesters, who is in hospital, writes to his father saying that he was wounded in the arm and shoulders, but will be all right again soon. A bullet smashed his watch, though probably that saved his life, as it was in the left pocket of the tunic.
Torpedoed and Mined
Mr. H. K. White, son of Mr. J. White, Nottingham Road, who has had two miraculous escapes during the war, is now home on leave. When acting as wireless operator his vessel was torpedoed and he was blown out of his cabin to the deck. His second thrilling experience took place on November 20th. He was in the Adriatic, proceeding to Trieste, and the vessel would have been the first British ship entering that port. A Wireless was received to call in at Brindisi, and just off that place the vessel ran into a mine and White had left his cabin a few minutes previously and crossed the spot at which the explosion occurred. The engines, which were not damaged, kept going, and the ship reached the entrance to the boom defense of Brindisi harbor before going down. The crew was largely composed of natives, a number of whom, on the explosion, crowded into one of the boats, and this was smashed in the lowering. White kept clear of this, and jumping overboard was soon picked up. Two of the firemen were killed and one injured by the explosion. After three days in hospital and a stay in a rest camp White travelled back to England overland, the railway journey taking eight days.
Private A. Lacey of the 9th Warwicks, writes under date March 31st from Mesopotamia: "Please forgive me for being so long in writing to thank you and the friends in Loughborough for your kindness in sending me a Christmas parcel, which I received several weeks ago, but I am sorry to say tied up in a mail bag in pieces, and most of it missing, but still as you say in your cheering greeting 'Keep your tail up' I was thankful to get a tin of pineapple, half a tin of cocoa, a broken candle, one piece of spearmint, and a piece of soap. Whether the parcel was knocked about a lot, or was 'Knocked about' by somebody trying to get at the cigarettes, I don't know, but if they're labeled 'cigarettes, etc.' we find something may happen, as they are liked very much out here. Although I don't smoke myself, hence perhaps that's why I receive my parcels from home, as I've told them not to send cigarettes, so if you should see any of my people (I've not told them yet) don't let this stop them sending the parcels, (my address is 25 Heathcote Street). Being labeled cigarettes seems the reason, as there was part of the wooden box in the bag as well, and it seemed as though it was packed all right. It is beginning to get rather warm here, and fighting will soon cease owing to weather, and we have had many successes lately, so we all hope to be in dear old England before so very long. We all 'keep smiling' as much as possible in spite of long marches, mosquitoes (which are now appearing in the evenings), and a few flies, and plenty of sun. We hear of many funny things happening at home, even to no chip potatoes, sugar very scarce, etc, and still no lights owing to Zepps.
Experiences of Local Wounded
Private John Richardson, of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, who was wounded in Belgium, is now staying with his wife and friends at Wymeswold. Relating some of his experiences, he says that after the battle at Mons he was on out post duty with a comrade when some Germans came in sight about 800 yards distant. His companion went off to give the information, while Richardson "had a pop at them" and saw two fall from their horses. Then a whole column of the enemy appeared, and he blazed away until matters began to get to hot, so he "chucked it" and went back to his company. It was in a skirmish at Landrecies he received his injury. "I felt a ping on the shoulder" he said, but thought that was better than my head, so kept at it. Then a bit of shell hit me on the wrist, but still that was better than on the head, and I got excited and blazed away as hard as I could, and I don't remember any more till I found myself in hospital. Private Richardson says they knew all along that they were taking part in a strategic retreat, though they did not like it a bit. Often they had simply to show themselves to entice the Germans forward, and then to clear off as hard as they could. It was downright hard work, digging trenches and fighting and marching continually, sometimes 25 miles a day, and our men got dreadfully done up, dropping down asleep as soon as they halted, and then having to start off again on the approach of the enemy.
