|NEWPORT PAGNELL *
B.S. 1914 Sep. 6th Sat.
Lance Sergeant Harry Tate, of the Royal Scots, is the son of Mr. Daniel Tate, of Newport Pagnell, and has been invalided to the London Hospital. In a letter to his father, he writes;
The men of my section were often telling me to keep down as the Germans were sniping us as we were watching, but we were quite safe so long as they were firing at us; when they fired at someone else was the time we had to look out.”
In the same hospital is Private Leonard Harper, of the Bedfordshire Regiment. He is the son of Mr. W. Harper, of Newport Pagnell, and suffered a wound in his right hand from a shell burst, while in action at Mons with the B.E.F. He would return to his depot at Bedford on Wednesday, September 23rd, and, having lost all his equipment in the early stages of the war, after being re-kitted hopes to rejoin the B.E.F. His regiment was stationed in Ireland at the outbreak of war, but was amongst those selected to join the first Expeditionary Force. Their baptism of fire occurred three miles from Mons, where, with. shells bursting all around, Private Harper and his comrades were on outpost duty to cover the trench digging by the battalion. In the face of the enemy onslaught, the troops had to retire to the trenches, from where they managed to keep the enemy in check by heavy rifle fire. After some days of the battle, Private Harper suffered his wound, and was sent home to the London Hospital. He would then pay a visit to his parents at Newport Pagnell, before returning by mid October to France to rejoin his regiment at the front.
B.S. 1914 Sep. 12th Sat.
With his younger brother, last week Private W. Reynolds left Newport Pagnell for training with Lord Kitchener’s Army at Oxford. He has written home to a friend, and the following is an extract from the letter;
We have heard the rumours that are going around Newport as to how we are faring since we from Newport Pagnell have joined Lord Kitchener’s Army. Of course, as anyone with any sense at all knows, it is not like being in a palace or in one’s own home, but when men come out to do for their country they ought to be prepared to give and take a bit. I quite admit the first night or so it was a bit rough, but how can a barracks with accommodation for 300 be expected to cope with an additional 1,700 or 1,800 men who have been here ever since we came! But now things have altered. People in the town are most kind to all recruits; every night men are billeted out at different places and are looked after right well. Those who are billeted in the Corn Exchange are supplied with a jolly good supper and breakfast, and another 100 are most loyally housed and fed by a Mr. Joel in Cowley village, so you will see it is not all bad. If the rumours that we hear are being circulated in Newport I should like to contradict them, because they may be a decided drawback to recruiting in your district. … We have been detailed off into what they term the Depot Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and which is composed principally of fellows from Newport Pagnell and Wolverton districts, and 500 strong. We are to complete our training here at Oxford.”
B.S. 1914 Oct. 10th Sat.
Called up as a reservist at the outbreak of war, Police constable Lanning, of Olney, was severely wounded at the battle of Mons. Writing to a comrade in the Bucks Constabulary, he says that on August 1st they began a forced march, and he fought in four engagements until, on September 1st, shrapnel smashed his collar bone, leaving his left hand and arm paralysed. For ten hours he laid helpless in a wood, before being taken prisoner by the Germans. He and his wounded comrades were later rescued by French soldiers, and he is now in a French hospital.
B.S. 1914 Oct. 10th Sat.
In a letter to his mother, at 51, Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, Private Arthur Moseley, C Company 1st Bedfordshire Regiment, 15th Brigade, 5th Division, writes regarding his active service;
“Dear Mother. In answer to your letter, I am still in the pink. … I was under fire for the first time on the 24th August, and we have been in it three times now, and can tell you all it has been a hell, on one occasion especially. I am not allowed to tell you any names of places so you must prepare for some yarns when I get back, which I suppose will not be long. Indeed I hope not. Am proud to say we had letters read to us from the Secretary of State for War, the Admiralty, and the Commander-in-Chief of the French Army, complimenting us on our conduct whilst at the enemy. I think we must have all been mad, for I don’t think any man had any fear or feelings.”
Private Moseley wrote the above on September 2nd, but was unable to post the letter until two weeks later. In an earlier letter he refers to meeting fellow townsmen on the French battlefield, including Len Harper, and speaks highly of the French people he and his comrades were billeted with, until being ordered to the fighting line.
(Private Moseley would shortly be wounded in the left thigh by a piece of shell, being then transferred to the Royal Infirmary, Sunderland.)
B.S. 1914 Oct. 17th Sat.
Mrs. Lake, of 4, Tickford Court, Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, has been notified by the War Office of the death of her husband, Private Edward Lake, of the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. Aged 32, he was killed in action on Tuesday, September 15th at the battle of the Aisne, having as a Reservist been ordered to rejoin his regiment for service at the front on August 5th. A veteran of the Boer War, he was well known in his home town of Newport Pagnell, and for many months had been engaged as doorkeeper at the Electric Theatre. He leaves a widow, Bessie, and two children - one barely two years old, and the other a babe in arms.
B.S. 1914 Nov. 7th
On October 4th Private Arthur Moseley writes to his mother, at 51, Silver Street, Newport Pagnell;
“I haven’t a great deal of news. We have been in it again as perhaps you may have seen in the papers. I got through alright, but poor old ‘Jerry’ Lake went under on the 15th September. He was shot through the lungs and lasted about an hour. I am sorry to say we lost a few more, and two captains, and of course we had some wounded. It was a bit of a hot corner for a time but the ‘little grey dears’ have been paid back a little at a time. I did not hear that he (Lake) was killed until the next day. He was not in my company, and of course was in another trench. I cannot tell you where he was killed but will tell all when I get back. I feel very sorry for his wife and children. You might please tell all my chums that I am in the pink.”
(Private Edward Lake was a comrade and fellow townsman.)
On October 15th Private Moseley writes;
“We have had a rather warm time of it. As I am writing the German shells keep bursting round about us but I don’t think they are doing a great deal of harm. I am sorry to say that on Monday they caught a few of our company but I got through alright, and so has Alec Lancaster and Arthur Temple. They also are quite well and wish to be remembered to all. These sort of continental tours are not very soothing, and I sincerely hope they will soon be over for it has been a bit rough this week and it has been raining pretty hard now and again, and the wet trenches and a few whistling ‘Jimmies’ don‘t add to ones comfort much, but somehow I think the Germans are going downhill.”
On October 17th he writes;
“Am still in the trenches and having a warm time, but still can’t keep warm. Have had fags issued that some good soul sent out. We are still gaining ground. Am still quite well.”
Writing on October 21st;
“We are out of the trenches for a day or so in a village which it took us five days to get, and worse luck, our company lost about 35 killed and wounded. My section lost 11 wounded and missing since we first went into action at Mons. We lost four last week. The village where Ted Lake was killed was Missey-sur-Aisne. I think perhaps his people would like to know and I am chancing if the Censor will let the name go through. A pleasing sight I shan’t forget was three days ago. A French officer who could talk English was talking to five of us and we let him see the Daily Mirror, and he explained it to some of his men and then exchanged pipes of tobacco with us. There is not a house left standing whole in this village, and the church seems to have caught it worse than any other building. Arthur Temple gave me a Bucks Standard again yesterday and I see that one of my letters was in it … The Germans, I think must delight in destroying property more than life according to some places I have seen.”
Writing on Saturday last, Private Moseley describes how he was wounded by a German shell burst;
“Just a few lines to let you know I am alive, but I am sorry to say I have had some bad luck. I am in hospital at Boulogne but bound for England. I don’t want you to worry as I am being looked after properly. Last Sunday at about 4 o’clock a German shell dropped behind our trench and a piece struck my left thigh making a gaping hole and breaking it up awful, causing a compound fracture. It has been awful agony, but seems easier now. To make things worse I had to lay five hours in the trenches before they dare shift any of the wounded. The Germans fired on the stretcher bearers who were carrying us. I was carried about four or five miles by road to a place named Bethune where my wound was dressed again, and then I had 12 hours in the train.”
B.S. 1917 Nov. 3rd
On Monday morning, Mrs. R. Dickens, resident with her young child at 33, Beaconsfield Place, Newport Pagnell, received the following distressing news in a letter from Major P. Birch;
I very deeply regret to have to inform you that your husband, Gunner S.R. Dickens, was killed in action at his gun on the 23rd October. Ȃ I have just returned from the funeral. He is buried in a quiet cemetery in -------, and I am having a suitable cross erected. It will, I think, be a comfort to you to know that your husband could have felt no pain as he was killed instantaneously. I am very depressed at the occurrence and can only beg you to accept my very real and deep sympathy in your loss, and I hope that if I can be of any help to you with advice and so on you will not fail to let me know.”
Born at Stoke Goldington, the fourth son of ex police constable J. Dickens, Gunner Sidney Robert Dickens had for ten years been in the employ of Mr. Harry Reynolds, grocer and provision merchant, but for the past five years had been an employee of the Newport Pagnell Brewery Company. He enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery on April 14th, 1917, and had been on active service for only seven weeks. He was aged 29. Two of his brothers have been serving in the Grenadier Guards since the beginning of the war; Sergeant Albert Dickens was wounded in October 1914, and Private Fred Dickens is fighting in Flanders. Another brother, Cyril, served for a while with the R.A.M.C., but was medically discharged, and is now employed at Messrs. T. and F.J. Taylor‘s mineral water works.
B.S. 1914 Nov. 7th
Lance Corporal Bert Dickens is serving at the front with the King’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, and writes to his father in Newport Pagnell;
We have been fighting hard for eight days in the trenches, but our Battalion have now come back for rest. We know what war is now. We have warmed the Germans up with our bayonets, but I must not tell you too much. I have just had a wash and a shave, the first for nine days, so you can tell we look some nice boys. But we are still happy. We have got some tobacco and Woodbines and are just having a good English smoke. We had a lot of rain here on Sunday evening, and we did a bayonet charge in it. Our big guns are doing very good work; and we are putting the Germans ‘out of mess’ by thousands.”With Lance Corporal Dickens in the B.E.F. is his younger brother.
B.S. 1914 Nov. 14th
Lance Corporal Bert Dickens, of the Grenadier Guards, has been wounded, and writes to his father, Mr. J. Dickens, of 8, Spring Gardens, Newport Pagnell;
Just a few lines to say I am going on as well as I can expect. … Well, I am wounded in my left leg with a bullet, but I don’t mind now because I have done my best. I don’t want you to worry about me because I am well looked after, and I think we shall be in England soon. We have had a hard fight this last week, I am lucky to be alive to tell you the news. We have had a long train ride of 50 hours, and I can tell you we had a warm send off, because the Germans were trying to blow the station up, but I will tell you all about this when I come home. It is nice to lay on a bed again. I am nice and comfortable. …”
On November 7th, from No. 6 General Hospital, Rouen, Lance Corporal Dickens then writes;
Just a few more lines to say I am going on grand. I don’t think it will be long about; I hope not. But I am alright here. There are a lot more boys worse than me. I am glad to say we have the nurses from the English Hospital and they look after us well. I don’t hear anything of coming to England, so you can write to me here. I suppose by this time you have seen how many of our chaps we have lost. Up to the morning of October 31 there were ----- Grenadier Guards who went into the firing line out of ----- so you see the poor old ----- went down. But thousands of Germans went under as well. We have been fighting ----- miles from -----, which is a very bad part, the country being very woody; but we had the Germans ‘bending’ many times. They like doing their dirty work at night. ... My wound is at the side of the knee, and it was a very lucky shot for me. We shall soon have Christmas here now, but I hope the war will be over by then and all the boys enjoying themselves at home. Remember me to all friends at Newport.”
(Lance Corporal Dickens is now in No. 3 Ward of the Military Hospital, Manchester, and on Saturday, July 3rd 1915 would be promoted to sergeant.)
B.S. 1914 Nov. 14th
On October 30th, Mr. and Mrs. James Brawn, of Osborne’s Farm, High Street, Newport Pagnell, had been informed by the War Office that their son, Lance Corporal Albert Brawn, of the 1st Battalion, Northants. Regiment, had been dangerously wounded, and was in the Middlesex Hospital, Clacton. He ha been born at Earls Barton, Northants., and had been in every engagement since the beginning of the war. In fact the previous day his parents had received a postcard from him, written on the battlefield, saying that he was going on well. Tragically, aged 21 he died on Wednesday, November 4th at Clacton Hospital, and with full military honours was buried in the little seaside cemetery on Saturday, November 7th. This was the first fatality at the hospital, but was quickly followed by that of a Kettering soldier, of the same regiment. Both soldiers had fought together, and were laid to rest in the same grave. As well as Mr. and Mrs. Brawn and their daughter, almost all the population of Clacton attended the solemn service, at which the buglers sounded ‘The Last Post,’ and a firing party fired three volleys over the grave.
During his military service, Lance Corporal Brawn had kept a diary, which contained the following entries;
On September 6 he was with his regiment at Bernay.
September 7, at Vaudy.
September 10, Battle of Priez (after a convoy).
September 11, at Croincy.
September 12, at Paars.
September 13 to 19, seven days in the trenches.
Very bad weather, raining all the time.
September 20 to 25, rest.
September 25 to 27, went back into the trenches as reserve. On the night of the 27th, went into the firing line again until relieved by the Sussex Regiment on the night of the 29th.
September 29 to October 1, went back to the reserve trenches.
October 1 to night of October 3, went back to trenches in the firing line.
October 3 to 5, went back to reserve trenches.
October 5 to 7, went back to firing line.
October 7 to 14, went back to reserve trenches until relieved by the French on the 14th.
October 15, entrained at Fismes for the North of France.
October 16, riding all day.
October 17, got out at Cassel.
October 18, day’s rest.
October 19, left Cassel and marched to Elverdine and stopped there the night of the 20th.
October 21, left Elverdine and got to Pilcombe the following night and here we stopped, and next day.
Here the diary closes, for at this point he took part in the engagement that caused his fatal wounds.
B.S. 1914 Nov. 14th
The following letter has been received from a Newport Pagnell lad, who has served five years with the Colours; two in Cairo, one at Khartoum, and two in India. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Chapman, and on October 1st writes from G Company, 4th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, Ghazni Barracks, Dagshar, Punjab, India;
I hardly know how to sit and write this today, for we are actually under orders to GO. We don’t know when we move, but undoubtedly we shall have started by the time you receive this. I can tell you the battalion is that excited over it that they can hardly keep still: it is more like a monkey house at present than a Battalion of British Soldiers. Our Colonel received orders by telegram on Sunday midnight, 27th, and on Monday morning at 9a.m. he paraded every man Jack of the Battalion on the drill ground, and read it to us, and you ought to have been there, it was the sight of a life time. After the Colonel had read the telegram there was not a sound - you could have heard a pin drop - because the news was so unexpected, and before it had had time to properly sink in, so that everybody could cheer, as they wanted to do, he gave us a fine speech.He said he knew that all of us, himself included, had been hoping for a chance to go and do his duty, and now the chance had come he wanted us to take it seriously, as it was a very serious business. He asked us as men, no matter in what position we found ourselves, to keep a good grip on our feelings, and never to lose control over ourselves, as by so doing on service men are turned into beasts; it is up to us to act and behave as English gentlemen. Also he asked us to consider the word “impossible” completely washed out of the dictionary. No matter what we are told to do, we must do it; and last of all he told us that the regiments going from India now are especially selected, and he wanted us always to remember that, and to show those who chose us that their confidence had not been misplaced. The Colonel told us we should leave here in a month, and come to England to mobilise. Then he dismissed us, and there was an uproar if you like. They tried to capture the Colonel and carry him on their shoulders, but the old man escaped: but I bet it does happen before we leave here. We shall have two, or even three days’ leave soon after we land, so that I shall be able to come and see you all. It really seems too good to be true. Fancy I shall in all probability be in England in 9 or 10 weeks’ time, can you wonder I am excited. So Charlie has gone like the rest of us, has he? Well, all I can say is, may good luck attend him, for up to date it is impossible to tell what he has let himself in for; but thank God he has the right spirit, for it would have looked rather bad had he not offered himself for God, King, and Country.”
(Three of his brothers are in the Army, and one in the Navy.)
B.S. 1914 Nov. 14th
From Mill Street, Newport Pagnell, on November 9th Tom Plackett, ‘late Grenadier Guards,’ writes to the editor;
Dear Sir. As one of the men over 45 who are not likely to be called upon to serve except in the last extremity, I would like to bring to your notice the movement which is on foot to induce Lord Kitchener to accept a battalion or more of picked men over that age. Men who want to join should send to Mr. E.S. Day, Rowlands Castle, Hants. a postcard bearing nothing but their name and address and the words “over 45,” and he will then send them a form to fill up.”
