Friday 16 November 1917
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An anonymous soldier, calling himself A Raw Recruit and signing off E.M.G., had submitted occasional articles about his impressions of army life since enlisting. The latest was a bit different because he was now on the Continent. It is rather a long time since I last wrote and having been ‘out there’ I am afraid the reader will find that my impressions of army life have somewhat altered. You see, I have seen the line and its horrors, the terrible destruction wrought in France and Belgium, the many cities which have been ‘razed to the ground’ and the graves of many glorious Englishmen in the prime of life who have been swept away almost, as it were, in the ‘twinkling of an eye.’ Having therefore seen rather the sordid side of army life, I am inclined to think differently of many things. Mind you, I don’t want the reader to think that out in France everybody is sad. Far from it. There is always a smile on the face of ‘Tommy.’ Thunderous roars Besides, it is good and almost laughable to hear our guns sending away to the Hun line with thunderous roars, thousands and thousands of shells every day. They seem never to cease, day or night. But, things feel vastly different when you are moving ‘up’ to take your position in the front line. Then you begin to consider things. When the Boche from his observation
balloon ‘spot’ an infantry battalion on the move up, he naturally tries to put a stop to the proceeding. But I thoroughly believe that Fritz has not as many guns or shells as he used to have and consequently, cannot play as much havoc. On the last occasion when I moved up the line with the battalion we were particularly fortunate. We only lost about two men in getting into the support line. That was when we settled down for the night. Of course there was no sleep for us that night. We were busy digging deeper and improving the trench generally. By the way, I must not forget to say that we were in the Ypres sector, facing the famous Ridges. We were told that the front line was several hundred yards away. I felt sort of relieved or reassured when the Boche was so far away. If he happened to counter-attack he would have had a long way to come before he reached our line. Furthermore, we should have been able to bring the Lewis guns well into play before he got anywhere near our line. However, things passed on very well
until the morning of the fourth day. I had just read the order for ‘stand down.’ I immediately jumped on to the firing step - little thinking of what I was risking – with the intention of shouting the order to the men in my platoon who were further down the trench. Ping, ping No sooner had I stood up than – ping, ping, two German bullets whizzed past each side of my head and – well, then I jumped down with forcible suddenness. Thank goodness he was a bad shot. Some hours later the Boche commenced to shell heavily. Dozens of salvos of shells came swishing over our head and exploding with a roar which almost deafened us, while masses of dirt and lumps of earth fell into the trench. Suddenly the firing stopped, only to break out again in an hour’s time as furiously as ever and it continued for many hours. Luckily for us, however, few shells got home. At about half-past one in the afternoon – it was Saturday, by the way – I was standing at the corner of the trench and the Boche was still shelling. A shell dropped about three
yards to the left of me on the top of the parapet. I felt something strike my arm and leg and I felt sickly. I was ‘patched up’ right away and along with two other wounded men set off back to the dressing station. It was a terrible journey and one I shall never forget. The Boche shelled the whole of the way and we were very near being killed on more than one occasion. I was not quite sure of the way. All I knew was that I wanted to get away from the enemy shell fire. I tried to put a little speed on and get clear by my wounds said ‘No, you go steadily, my lad’ and I continued at a hobble.. From utter exhaustion I was bound to take refuge in an old German ‘pill- box.’ It was a particularly strong one as the walls were of thick concrete. We all crawled in and intended waiting until the fire ceased but that was not to be. Upside down When we had been inside about half an hour another shell burst near the door way. The place seemed to be turned upside down and bits of shell and dirt flew in all directions. We knew it was no use staying there so ‘carried on’ a little further. Now, this particular part of the country has witnessed the heavy fighting of the last few weeks. Our battalions had only just captured the new positions. The valley which we had to cross is known as Tout-suit valley and could be seen plainly from the German position. That being so, a line of shells was always bursting about the centre of the valley and anybody wishing to cross had to pass the shells too. We noticed a place where the shells did not appear to be falling, so rapidly made our way towards it. We had to cross shell holes, barbed-wire entanglements which had been battered down and trip wires innumerable. After a hard struggle we managed to gain the other side. Then our task became a little easier. At last we reached the dressing station and were immediately put into an ambulance and at about midnight arrived at the casualty clearing station. Here we were in comfortable surroundings and received every care and attention from the nurses of the Red Cross Society who do so much to alleviate the suffering of ‘Tommy.’ Blighty The next day I was put in one of those gloriously equipped hospital trains and carried to a base hospital and after having been there for 24 hours, I was moved to another train marked ‘Blighty.’ In my great joy and excitement I almost forgot the pain. I could scarcely realise that I was going back to dear old England. May I say in conclusion that I thank God England has so far been spared the horrors, devastation and cruelties of a German invasion. We have nearly now reached the end of the 1917 campaign and the results are very largely exposed. The Kaiser must be beginning to see that his is a hopeless task and how ruinous is the change that has been wrought in German fortunes; their opportunities are shrunken and their outlook narrowed and very much darkened.
