In the London Gazette this week the official announcement is made of the award of the Military Cross to Sec Lieut Frank Noddle, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, who resides at 14 Hall Royd, Shipley.Lieut Noddle is the second son of the late Mr H I Noddle, machine broker of Bradford. He was educated at Hanson Secondary School, Bradford, and London University, and is a bachelor of science.While at King’s College he took an enthusiastic part in the sports of the University and for three years was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps.RecruitingHe joined the army, after taking his degree, in October 1914. For some months during the operation of the Derby scheme he was engaged on recruiting duties, first in the Otley area and afterwards in Keighley.He had shown coolness and resource in action previous to this which earned him the Military Cross.The following announcement was handed to the officers by the Brigadier General when decorated with the Cross Ribbon in the field:On _____ 1916, near _______, conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Bombing Officer. When two lines of German trenches had been captured, he collected a few of our bombers and a few Canadian Bombers and bombed 400 yards down the trench to our left, capturing a machine gun and eventually blocking the left the flank.He then organised the defence of the captured trench, repulsing seven or eight counter attacks.After five hours he was reinforced by a party of ten men and eventually relieved an hour later.His courage, determination and resource were most invaluable and saved what might have been a most critical situation.
In the course of a letter home the recipient of the honour described in graphic language the ordeal of his gallant comrades under galling fire. He says:Midnight saw a battalion of shadowy forms, separated into several parties, being led across a bleak moor, seemingly a construction of nothing else but old trenches and a network of deep shell holes.Each half minute was accompanied by its attendant drawn-out whirr ending in a huge bang and spattering of stones and mud.Though the Boche did not know it and was only shelling haphazardly, the battle had commenced. Slowly the hasty excavations were approached and then came a sudden halt. The digging party had not completed their work in time and for over an hour while they made a huge effort to complete it, it was necessary for us to lie out in the open, taking advantage of what shell holes there were.Dawn was just breaking when we occupied three assembly trenches and there we were to remain until the middle of the afternoon – unseen we vainly hoped – until the charge was timed to take place.The trenches were so narrow that one could not lie along the bottom without a huge squeeze but we lived to thank their lack of width and even to wish they were narrower still.Hell unloosedAfter we had lain there for five hours, a German aeroplane ventured up – a rare occurrence in these regions – and stayed up for two or three minutes. Three minutes too long, however, for it was long enough to reveal our position.Then Hell was unloosed. All the heavy howitzers, light field guns and long distance trench mortars
concentrated their death-dealing powers on our unlucky battalion and later, to make matters worse, the position was enfiladed with shrapnel.There was nothing for it but to lie down and stick it.During the first half hour it was just one continual wonderment, when shall I be hit? But after that one was satiated with fear and the strain decreased. Indeed, such a coolness descended upon the men that half of them actually slept.SalvoHalf an hour of my time was spent writing a letter in my note book and then I too dozed, only to be wakened by an extraordinary salvo from the Boche heaviesAt least half a dozen times I was almost buried in debris. Twice I was hit with fragments of shell, once on the steel helmet and once by a wicked chunk which did no more harm than to tear a hole in my trousers.Communication was only possible by officers jumping out of the trench and rushing along the parapets, risking being hit by shells, machine gun bullets and snipers.Towards the zero hour of the attack, it was necessary to do this in order to synchronise our watches with artillery time and in this little trip a hundred and fifty yards along the line, I had the closest shave I have had so far. Four of us were comparing notes in a portion of the trench in which also were seven tommies. A shrapnel shell burst above and only three remained untouched, six being killed outright.
Then came our innings. What we had suffered was repaid a hundred fold by our artillery. Dead on the second our officers were over the top, followed a second later by their men. Our journey across that five hundred yards of “No Man’s Land” was an experience that not one survivor will forget.The ground shook, there was one prolonged roar, and ahead, over every square foot of ground, were darts of flame, venomously demolishing strong German trenches and demoralising their grey-clad inhabitants.Our line swept on! With bayonets and eyes facing straight ahead, it was scarcely noticeable what was happening five yards to right or left. No German could stick the sight of this slow, determined advance.He climbed out of his trench, wavered and then, preferring death behind to what was advancing on him, he turned and ran, only to be swept down like corn by our barrage, which lifted as we advanced.WallopedIt was a huge strafe in which we walloped the Germans to a frazzle.Bairnsfather’s drawing, We Attack At Dawn, (above) gives a portrayal but the last picture does not apply to me save for the grin.I got a machine gun in place of the helmet. I cannot fully realise that of the officers who went over and struck I am by marvellous luck the only one unwounded and that after seven counter attacks until we were reinforced many hours later.Shipley Times & Express 1 December 1916