B.S. 1914 Nov. 14th
Private Alfred Glasspool, of the 4th Hussars, has been invalided home from the war, and during the week visited his uncle, Mr. W. Lovell, at the Ram Inn, Newport Pagnell. Ordered to the front with his regiment at the beginning of the war, he was a cyclist despatch rider, and speaking of his experiences says that from Dublin they were taken straight to Belgium, where they found that the Germans had taken up a good position;
We had just stacked our bicycles in a field when a shell burst near to us and we had to seek cover. We were shelled up to a forest in which we were compelled to take cover. For an hour we remained here unable to find our way out and I was handicapped because my bicycle was clogged up with mud, and the thick bushes made it difficult for one to move. At Burge we found the enemy had the road well marked and as each British squadron marched by it was shelled but the casualties were very few. It was here that I lost my regiment, but I picked up with the 18th Hussars and on the outskirts of Burge we were subjected to a heavy fire from the German artillery. Half-a-dozen shells burst by the roadside but we were fortunate enough to escape. A little further on I witnessed the explosion of a shell. It carried devastation in its track, killing five British artillerymen and eleven horses. One of the horses had all of its legs blown clean off. It did play a mess. I saw as many as 50 horses lying dead all round, the victims of the shrapnel shell. Arriving at Braine we were billeted for a fortnight, and did nothing but exercise. From Braine we received orders for the division to work round on the left flank for the purpose of supporting the French Army. I was still attached to the 18th Hussars cyclist section. One of the men had a puncture in his tyre and at his request I helped him repair it. On taking off the tyre we found a fragment of shrapnel lodged in the inner tube. That cyclist had had a narrow escape of losing his life. On one occasion when riding with a despatch along a French road I witnessed the horrible spectacle of 50 dead soldiers lying by the roadside. There had been a big battle in this neighbourhood, but though we lost a lot of men we had the satisfaction of capturing six of the German guns. Many soldiers were suffering from ague and had to be left, and it was stated that the wounded that we were unable to remove were killed by the Germans. The rifle fire of the enemy’s infantry is nothing to be compared with that of our own soldiers, and when making a charge it resembles nothing better than the disorganised rush of a team of footballers. They came all in a crowd, and on more than one occasion they have paid the penalty. On the other hand their artillery fire is cruel. The ‘Jack Johnson’ gun is a terror. It is drawn by three traction engines, fires a 710lb. shell and carries eight miles. In the battle of the Aisne I saw a lovely sight. Standing on the top of a big hill were five haystacks. The Germans thought we were taking cover behind these, and they directed a hail of shrapnel fire on the position. All five stacks were set on fire by the bursting shells, and in the darkness of the night the spectacle resembled a brilliant pyrotechnic display. The flames lit up the countryside for miles around.”
Private Glasspool, whose parents live at 70, Byron Street, Northampton, was wounded during the battle of the Aisne, when, whilst taking a message to the 3rd Division, he rode straight into the enemy’s line of fire, and was hit by a rifle shot. Stating that “The manner in which the Germans treated the women and children was most cruel,” he relates that the Division to which he belonged captured 500 German prisoners which, he says, “could eat almost anything we gave them, and in many cases we found the enemy feeding on swedes. I spoke to one of the prisoners we captured, and in English he told me he would like to see the Kaiser dead; he did not want to fight against the English at all. We had one German who came back to England with us. He had four bullets in him.”
B.S. 1914 Nov. 28th
News has been received that two Newport Pagnell men have lost their lives in the ‘Good Hope.’ They are Able Seaman Fred French, who died on Sunday, November 1st, 1914, and 1st Class Stoker Sidney Hall. Both were members of the Special Naval Reserve, and were doing their annual training when the war broke out. Aged 34, Fred French was the son of Jesse and Jane French, of Newport Pagnell, and had been employed at Salmons and Sons motor works. He leaves a widow, Alice, at 33, Beaconsfield Place, Newport Pagnell. Sidney Hall had been a stoker at Newport Pagnell Brewery. For several seasons Fred French had been trainer to the Newport Pagnell Autos Football Club, and the members are helping to stage a high class sacred concert in the Electric theatre on Sunday evening, December 6th. The proceeds will be for the widows and young families of both men.
B.S. 1914 Dec. 5th
News has been received that Captain Herbert Symons, M.B., King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, has been killed. Born on November 17th, 1884, he was the youngest son of Mrs. Symons, of ‘Brooklands,’ Newport Pagnell, and had been gazetted second lieutenant of his regiment on January 13th, 1904, being promoted to lieutenant on September 4th, 1906. He served with the West African Frontier Force from March 29th, 1911, to March 4th, 1914, and then with the Somaliland Camel Constabulary. On September 1st 1914 he had been promoted to captain.
B.S. 1914 Dec. 19th
Official information has been received from the War Office by Mr. and Mrs. C. Claydon, of Ingleside, Wolverton Road, Newport Pagnell, stating that their son, Private Arthur Claydon, of the 2nd Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, had been killed in action on Sunday, November 1st at Ypres. Born at St. Crispin’s, Northants., he was aged 24, and had served for three years in the Bucks Territorials and a short period in the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. Before the outbreak of war was employed by Aquascutum Ltd. His elder brother is serving in the Red Cross section of the Highland Division of Territorials.
B.S. 1914 Dec. 19th
From the front, Gunner W. Darlow writes home to his parents, in Newport Pagnell;
“I don’t know what sort of weather you are having; if it is no better than it is out here it is rather rough. We had snow nearly a foot deep, and when it thawed the slush and mud was up to one’s neck. We are having plenty of big shells dropping near us all the time, but we have had no casualties since I joined the battery. We have just brought down three of the enemy’s aeroplanes, so you will see we are doing our bit.”
Gunner Darlow is serving with the 52nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery.
B.S. 1914 Dec. 19th
From ‘somewhere in France,’ on December 1st, Gunner P. Harmer, of the 126th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, writes to Mr. W. Hill, of Newport Pagnell. He says he is quite well apart from a cold, which he attributes to his landlady “forgetting to air the sheets before putting them on his box-spring mattress.”You say, what hopes of a bed out here? Quite right? What hopes? Sometimes we manage to find a resting-place in a farmhouse or old cottage through which the Germans have made a sky-light with their little Jack Johnsons. There is one good fault about their shells when they fall on soft ground. They make a nice hole to bury a dead horse in if we have one. The bark of the German big gun is worse than the bite. They make a terrible noise when they burst. I saw one of their big shells burst in a herd of cows, and they were blown to pieces. We have been in some very tight corners with our guns, but thank God we have managed to get clear; of course we have to do a quick move sometimes. I don’t think there will be a lot of fighting Germans when this war ends, which we all pray to God will be soon.”
B.S. 1915 Jan. 9th
At the sinking of H.M.S. Formidable, in the Channel on New Year’s Day, Senior Reserve Attendant James Burnell, the son of William and Sarah Burnell, of The Brickyard, London Road, Newport Pagnell, is reported to have been killed. He had volunteered shortly after the outbreak of war, and was accepted for service with the Naval Ambulance section. Aged 33, he lived at Crewe, and leaves a widow, Martha, at 149, Alkington Road, Whitchurch, Salop.
B.S. 1915 Jan. 9th
On Christmas Eve, Private Fred Dickens, of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, writes to his father, Mr. J. Dickens, of Newport Pagnell. After expressing thanks for his Christmas gifts, he says;
I am very pleased to tell you that our 1st Battalion are out of the trenches for Christmas so they will be able to enjoy the things which have been sent more in peace. I had a very near squeeze last night, as when they come out of the trenches we grooms have to go as far as possible with our officers’ horses for them to ride to their billets. We had just got to our destination when a few bullets began to ‘whiz’ by us. I was about to dismount when one came over and dropped just behind me, entering a brick wall. I said ‘Oh! Thank you.’ We got under cover as well as we could by the side of a house, but the bullets still came over us, one passing through the door and window of the house, but fortunately it hurt no one. A moment later a bullet struck a poor fellow of the Scots Guards and killed him on the spot. This is one of my experiences, but thank God I am still alive.”
(In a later letter he tells how much concerts for the troops are enjoyed; “You would not think a war was on when present at one of these concerts.”
B.S. 1915 Jan. 23rd
Mr. W. Lovell, the landlord of the Ram Inn, Newport Pagnell, has received the following letter. It is from Private Frederick Malsher, of the 2nd Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, who is serving with the British Expeditionary Force in France;
Very many thanks for your letter. I am sure it is very kind indeed of you to collect money on behalf of our brave men, and I am sure we all appreciate your kindness in doing so. I do wish some of the Newport fellows would join us, but I expect they don’t like leaving the old homeland. I look through all the reinforcements that join us to see if there is anyone I know among them. I have not seen anyone yet. I think it would be a good piece of work if they made every fellow enlist; this is the time when we need them. We have had hard and rough fighting, and many thousands have laid down their lives in this terrible war. I am pleased to say I am better and back at the front again. The Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry have done some splendid work here. I think they have been in every battle that has taken place and have won a good name for themselves. It has been heartbreaking to see the poor Belgians leaving their homes and belongings and rushing away to find protection. Their homes in many cases have been blown to pieces. Several places I have been through are masses of ruins, and if it were possible that we should meet with the same misfortune in England I am sure there would be a far greater rush to enlist than there is to-day, as we would one and all be willing to guard our land.”
In a letter in March he would report that from his same company he has met Reg Odell in the trenches. Private Odell was the last of Mr. John Odell’s three sons to volunteer for active service, and had joined the Army only a few weeks before being ordered to the front.
(Subscribed for by his customers, who are prevented from actively serving their country, Mr. Lovell has despatched parcels of tobacco and cigarettes to several local men who are in the fighting line, and to those who have been wounded. In consequence, many letters of thanks would be received, not least expressing that “the boxes of “Woodbines“ in particular gave unbounded pleasure to the soldier boys…” Also collecting cigarettes ‘and smokes of all kinds’ is Mr. R. Layton, of the Railway Tavern, Newport Pagnell. These will be sent to wounded soldiers in the home hospitals.)
B.S. 1915 Feb. 13th
Mr. W.J. Hobbs, the well known Newport Pagnell cattle salesman and dealer, has just received a letter from his nephew, Private W. Wilson, of the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, in which life in the trenches is described;
Night and day brings no change, and we know not Sunday from the ordinary day of the week, continuously engaged as we have been in the trenches. We live almost the same as rabbits burrowed in the earth. We only come out at night to repair our trenches when they have been damaged by the bombardment of the Germans, and to draw rations, which we receive from the transport three miles in the rear. The transport dare not come nearer for fear of being shelled. The roads are bad and very heavy, and here and there contain huge holes made by the bursting shells of the enemy’s big guns. We have had a short spell of frosty weather, which makes it better for getting about; but as it freezes the mud and water so also it freezes the poor fellows’ feet. Frost-bite is a terrible complaint, and I have seen cases where the soldiers have had to have their feet cut off to the ankle, and some have had their toes penetrated with a knife. You ought to see us come out of the trenches covered from head to foot in mud and scarcely able to walk. I have not had a wash nor a shave for ten days. The position we are now in is a bit quiet, but we can hear the British soldiers still sticking to it at Ypres. Big guns are firing day and night and we can hear the rattle of the machine guns, and the reflection in the sky is exceedingly pretty. I am glad to be enjoying a few days’ rest.”
B.S. 1915 Feb. 20th
Private A. Hammond, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, writes to his relatives at Newport Pagnell;
You could not have sent a better thing than the milk, cocoa and sugar, because we can ‘drum up’ in the trenches. It won’t half be a change to have cocoa, especially with a drop of milk in it. There will be no stopping us if we have a few canteens of it. I see in the newspaper a nice little bit about our regiment and what they have done. I am sure we deserve it. … We don’t trouble much about shaking our feather bed up as you talk about, but while we are in billets we get plenty of straw, also a blanket, so that we don’t hurt at all. Another thing, we do have hot dinners, which are a bit of a luxury. We had a very happy Christmas out of the trenches; we had plenty of fags sent out to us, also cake and plum pudding and a few sweets, so that we did very well.”
B.S. 1915 Feb. 20th
Lance Corporal A. Dickens, of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, is the son of ex police constable Dickens of Newport Pagnell. His regiment landed at Zeebrugge on October 7th 1914, but after about a month of active service he was wounded in the left knee, and for some twelve weeks has been under treatment at the Red Cross Hospital at Hale, near Manchester. Following his discharge, on Tuesday evening he arrived home at Newport Pagnell, and has been able to give an account of his experiences. From Zeebrugge, his regiment had entrained for Bruges and then marched to Ostend, where they heard the news that Antwerp had fallen. In order to await instructions, and glean news of the German activities, a move was then made to Ghent, but “The news was of the worst, for we had to retreat as the Germans were advancing in tremendous numbers. We were not strong enough to check their advance and by a continuous night and day march for five days without rest we got into Ypres, and by trenching we took up a strong position, which had the effect of causing the enemy to retire. The next morning we made an advance of four miles and again engaged in trench digging. Before we could finish the work the Germans were on top of us, and for eight days we had very hard fighting. The enemy lost very heavily in this conflict, but our casualties were practically nil. On the 24th October we made a bayonet charge on the Germans, which was very severe. This came about through the enemy firing the village, and so lighting up the neighbourhood that our position was easily discernible. The Germans paid dearly for their act of incendiarism (sic), for in the charge we left 500 dead and wounded lying on the battlefield. Again we retired into our trenches, but before the next day had gone we had been blown out of our positions by the opposing big gun fire. At a very opportune moment we were reinforced by two divisions, and with our added strength we cut the Germans to ------. Then the 20th Division retired for a two days’ rest, one of which was spent in Ypres, and one in the woods. It was in the woods that I came into contact with my brother, and was able to read the Bucks Standard and the good news from home. Letters had been awaiting us several days. The smokes and little luxuries which had been sent out from home were gladly welcomed. After resting we received orders to march back to our trenches. On the way the Germans opened fire on us but we had no losses. We were in the trenches all night, but at dawn on the 29th October we were opposed to a withering fire from the enemy and our Battalion Commander and other officers were cut down. Our Battalion was very thin on coming out of action that day. I myself had an experience which I shall not readily forget. I had my pack blown from my back with a shrapnel bullet and lost everything I possessed except the clothing I stood in. I was lucky to escape being wounded. I had a few little things ‘nursed’ up to bring home as mementos of the war, but they have all gone. For the next two days we had continuous fighting, and then we lay in support behind the firing line, when we received orders to help our guns out as the Germans had the range of them. We advanced up to the firing line and secured good cover behind a house. From this position we had a fine bit of sport with the enemy. With our rifles to the shoulder we cut the Germans down as fast as they popped their heads up. But we were visited by a ‘coal box’ which blew the house behind which we were hiding to pieces and we had to scuttle and take shelter where we could. Half an hour afterwards I was wounded by a bullet in the left knee. At that time I was not more than 50 yards away from the German trenches, and I had a hard struggle to get away. For two hours I crawled along on my hands and knees. It was an awful experience, because shrapnel and rifle bullets whizzed overhead and fell all round me. A comrade came to my assistance, but we had not gone a distance of six yards when he was wounded in the thigh with a rifle bullet. I bandaged him up and ultimately we arrived at Zunnebeke, and were laid in a ditch where we had to remain for six hours awaiting our ambulance waggons. I think I was very lucky to get away. We arrived at Ypres about 9.30 at night, and were given a kindly reception by the doctors and orderlies, who dressed our wounds and made us very comfortable. We moved down to the base at midnight on the 1st November. The wounded were just being loaded on the train when the Germans commenced to shell the station, killing two of our soldiers and wounding others. It was not our ambulance train which was their objective but an armoured train which was in the station; this happily escaped damage. It was a terrible sight to see wounded comrades hobbling up the line to escape further injury, and the spectacle of women rushing from their homes and the children clinging to their parents was one I never wish to see again. As our train steamed out of the station about 3.30a.m., there was a farewell ‘coal box’ shot, but it missed its mark by about 100 yards.”
Lance Corporal Dickens travelled to England on the hospital ship ‘Asturias,’ being then taken to a hospital at Manchester. From there he was transferred to the Red Cross Hospital at Hale, Altrincham (under the charge of the kindly Mrs. O’Neill and her English nurses) and whilst there was presented with a volume of ‘King Albert’s Book,’ in which the staff and wounded comrades had all signed their names. In addition he was also presented with a handsome meerschaum pipe, and, from Mrs. O’Neill, a pigskin purse, which she had signed on the interior of the flap.