Have a go at them
Sergeant E. Angrave, writing to friends at Woodhouse Eaves, offers thanks for gifts received through the Village Tobacco Fund, and says: "We have been in what we call another show" that is, "having a go at them" and a hot shop it has been. A perfect shower of shells of all sorts we have been sending them, and of course we get a few in return, which proves what an enormous, quantity will be needed before we shall be able to blow them out altogether. I must think myself lucky, for when going up both the chaps in front of me and behind were put out of action by different shells, which appear to burst right in your ear, and just for the moment you are wondering is it your head or your leg that is missing. What a relief to find you are still whole. The devils also sent us some more gas shells, which make your eyes smart, and just where we were our gas helmets came in useful. By the bombardments we hear there appears to be a lively turn on, and by reports coming through we seem to be going all right. The French, too are on the move.
Letters From The Front
Among the letters to hand this week from Loughborough boys at the front, there is one from Sergeant J. Hudson, of the 2nd Leicesters, who was wounded in Mesopotamia. Prior to sailing for the East he was in France and was wounded at the first outbreak of the war in the autumn of 1914. In describing the battle in which he was wounded he says that Sergeant Cozens, another Loughborough lad, and he were in charge of the same platoon on the day of the attack and before they had gone far someone called to him to take charge as Cozens was hit. As he was leading the attack a curtain of fire came from machine guns, and he was hit near the forehead. Sergeant Hudson, speaking about Private Gibbons of Nanpantan, who fell in the same charge, says that after he was hit he fired every round of ammunition he had left - something like 100 rounds. As soon as he had fired the last round he dropped his rifle and died, never having uttered a word all the time. They were very sorry to lose him, as he was a good soldier. Lieutenant Dowding, another Loughborough man who had risen from the ranks, was also with the Leicesters at the same time. He was killed in the same action, being hit in the forehead. The writer also speaks of Private John Wall having been wounded in the hand.
Another letter from Private J. Rodgers, of the first Border regiment, gives an account of the evacuation of Gallipoli, saying that he did not think the Turks got much that would be of any use to them after the Allies left. His company was busy getting on a Destroyer when the lighter with thirty of them broke adrift, and they drifted about a mile and a half past Anzac with the shell dropping all around. They sent urgent wireless messages, but not until daybreak were they picked up by another destroyer, which towed then to land. The sea was very rough at the time, but they succeeded in landing safely.
Life in Mesopotamia
Writing to his parents from Mesopotamia, Sapper R.H. Payne, son of Insp. and Mrs. Payne, Loughborough, gives an interesting account of the country in which he is at present stationed. He says "This country is well watered by the Tigris and the Euphrates, and with the exception of camp clearings every bit of land is covered with dense forests, and in six weeks time dates will be more common here than any English fruit - Thousands of tons for the trouble of picking them. The Tigris is only ten minutes' walk, and at night time we get some very good swimming, although its 20 feet in the shallow parts." Later he adds: The temperature is 142 degrees, but in a month' s time it will be 155 degrees. We are doing five hours a day drilling and marching…if we were allowed in the villages it is doubtful whether we should find the energy to pay them a visit.
In our little world we have two things to look forward to - mail day, once a week, and a swim every evening…There are Egyptian, Arab and Persian, Chinese and Japanese Labour Corps working here on the docks, etc. Also Indian and African native troops, and what with civilian Arterman [sic., i.e. Ottoman] and a few other spare races. I think very rare excepting Europeans and Yankees are well represented. With the exception of the Armenians, a white very effeminate race, and the little Japs, a clever civilized race, they are a heathen rabble."
Loughborough Boys meet on the Battlefield
In the course of a letter received on Wednesday by Mr. G. P. Main, of Park Road, from his son. Bernard, whose regiment was in the victorious action at Thiepval last week, he says: "I think one of the strangest coincidences which have ever occurred to me was on the day when the fighting was at its hottest, and what do you think it was? I ran into Mr. Deakin's son (Beacon Road) and I was never more surprised in my life. We recognized one another simultaneously." The opinion of the English fighters of the Germans is confirmed by Mr. Main's son, who after telling of the sights of the battlefield, says: "I've never come across such a cowardly set of men in my life as the Huns. When they see they are cornered, they blubber like children and down go their rifles and up their hands. Although they are absolute beasts in every sense of the word, I did feel really sorry for one poor fellow the other day. He was lying in the bottom of a trench (German) in rather a bad condition; quite a good-looking young fellow, about 25. A few yards from him lay a photo of his mother, and I have not come across such a striking likeness. She was one of the kindest-looking ladies I've ever seen."
