Friday 8 December 1916
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When I arrived back here after spending a very pleasant holiday with you, though far too brief, I found the battalion stationed in the same place as when I left. A few days later we suddenly received orders to be on the move and the whole division was conveyed in about 100 motor omnibuses and after a somewhat tedious journey, occupying eight hours, we arrived at ________. The next day we moved to ______, nearer to the front; on the following day we went to the reserve and subsequently in the firing line. We have now returned to the salient where we originally were but a little further south with the French troops immediately on our right. The weather, I am sorry to say, has been execrable and the mud is something to be remembered for a long time. I had some experience of mud on Salisbury Plain last winter but it was not a patch to the quality or quantity on what we have out here. In most places it is up to one’s knees and in some up to the waist. Wounded The wounded have to be carried back on stretchers some four miles as the motor ambulances, on account of the impassibility of the road, cannot get any nearer, and for similar reasons, the shells have to be conveyed on pack horses. We occupy land lately wrested from the enemy and the result is that the whole country has been devastated by
shell fire and there is not one stone left upon another. Whenever we fall back in reserve we improvise some kind of shelter by utilising empty ammunition boxes or pieces of corrugated iron or erect bell tents. The nearest habitable village is eight miles behind our front line and after having done our turn in the trenches and in reserve, it is a change eagerly looked forward to when we are able to get back to proper billets, have a hot bath, dry our clothes and get a general clean up. There is, of course, a great deal of sickness and many men are sent down with trench feet, rheumatism, bronchitis etc. But in spite of the hardships and the adverse weather conditions (and our greatest enemy has been the mud, not the Germans) the spirit of the men is unbroken and their cheery optimism is remarkable. Tanks A week or two ago, when we were back in the rest billet for a short time, who should come into our mess one afternoon but the Prince of Wales? He had tea with us and chatted quite freely for some time. HM King George is Colonel in Chief of this battalion, a title he first assumed when Prince of Wales. I saw the other day for the first time four of those mysterious engines of war, whose doings have been so vividly described by war correspondents, known to us as “tanks” but variously named Behemoth, boojum, juggernaut, jabberwock, snark, salamanda, toad, tortoise, dreadnought, dragon, etc.
One could say much about them but I must refrain. Wooden crosses The first time I went up to the trenches in this part of the line I saw a sight which is continually meeting one’s eyes, viz, rows of wooden crosses, standing sharp and terrible above the ground. They mark the last resting places of those who have fallen gloriously in battle on the fair fields of France. I stepped aside as I invariably do on such occasions and the first inscription I read was that to the memory of Mr Asquith’s son and next to him Mr Tennant’s son, the under- secretary for foreign affairs. Raymond Asquith had a most brilliant career at the university, taking the highest possible degrees and subsequently at the Parliamentary Bar, he had maintained his reputation. When I contemplated the end of his career, already invested with an aureola of brilliance, and, had he lived, would have shone with an even greater lustre, my first feelings were those of sadness. But then I thought to myself “What is life given for but to be used up?  And how can it be used better than being devoted to such a high and sacred cause?” And as I lingered a little at his grave in the gathering gloom, I recalled the words of his father uttered on a memorable occasion: “This is not merely a material, it is also a spiritual conflict. Upon its issue everything
that contains the promise of hope that leads to emancipation and fuller liberty for the millions who make up the masses of mankind, will be found sooner or later to depend.” It is a source of much gratification to myself and I trust to you, to know that the Bishop of Richmond was the messenger at Baildon during the National Mission of Repentance and Hope. His Lordship has had a vast and varied experience of such work and I am sure that his addresses would be marked by great spiritual force and insight. I can only hope and pray that the Mission has done something to recover the fallen, rouse the careless, cheer the anxious and uphold the faith of God’s servants. It is because the world is not in harmony with God that we have the world as it is today. I want you to remember that vice is not here by God’s will. Strife and malice and envy are not here by God’s will. War and bloodshed and slaughter are not here by God’s will. They are here by man’s will because man has set up his own will in opposition to that of God. Anxieties The new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness will be an assured fact when “We learn with God to will one will, to do and to endure.” And so I wish you all most sincerely, whatever you troubles and anxieties, may be a peaceful Christmas and one which need not be devoid of real and solemn joy. I may be able to get another leave at the beginning of January. I cannot say for certain but it is possible. It depends whether leave is still open and whether we have the full complement of chaplains. Several have had to go sick but we may be at full strength by then.