As for the bayonet charge which, on the outskirts of Ypres, his regiment had played so gallant a part, Lance Corporal Dickens relates;
When the Germans set fire to the buildings we were shown up, and there was nothing for us to do but to charge them. We went in and gave them what they deserved. The charge took place at midnight, and next morning the dead bodies of between 500 and 600 Germans lay strewn on the ground. Our losses were very slight. The enemy fired at us all the time, and as soon as we got to a position where I could use the bayonet, I saw two Germans dashing towards me. I ‘done the paddy’ on them, knocked the bayonet of one away, and immediately thrust my bayonet into his body. The other fellow was in the act of serving me the same, but in bringing my rifle round the butt-end caught him under the jaw and he went down like a log. The first German I killed on the spot, but what happened to the other I don’t know. I was in the thick of it. I do not remember what happened afterwards. My mind is a blank up to the time I found myself once again in the trenches. It was a terrible sensation, and one which I cannot describe.”
(Lance Corporal Dickens’ younger brother is still serving at the front with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.)
B.S. 1915 Mar. 6th
Private A. Hammond, of the 2nd Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is serving at the front with the 2nd Division, 5th Brigade, and writes to his sister at Newport Pagnell;
I received the Bucks Standard and the other papers which we are glad to read in the trenches. At night we have to keep a good look out for the Germans, as when they attack they don’t come in hundreds but in thousands, and that is why the British Tommy can always mow them down. We are having a little better weather now, but the other day we had a good fall of snow, but as we were resting we got out of that lot for once. Looking at some papers a day or two ago I saw that Major-General Haking gave our battalion great praise, so that you will understand we have done some very good work. The troops are having plenty of presents sent out to them, which they are very glad to receive. I have had two or three shower baths since I have been out here. Although I have been out here some considerable time I have not seen many of my old town chums, but I see by the Bucks Standard that two or three are joining each week, and we can do with all of them. We have a baked dinner and ‘duff’ twice a week and that helps to fatten us up.”
Private Hammond also mentions that he would like a mouth organ, ‘key C,’ and a pack of cards, which would be greatly appreciated by himself and his comrades when they are resting.
(Postman Harry Cox, of Newport Pagnell, has volunteered for active service this week, but since his chest measurement did not reach the required standard he was rejected. However, a few weeks later he would be accepted, and join the Beds. Yeomanry.)
B.S. 1915 Mar. 20th
Private Wallace Ingram, of Newport Pagnell, is serving with the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards at the Front, and in a letter to home he thanks the ladies of the town who have sent parcels to the men in the fighting line. He says the contents are very much appreciated, and;
I wish they could have seen us enjoying their gifts. It was very kind of them to think of us. It has been very bad in the trenches, but the weather is a little better now.”
(Private Ingram would be killed in action on Tuesday, September 26th, 1916, aged 24. Born at Newport Pagnell, he was the son of Jesse and Anne Ingram, of 36, Queen Ann’s Houses, St. John Street, Newport Pagnell, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.)
B.S. 1915 Mar. 27th
Sergeant Alfred Moore, 2nd Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, is unofficially reported to have been killed in action on Sunday, March 14th. In a letter of March 20th to his parents, William and Ada, of High Street, Newport Pagnell, Sergeant Going, of the same regiment, writes;
I feel I must convey to you my deepest sympathy on the death of your son Alfred. He was killed in action on the 14th, and died as a gallant fellow, which he was and as he would wish to die. He was a splendid soldier and man and died facing the enemy. He was my greatest pal, since we had been together since he joined the Army in 1907. He was buried as comfortable as circumstances would permit by his comrades of the platoon with whom he was always popular.”
(Born at Bromley, Kent, Sergeant Moore, a resident of Newport Pagnell, was aged 28 and having been in the Army for just over seven years, had witnessed service in South Africa and China, from where his regiment received orders to proceed to France. Having been granted a few days’ leave, he had paid a visit just before Christmas to his parents at Newport Pagnell, where he had been educated. He became a victim of frost bite whilst fighting in the trenches, to which he returned only some three days after leaving a base hospital.)
B.S. 1915 Apr. 17th
Mr. G.E. Gibson, the well known veterinary surgeon from Newport Pagnell, has received a letter from an officer serving with the Army Veterinary Corps at the Front. The following are extracts;
No newspaper description of ruined Belgium can describe the utter terribleness of the ghastly reality. Conjure up a waste land - lifeless, desolate, devastated. Imagine a country road for two-and-a-half miles from our billet to the firing line with scarcely a roofed house to be seen. Each village is worse than the other - uninhabited, crumbling, smashed to atoms. The roads are torn and blown up by shells, the ditches are filled by wheelless (sic) limbers, broken waggons and motor omnibuses, shelled to bits.”
In the hamlets, where scarce a stone is left standing on another, a foul stink makes the atmosphere loathsome. Everywhere is mud - oily, black, stenching (sic). The fields are wasted, and are living seas of mud, cut and intersected with evacuated trenches filled with slimy water.”
No birds are heard to sing in this region of death - their songs are hushed. The roar of artillery and the crack of rifle fire, incessant and monotonous, makes day wearisome and night hideous. All around is the wooden Cross, the one sunbeam of hope in a land of darkness.”
Near the fighting line matters are worse. Last night I was in a village not forty yards from the German trenches. The star-shells every ten seconds or so made the darkness light as day.”
This village is indescribable; it has been simply smashed to atoms. I picked my way along streets lumbered with rafters, broken waggons, and every imaginable type of filth and wreckage.”
B.S. 1915 Apr. 17th
Sapper Walter Wright, is the son of Eli and Sarah Wright, of Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, and his wife, Ellen, lives at 6, Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell. He is serving with the 1st Field Company, East Lancs., Royal Engineers, in Egypt, from where he writes;
On landing in Egypt we proceeded to Cairo, where we remained for a few weeks, ultimately being sent to Ismailia (sic). Here we did all kinds of engineering work, such as barbed wire entanglements and trenching; also building bridges across the Suez Canal. Our work was chiefly on the desert side of the canal between Ismailia and the Bitter Lakes. Now, perhaps you would like to know a little about our ‘scrap’ with the Turks. It was on the 1st February that we sighted the Turks near the Suez, but it was not till two days later that we discovered the enemy getting their pontoons to the water’s edge. On the night of February 2nd our English officers and soldiers and a regiment of Indian Punjabis were keeping watch to see that the Turks did not attempt to cross the canal. About 3.30a.m. the attack was made, and the Bolton Artillery opened fire. We lined the Suez bank along by our camp from that time till about six o’clock when we had orders to take up a position near Tossoum, where the Turks had erected a pontoon bridge. We had not got more than half way when two of our men were hit. One got a shot through him; the bullet entered under his right shoulder and passed through his right lung and out of his back. His name is Austin. The other man was hit in the throat, but it was only a flesh wound. Both men are now doing well. The bullets all the time were whizzing around and over us, and it was a good thing for us that we all dropped to the ground and adopted a crawling attitude and sought what cover was available. We at last got to our trenches without further casualties, but during the day one of our men was shot through the head. I was standing fourth to him in the trenches when he received the fatal shot. The fighting continued, and we joined forces with the Punjabis, who did some good work with their machine guns. They knocked the Turks off the pontoons like ninepins It was a sight I shall never forget. The Turks formed an extended line along the Suez banks from Ismailia to the Bitter Lakes, but the Engineers saw the hardest fighting as they were backed up by their artillery. We had a fair amount of shrapnel come our way, but it was lucky for us that the majority of the shots went wide. As soon as it was light on the morning of February 4th the fighting was resumed. About 7 o’clock a warship came to our assistance and dropped some shells among the Turks, causing them to beat a hasty retreat. The enemy was followed by the 62nd Punjabis, and they suffered severely at the hands of the Indian soldiers. They brought back with them about 100 prisoners. They looked a queer lot of fellows; most of them were without shoes. A lot more prisoners were taken at various points along the Suez. Captain Cockran was shot in the mouth as he was giving the order to his Indian Punjabis to advance. It is believed he was shot by a German officer. The Turks had all German officers leading them. We have not seen any more of the Turks, only a few prisoners who gave themselves up. The desert and Suez banks were strewn with dead and wounded, more so against the pontoons. The dead bodies have been recovered from the Suez and have been buried by the Indian soldiers. We are still making our position more secure should the Turks return.”
(Whilst in action against the Turks, he would be wounded in the foot on June 4th, being then removed to a hospital in Port Said, Egypt. Suffering also from poisoning of the fore finger of his right hand, he would describe the charge in which he was wounded as ‘a terrible affair,’ even worse than the fight at the Suez Canal in which he took part on February 3rd. At the beginning of June 1917, his wife would receive a telegram from the Records Office, Chatham, stating that, due to the recent fighting, he was dangerously ill in hospital in France with fractured legs. Gas gangrene had developed in the left one, an he died from the wounds on Tuesday, June 5th. When working in the Yorks and Lancs Railway Works at Newton Heath, he had joined up at Manchester on September 2nd, 1914, and had only been out of hospital for a fortnight, having suffered from dysentery, when he received his recent wounds.)
B.S. 1915 Apr. 17th
The Bucks County Territorial Force left England for the battlefields some three weeks ago, but during the last few days it was learned that 23 year old Private William Holland, the son of Councillor Charles Holland, of 13, Chicheley Street, Newport Pagnell, had died of wounds on Thursday, April 8th. He is the first casualty in the Bucks Territorial Force, and the circumstances of his death are told in a letter received by his father on Monday, written by the company commander, Captain Edward Birchall;
Dear Sir. I very deeply regret having to inform you that your son, Private 2245 W. Holland, of the Bucks Battalion, was yesterday afternoon (April 8) severely wounded by shell fire, and that about two hours later he died. We were engaged at the time in digging communicating trenches some 1000 yards or more from the firing line, and the enemy had been firing shrapnel shell for about half-an-hour. They then fired one single high explosive shell, and your son was struck in the head. He was entirely unconscious up to the time of his death, and I think it may do something to mitigate your grief to know that at all events he had no suffering. He was buried this morning (April 9) in the military cemetery at this place, which name I may not now give you. The graves are most carefully tended. I think that later on if you applied to the War Office they would probably give you further details, which I cannot disclose owing to the censors. Your son was the first man of the Bucks Battalion killed in action, and it is a death of which he would have been proud. He was a first-rate soldier, and one who was really loved by all his comrades. As his company officer I can only say that I feel his loss very deeply in a personal way, as he is one of those who have been with the old G Company right through. Perhaps you will allow me to express the very heartfelt sympathy of the whole Company with his parents and family in their loss.
The letter also bore the signature of Lt. Col. C. Doig, the officer commanding the Bucks Battalion.
In a letter to Mr. Charles Holland on April 10th, the Wesleyan Chaplain of the 1st South Midland Division (T.F.) writes;
“I deeply sympathise with you in the loss of your boy. He was killed in the trenches bravely fighting for his country. A fragment of shell struck him in the head. … He was brought into the dressing station on the 9th, and the Church of England Chaplain buried him yesterday morning. I was present at his funeral. He is laid to rest in the garden of a monastery with other soldiers. A permanent cross with his name and regiment will be placed on his grave. The graves are all beautifully kept - turfed and planted with flowers. … Private D.P. Fielding desires me to express his sympathy with you.”
Private Holland, a keen footballer, had like his father been employed by the L.&N.W. Railway, and undertook his apprenticeship in the body making shop at Wolverton Carriage Works. Having served for four years in the Wolverton Detachment of the Bucks Territorials, he readily volunteered for active service just after the outbreak of the war, and was aged just 23 when he was killed.
B.S. 1915 Apr. 24th
Writing to his relatives in Newport Pagnell, after describing the sea voyage from England to France, Private Bert Bromwich, of the 1/1st South Midland Division Light Infantry (Bucks Territorials), says that the regiment was moved from Le Havre in something which resembled a glorified cattle truck. After a tedious train ride they were billeted in barns for four days, being then moved to Merris, not far from the firing line. On April 7th two platoons then left Merris to act as the advance guard for the Brigade. On reaching a village to the west of Armentiers the men were billeted in houses, ‘and had a good time.’ On April 8th Private Bromwich, who is in the cyclist’s detachment, writes;
We were improving a line of retiring trenches and shells were dropping near to one of our batteries half-a-mile away. I saw one blow the side of a house in. It was quite exciting for a time.”
B.S. 1915 Apr. 24th
Private J. Hobbs, of the 1st Battalion, 15th County of London Civil Service Rifles, writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Hobbs, at Newport Pagnell;
“I have just witnessed two German aeroplanes getting away from our guns. It is a fine sight and happens often. As we were marching along the guns made plenty of noise, and we could now realise that we were at the Front. Much to the joy of the occupants we entered the trenches at 6 o’clock, and having been posted to our positions we made ourselves as comfortable as possible in the nearest dug-out. When me and my comrade were together and were seated there was very little room to spare, and lying down was out of the question. I was very pleased I had a candle with me as, of course, by now it was dark. We stuck the candle in the earth and pulled the ground sheet over the entrance to our dug-out. Then we read an old paper, smoked, and digested sweets and chocolate. About ten o’clock we put out the candle and tried to get a little sleep. This was rather difficult and we were awake when we had to turn out at 11.30. It was now fine, but dark. Four of us were on duty together with our sergeant. I was on patrol on the extreme left of our trench and had to keep up a connection with the Engineers who were working with us. We were about 200 or 300 yards from the German trenches. The enemy was pretty busy. The guns also were lively. On both sides rockets were sent up, and they lit up the whole place. When the rockets went up I had to look over the trenches to see if any Germans were creeping up on us. You can guess I soon put my head down again, for almost as soon as the light from the rockets has gone bullets fly about where our heads had been showing. The whole effect was like a grand firework display, and although sleepy when I was called out I was soon wide awake. As the Engineers were working where I was I had no firing to do, although the fellows further along the trenches were blazing away. There is plenty of water and mud and I fell down once or twice. Although the time was very interesting we were not sorry to return to our ‘hole.’ After removing a little of the mud from our boots we made ourselves comfortable once more, and attempted to get a little sleep. This time the attempt was more successful, but we woke up in time to ‘stand to arms’ at 4 o’clock. We stood in the trenches with fixed bayonets awaiting the dawn. All the time the Germans were busy - it was not the stilly night. After five o’clock we unfixed bayonets and I went to the back of our trenches and having procured some wood from the wreckage we made a fire and prepared breakfast. Our first meal in the trenches was very good, and we enjoyed it immensely. Then we cleared away and discussed with the fellows along the line the events of the night. At 9 o’clock we started work, which was to repair the trenches and lay bricks along the bottom. This continued till 11 o’clock. After dinner we started our brick-laying again - after the war I shall be an expert at the job. At 3.30 we ceased this work and returned to our dug-out and partook of a biscuit and jam tea, after which we packed up and waited for the relief. Whilst waiting we saw two aeroplanes (Allies) get away from the German shells; it was fine to see them get away. I should like you to see me in my dug-out. What a pity one cannot get a photo. All the time we were in the trenches the Germans were busy firing and throwing bombs. In the trenches on our right two men from another Battalion were killed by a bomb. With the aid of glasses I saw hundreds of dead bodies between the trenches but a short distance from us. We can see the enemy’s trenches quite clearly. The village behind our trenches has been badly knocked about. Of course no one lives there, every house has been severely shaken. Only one wall remains of the church, and the chairs, &c., are in a heap in the midst of the wreckage. One can see the bones of the buried dead in the holes in the graves made by the shells. These holes are all over the place and quite big.”
B.S. 1915 May 1st
Private Alec Lancaster, of the 1st Bedfordshire Regiment, is unofficially reported to have been wounded by shrapnel in the face and hand, and is now said to be in the field hospital at Boulogne. Whilst living at Great Linford, as a reservist - having served three years with the Colours (and with only three months until his time was expired) -he was called up to rejoin his regiment last August 5th, and although having taking part in all of the major battles he escaped without a scratch, his only time in hospital being to influenza. His wife and three young children now live at Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1915 May 15th
At their home of Hill View, Newport Pagnell, on Wednesday morning news was received by his parents that 19 year old Private William Sawbridge, Royal Engineers, had been wounded in the leg by pieces of shrapnel whilst in action on Friday, May 14th. A further communication then stated that he had arrived in England from France, and was now at Roby Hospital, Manchester. When war broke out he was an apprentice at the Salmons’ motor works in the town, and was amongst the first to volunteer for military service. Enlisting in the Royal Engineers, he underwent training at Chatham, and had been at the front for about two months.