Loughborough Corporal's Letter
Corporal H. Adcock, of the 1st Leicesters, writing home to his parents in Cobden Street Loughborough, says he is going on first rate, and though in the trenches "the enemy are a bit quiet just at present, so I am taking advantage of it. I could not have written this letter yesterday as they were shelling our trenches and sent us about 40 shells, but did very little damage. We are having a bit better luck this time, only seven or eight casualties, and we go out tomorrow night for seven days. You people at home cannot imagine what it is like out here in the firing line with the Germans so near to us, firing from one morning to the next, and bullets flying about us all the while. Although we are well entrenched there are plenty of stray ones. For instance, not many minutes before I started writing this letter, one of our chaps was having his breakfast when he was shot dead. At one place about a hundred yards to my right we can throw a stone into their trenches, and we can often hear them talking and singing…I should like the people at home to see us when we come out of the trenches after seven days without washing and shaving. We do look a tusky lot, but in the best of spirits.
Loughborough Lads in the Fight
One of the Leicester boys, writing home about the advance of Saturday last, in Flanders, says: "It was one of the biggest battles that has been fought in the war. The regiment fought well all through, and though they lost heavily, they maintained their ground". He says the fight was more severe than Neuve Chapelle. Another talks about being wounded and gassed in the attack, and another says he feels a bit knocked about, but hopes to be right again soon. He was buried through the bursting of a shell, and although his head was free, he was unable to move for about six hours.
Loughborough Man with the Leicesters
Private G. Wignell, a Loughborough man with the Leicesters, has sent a very interesting letter to friends describing the movement of his battalion since last October. Wignell writes from Cotabs Hospital India, where he has been sent because he has "not been very well." He expected to go up country shortly to a hill station to get back his strength, and looked forward to a jolly time before going to the front again. He continues: "The regiment has had many changes since we left - and there are not many of the old battalion left, now only about a dozen or so. Finally we landed in Egypt where we stayed two or three days, and then took train for the famous battlefield of Tel-el-Kebir. We stayed there about a week, and then set sail for the Persian Gulf, landing at a place called Alli-ghabi.
We stayed here for our Christmas dinner. What do you say? Did we have a bust up? Rather! Some soup like dishwater, and about half an ounce of meat, goat flesh, with a few broken biscuits. Were we downhearted! No fear. We sat and sang carols, bought dates, salmon, Huntley and Palmer's biscuits, and tinned fruits, and had a jolly time of it. I must say that most of us had got out stockings, or socks, full to yes, full of holes.
Then after a day or so there we had to start advancing up Mesopotamia, and glad we were too, for at Alli-ghabi we used to buy fags and dates from the Arabs, and at night the beggars used to get round the camp and snipe at us. We captured a lot of them, and of course they got their deserts. So we got on the march, and after the second day we came into contact with the Turks. We gave them a shell or two and they fled. Next day we met them again only stronger in numbers, and they put up a fight and fought all that day, and during the night they fled again, which always made it worse for us, as they would take up a trench and wait for us coming across the open country. Then they would bang away, and our boys would still keep marching on; many wounded fell here and there, but still we kept on and routed them out of it with the bayonet. We lost rather heavily, but shifted them, and we were not downhearted, we were not above two or three hundred strong then, so we rested for a day or so. Then reinforcements came to us, and off we went again, and bumped into the Turks at a place called Shark's Head, where we had a two-day battle."