“I had some experience of mud on Salisbury Plain last winter but it was not a patch to the quality or quantity on what we have out here. In most places it is up to one’s knees and in some up to the waist.” Rev A E Sidebotham (right), vicar of Baildon, sent his parishioners a wide-ranging letter from the trenches which included their living conditions, a visit by the Prince of Wales and his reflection on the death of the Prime Minister’s son and the nature of will.
The greatest enemy is the mud, not the Germans
A CHEMICO Antiseptic Non-Metallic BODY SHIELD will be the Best XMAS PRESENT for our Boy at the Front It May SAVE His Life  Private Harry Rhodes, writing to his father at 78 Saltaire Rd, Shipley, says: “I can assure you that the Body Shield must have saved my life for it was covered with holes made by shrapnel and bullets.” The original letter can be seen at 20 Kirkgate. Press opinions sent to any address on application.  Price: For CHEST			£1  7s  6d For BACK & CHEST	£2  7s  6d  Agent J. C. HAINSWORTH, 20, KIRKGATE, SHIPLEY
Pte John Patchett, who enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders 13 months ago, has been killed in action. Father A Grant, Roman Catholic Chaplain to the 153rd Brigade, wrote to Mr and Mrs Patchett as follows: “I am very sorry to have to tell you of the death of your son. He was killed in action on the 13th. “All the boys were at confession and communion before going into battle. God rest him and comfort you and yours. “The good French Cure asked his people to pray for him and you.” He was for several years employed at Messrs Smith & Hutton’s, Tunwell Mills, Eccleshill, and one of his workmates writes: “He was a fine lad, a hard worker and an enthusiastic soldier, and his untimely death is greatly regretted.” The deceased soldier was 23 years of age. Three of his brothers are fighting in France. Their home is at 41 Institute Road, Eccleshill.
Eccleshill Highlander killed in action
By a singular coincidence the two brothers, L Cpl H Pringle (left) and L Cpl Arthur Pringle (right), were both invalided home from France at the same time suffering from trench feet. The younger one, L Cpl Arthur Pringle, has been in the army 15 months and has been at the front four months. L Cpl H Pringle has served about eight months. The former originally had an appointment on the clerical staff of the Shipley District Council whilst his brother was a Bradford tramway employee.
Brothers invalided home
Pte Frank Irving of the 1st Bradford Pals has died of wounds inflicted by a shell which fell on the house where his company was billeted. The casualties were eight killed and five wounded. Good hopes were entertained of his recovery but he passed away the morning following his admittance to the clearing station. He was a respected member of a class at the Eccleshill Congregational Sunday School that has furnished 30 recruits for the army and navy and he was in the first batch to enlist. He is the second out of the class that has made the supreme sacrifice. Pte Irving was the only son of Mr and Mrs Arthur Irving of No 17 Wrose Road, Five Lanes End and was formerly employed by Messrs Spencer Bros, wholesale milliners, 63 Sunbridge Road,  Bradford. The deceased soldier was 21 years of age.
A ‘Pal’ victim as shell destroys house
Pte Willie Birch of the Duke of Wellington’s Regt is in Middlesex Hospital suffering from ‘football knee.” He has been five months in France and prior to enlisting was employed at the Eccleshill Co- operative stores. His home is at No 6 Sherwood Place, Undercliffe. Pte Robert Moss of the Bradford Pals has been admitted into Liverpool Hospital suffering from trench feet. He took part in the “Big Push” and was wounded in the shoulder on July 1st. His mother resides at 10 Mount Road, Eccleshill.
Out of the firing line
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