B.S. 1915 May 15th
Trooper Arthur Mapley is a cook with the Royal Bucks Hussars, who are on active service with the British Expeditionary Force in the Mediterranean Force, and writes to his relatives in Newport Pagnell of his experiences;
I am glad to say I am feeling quite alright. Of course, it is very hot and trying after coming out from England where it was so cold. We are camping near a very large town, and are allowed out till 10 o’clock at night, so that we are having quite a fine time. We were paid out twelve shillings in piastres - that is 2½d in English money. There is another coin which is half a farthing, so that we can get a hatful of money for about two shillings. … I am unable to tell you where we are or what we are doing as our letters are now censored before being sealed down, so it is impossible for us to write about anything important. How are things looking at old Newport? About the same I expect. I wish you would send me a Bucks Standard sometimes, as it would be interesting to get the news from old Bucks. That will be the time when we return. We had a narrow squeak on our way out. The boat that followed us from Bristol - the Wayfarer - was torpedoed by the Germans. I daresay you saw the account of it in the papers. I am unable to write more this time as I have got to get dinner up, for I have gone back to my old job of cooking.”
NBT 1915 May 18th Tue.
Trooper Arthur Mapley, of the Bucks Hussars, is now in Egypt, and writes to his relatives in Newport Pagnell;
It is very hot and trying after coming out from England where it was so cold. We are camping near a very large town, and are allowed out till 10 o’clock at night, so that we are having quite a fine time. We were paid out twelve shillings in piastres - that is 2½d in English money. There is another coin which is half a farthing, so that we can get a hatful of money for about two shillings. I am unable to tell you where we are or what we are doing as our letters are now censored before being sealed down, so it is impossible for us to write about anything important. We had a narrow squeak on the way out. The boat that followed us from Bristol - the Wayfarer - was torpedoed by the Germans.”
B.S. 1915 May 29th
Private A. Hammond, of Newport Pagnell, is serving with the 2nd Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, and is now in No. 3 General Hospital, France, following the loss of the top of his left forefinger through shrapnel. In a letter to his sister, Mrs. Bunker, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, he writes;
On Saturday, May 15, we had orders to get our kits packed by the evening as we were going in support of an attack, and we did too. When we got to the second line of our trenches there was such a lot of rifle fire that we knew that the attack had commenced. Then we had orders to leave the second line and advance to the first. We had not been there long when we had the order to fix bayonets and advance. We soon got over the breastworks and in short rushes ran to the German trenches, 400 or 500 yards distant. I had not got half-way across when a shell burst in the air and a piece hit my finger and cut it off below the nail. Two or three more fellows on either side of me were also wounded.”
Concluding the letter, Private Hammond, who has been with the Expeditionary Force since the beginning of the war, describes how he crawled back to the trenches and his subsequent removal to hospital.
B.S. 1915 May 29th
Private H. Frost, Machine Gun section, 5th Brigade, 2nd Division, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, has been slightly wounded in the head, and is now in a base hospital in France. He writes to his mother, Mrs. T. Tooth, (sic) of Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell;
I have got away very lucky. The regiment has been very badly knocked about. Reg Odell was wounded the same day. I do not know if anyone else from Newport was hurt, and they were still fighting hard when I left; and they took some German positions. I am afraid when I rejoin I shall find the regiment very much thinned down and a great many old friends gone. My team on the machine gun were all hit but one up to the time I left them. This was the first piece of bad luck that had happened to our gun section all through.”
B.S. 1915 May 29th
Private Edward Liggins, of the 1st Northants. Regiment, has been severely wounded in the leg and chest, and is now at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. By the Infantry Record Office, Warley, the news has been conveyed to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. Liggins, of High Street, Newport Pagnell, to whom, in a letter written from hospital, their son describes the events on the battlefield;
Just a few lines to let you know I am getting on famous, and shall soon be fit again. You would like to know how I got wounded. It was supposed to be one of the biggest bombardments in the history of the war. We started at 5 o’clock in the morning, our Brigade receiving orders to make the charge. We stood in the trenches with fixed bayonets awaiting the opportunity to charge, our artillery meanwhile shelling the German position. Arms and legs were flying about in the air. The Germans started to run away and we opened a rapid fire on them, and at 5.30 we mounted the parapet and went in hot pursuit after the enemy. The Germans turned on us a rapid fire, and many of our fellows were killed or wounded, but still we kept on. I was wounded in the leg and unable to go further in the charge. Just as I lifted my head up I got a lump of shrapnel in my right breast. I managed to crawl into a ditch up to my knees in water, and eventually reached our trench, and from there was carried to hospital. It was a great wonder we were not all killed or wounded, but we were badly cut up. It was a terrible fire under which we advanced. One thing saved my life. That was the small box Nellie sent me, and I happened to have it full of cigarette cards, and the piece of shrapnel went straight through it. I will bring it and show you when I come home. The name of the place where I was wounded was Richebourg, where all the fighting has been taking place lately. It is not far from Lille and La Bassee.
Private Liggins was wounded on May 10th, and - excepting a short rest from frost bite - has been at the front since the beginning of the war. He has seen action in many battles, and in civilian life was an employee of Salmons and Sons motor carriage works.
B.S. 1915 May 29th
News has been received that Private Reginald Odell, the son of John Odell, the well known ironmonger and implement agent of Newport Pagnell, is suffering from four shrapnel wounds. He is now in Netley Hospital, having received the injuries in the battle of Richebourg on Sunday, May 15th. His worst infliction is in the region of his thigh, but he is making as satisfactory a progress as may be expected. He volunteered for service with the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry shortly before Christmas, and had been at the front for about five months.
(During the next few weeks, Private Odell would make a full recovery from his wounds, to spend a few days with his parents after leaving hospital. He would then be sent to the British Expeditionary Force’s base in France, prior to returning to the front.)
(One of Mr. John Odell’s former employees would be wounded a few weeks later. He was Bert Dowling, who had worked as a clerk. At the beginning of the war he joined the Hereford Regiment, and as Sergeant Bert Dowling would be wounded in action on August 19th at the Dardanelles, when shot through the left elbow and back. He would be subsequently sent to a London hospital.)
B.S. 1915 May 29th
The following letter, dated May 15th, has been received by Mrs. W.J. Hobbs, of Newport Pagnell. It is from her son, Private J. Hobbs, who is serving with the 12th Battalion, London Regiment;
In spite of being in the middle of what I suppose is the world’s greatest battle I spent a very happy birthday. The only respirator I have is home-made, so should be glad of one or two as a good many of the fellows are in need of them. Mason (a friend) was pleased with vest, and thanks you very much. Just now we two are on our own. We are runners, and are situated about 20 yards behind our fire trench. If any messages come we have to take them further on. All the morning there has been a vigorous bombardment by both sides. It is hard to realise that it is Sunday. The great battle still continues, and the regiments on our left captured some German trenches early this morning. Between 2.15 and 2.45 this morning we were shelling the Germans for all we were worth, and it must have been terrible in their lines. This bombardment happened just before the charge. Of course, our artillery are always busy, but every now and again they are extra busy, and let the Germans know that we still have some shells left. The enemy have been replying, and a good many shells have burst quite close to our position. Mason and I were sitting outside the little hut we’ve erected, but owing to the shells we moved, and since moving 3 or 4 shells have exploded within 20 yards of us. The earth has been thrown on the roof of our hut, so we think it best to lie low. We are now quite used to the noise of guns and shells bursting, so that we don’t trouble about them much. Modern warfare is really marvellous. Here am I writing, within 150 yards of the Germans, and subject to rifle and artillery fire. The result of this battle will mean a lot to us as it will open up matters more. An enormous amount of ammunition has been used during the past week. Unless our artillery can keep up their fire the infantry are unable to attack, as the entanglements in front of the trenches have to be cut and the enemy’s lines of communication shelled. If the people at home realised this war they would not strike, but make ammunition for all they were worth, as in order to win we must be able to fire many more shells than the enemy. On Thursday we were the company in reserve, and we had a bath, just think of it, a hot bath in the firing line. It was ripping to get clothes off and to feel the water. I managed to sit down in my tub, so after all there is an advantage in being thin. It is nearly 12 o’clock, and as we had breakfast at 6.30 we are feeling hungry, and hope our dinner soon comes. Mason and I are not allowed to cook, as smoke would show our position, so two fellows in the firing line cook our food and bring it down to us. Our officer has just been to see if we are alright and whether we want anything. Was pleased I received parcel yesterday, as we now have something to eat besides bully beef and biscuits. Unfortunately we could get no bread and for the last week have been eating the army biscuits. The noise still continues and all along the enemy’s lines one can see the smoke where shells are bursting.”
In a short note, written on Tuesday, May 18th, Private Hobbs writes;
We came out of the firing line yesterday evening, and last night we had a good sleep in an old farm house, which has been knocked about by shells, in a desolate village (as regards civilians) a few hundred yards back. Last night the ----- charged the enemy’s trenches next to us. The noise of shells, etc., has been terrific for the last fortnight and sleep is hard to get. The Germans must have lost a good many men during the time and we’ve lost some. Yesterday two men were killed from our company. Last night a German shell exploded, killed 10 men and wounded about 30, as two platoons of a Battalion in our Brigade were on their way to the firing line. We have certainly done well in this battle and should now be able to follow up this success. We are hoping to go back for a rest as we’ve had a pretty strenuous time.”
B.S. 1915 June 5th
First Class Stoker Frederick Brown, whose sister, Mrs. H. Welch, is a resident of London Road, Newport Pagnell, has been officially reported killed in the sinking of the battleship ‘Triumph’, at the Dardanelles. Aged 21, he had been in the Navy for some four years, and was serving on a China station before his vessel was ordered to take part in the Gallipoli operations. This week, Mrs. Welch has received the following message from the Admiralty;
The King commands me to assure you of the true sympathy of His Majesty and the Queen in your sorrow.”Three brothers of Stoker Brown are serving at the Front. George and Arthur are with the King’s Royal rifles, and Albert is with the Bucks Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry (T.F.) in the Dardanelles. George has been wounded twice in action.
B.S. 1915 June 5th
Gunner W. Darlow, Royal Field Artillery, writes on May 30th to a friend at Newport Pagnell;
No doubt you have heard that I have been wounded, and rather badly at that, but I am going on as well as can be expected. I have had to have my kneecap taken off because it was badly smashed by a piece of shrapnel. I can tell you it was rather painful.”
He says that he has been in hospital in Rouen for 15 days, and expects to remain there for another seven weeks. Well known in Newport Pagnell, before the war he was employed at Salmons and Sons’ motor works. His father is bailiff of the County Court.
B.S. 1915 June 5th
On May 29th, Corporal Alfred Chapman, of the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Chapman, of 4, North Square, Newport Pagnell;
I am just sending a few more lines to let you know I am still well. I don’t know if I have a letter from you to answer as the other day one of our mail bags was blown to atoms by a shell; so I don’t know if there was anything for me or not. I should have written before this but we were called out suddenly on Whit Monday and have been up ever since because the enemy were a bit a cheeky and wanted a lesson. They were using gas, so we caught it a little on our way up, but nothing to hurt. Anyhow I don’t want any more of it. The dirty devils have also poisoned the water round this part, so we have to be careful what we drink. I hear we are moving to another part of the line now. … There is not much news for you now for we are still at rest. The weather still remains A1 although it is fearfully cold at night, but we don’t mind that if the rain will only keep away. … I see that Italy has started war now. I wonder if that will mean the shortening of the war at all. I sincerely hope it will, as I am sure every man out here hopes the same. None of us want any more, but while it wants doing we are going to do it and not grumble, for we all know what it would mean if we did not.”
(He is one of the ‘Old Contemptibles,’ who, having been recalled from India with his regiment at the outbreak of war, saw much hard fighting in France in 1915, being later transferred to the Balkan front. As Sergeant Chapman, of the Rifle Brigade, after 13 years of service with the Colours, he would be wounded after the war on May 15th, 1919, in the fighting on the Russian front, having been sent with the first British Expeditionary Force. Regarding his injury, he would write to his parents;
“Please don’t worry if you get a notification to the effect that I am wounded. I certainly am; but it is nothing to hurt much. I got a bullet straight through my face. It entered by the left ear and came out by the right. It has missed every vital part and has not broken the jaw bone., so I have a nice clean hole straight through. I am doing well; in fact, quite fit to do a bit more now I have had a rest. )
On May 23rd, 1915, his brother, Lance Corporal Herbert Chapman writes home. He is serving with the Royal Fusiliers, and, having been wounded in action, is now in hospital in France;
By the time you get this I expect to be well on my way to England. You see, we were going into the trenches and I got a bullet bang through the calf of my leg. It is quite a clean wound, so if no complications set in I shall soon be on my feet again. It gave me something of a shock when it came along. I felt it come ‘plonk,’ and the funny part of the business was it went clean through the calf of my leg and hit another chap who was standing by my side in both legs, so he got it worse than I did. However, we are both quite cheerful. We were jolly lucky, too, for just after we were hit a motor ambulance came along and took us up. Had it not come along at that moment we might have laid there for a couple of days. I am expecting to leave for the base hospital, so it won’t be long before I am in England again. I’ve got half a dozen postcards of the ruins of --- and you shall have them when I can send them off. There are some awful cases in here, and it is horrible to see the poor fellows; but they are well looked after and the sisters are just goodness itself. I’ve been through ----- myself, so I know a bit what it looks like, and I can tell you if any place is in a bit of a mess that is the one. It is utterly ruined. In fact, I don’t believe there are two houses untouched. The first time I saw it it was in flames and I shall never forget the sight. It was at night time and it looked terrible. It has burnt itself out now and only the ashes remain, but the things you can see lying about among the ashes are just wicked. I won’t attempt to give you a description of it, because that would be impossible. I believe our own people set fire to it on purpose; and it was the best thing they could have done, for it has kept down disease and pestilence. Otherwise there would have been plenty of such outbreaks, but this has been prevented. It doesn’t even smell, and the dead bodies of horses have been covered with chloride of lime, so that everything is being done to keep disease away.”
On May 25th, he then writes from No. 3 General Field Hospital;
I expect you are waiting to hear whether I am settled down or not. Well, you know I quite expected to come to England, but that is quite knocked on the head, so I shall stay here as the wound is not serious enough to send me home. But really as it is I am doing fine. The place we are in is a large hotel with lovely grounds and a fine view of the sea from the cliffs. We have every comfort imaginable. The ward I am in was formerly the dining hall, and it is a magnificent place. It is all done in white and the moulding on the ceiling is exquisite. It is just the same in the other rooms. The music room is just opposite, and a little lower down is the bar now used as the patents’ recreation room. I hope soon to be able to walk again, as my leg is going on fine and I feel no inconvenience from it. But when I stopped it (the bullet) Oh, my word! It seemed as though someone had hit the calf of my leg with a steam hammer, but after that it was nothing. We are having some lovely weather; proper summer sun and skies, so we are all serene. I have been shifted from the first hospital I was in, and had a journey lasting eight hours in an ambulance train. And weren’t we just comfy! They served out cigarettes to us, and apples too - big juicy apples, and as sweet as honey. They serve us out with cigarettes and oranges here, so you see we are in clover while we are in hospital. Then the chaplain comes round with books and papers and altogether we are as well looked after as anybody could be. I expect you will wonder what became of my rifle and equipment. Well, can’t you guess? You know Alf told us he lost his, so I thought it would be a fine idea if I did the same. And verily it was so! The first time I went into the trenches my pack and overcoat got blown sky high by a shell, so I lost that lot. Then the second time, as we were going into the trenches I received this German present, and when they put me in the motor car I saw my equipment no more; in fact, I have not even got a pair of trousers. But they will give me a new suit before I leave here, so I’ll be alright yet. I am afraid you will not get your postcards of ----- after all, as I have since found out they were lost with the remainder of my stuff.”
B.S. 1915 June 12th
Of the 1st Northants. Regiment, Private Horace Sharman sends a letter regarding ‘shirkers.’ He writes to his sister, Mrs. Bocock, whose husband is licensee of the Red House Inn, Newport Pagnell;
Just a few lines hoping to find you all in the best of health, as it leaves me in the pink. The gipsy’s tale about June 10 is alright, but she forgot to say what year. Personally, I cannot see any hope of the war finishing in June although I would like it to, as ten months of this existence is enough to feed anyone up. I would willingly change places with the poor London tram men earning six or seven shillings a day for an average of eight or nine hours work per day. Poor souls! Our hearts bleed for them. They must be fatigued. I think a Continental tour would do them the world of good. Here we have no fixed hours, and they might find themselves occupied for 20 out of the 24 hours of the day. But they say a change is as good as a rest. We are beginning to wonder who really are our enemies. We have a lot in front of us who are eager to wipe us up, but then it is a case of ‘kill or be killed.’ As long as they play the game we can’t grumble, but I think we have quite a lot living in luxury as compared with our surroundings, and who by striking, if not directly, indirectly murder their own nationality by hindering the making of shells. Why did we lose over 500 men on the 9th of May? Indirectly these casualties were caused by the strikers at home, for as you have read in the papers we had not enough heavy shells for the occasion. The ramparts which our troops attacked were not sufficiently damaged to make our attack successful. We cannot blame the artillery for they are doing their utmost to shield the infantry, but they cannot fire and make shells at the same time. Send the strikers out here on ninepence a day - the handsome sum which the married men are receiving - and give the men who have been out here all the time a change. Fancy, risking our lives to protect such people. No wonder they say, ‘Wake up, England.’ I do not agree with wrecking aliens’ property. If any able-bodied men in England want a scrap they can get as much as they want out here. They are just the blood-thirsty sort we want. Any mug can play up h**l with a knob stick in a china shop. That is not the way to beat Kaiser Bill. Instead of fining them send them out here; they will find shrapnel and ‘coal boxes’ a lot more exciting than smashing furniture. But then they stand the chance of being wiped up and that I expect is where the shoe pinches. Any coward can strike if he knows he won’t be struck back.”