Loughborough Marine's Story
Writing to his mother, who lives at 26 Judges Street, Lance-Corporal T.A. Guerins, of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, who was on H.M.S. Bristol during the Falklands battle, says the outpost on Sapper Hill, Port Stanley, sighted the German Fleet while most of the British Fleet were coaling. When the enemy were about ten miles off the Canopus opened fire on them with her 12-inch guns, and the first shell dropped between two of the ships. The enemy immediately changed his course. The British Fleet got up steam and cleared for action. The Glasgow was first to give chase, and steamed off at 25 knots. The others were not long in getting under weigh, coaling having been completed in record time. The Bristol left at 27 Knots, but when getting into line was ordered to return and search the enemy's transports. The Macedonia joined in the search, and the transports were found in the afternoon. Two of them, Santa Isabel and Baden, both brand new ships, were sunk, after their crews had been taken off, and the other, which was loaded with coal, was burned. The Bristol then joined in the search for the Dresden and Krons Prinz, which had escaped in the fog, and were thought to be hiding among the Islands. They could not be found however, and so the whole fleet returned to Port Stanley and finished coaling as if nothing had happened. Guerins adds that those who were on the flagship in the battle told him the Admiral behaved as if he was on manoeuvres, and that it did one good to see the way he surrounded and sank the enemy. There were about 200 hundred Germans taken prisoners, and some of them told the British tars that they thought that was the last of the British Fleet, that London and Paris had fallen, and that our troops were being beaten everywhere. In conclusion the Lance Corporal says: "We are going to chase and sink the Dresden now. She was our "chummie" ship at Tampico at the time of the Mexican War, but she has got to dip now".
Loughborough Soldier's Story
Private J. Young, a Loughburian, who was wounded on August 26th, is in Loughborough recuperating before he returns to his regiment, the 4th Middlesex. His home is in Bridge Street, where he arrived on Tuesday of last week on being discharged from a Birmingham hospital, where he underwent an operation. His regiment arrived in the vicinity of Mons on August 22nd, and at once commenced digging trenches, which they occupied the next day (Sunday). In a short time the battle of Mons commenced. The first German shell demolished a convent, and soon the engagement became general, and lasted throughout the day. Young was struck on the ankle by a piece of shrapnel but was not incapacitated, and was able to take part in a bayonet charge, in which the Middlesex and Seaforth Highlanders were engaged. On one occasion he went to the assistance of a number of his fellow soldiers who were in trouble but found the spot to hot that he had to take cover. The retreat commenced, and the fighting continued day and night and the Middlesex Regiment were so much in the thick of it that very few of them escaped unscathed. The hospitals and churches, together with the British transport, were blown to pieces by the German artillery. It was on August the 26th, after repeat rear guard actions, that Young received two shrapnel wounds, one in the shoulder and the other in the right hand, which put him out of action. He was removed from Mons to Bologne by motor, and taken in a transport to Southampton, where, after being medically examined, he was sent to Birmingham.
Returned from Australia
Private Thomas Rodgers, of the King's Royal Rifles, was wounded in action on Tuesday in last week, and is now in the London Temperance Hospital. He has written to his parents in Ratcliffe Road that he got through the fierce action on the Monday, but the following day was shot in the hand and wrist. Rodgers was a reservist, and went to Australia to settle down in a new Country, but was called upon on mobilization. He was seven weeks and three days coming over in the transports, and landed in England on Christmas Eve. He came direct on to Loughborough, and had five days leave, after which he was sent to his regiment at the front, where he served for three weeks before receiving his wounds. Rodgers was brought to London on Saturday evening. Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers have two sons, two sons-in-law, and a grandson in the army.
Prisoner of War
Sergeant T. A. Barritt, Coldstream Guards, is a Loughborough man, who worked at the Falcon Works, and was called up on the outbreak of war as a reservist, just after he had been married. He was wounded in 1914, and taken prisoner by the Germans, and after being in hospital at Brussels, Mulhein, and Fredericksfelt, eventually landed, after his recovery, at Wahn Camp, near Cologne. He has sent some photos home to his wife in Loughborough. Mrs, Barritt informed us that she sends her husband his food, and has adopted the plan of sending 4s a month to Mrs. Grant Dunn, British Legation, Berne, Switzerland, who as chief of the British Section for the succor of prisoners of war, sends 2 pound loaves each week to Sergeant Barritt. He writes that the bread reaches him in splendid condition, whereas when Mrs. Barritt sent the loaves from England the bread was stale on arrival.