I have seen the line and its horrors so my views have changed
“At about half-past one in the afternoon – it was Saturday, by the way – I was standing at the corner of the trench and the Boche was still shelling. A shell dropped about three yards to the left of me on the top of the parapet. I felt something strike my arm and leg and I felt sickly.”
The many friends of Gunner Henry Kendall of 32 Mount Terrace, Eccleshill, will be pleased to hear that though he has been severely wounded in four places, no vital spot has been touched and he is progressing favourably in a London hospital. He was in the Passchendaele Ridge battle and after serving his gun for five hours, his gun was blown up and he then received his injuries. He has been with the Royal Field Artillery in France about three years.
Henry is progressing favourably
Awarded the Military Medal
Pte Ernest E Bell of Lane End, Baildon, who joined the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in February 1916, has forwarded a communication to his parents telling them that on November 1st he had been presented by his colonel with the Military Medal for distinguished conduct on the field whilst acting as company runner. Pte Bell, who is 28 years of age, was employed by Mills Bower & Co, Bradford, previous to his enlistment. He was trained at Clipstone and Ripon and went to France in June of last year. He was unfortunate enough to have a leg damaged in the trenches on the Somme and was brought to a Gravesend hospital, returning to duties abroad in March last. He is an old scholar of the Baildon Central School.
Left to Right: Gunner T Burton, M.G.C. 26 Wharncliffe Drive, Eccleshill, malarial fever; Pte R W Casson, 16 Vernon Place, Undercliffe, missing; Pte T Harrison, Seaforths, 5 Holling Head, Tong Park, wounded and missing; Gunner W Stansfield, 2 Bromet Place, Eccleshill,
ill in hospital; Rifleman A Booth, 5 Institute Road, Eccleshill, wounded; Bombardier E S Metcalfe, 6 Wrose Hill Terrace, Windhill; Sgt A P Hipkin, Shipley, killed in action; Pte J W Hudson, 8 Tower Street, Undercliffe, wounded.
Choir member wounded
Pte John Pitts, nephew of Mr and Mrs Fletcher Baxter, with whom he resided, has been killed in action. The dead soldier was a bachelor and although over military age, he considered it his duty to join up before married men were compelled to go. After a few weeks training he went to France with the West Yorkshire Regt on the 5th April 1915 and took part in many important engagements. He was a keen student and was well informed on the questions of the hours. He was a staunch Unionist and was a member of the Conservative Club. One of a family of five who were left without parents when Pte Pitts was a few years old, Pte Pitts was adopted by Mr and Mrs Baxter. His father was a master plasterer.
Over-age, single volunteer killed in action
Pte James Robertshaw, son of Mr G Robertshaw of Cavendish Road, Idle, was wounded in the left hand some time ago and he is in hospital at Shrewsbury. He joined up over a year since and went to France in January. Before donning khaki he was a member of the Primitive Methodist Choir and was a playing member of the Idle second eleven.
Pte A Walker, Royal Scots, formerly of 32 Windsor Road, Shipley, and whose present address is 61 Springroyd Terrace, has been severely wounded in action and is at present in Norfolk War Hospital, Thorpe, near Norwich. Before joining the colours he wa employed by Crossley & Co, Victoria Dyeworks.
Dyeworker wounded
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