B.S. 1915 June 19th
On behalf of ‘the Newport Pagnell boys,’ Corporal W. Reynolds writes;
Dear Sir. I have read in the last issue of your paper the letter signed “One of the Veterans,” and I am just writing to say how all we Newport Pagnell boys serving in the 7th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, at Sutton Veney, near Warminster, agree with his remarks, and desire to emphasise them. It seems to us to be very hard that we should be here giving up our time to do our little bit for King and Country while there are yet a good number of eligible “single fellows” - we can’t term them men - who are still afraid to leave their homes and friends. Supposing all were alike we should soon have the Germans here. Don’t think for a moment we are running down those who have tried and been rejected. Our pity is for them, and we know what their feelings must be. If there are those who feel they do not want to do their training to prepare to meet the enemy no doubt they could be given a job in some munition factory and thus do their bit in that way. The other week the 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry were at Newport and I see they got a few recruits; but, sir, if their hearts are not in the right place it will take more than a brass band to get them into the ranks of the Army. In closing, I would like to appeal to those still remaining behind to enlist before the hand of compulsion is placed upon them, and to remember the old saying, “One volunteer is worth forty pressed men.” Surely, sometimes, when they are quiet and thinking the situation over in their minds and they read in the paper the number of local married men who still keep coming up they will say to themselves “To-day I will offer my services before I am forced to do so.” Apologising for taking up so much of your valuable space. I remain, on behalf of the Newport Pagnell boys,
CORPL. W.H. REYNOLDS.
P.S. There is only one thing I wish these fellows would do, and that is to get out of their heads the idea that they can’t be spared from their jobs. The jobs were done before they were born, and no doubt will carry on should they be patriotic enough to join the colours.”
B.S. 1915 June 26th
Mrs. Baker, of 2, Priory Court, Newport Pagnell, has received a letter from her husband. Private J. Baker, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, in which he says that whilst fighting in the trenches a piece of shrapnel shell struck him on the knee, but only grazed the skin. He has been at the front for three weeks, and writes that he has had ‘a warm time.’ As a National reservist he joined the 3rd (Reserve) Batt. Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry some three months ago, and was in training at Portsmouth for nine weeks.
B.S. 1915 June 26th
News has been received that Private Leonard Blackwell, of the 5th Battalion Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was wounded in the right forearm on Wednesday, June 16th by a piece of shrapnel, and is now in hospital at Boulogne. Having joined the regiment on November 7th, after training at Aldershot he went to the front six weeks ago. A native of Newport Pagnell, before enlisting he was employed in the town by Harry Griffin, painter and decorator.
B.S. 1915 June 26th
A native of Stoke Goldington, First Class Stoker Emery Warren, of the Hood Battalion, 2nd Royal Naval Brigade, is in the Royal Naval Hospital at Malta, suffering from bullet wounds received in action near the Dardanelles. Married, with one child, he wrote to his wife, in Spring Gardens, Newport Pagnell, stating that he had been wounded in the back, shoulder and leg;
I was taken by hospital ship to Malta on June 11. I am getting on fine. There are two very small pieces of bullet in the shoulder, but they are of no importance. It was at first thought I should have to undergo an operation. The smallbone (sic) in the leg is fractured.”
On Sunday, Mrs. Warren then received a letter from the Naval Record Office saying that her husband had been wounded near the Dardanelles, and was missing. Called up at the beginning of the war as a Reservist, he took part with the Naval Brigade in the defence of Antwerp, but around Christmas was home on sick leave. On returning to duty he was posted to the Hood Battalion, and sent to the Dardanelles. Before the war he was employed on the staff of the Newport Pagnell Post Office.
B.S. 1915 July 3rd
In a letter to his parents (Mr. and Mrs. V. Chapman, of 4, North Square, Newport Pagnell) Lance Corporal H. Chapman, of the 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, writes regarding a night march to the trenches. The following are extracts from the letter, which has merited this comment from the Censor; “The Censor has read this with great interest. It is a very good letter.”
I think I might be able to interest you a little bit if I give you a bit of a description of what a night march up to the trenches is like, and in this I’ll tell you what I actually experienced myself, omitting only the names of different towns. We left Rouen and had a decent few hours in the train, but at last our train journey came to an end, and we were just thankful to get on our feet once more. We had only heard firing in the distance before this, but when we got out we seemed to be right on top of it, for the firing that day was just awful. Personally, I thought that the firing line was only about a couple of miles ahead of us, but I afterwards found out that the actual line itself was about 10 or 12 miles away. Well, we got formed up all serene, and presently we moved off. We had no idea where we were off to, but I remember that I felt myself in the thick of the war at last, and I don’t mind saying that the thought gave me a sort of exultant feeling and I saw myself performing all sorts of deeds of valour and winning V.C.s by the dozen. We marched some few miles from the station but at last we turned off on to a side road and here we found we had to stay for the night, so we settled down and made ourselves as ‘comfy’ as possible under the circumstances, for we had no blankets and no covering of any kind, so we had to sleep on the ground beneath the stars, and as it got later the firing eased down a bit and we only heard a gun at intervals. We stayed there all the next day and enjoyed ourselves, for we had money and could buy eggs, 15 centimes each (1½ d), so we made fires and cooked our own food. That evening, however, off we marched again and this time our destination was the trenches. We moved off at about 4.30 p.m., and the day had been very hot, but for all that we had to wear our overcoats with our equipment over that, and I can tell you we weren’t warm - not some. However, we had to stick it, so we made the best of a bad job and told ourselves it would get colder later on, and we would want our coats on in the trenches at any rate. Soon we passed through a small town, and here signs of war began to show themselves in empty houses, and houses with shattered windows, and perhaps one with a big shell hole through the wall, and thus we touched the war zone. All day the guns had been booming, and again towards evening they eased down slightly. Then, as we marched along, someone happened to glance upward, and there right over us was an aeroplane, and shells were bursting round it by the dozen. It is beginning to grow slightly dusk by now and the sun has quite vanished, and you are getting tired and very, very thirsty, and you’re also beginning to feel fed up with the whole business. Your pack and equipment begins to weigh like four or five tons instead of 40 pounds, and your rifle will persist in getting in your way, and soon you begin to feel that you can’t march another step; but you set your face and look with a very determined expression right ahead, and you keep saying to yourself, “I won’t fall out! I won’t!” so you struggle on gamely enough, chatting now and again with the man next to you or smoking; but the road is very, very dusty, and you are awfully tired and you get along in quite a mechanical sort of way, when all at once the word comes down to Halt! and Oh! how utterly thankful you are for a rest, however short it may be. After stopping for about ten minutes (you wish it might be ten hours) you get the order to go forward again. But, hullo! What’s that right in front of us? Whilst it was daylight we saw a black smoke cloud, but now it’s dark the cloud is blood red. What is it, a burning house? Yes! And much more; it’s a burning town. Presently, as you march along, you come into full view of it, and there it is, streets and streets of burning houses, and it looks awful. Just imagine the scene of the burning of Rome in “Quo Vadis.” But you can’t stop to gaze on the sight for you have serious work ahead and it can’t wait, so we must get along as fast as possible. But by now you are very, very tired and you do wish you could rest, but all the time you know that you can’t - not even when you get to your journey’s end, for you are going into the trenches, so you still struggle on, but now you have to go along very, very carefully and quietly. No talking is allowed, and not even a pin point of light must be shown for we are getting nearer the firing line, and we can already hear the crackle of rifle fire. The big guns have been silent perhaps for a couple of hours, as though they were resting after having expended all their energy during the day and are now getting ready for more work at night. So you march along, and only the tramp, tramp of feet on the hard road is heard, for not even talking is allowed above a whisper. Then suddenly, Boom! Boom! The guns once more begin to speak. The night attack has begun. Then overhead you hear a wild, unearthly and weird kind of shriek. You don’t see what causes it for the thing passes too quickly for that, but almost directly afterwards, and quite close to you, you see a flash of light and hear a stinging report, and you find yourself surrounded by splinters of steel from the shell that has just burst, and you think yourself mightily lucky if a piece doesn’t hit you. However, you’ve got more serious business to think of so you can’t waste your time over a stray shell or two, and on you go. Then, all at once you see something quite strange; a point of light rises from the ground somewhere in front of you. Up and up it goes, then it bursts, and the whole country for miles around is flooded with light. As soon as you see the light go up, you drop flat on your face and lie as still as possible. Presently you hear some droning sounds above you, just like bees, but those bees happen to be bullets, so keep just as flat as ever you can. Even now we can’t stop where we are; we have still got to go on, so as soon as the present danger is passed up we get and forward we go once more. But now the stoppages are more frequent, and even greater caution is observed, until at last we come to some long holes in the ground. You don’t see any movement there, but if you look close enough you find out that these holes are filled with men, and it suddenly dawns upon you that you have reached your journey’s end. Then you hear sighs of thankfulness rise from those fellows in the trenches, for they know that we have come to relieve them. Then out they come and we get in and take their places, and after good nights and good wishes have been whispered along they move off and leave us to face the enemy that they have successfully kept at bay, and now it is up to us to continue keeping them at bay until it comes our turn to be relieved in like manner.”
B.S. 1915 July 10th
News has been received that Corporal Charles Fleet, D.C.M., Royal Marine Light Infantry, has been killed in action on Friday, June 18th, in the Dardanelles. Aged 33, he was serving with the Royal Naval Division, having as a Reservist been called up to rejoin his regiment soon after the outbreak of war. Taking part with the Naval Brigade, he gained the D.C.M. for conspicuous bravery in the defence of Antwerp, and shortly before proceeding for the Dardanelles had visited his sister, Mrs. Percival, at Newport Pagnell. In fact in the town he had once been employed at Salmons’ motor works, but subsequently gained an appointment on the Warwick postal staff. He was the son of William Fleet, of North Crawley, and leaves a widow, Rose, and three young children at 50, Horringer Road, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. He is commemorated in Skew Bridge Cemetery, Turkey.
B.S. 1915 July 17th
Having been recently wounded in the knee, from hospital at Rouen, Gunner W. Darlow, of the Royal Field Artillery, writes to a friend at Newport Pagnell;
You ask me for something as a souvenir. To tell you the truth I have not got a particle myself, for when I was wounded I was carted to hospital without a stitch of kit - no boots even. All the kit I had when I was admitted to hospital was a jacket, so you see I have lost all my souvenirs. I have one piece of shrapnel which came out of my leg, and that is the lot.”
B.S. 1915 July 17th
Mr. John Hammond, of 117, Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, has just received news that his third son, Private Thomas Hammond, is lying in Mercer’s Hospital, Dublin, with a wound in the head, received in action on June 24th. Having served with the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, seeing some years of service in India, at the outbreak of war whilst working in London he was recalled as a reservist, and transferring to the 1st Hants. Regiment would participate in much of the heavy fighting on the Western Front. One of his brothers, Charles, who was in the employ of Mrs. I. Wright, painter and decorator, High Street, joined the army last August, and with the 66th Field Company, Royal Engineers, left Basingstoke on July 7th en route for the Dardanelles.
(There, Charles would contract dysentery, for which he would receive prolonged medical treatment, but as a Lance Corporal, Thomas, aged 35, would be killed in action on the Western Front on Wednesay, September 26th, 1917.)
B.S. 1915 July 17th
Serving with the 2nd Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, from Desford Hall Convalescent Home, near Leicester, Private A. Hammond, of Newport Pagnell, has written the following letter to his sister, in which he describes being wounded during the battle of Richebourg;
It was on May 15th that our regiment marched from Festubert to Richebourg to make an attack on the German trenches. We arrived there about half-past ten at night and were given a short rest before making the attack. We were in the reserve trench at the time, when all of a sudden a hail of bullets came whizzing over and around us. I knew then that the attack had commenced. The Inniskilling Fusiliers were the first to attack in our Brigade and we were supports to them. A little while afterwards we had the order to get up to the first line. We got there alright by wading through water and mud waist deep. We had not been in this trench above a minute when we had the order to get over the parapet and attack the Germans, who were only 500 or 600 yards away. It was about midnight, and the bullets were whizzing all around and the Germans were sending shells over in hundreds, but we took no notice of them. Before I got to the first line of German trenches I had a piece of shell hit me on the right hand and I could do no more fighting. By crawling on my hands and knees I got back to our trench, and a man of the R.A.M.C. bandaged the wound. After that I went down the communication trench to get to the reserve trench, but I could not get any further as the Germans were shelling us very heavily. After waiting some three hours the shelling ceased, and the opportunity came for the wounded to be removed. We were sent down to a village which had been badly shelled and smashed to the ground. As soon as we arrived there the ambulance cars took us on to Bethune, where we were properly attended to. We went on to Lille where we had a night’s rest, but I did not sleep very well that night as I was in great pain. I was glad when it was morning, so that we could go to the proper hospital. I had all day and a night in the train before reaching Le Treport, a seaside place. The hospital was beautiful. I had three weeks there before they sent me to England. But I have got here safe and sound, and I hope to recover from my wound in a short time now so that I can have a look at the old town once more before I return to the front.”
B.S. 1915 July 17th
The following is an extract from a letter written by Private William Greaves, the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Greaves, of Broad Street, Newport Pagnell. He is serving with the D Company, 5th Battalion, Northants. Regiment, in France;
We are having a short rest now and have had to move to some billets. We had a long march yesterday and slept in a barn for the night, packed like sardines in a tin. But we get used to roughing it. I have slept out in the open, in a tent made with two sheets, in railway waggons, on brick floors, in dig-outs and barns, and I think if it came to a pinch I could sleep on a clothes line. We have been living in dug-outs for the last month or so as we have been in range of shell fire. We have been working at night digging trenches. I don’t mind the work in the least, and am not a bit afraid now, but we have had such a long way to march every night, and as you may guess the roads are none too good, and most of us have got sore feet through it, but we stick it well and generally make fun of each others bad walking. I was at work right up in the firing line one night. A party of us were sent to do a small job up there. We got on with it well and were not troubled much, though we had to lie low once or twice. It was getting quite light when we came away and I think the Germans must have spotted us, for it was like hell until we got out of their range. Of course, we were going through trenches, and my back just did ache with stooping down as we ran along. We were jolly lucky, as we got out of it all without a casualty, though some other companies got it rather stiff. It is quite likely I shall see Mr. Iliffe again now, for I don’t think I am far away from him.”
(Aged 20, Private Greaves would be killed in action on Wednesday, August 4th, 1915.)