The North Sea Battle
A Loughborough boy, writing home after the naval battle says: "It was my afternoon watch on Wednesday from 12 noon to 4 p.m. About 3.30 p.m. action was sounded off on the bugle. We thought it was a battle exercise with other ships, and I can tell you I for one did swear. It was then passed that two Germ-hun light cruisers had been sighted. We said to one another "God help them!" Then five battle cruisers and some more light cruisers were sighted. We very soon engaged them, and they fell back on their battle fleet, and we fought them until our battle fleet arrived. Then we drew out for a while. As soon as our battle fleet engaged them they turned and ran, and of course, we started to chase them. I can tell you I never wish to see such sights again, although I would not have missed it for anything, and I hope I shall not miss any more than may be fought. I saw the Queen Mary go up, and I saw one Germ-hun hit with a salvo and turn completely over. I never thought we should get out of it, but I did not seem to mind. I only hoped that if I had to go I should be killed instantly and not maimed for life, so that I am a burden to myself and every-body else. I want to come out whole or not at all. Our turret was hit with a 12-inch shell and if it had been one foot higher it would have sent all in the turret to Davy Jones's Locker (a nautical term for death). As it was it made a big hole in the Armour, and put the turret snout of action for a bit. The fumes emitted from the shell made us all sick - lucky for us it was not a gas shell (which they used a lot). They opened fire about a quarter of an hour before us, but they only wasted their ammunition. We waited until we got well within range. Their shooting was good at first, but after a few salvos from us it got confused. They thought they had an easy thing on - their whole fleet against a few of our ships - and no doubt they would have done had not our battle fleet been astern of us. I think that when all is known the Germ-huns lost about 20- 24 ships, and a lot badly damaged, so you see it was a big victory for us. It nearly broke us all up when we saw Saturday morning papers. I think it was worse for us than people ashore - just coming in from a battle we knew we had won, and to read as though we had been defeated. I may tell you, had we lost not one ship would have returned. They would have had to fight to the last. It will be a long time before they come out again, and I don't think they will ever come to fight to the finish."
Shell Didn't Explode
Writing home after being in the action on September 25 and 26, which resulted in the taking of Thiepval, Pte. W. A. Deakin says: "We had to go through a very heavy barrage, and it is wonderful how so many got through. We lost four officers, and my best pal is missing… It was very uphill work. I spent a most unholy night, partly on top, partly in a trench, and partly in a sap. There was a heavy German bombardment all night long, and the darkness was intense. I seemed to have as many lives that night as the proverbial cat. At one time both ends of the sap were blown in, and as I happened to be at the opening I got partly buried and deafened, and saw stars and pretty lights of many different colours…There is also another incident. I admit it does read rather like a fairy tale, but it is nonetheless true. While I was crossing an open space which a sniper, hidden away somewhere half-a-mile or so up the hill, was making rather unhealthy, I was keeping fairly well alert as I could see the bullets hitting the earth round about my feet, when my attention was attracted by something running behind me. I turned my head, and there, slithering down the hill over the loose churned up earth, was a big 6in. or 8 in. shell. It didn't explode, but came to a halt scarcely a dozen yards from where I was standing. Another rather interesting episode-soon after we had crossed from - to-, I ran across Bernard Main (Mr. G. P. Main's son), whom I had not seen since schooldays. No stranger place for such a meeting could have been chosen."
Two to One on Loughborough
R. Q. M. Sergeant Gorse, well known as a Loughborough N.C.O. with the Leicesters, writes to us as follows: If you will grant me a little space in your valuable paper I would like to give the people of our town, through your columns, an illustration of British pluck, bred in Loughborough. This incident occurred in No Man's Land, where a party of four were putting pot barbed wire. Suddenly they were surprised by a party of 15 or 16 Germans. Two of them were wounded, one got away, and the central figure of this article was taken prisoner. The youth taken prisoner was Private Smith, son of W. Smith (better known in Loughborough as "Trooper Smith" and he was at once taken towards the enemy's lines. On the way the Germans became detached, and two of them were sent to take young Smith in. But this lad had designs other than theirs. Seeing an opportunity, he had a "go" for his liberty. Kicking one of them in a vital spot, he grasped his rifle and bayonet from him as he fell, and before the other realised what was happening, his comrade's bayonet was through his body. Young Smith then made a dash for our lines, but not being certain of his directions, he dropped into a shell hole, close to his company, as luck had it, and lay there until 7.30 the next night, when he came in, having recognized the voice of one of his officers. He had been in the shell hole about 22 hours without anything to eat. He was recommended for immediate award, and has been rewarded for his exploit with the Military Medal. The Battalion was being relieved from the trenches on the night he came in. Thinking you might like to let the people of Loughborough know about one more demonstration of British pluck by one more Loughborough lad. I decided to let you know something about it.