B.S. 1915 July 24th
In a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. V. Chapman, of 4, North Square, Newport Pagnell, Lance Corporal H. Chapman, of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, writes of life in the trenches;
You will remember that I left you in the trenches when I finished my last letter to you, but I think it is pretty obvious to everybody that whilst we are in the trenches we must live, so I’ll just try and give you a short account of how we forage around for ourselves when we go up into the firing line. It would be best, I think, to start with the question of “Billets” first, for that will make it much easier, so we will imagine that we have been in the trenches, and are just coming out for our rest. Well, we have been relieved, and as soon as that business is finished we move off, but, this time, away from the trenches instead of toward them, so we are comparatively cheerful. However, we have been in the line for about three days and nights, and practically without sleep, so we are pretty tired, but, for all that, we get out and away smartly enough. The same caution has to be exercised coming out as going up to them, but, of course, we start with being silent and careful, and as we go on we get more and more talkative as we get further away from the danger zone. On we go, and as I said before, we are very tired, but we keep it up, for we’re going back to our rest, and the sooner we get there the better for us. But we had had no water for about three days, and no sleep either to speak of, so you can just imagine we were pretty well done up. We had about 12 miles to march that morning, and we started off about 11.45p.m., and only had two short rests all the way. At last, however, about 5a.m., we arrived outside a wood, and you never saw a more disreputable crowd in all your life than we presented that morning. We were absolutely done up, and we didn’t care a hang what we looked like, only we did badly want a drink and a rest; so we marched into this wood and as soon as we had halted we threw off our equipment and dropped down where we were. There were two travelling kitchens with the boys, and these had come on before us, so, when we got in, they had got tea and Oxo all ready for us, and as soon as the order was passed round that tea was ready we were round those kitchens like a swarm of bees. We drank our fill that morning, I can assure you, and, when we had rested a bit, we set about making ourselves comfortable. Blankets were issued out to us, and with these and our waterproof sheets we started to build bivouacs; these consisted of a framework of four upright pieces of wood stuck in the ground, then some pieces of wood lashed on them, and the lot covered over with plenty of brushwood. If there were more of us than two together, we used some of the blankets to help form the roof, for we had three per man, so we didn’t hurt. After we had finished building our shelters we began to think about breakfast, and soon afterwards we had the satisfaction of seeing the rations come along. These were soon issued, and with the help of some more steaming hot tea we made a very passable breakfast of bread and butter, boiled bacon, cheese, and jam. We would have been quite comfortable here, but, soon after breakfast, it came on to rain, and very soon it changed to a regular downpour. Of course we had our overcoats on, but they weren’t much good, for we soon got wet and cold and miserable. However, it was no good grousing, so we got inside our bivouacs and made the best of a bad job, but even our shelters weren’t very much good, for the rain soon began to drip through and make things uncomfortable inside as well as out. Then, to make matters worse, we got the order to pack everything up, hand in our blankets, and be ready to move off at any moment. It was about 9a.m. when we got that order, and we were hanging about until 2p.m. doing nothing, when our blankets were once more issued out, and we soon got the news that we were not to shift after all. You may be sure it didn’t take us long to rebuild our shelters, and, when this was done, and, in spite of the rain, that had certainly eased somewhat, we got some fires going and were all serene. We had a good dinner of steaming hot soup flavoured with Oxo cubes, and for tea and supper we had what we had managed to save from breakfast, and as the rations that had been served out to us were supposed to last all day, and were ample, we got on very well indeed. I don’t think I shall ever forget the picture that camp presented that night with all the rough shelters, just built anywhere, with the flames of the fires flickering up and down and lighting up the faces and figures of the men with an ever changing glow, that one moment would be bright and then would die down to a dull red glow, only to leap up again as soon as more fuel was added to the fire. About 8p.m., however, most of us had turned in for the night, and as we were just fearfully tired it was not very long before we were fast asleep. We woke in the morning very much refreshed, and, after having a wash in a clear stream that we found running through the wood, we felt fit for anything once more. About 9.30a.m. we marched away after demolishing the camp, and soon found ourselves once more on the main road en route for proper billets. After a march of about 9 miles we arrived at the outskirts of a small town, and here we found our billets were situated. The soldier, of course, does not have anything to do with the finding of billets - that is all done by an officer who goes on ahead. So when we came to this little town in Flanders we were met by an N.C.O. and the different companies were taken off to their different quarters under the direction of this guide. My company was billeted in a farm, and we, of course, did not lose sight of the splendid opportunities such a billet offered in the way of fresh milk, eggs, etc., and I’m afraid that very often a cow was milked slightly before time, or a round of the fowl roost was proposed, and, of course, carried out, so, whilst we stayed in this place, we lived very well indeed. We had two short parades per day, and so we got plenty of time to ourselves and plenty of time in which to go out and explore the place. As to food, it is good - much the same day after day, but, of course, we varied it ourselves by unmentionable means. On the whole, we were very well off indeed, and we enjoyed our stay in those billets immensely. But, one day, our stay was brought to a close, and, all unexpectedly, we had to pack up and wend our weary way sadly back to the firing line again. However, we did not go back right away, but spent two more days in billets close to the wood that we had stopped in on our way down. All the time we have been in billets we have not allowed ourselves to think about the firing line, but now that we are shortly going back to it it behoves us to look out for ourselves. We learnt several things the last time we were there, not the least of which was the fact that unless you’ve got other stuff with you, you’ve got to live on bully beef and biscuits all the time you are up there, and beef and biscuit is not very appetising fare. At last we know definitely that we are going up again, so we go ‘nosing’ round to see what we can find. During the course of our wanderings we come across a broken box of jam, so it stands to reason that we must have some of that. Accordingly, a couple of tins quickly go into the bag prepared for them, then we just stroll innocently on to see what else we can pick up. We stroll on very quietly, when, suddenly, our peepers open wide - right in front of us, in front of the stores, there’s a sack of bread, and nobody about, so a couple of loaves are quickly cut into halves and they follow the jam. Now that we are here we might just as well go into the stores and see what there is lying about, so in we go. The door happens to be unlocked, and, when we get inside, what treasures meet our eyes. We quickly take stock of the lot, and, as soon as this is done, we make our selection of the goods before us, and, after we have got what we deem sufficient for our needs, we retire (gracefully). After we get back to our starting place, the first thing to do is to have a look at our spoils, accordingly we turn the bag out, and lo! What have we before us - bread, cheese, jam, a tin of butter, ditto of milk, some candles, besides our beef and biscuits. My word, what a haul! As soon as we are satisfied with the results of our expedition, we forthwith proceed to distribute the stuff about our equipment, putting some into the packs and some into the haversacks. Two things I forgot to mention, and they are ‘tea and sugar.’ But, I hear you say, ‘What good is tea and sugar to you up in the trenches - you can’t get hot water?’ Can’t we? Just you wait, and you’ll see. At last the stuff is all packed and we are ready to move away. I have already described to you a march to the trenches, so I need not do that again, so we will imagine that we have settled down to things, and have made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances will allow. Now, the night has passed and the cold grey light of morning has broken over the land, and, although we have got our overcoats on, ugh! it is cold, and we (could) just do with a nice hot cup of tea. Well! why not? We’ve got tea and sugar and milk and water. Yes, but the water’s cold! That doesn’t matter one bit. Out comes a canteen, and into it the water from one of our water bottles is poured, then we bring out three of our candles and under the canteen they go, and hey! presto! within five minutes we have a canteen full of nice hot tea. Then, to make the thing complete, we decide to have breakfast, so we bring out the bread and cheese and jam and settle down to a breakfast fit for a king. So you see we can get hot water in the trenches - in fact we do get it. Of course it must not be supposed that everything goes smooth always, for it may happen that some clumsy bounder may come along and kick the whole lot over. Then there’s a row, for water’s scarce, and there’s a whole canteen full wasted, so we’re not very easily pacified, I can tell you. Then the Germans may start bombarding us, and, in that case, we should have to leave the whole lot to it’s fate. However, our extras soon go, and, when they have gone, we have to fall back on to our bully beef and biscuits until we are relieved once more. This, I think, gives you some idea how we get on, and I hope you’ll find it as interesting as the last one. The next one I write I’ll try and describe the different sensations and emotions a fellow experiences during his first day in the trenches.”
(A few weeks later, during an action in Flanders he would be wounded in the back and chest, being subsequently invalided to King George’s Hospital, London. He had also been wounded earlier in the war).
B.S. 1915 July 31st
News is received that Trumpeter Harry Todd, of the Royal Bucks Hussars, has died in the Military Citadel at Cairo, from inflammation of the mastoid cells, preceded by sunstroke. He was a native of Newport Pagnell, his mother being a resident of Silver Street. At the outbreak of the war he volunteered for active service with the Bucks Yeomanry, and trained in England and Egypt. He had been ill for some while, and official notification of his death, on Friday, July 23rd, was received by his mother his week. Having become Assistant Scoutmaster in his home town, he was well known as an active member of the Boy Scouts, with whom he had acquired his trumpeting abilities, and he was amongst the first of the young men from Newport Pagnell to volunteer for military service. He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.
B.S. 1915 Aug. 7th
This week, the mother of the late Trumpeter Harry Todd, who died on July 23rd in the Military Citadel in Cairo, has received the following letter of sympathy from Sir Everard Duncombe;
Dear Madam. It is with the greatest regret that I write of the death of your son yesterday after a long and painful illness very patiently borne. He was such a good lad and so cheery. We miss him very much and will often think of the music he used to cheer our marches with. I remember well the day we left Ryburgh riding to the station with him, and how he was looking forward to a fight. Unfortunately we have not done any fighting yet, but he has died serving his country just the same. Be assured of my deepest sympathy in your loss and believe me.
Captain, Royal Bucks Hussars.”
A letter has also been received from Major G. Swires, who writes from Cairo;
Although I am afraid it is but poor consolation, I wish in the name of the officers of the squadron and myself to say how very deeply we all sympathise with you in the great loss you have sustained by the death of your son. It is our loss too. As you know, he was my second trumpeter, and a very good one too, and as during the few days before he became ill my first trumpeter was sick I had the good luck to have him riding about with me. Of him as a soldier I can only say that he was a worthy member of as keen and hardworking a troop as a squadron leader could well wish. I know it does not make up for it; but he has died in the service of his country as much as anyone killed in battle. It is always the best that go. Chapman tells me he has been writing regularly, so perhaps you will not be altogether unprepared for this blow. I saw a great deal of him in hospital until the last few days, and I only hope I should bear pain with as great cheerfulness as he. I want again to assure you of my deep sympathy.
In a postscript he adds;
“If you would care to have a photo of his tombstone I will have one taken when it is set up.”
Trooper Arthur Chapman was a close friend of Trumpeter Todd, being associated with him in the Boy Scout movement in Newport Pagnell before the war. In a letter, he describes the burial of his comrade, stating that he was laid to rest in the military cemetery just outside Cairo, close to the Pyramids. The funeral took place on a Saturday afternoon, with the whole of the men of the squadron, and the officers of the Bucks County Yeomanry Regiment, being present. The Reverend Philpott, Wesleyan Military Chaplain, conducted the service, and with full military honours the coffin was borne to the grave on the shoulders of Newport Pagnell members of the Squadron. The approaches to the grave were lined by members of the Bucks Hussars, who carried their rifles at the reverse, and the deceased’s squadron sergeant, trumpet major, and Trumpeter Bert Lineham and Trooper Arthur Chapman were mourners. Firing three volleys over the grave, the Newport Pagnell troop acted as the firing party, with the trumpeters of the Bucks Yeomanry sounding the ‘Last Post.’ Flowers were dropped into the grave by the deceased’s comrades and fellow townsmen, and a like tribute was paid by the squadron sergeant and trumpet major.
B.S. 1915 Aug. 7th
Aged 21, Lance Corporal Percy Baxter, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Baxter, of 1, Frederica Cottages, Newport Pagnell, died last Sunday morning from diabetes. For almost five years he had served in the Bucks Territorial Regiment, and having readily volunteered for active service at the outbreak of the war, after training at Chelmsford he went to France with his regiment some three months ago. However, shortly afterwards on developing a serious illness he had to be invalided home, and subsequently became a patient in the Lincoln Hospital. Two months ago he then returned to his home at Newport Pagnell, and under the treatment of Dr. Sheppard his health seemed to considerably improve. Nevertheless, with it being doubtful that he would ever be sufficiently fit, on Monday week he returned to Aylesbury regarding his military discharge, but this was not granted, and instead he was put in a temporary hospital in the town. Unfortunately, his condition then worsened, to such an extent that on Friday last he was sent home in the charge of an R.A.M.C. official. Tragically he passed away two days later, and with full military honours, on Thursday afternoon, August 5th, his body was laid to rest in Newport Pagnell cemetery. The coffin had been preceded to the grave by a detachment of the County Territorial Reserve Regiment from Aylesbury, consisting of a sergeant, corporal, and twelve men (carrying arms reversed) and with bowed heads they formed a line as the coffin - onto which a spray of red roses, the favourite flowers of the deceased, was dropped by his sister, Miss Florence Baxter - was lowered into the grave. The deceased had been very popular in the town, and a large congregation attended the service, conducted in the church and outside by the Reverend W. St. John Lindars. At the conclusion, the Territorial firing party then fired three volleys into the air.
B.S. 1915 Aug. 7th
From ‘somewhere in Flanders,’ Corporal R. Fiske, who before the war was employed at Salmons and Sons’ motor works, Newport Pagnell, writes to the editor;
I heard from Mr. Hatton (who no doubt you remember by name) that you published in your paper I was wounded, but such is not the case, I am glad to say. True, I have had some close “shaves,” and indeed been very fortunate, but cannot agree with the old adage that “a miss is as good as a mile.” When I came out here last February I was attached to the Canadian Field Ambulance, but have now been transferred to No. 1 Telegraph Construction Party (attached to 2nd Army Headquarters) Signal Company, R.E. Cheers for Newport Pagnell! as from all accounts it has found as many recruits as any town of the same size; also it did wonderfully well for the hospital on the annual fete day. Just one word, please, about the real slackers. If they still refuse to enlist - well, may England never make them, as I have my doubts as to whether the army would ever be able to make men of them. I have met one Newport fellow out here, and that was W. Darlow; he had been slightly wounded with shrapnel. When I saw him he had completely recovered from his wound and was again going into action.”
In fact Corporal Fiske was mistaken, for Gunner Darlow suffered serious wounds, which would take a long while to heal.)
B.S. 1915 Aug. 7th
Mr. Arthur Bullard, of Newport Pagnell, has been visiting some of the hospitals in France, and also paying a visit to his relatives at Sens. In a letter to Mrs. Bullard he writes of his impressions of Paris in wartime;
I am now in the most lovely city in the world. I have been here many times, but I have never felt so impressed with its beauty and grandeur before. Why, I cannot tell, unless it is because I am all alone and can only commune with my innermost self. Paris in wartime appears more beautiful than Paris in time of peace. I know it should not be so, but so it is. The most graceful buildings, the large open spaces, avenues of beautiful trees, and plenty of room to get a full view of things as they really are. Its lovely gardens with their parterres of colouring so blended as to give a most harmonious effect. Brilliant in colours yet harmonising with the green of the lawns and the misty grey of the buildings on which are the most wonderful carvings and enrichments so dear to the architects of France; avenues of the finest statuary in stone, marble and bronze, which are the admiration of all art lovers in the world. Paris has always been known as the gayest of cities, yet if it is in existence to-day it must be somewhere in the underworld. One notices first the absence of the young manhood of the city, yet its huge business establishments, its palatial hotels, restaurants, cafes, estaminets, are all of the same Bohemian character as a year ago. But where you saw the young man, alert as to the main chance of a customer, you now see the demure shapely mademoiselle who has taken the place of the garcon of a year ago. To-day everywhere there is a seriousness that did not before exist. A great American philosopher and statesman, Dr. Watson, says that France to-day is the glory of the world. Although she as a nation is not considered to be the most religious (how I dislike that word) yet nothing has been more Christ-like than the attitude of the French nation during the war. There is an entire absence of bragadoccia, no apparent revengeful feeling, yet a feeling that France is to sacrifice herself, not for France only, but in the cause of all humanity - and you cannot work for God only through humanity. As one walks through the beautiful boulevards and the Gardens of the Invalidies, Bois de Boulogne, and Champs Elyssee, one gets constantly a glimpse of that aspiring Tower of Eiffel with its wireless attennie (sic) receiving the messages of the results of the war now being waged against equality, fraternity, liberty, and humanity. It is as if science were rearing its head above the ordinary things of life to feel the pulse and receive the heart beats of the civilized world. What is America saying? What of Holland, Denmark, Sweden, & c.? - Are they concerned with a peace with material profits? What of the youth and manhood of England? Millions of them have volunteered to defend right against might, and yet there must be millions more who have not yet decided to sacrifice their liberty in the cause of humanity. I am proud of my country England, and I believe I shall have cause to be yet more proud for the martyrs who have sacrificed themselves - suffered, bled and died - in the cause of righteousness and of God. There can be no such thing as neutrality in this war. It is a world wide war of right against might, of liberty against slavery. As I walk nearer to the beautiful garden of flowers in the Tuilleries I get another view. All amongst the beautiful foliage plants, the gorgeous geraniums and other flowers I cannot name I see springing up millions of weeds, most prominent being the common stinging nettle. It appears strange, and yet I know the reason. The gardeners are wanted elsewhere where they are grappling with the crop of nettles sown silently for generations by Germany. They are clearing the continent, aye! the world, of the obnoxious Hun weed that threatens this beautiful country. It needs a firm grasp to tackle the nettle, and some are sure to be stung, aye! to the death; and yet those in after years who walk through the garden of life will have cause to be grateful to those who are now tearing up root and branch that awful weed that threatened the existence of the civilised world. There is no complaining, no feeling of pessimism, nothing approaching triumph or victory; yet there is that quiet determined demeanour that must ultimately be triumphant and which is born of victory.”
(In December, on behalf of the local Federation of Brotherhoods Mr. Bullard would send a cheque for £10 to the Serbian Relief Fund, and the same to the Armenian Relief Fund.)
B.S. 1915 Aug. 14th
News was received this week by Mr. and Mrs. J. Greaves, of 25, Broad Street, Newport Pagnell, that their son, Private William Greaves, of D Company, 5th Battalion, Northants. Regiment, has been killed in action in Flanders on Wednesday, August 4th. His platoon sergeant, Sergeant Barrett, writes on Monday, August 9th;
I have just received the parcel that you sent to your son. I suppose that you have heard by now that he was killed in action. I am very sorry for you, because he was a good and reliable soldier, and we all miss him very much. I hope you will bear up in your loss knowing it was for the country’s sake.”
Sergeant Barrett adds that the contents of the parcel were shared amongst Private Greave’s comrades. On August 13th, Mr. Greaves then received official notice from the Army Records Office that his son had been killed in action on August 4th. As one of the first of the local men to volunteer for active service, William joined the 5th Northants. on August 29th 1914, his 19th birthday, and went to the front towards the end of April. Being attached to the Pioneer Section, his was the duty to go up after dark and work in the trenches, and in searching out the enemy positions he was constantly exposed to shell fire and the other dangers faced by the men in the firing line. Educated at Newport Pagnell Council School, as a boy he was employed by Mr. J. Jackson, greengrocer, and subsequently went to Rugby. At the outbreak of war he was working for Messrs. Perkins, the Northampton nurserymen and seedsmen.
B.S. 1915 Aug. 14th
Addressed to his mother, Mrs. D. Darlow, of Newport Pagnell, in a written last Sunday from a French field hospital, Gunner W. Darlow, Royal Field Artillery, describes his progress, after being severely wounded in the back and knee. Having been in hospital for over 12 weeks, he reports;
It will take another three or four weeks for my knee to heal right up. I have got a hole about the size of a hen’s egg to fill in yet, and it is bone, and that does not grow very quickly.”
He hopes to be shortly sent to a hospital in England, but on Monday writes;
They keep on telling me they are going to send me to England, but now we have lost the Major, and I suppose they won’t send me until my back is better. If they do keep me here a little longer it will be better for me, for my leg will be getting better. Roll on when it is. … They tell me my leg will be stiff and a little shorter, so that is a bright outlook.”
B.S. 1915 Aug. 14th
An act of conspicuous bravery by Private Lawrence Wright, of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, is told in a letter to his mother, written by one of his comrades;
“ 3rd Batt. Royal Munster Fusiliers,
Dear Mrs. Wright. No doubt you will be surprised to have a letter from me, a complete stranger, but I feel that I ought to write and relate to you an incident which occurred down on the seashore this afternoon, Friday, August 6, and might have proved serious indeed but for the brave and noble action of your son Lawrence. Several young men went down to bathe, your son included. Two of the other fellows remained in the water after the others had dressed, when a cry came from one of them named Powell, who evidently was in difficulties, having swam out too far. Your son, who was fully dressed, without hesitation threw off his coat and wrist watch and plunged into the water, and with difficulty managed to bring the unfortunate fellow to shore. Powell was very much exhausted, and but for the plucky action of your son would certainly have drowned, as he was fully 100 yards from the shore. He could not walk and had to be assisted to his clothes, and your son helped to restore circulation and saw him safely back to barracks. I did not happen to be a spectator, but having heard full particulars from one of the fellows I thought it would give you much pleasure to hear of it, and asked Lawrence for your address. He sleeps next bed to me, and like him I previously was a Lancer, and I am highly pleased to have a friend who would so gallantly risk his life to save a chum. With kind regards, believe me to be,
J. COURT SMITH.”
The location of the incident was Cork Harbour. Private Wright is the son of Mrs. Wright, painter and decorator, High Street, Newport Pagnell, and learned the art of swimming under Mr. O. Bull, J.P., the headmaster of the Council School. He volunteered for military service shortly after the outbreak of war, and enlisting in the 5th Lancers carried out all of his training in Ireland. Recently, volunteers were needed to supply drafts for the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and anxious to go on active service Private Wright came forward. He is now awaiting orders to be sent to France with the first draft.
(He would sail for the Dardanelles with a draft of the Royal Munster Fusiliers in the last week of August, 1915.)
B.S. 1915 Aug. 21st
On Friday, Mr. O. Bull, J.P., headmaster of the Newport Pagnell Council Schools, received the following letter from one of his former scholars, Saddler A. Chapman, who is serving with the Royal Bucks Hussars in Egypt;
Dear Mr. Bull. You will be pleased to hear Newport fellows are still keeping up their reputation for swimming. A race was held this morning (August 8) between the three squadrons, to prove which was the best, and ‘A’ Squadron won. There are about 150 men in a squadron, and eight men were picked from each, and six of the eight picked from ‘A’ Squadron were Newport fellows. They were S.Q.M.S. Percy Nicholson, Fred Atkins, Harry Buckingham, Jack Fleet, Arthur Mapley and Basil Powell. All were in good form and swam well, and the result was a win of about 12 yards. It was a 50 yards race. We feel the honour is yours, for you taught all of them the art of swimming. All of us are getting on alright, but longing for a ‘scrap.’ On behalf of the Newport troop I wish you every success in your grand work of turning out so many swimmers. We all wish you the best of health, and trust that everything is going on smoothly during this great crisis.
ARTHUR CHAPMAN (An Old Schoolboy).”
B.S. 1915 Sep. 4th
News is received that Stanley Ellingham, the son of Mr. A. Ellingham, hairdresser, of Newport Pagnell, has met with an unfortunate accident ‘somewhere in Flanders.’ He joined the army as a motor despatch rider about three months ago, and has been in France for about a month. On Sunday, August 22nd whilst out riding with a party of 80 motor cyclists he failed to notice a sharp turn in the road, due to the clouds of dust thrown up by the preceding motorcycles, and running into the bank was thrown from his machine, which was totally wrecked. He sustained serious injuries to his head, back and leg, and having been picked up unconscious is now a patient in the 3rd British Red Cross Hospital in France. On Thursday morning his father received official information from the War Office that his son was suffering from contusions, but he appears to be in a cheerful frame of mind.
B.S. 1915 Sep. 11th
The Bucks Territorials have been on active service in France and Flanders for five months, and a private in the Battalion, whose home is in Newport Pagnell, writes of his experience;
I thought you would like to have a few interesting lines, and this is the first real opportunity I have had of letting you know about my movements since I left England. It was on March 30th last when we left Chelmsford and arrived at Folkestone and went across the water to Boulogne. We stayed in a rest camp at Boulogne for one night, and proceeded on our journey the next day. Since then I should think we have seen more of France and Belgium than any other battalion out here. We have been in the trenches all the way along the line. Having left Boulogne, we marched some ten miles and got into a train, which consisted of cattle trucks and carriages, and they packed 46 of us in each truck. We had about ten hours’ ride, and I don’t think I have ever experienced such agony, for we were packed like sardines in a tin. At the end of our journey we had a rest, and soon found we were close to the firing line. This place was Armentiers, where the fighting was very fierce, and where we received our first lesson in warfare. I may also say that this was the place where poor Will Holland got knocked out; so you can tell his mother if she would like to know the exact place where Will is buried that it is at Armentiers. Poor fellow! he was the first one in our Battalion to be killed. I did not see him. He was hit with a shell, and all I saw was his hat which showed signs that a piece of shrapnel as big as one’s fist had gone clean through the top of his hat and must have killed him instantly. Well, we had a few days fighting there and then we got the order to pack up, and off we went again. We then had a great big train ride and came to the end of our journey about two o’clock in the morning, and were much surprised to find ourselves in ------- , Belgium. So you see that was quick work, for we were in the trenches in nine days after we left England. Having reached ---- we marched about ten miles and eventually rested for a day or so in some old barns at ----, subsequently going on to -----, where we had to hold that part of the firing line. We had some very tough fighting here, and we held the line for about three months. We had four days in the trenches and four out. When out of the trenches we went back about three miles and rested at a little village. After three months we had to leave this line of trenches and hold some more on our left, also in Belgium. However, we did not stay there long before we were on the move again. We marched miles and miles and then had another long train ride of eight hours. We continued our march at the termination of the train ride, but where we were going nobody knew. I may say that we are now holding that part of the firing line where the Germans are most advanced. We have been here about six weeks, and we are the first English troops to have been this way since the battle of Waterloo. The French people were afraid of us and thought we were the Germans. When they first saw us they ran indoors and locked themselves in, but when they found out we were English they made a ring and danced round us - they were so pleased. At the back of us is a large village which was held by the Germans for a long time, but we drove them out, and the village is now held by the English. We sleep in the village when we are out of the trenches. There is not a house in the place that has not been battered about. We are fighting alongside the French and Algerians now … Our Battalion has done well, and we have been mentioned in despatches three times. We also took part in the second battle of Ypres.”
The writer adds;
“It is quite a common occurrence to sit in our billet and have some bullets go whistling through the roof. The other day while I was writing a shell came right through one of the walls in the yard. I am writing this in the trenches, and this morning there were nine of us asleep in what we call our dugout, and a shell dropped right inside and burst, and woke us all up. We were all smothered in dirt and black smoke. We could not see our way out for a few minutes, but, as luck happened, it never hurt one of us. I think it was rather fortunate for us, as it might have killed the lot of us outright. We looked round and found a handful of shrapnel bullets lying about.”
W.E. 1915 Sep. 17th
Mrs. Humphreys, of 3, Northampton Terrace, Newport Pagnell, has received an official intimation that her husband, Private Francis Humphreys, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is lying in Rouen Hospital. He is suffering from wounds received in Flanders in the left foot and left arm, and writes to his wife;
We had been fighting for about two hours, and I was lucky, for two of my comrades were killed, and another very seriously wounded, and he will most likely be a cripple for life.”
Before the war, Private Humphreys was employed at the Wolverton Carriage Works. He served throughout the Boer War, and received the Queen’s Medal and two clasps, but did not see the completion of the campaign, for he was invalided home with enteric fever and dysentery. He has been at the Front for nine months, and endured a narrow escape when a bullet struck his haversack, but was stopped from entering his back by a tobacco tin, off which the projectile glanced and hit the earthwork of the trench.
B.S. 1915 Oct. 2nd
Regarding his son, Trooper C. Lineham, of the Royal Bucks Hussars, Mr. J. Lineham, saddler, Newport Pagnell, has this week received the following notification from the Records Office, Warwick;
I regret to have to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office to the effect that No. 910 Private C.F. Lineham, Royal Bucks Hussars, who was posted as missing after the engagement with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force is now a prisoner of war at Constantinople doing well. Should any other information be received concerning him such information will be at once communicated to you.”
Trooper Lineham was reported as missing after the engagement at Chocolate Hill (Dardanelles) and the notification is dated September 28th.
B.S. 1915 Oct. 2nd
On Thursday, Mrs. Payne, of 60, Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, received unofficial news that her husband, Private Ernest Payne, of the 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, had been killed in action during the British advance on the Western Front on Friday, September 24th. Private Walker, of Stoke Goldington, was fighting alongside Private Payne, and writes to his widow;
I am sorry to say your husband was killed by a piece of shrapnel last night (Friday, Sept. 24). He was hit in the head and killed instantly. There were four more killed with him, and eleven wounded. Bull was there but he escaped. Bull and myself are very sorry to lose him. He was a good chum. We are sorry for you and the family.”
Private Payne, who was aged 29, had enlisted on December 31st, whilst in the employ of Mr. George Higgins, engineer. Previously he had had been in business as a chimney sweep, and besides a widow, he leaves two small children.
(Mrs. Payne would receive official confirmation on Sunday, October 3rd).
W.E. 1915 Oct. 8th
Addressed to the editor of the Wolverton Express, a reply to a letter from three sergeants has been received; (see W.E. 1915 Wolverton Oct. 1st).
“Sir. - Being a regular reader of your valued paper, I feel that I must beg to trespass on your space in answer to a letter which appeared from three sergeants in your last issue.
As I am one of the shopmates referred to in the letter, written to your paper last week and signed by three sergeants in the Bucks Territorials, I feel that I must take exception to some of the remarks which it contained. In the first place your correspondents state that silly or idiotic questions were asked, viz., “Have you been in the fighting line yet?” or “Have you seen any Germans?” The first question is a perfectly reasonable one, as we are all interested in our friends, and anxious to know if they have seen any fighting. The second question I contend was also reasonable, as one of the “Terriers” who was home a week or two ago stated that he had not seen a German, dead or alive, and with regards to the young men hiding behind the magic word “munitions,” I would like you to know that over twenty young men in this shop have applied for leave to join the Army and have been refused, and every man in the shop has volunteered to work on munitions and possesses a letter from the Minister of Munitions saying that he can best serve his country by staying in his present employment. So that I think the men and lads in this shop have done all they can for the country’s cause. I believe this is the only shop with this record in the whole Works.; I also hope that your correspondents’ letter, with regard to the feeling of the other men from Wolverton, is more reliable than the tales one of them told with regards to a pistol he was showing about the shop; there were four distinct tales told about that pistol in half an hour. It seems to me that these three sergeants expected to see Wolverton bedecked with flags and the band at the station when they arrived in Wolverton. I hope the people of Wolverton will treat them much better and not ask such idiotic questions next time they come home.
Again apologising for taking up so much of your valuable space. - I am, Sir,
Newport Pagnell, Bucks.”
(For a reply to this letter, see Wolverton, W.E. 1915 October 22nd).
B.S. 1915 Oct. 9th
In a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Odell, of Newport Pagnell, Private Reg Odell, of the 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, writes that for a second time he has been wounded in action in Flanders. He was slightly injured in the knee by shrapnel, but after four days in a rest camp has been able to rejoin his regiment.
B.S. 1915 Oct. 9th
From the Records Office at Warwick, on Thursday news was received by Mr. and Mrs. Malsher, of Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, that their only son, Private Frederick Malsher, of the 2nd Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, had been killed in action on Saturay, September 25th at Givenchy. He was aged just 21. A regular soldier, he had been in the Army for about 3½ years, and, having been in France with his regiment since the beginning of the war, had remained unscathed during his extensive active service.
(In a coincidence of names, Corporal Frederick Malcher, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, died last week on Wednesday, having been struck in the head by a fragment of shrapnel shell. A married man, whose home is at Ashton, near Roade, he was employed at Wolverton Carriage Works before the war, at the commencement of which he joined up. His widow is a daughter of Mrs. Styles, of 21, King Street, Stony Stratford).
B.S. 1915 Oct. 9th
Having been in France for three months, Private A. Barker, of the 5th Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is in Edmonton Hospital with serious injuries. In the advance on September 25th he was severely wounded in the left arm by bayonet thrusts, and by bullets in his left leg, hip and back. From Saturday morning until Sunday night he lay in a shell crater, being then picked up by the stretcher bearers. He is the son of Mr. Robert Barker, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, and enlisted during the last week in April.
B.S. 1915 Oct. 16th
Aged 21, on Wednesday, October 6th, Private Walter Burnell, a bugler of the 7th Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action, just over a fortnight after having landed with his regiment in France. In a letter of October 8th to his parents, William and Sarah Burnell, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, 2nd Lieutenant W. Young writes;
“It is with a very sad heart that I am sending you these few lines to tell you how your brave boy met his death. We had just got into the trenches and he and his comrades were in a dug-out when a shell came and hit the dug-out on the roof. I am sorry to say we lost several of our men, all of my platoon. I am afraid no words of mine can comfort you in your great sorrow, but I hope you will accept my deepest sympathy in your great loss. Your boy met his death doing his duty manfully, and you may well be proud of such a son. I know you will be glad to hear he was laid to rest with his comrades in the English cemetery here.”
Employed in the paint shop at Wolverton Carriage Works, Private Burnell was amongst the first to enlist from Newport Pagnell. His brother, James, a sick berth attendant, went down with the ‘Formidable’ on January 1st.
B.S. 1915 Oct. 16th
Trooper Hugh Warren, of the Royal Bucks Hussars, had a miraculous escape during the fighting in Gallipoli, when, whilst he was fetching water for tea, a shell burst three yards in front of him. Fortunately he avoided being struck by any shell splinters, but with the concussion having rendered him deaf, and with a discharge from both ears, he is now at the Floriana Military Hospital, Malta. In a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. Warren, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, he writes;
“I am thankful to say I am alive. It is a miracle that I am. I have had a lot of close shaves before.”
At the beginning of the war he volunteered for the Royal Bucks Hussars, and became a member of the regiment’s gun section. Whilst in Cairo, when volunteers for infantry service were required for the Dardanelles he readily offered his services, and subsequently survived the battle of Chocolate Hill unscathed. A noted footballer, before the war he was employed in the electrical department at Wolverton Carriage Works as an engineer and fitter.