Wounded Loughborough Emigrant
Rifleman Thos. Rogers, of the King's Royal Rifles, writing to friends at Loughborough, from the London Temperance Hospital, tells an interesting story of his journeying before reaching England as a wounded soldier. He left Freemantle, West Australia, on October the 25th, coming overland to join the transport at Albany. There were many of them guarded by men of war, including the famous Sydney. They received the news that the Emden was about, and the Sydney went in chase, with results that all the world now knows. From what he saw them passing through the Suez Canal, he is of opinion that the Turks are in for a warm time. He left the Australian and New Zealand Volunteers to complete their training in Egypt, and came on to England. When near Malta a submarine bobbed up, alongside the ships, but it proved to be French. Rogers tells of other incidents of the voyage, and observes, "Our cruisers were always watching and guarding us, and this is one of the things our Navy has to do, and done well, but which you hear nothing about. It speaks well of the Navy to be able to bring troops from one end of the world to the other without any loss". The rain and cold of England made him wish for sunny West Australia. On arrival in France early in January, he went towards the front, and on the 17thJanuary went with his battalion to the trenches. "The way was by a communication trench up to knees in water and clay. It was hard work, and under fire as well. Our trench was 40 yards from the Germans. Our artillery was firing just over our heads into the German trenches."
"Monday, the 18th was quiet, except for snipers and a few 'coal boxes', and bombs, and then it started to snow all day - it was said to be the coldest day of the war. The next day men had to leave the trenches suffering from frostbite, and later the trenches were in a very bad condition; full of water and caving in. The engineers came to them, and to make things better. Although", Rogers adds, "shells and bombs coming at you tend to make things a trifle unpleasant. You look well sloshed up with mud and water up to the waist, and that is how you have to go through it. It is grand rubbing on the side of the trench, and keeping your head down at times so as not to get your hair parted. Then you stick, but you get out on to the road and shake yourselves like dogs, and off to the billets where a warm feed and a fire makes you sleep, for the German 'coal boxes' coming over head do not disturb you. In Bethune the Germans shelled the place, and also the hospital, so the patients had to moved back." Rogers was called out with his battalion, and with ammunition and hand grenades, went to the trenches to repel an attack. The Cold-streams and the Scott's [ie. Scots] Guards were bearing the brunt of the fight. Rogers went to help the Scott's, and "got it hot" but the reinforcements repulsed the attack. "The Germans were glad to get back under cover, for we had 170 guns sending them presents, and they are sending us some too. The place was alive with shells and the deafening roar, but we kept up a good rifle fire on them. An order for a charge to recapture a trench was countermanded, and on the 25thof January it was decided to sap a trench out to ward the French. Several of them were picked out to go to the front and cover the engineers, and, "we got a warm reception, for the Germans sent up eight bombs to see what we were at, and then gave up grenades and bullets, so that we had to lie down flat for protection. Then before daylight came, we crawled back and dug deeper trenches, because we knew they would do their best to out us, for the new trench was an advance, and the means of putting in a deadly cross fire on the Germans. When day light came they pumped their bombs into us, and their mortars gave us snuff, till our guns drove them back out of range." Rogers tells how the Germans attempted to trench across the La Bassee road, but were driven back by his regiment and the French. "One can only tell what is happening just round about, but Rogers could see the Allies' shells dropping into the German trenches, and doing fearful damage. It was during the attack before the Kaiser's birthday that Rogers was hit in the hand and wrist, and made his way out of the trenches under fire all the time to the dressing station at Bethune, which was also being shelled. When in hospital Rogers met a man who came in later and told him all the positions had been retaken and advances made by the reinforcements, "so that all the Kaiser's presents had been returned with interest."