B.S. 1915 Oct. 23rd
Writing to Mrs. John Hedge, of North Crawley, Lance Corporal Thomas Stowe, of the 6th Battalion Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, tells of the action on the French battlefields in which her son was wounded. In his letter Lance Corporal Stowe, whose wife lives in Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, firstly pays tribute to his comrade;
“I am only expressing the opinion of the whole platoon when I say that they all join with me in wishing him a speedy recovery, for he was an excellent soldier, a good comrade, and a fellow who never gave the least trouble. Perhaps you would be interested to know a bit about the big battle in which we took part recently. It was the most exciting time I have ever experienced in my life, and I am not particularly anxious for it to be repeated. It was quite a thrilling experience, and all who came out alive or without a scratch can consider themselves mighty lucky. The men of Kitchener’s Army showed a spirit and pluck worthy of the highest commendation, for they came through a truly nerve-wracking ordeal with flying colours. Our Battalion had anticipated using the bayonet, but fortunately for us, we were not called upon to get over the parapet. The signal for the attack was the exploding of a mine under the German trenches, and we watched, in a fascinated way, earth, sandbags, &c., flung high into the air. If there were any Huns in these trenches then all their earthly interests must have ceased. Then we were mixed up in the hurly burly of it all. On our right the infantry, including the Indians, attacked, and we held a portion of the line. Previous to this I should say that the British had heavily bombarded the German lines. The earth itself shook and quivered with the explosion of the guns, and I was glad I did not occupy the German trenches. When the attack began, however, we were subjected to a fearful fire from the Huns. They sent over every sort of projectile, which came screeching and whizzing along in an awe-inspiring manner. I thought every moment was going to be my last, and yet through it all, we had to keep up a rapid fire so as to give the enemy the impression we were about to attack. Yes! I wish I could give you some idea of that gunfire. I heard one chap rather aptly describe it as ‘six hells and a few devils thrown in,’ which is somewhere near the mark. It was an indescribable clamour, and the wonder was that we escaped so lightly as we did, for our Battalion only suffered four casualties. Since then the Germans have been particularly nasty at times, and throughout one night and part of a morning they shelled our lines heavily, but did not actually attack us.”
B.S. 1915 Oct. 23rd
Bombardier Archie Henson is serving with the Royal Field Artillery, and writes to his parents in Greenfield Road, Newport Pagnell;
“A few lines to tell you that I am safe and quite well, and to thank you very much for sending me such a nice parcel. I can assure you that I enjoyed the contents very much, although the box was smashed very badly. I dare say you have been very uneasy about me during this very heavy fighting, but, thank God, I have got through safely, so far. I shall be very thankful when it is all over, but I am afraid it will last a very long time yet. I am sorry to tell you that my battery got a severe shaking up last week. I think, in all, we have lost 54 men killed and wounded, which does not leave many who came from home with me. In fact we have only one officer with us now who came from Leeds with the battery. It seems such a long time since I saw any of you, but I quite expect any time to get a leave, but it will be very hard to have to come back here again. It is 12 months on the 4th of next month since I came into the firing line, and I have not been out of it since, so I think I deserve seven days’ leave now. We are almost up to our knees now in mud, so goodness only knows what it will be like again in the winter: but we get plenty of good warm clothes and boots, warm wraps for our necks, and nice thick overcoats, so we sha’nt (sic) take much harm.”
(Born in Stony Stratford, as Gunner Henson, B Battery, 275th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, aged 38, he would be killed in action in France on April 18th, 1918.)
B.S. 1915 Oct. 30th
At 20, Greenfield Road, Newport Pagnell, Mr. and Mrs. J. Goodman have received a letter, from Lance Corporal Osborne, stating that their eldest son, 22 year old Private John Goodman, 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, has been killed in action;
“He was killed in action on the 19th October. He fell doing his duty for his King and country. I happened to be quite close to where he fell.”
Before the war Private Goodman had been in the employ of Mr. W. Fleet, butcher, of Newport Pagnell, where he had been born, for five years. He was in Canada for 18 months, and on returning home then went to work at Birmingham, where he enlisted. Having volunteered for active service last June 7th, he trained at Fort Matilda, Scotland, and had only been at the front for a month.
B.S. 1915 Oct. 30th
Twenty year old Private Henry Smith, of the 5th Northants. Regiment, has been wounded in action, and is now in hospital at Nottingham. He went to the front with his regiment last May, and having proved to be an excellent shot with a rifle, was transferred to their machine gun section. As for his wound, in his own words he says he received a “nasty smack in the head with a piece of shrapnel in the fighting at Loos.” He was born at Finmere, and his parents, Joseph and Clara Smith, live at 1, Abbey Terrace, Newport Pagnell, with Mr. Smith being employed at Salmons’ motor works.
(Serving with the 1st Battalion, Tank Corps, he would be killed on Thursday, August 8th, 1918, and is buried in Bouchoir New British Cemetery, Somme, France.)
B.S. 1915 Newport Pagnell Oct. 30th
Private Charles Cook, the son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Cook, of the George Inn, Newport Pagnell, is on active at the front with the 7th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, and from Flanders writes to his parents;
“I expect you have heard about our Battalion having a bit of bad luck. It was a pity, being our first time in the trenches. There were about 50 casualties, 12 being killed. I saw in the “Bucks Standard” about poor young Burnell’s death. … We had some excitement while we were in the trenches. We sent a few mines up, and we did let the Germans have it. It was all done at night. Hardly a shot was fired in the day time. It does not do to show yourself as their snipers are hot stuff. If they just see your head above the trench they will part your hair down the middle. In fact, it is suicide to look over. We have moved up about 15 miles from our last place and are now under canvas, but we don’t mind; it seems like being at Codford again. We are not stopping here very long as we are going back again to the trenches.”
Before the war Private Cook was a coach trimmer at Wolverton Carriage Works.
B.S. 1915 Nov. 13th
In a letter to Frederick Bull, Registrar of the Newport Pagnell County Court, Sergeant Major T. Lucas, 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, writes;
“Now that I am at liberty to write these few lines to you I do so with the greatest pleasure. I have no news to say about what is going on here; but the weather is very cold and wet, especially in the trenches. I am in the best of health.”
For some time before and after the outbreak of war, Sergeant Major Lucas held the position of bailiff of the Newport Pagnell County Court. Before joining the Colours he performed excellent work as recruiting officer, and also as voluntary instructor to the Special Constables.
B.S. 1915 Nov. 13th
Private Lawrence Wright, of the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, was educated at the Newport Pagnell Council School, and, now on active service at the Dardanelles, writes to his former schoolmaster, Mr. O. Bull, J.P.;
“Just a few lines to let you know I am still quite well and John Turk hasn’t got me yet. I see the old school has lost some more lads out on Chocolate Hill. Our regiment was in the same advance and we suffered heavily. I have three shrapnel bullets and one or two curios for the school museum, but we are not allowed to send things home, but I hope to bring them back to England, when I get there. I haven’t the slightest idea when we shall get home. We are more comfortable now than we have been for a long time, as the flies are not such a pest and the days are cooler. We have plenty of excitement and work to keep our minds from wandering. I am very much obliged to you for your kindness to me when I was at Newport Pagnell. No doubt your time is fully occupied with your Council and magisterial duties, but I shall be very pleased to hear from you and know how many of “your old boys” are serving in the Army or Navy. No doubt the boys are looking forward to Christmas and prizes, but I don’t fancy spending Xmas out here. Things have been rather quiet out here the last few days and we are resting for a few days. I expect we shall soon be in harness again. I hope you are quite well, and please give my kind regards to Mr. Middleton and Mr. T.H. Sim and Mr. Higgins, who were teachers of mine 13 years ago. It doesn’t seem that time since I left, but “time flies, and lost time can never be regained.” I am mess orderly to-day and have to fetch the dinner for the boys, and they don’t like waiting. Wishing the old school the best of luck, I remain, your old pupil LAWRENCE B. WRIGHT.”
In a letter to Mr. A. Simpson he writes;
“I am pleased to say I am fit and well, and have come out of the trenches for eight days. We are at an island called Embros, called a rest camp, but it seems nearly all work and fatigues. The weather in the daytime is very warm and at night time we are almost frozen. Everything here gets covered with sand, and the flies are awful. We get fairly decent “grub,” but things are very different here than I imagined, and we who get back will be lucky. It is a nice sensation in the trenches and dug-outs with shrapnel and shells bursting constantly overhead; and the snipers are troublesome. It’s a case of “heads down” with them. Our mob suffered heavily in an advance a few days back. Several of my old Lancer chums got “knocked out for good.” We look a ragged and washed out crowd, and thin as rakes. The pack hangs heavy, but I still have the Union Jack you gave me when I left England. We know there is something in store for us in a few days. But we must trust in God and keep our rifles clean and handy. We have a “tot” of rum twice a week, and I am always “right there.”
(Private Wright, serving with the X Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Rifles, died of wounds at Gallipoli on Saturday, December 11th, 1915. He was 26. Born at Newport Pagnell, he was the son of Elizabeth Wright, and the late Isaac Wright, his mother’s address now being ‘Langdale,’ Wolverton Road, Newport Pagnell. A resident of Newport Pagnell, he had joined the 5th Lancers of the Line on August 8th, 1914, and volunteered for overseas service with the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers.)
B.S. 1915 Nov. 13th
Rifleman Ronald Thickpenny, of the Rifle Brigade, writes from France to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. Thickpenny, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell;
“Just a few lines to let you know that I am alright as regards health. We have had a good drop of rain lately, and the trenches are just in their worst state. You just ought to see them. I am just beginning to see what Tommy has to put up with. We cannot very well grumble as everything possible is done for our comfort. It is very cold at nights when on ‘sentry go’; I do not know what it will be like in a couple of months’ time. The Germans are very quiet lately and we don’t upset them much. As I write this letter I can hear the big guns continuously pouring forth their objects of destruction. They are a good way from us though, and I am not sorry. The other day I went in a cottage that had been shelled, and I could imagine how the poor people fled from it. The pictures were hanging on the walls and the furniture lay broken on the floor. I went upstairs, and the baby’s cot stood in the corner just as it might at home. It made me wonder what the Germans would do if ever they got to our country; it made me long to go through theirs. No money can ever pay for what they have done to France, and nothing is too bad for the author of this war. I did not realise, what war meant till I came out here, but I am not at all sorry that I came. It has taught me a lesson that no man could ever teach. The Germans are quiet just now. There is a fellow in the advance trench who plays a cornet, and though he is a German, I will give him his due; he is the sweetest cornet player I have ever heard. He plays some good old English songs too. You should hear some of the boys encore him when he has done. I would not trust them though, because when the boys shout the enemy turn a machine gun on to the spot where the sound comes from. … I think we are gradually getting the upperhand of the Germans. I have been looking forward to receiving a “Bucks Standard,” but I have been disappointed. I have got a good chum, and our sergeant is one of the best: so it is not so bad.”
(On April 16th, 1916, he would be slightly injured in the side by a splinter from as German shell. After an engagement on the Western Front on July 29th, 1916, he would be officially reported as missing by the War Office, but one Monday morning in late August his parents would then receive a postcard stating that their son was a prisoner of war at Dulmen, Germany. Aged 18, he joined up 16 months ago, and had been in France for nearly a year. Before the war he was employed by Mr. Wesley, wheelwright, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell.)
B.S. 1915 Nov. 20th
Private F. Morley, of Newport Pagnell, is in Netley hospital recovering from enteric and typhoid fever, contracted whilst on active service at the Dardanelles. He joined the A.S.C. as a baker on June 26th, and of his experiences writes;
On July 13th, 1915, I sailed with the 40th Field Bakery for the Dardanelles. After staying at Alexandria (Egypt) for two days - we had a good time, I can tell you - we started off again for the Peninsula. After a very exciting race with a submarine and rather a rough journey, we found ourselves within the shell-fire radius. The Turks had several shots at us, but fortunately for us they made a miss every time. We landed on the Peninsula on August 3rd, and joined the 42nd Field Bakery. It was more dangerous down at the base than in the trenches, as the Turks would insist upon sending storms of shells in our direction. While baking we had to dodge the shells by hiding behind anything near at hand. I well remember one of our fellows flinging himself behind a tent peg, hoping this would shelter him from the whizzing shell. We were told that we were the only Field Bakery in the British Army working under heavy shell fire. I fell ill with enteric and typhoid fever. I was put aboard the hospital ship Delta and subsequently brought to England and found myself booked for Netley Hospital. I have been here about nine weeks now, making eleven weeks’ illness. I am looking forward to being home at Christmas.”
The following lines are those composed by Private Morley;
“Though he is lying in the trenches,
And the battle raging hell,
His thoughts are of the dear old home
In the little woodland dell.
He pictures his dear sweetheart,
As days go slowly by,
Waiting with a noble courage,
Tho’ tear-drops dim her eye.
He lives again in dreamland
The hours they used to roam,
And wonders if he will be spared
To see the dear old home.
He tells them not to pine for him,
Tho’ sorrow fills their heart,
For you, dear ones, must help the cause,
The waiting is your part.
And tho’ the harder task by far,
It is your lot to bear;
Cheer up, for brighter days shall dawn,
When joy will crush despair.
For the weary wait will cease, love,
And our duty will be done,
When we sail for dear old England,
With the mighty conflict won.”
B.S. 1915 Nov. 27th
During his training at Bedford, Sapper William Chaffey, of the East Anglian Royal Engineers, contracted an illness. He was taken to hospital, but whilst laying in a critical condition pneumonia set in, from which, following an operation, he died last Monday, November 22nd in the 1st Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge. Aged 20, he was the only son of Mrs. Chaffey, of 15, Mill Street, Newport Pagnell, and had only joined the army about three months ago. Before enlisting, in the 41st Field Company of the East Anglian Royal Engineers, he was employed at Salmons motor works. Educated at the Council School, he had been keen on all types of sport, and as a footballer played for the Newport Autos and the Church Institute.
(On Saturday afternoon, November 27th he would be laid to rest with full military honours in Newport Pagnell cemetery. His company of the East Anglian Royal Engineers supplied a 14 strong firing party, under Sergeant Arthur, and 50 of the deceased’s regimental comrades came from Bedford to pay their last respects. The service was held in the Congregational Church, and crowds of townspeople lined the High Street to witness the coffin being borne on a gun carriage, drawn by six black horses, from Mill Street to the chapel. Preceding the long procession were the firing party of the Royal Engineers (with arms reversed) and trumpeters, whilst behind came the near relatives and a regimental detachment.)
B.S. 1915 Dec. 4th
Serving in France with the 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, Private Jack Umney has written to his mother, Mrs. Eliza Umney, of 2, Church Passage, Newport Pagnell;
“I am going on alright under the circumstances, but the Germans are trying to drown us out of our trenches. They are pumping all their water into our trenches, and I can tell you it is not very nice as we are up to our waist in water. Whilst I am writing this the Germans have a machine gun directed on us, and they are peppering us with bullets; but they are wasting their bullets for nothing. I see they are fetching the single men up, and I think we shall want them. I think they ought to come and do their bit as well as us. Poor chaps, they have had a nice time of it whilst we have been fighting out here.”
Private Umney’s main want is presently a wrist watch, to keep him posted with the time while in the trenches.
(As Lance Corporal Umney, he would be killed in action on Monday, April 2nd, 1917, aged 25. Born at Buckingham, he was a resident of Newport Pagnell, and is buried in Beaurains Road Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. After the war, his family would remember him in the following verse;
“There is a lonely grave in France
Where a brave young hero sleeps:
There‘s a cottage home in England
Where his mother sits and weeps.
We think of you, dear Jack,
Though no eye may see us weep;
But deep within our hearts
Your fond memory we shall ever keep.”)
B.S. 1915 Dec. 11th
News has been received of the death on December 7th of Sub Lieutenant Claude Bale, R.N.R., the son of the late Mr. Francis Bale and Mrs. Mary Bale of ‘Uplands,’ Newport Pagnell. His ship, H.M.S. India, was torpedoed in the Arctic Circle on August 8th, and with other officers he was interned in Norway. As a result of shock he fell ill, and on Thursday his death, at Lillehammer, Norway, on Tuesday, December 7th, 1915, was officially notified by the Admiralty. Educated at Merchant Taylors School, and H.M.S. Worcester, he joined the Navy from the P. & O. service shortly after the outbreak of war. He was aged 25, and is buried in Faberg Churchyard, Norway.
B.S. 1915 Dec. 18th
Private Fred Law is serving in France with the 2nd Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, and, having just done two turns of four days each in the trenches, writes on December 5th to his wife in Newport Pagnell;
“It is work night and day. It is so wet that the trenches keep falling in and we have to build them up again. I can tell you it is not a very pleasant job, but it has to be done. The reason we have to do so much work at night is to keep out of sight of the Germans. We are not more than 100 yards from their trenches, but they keep putting lights up at night, and then we have to fall flat on the ground to prevent them seeing us. I must tell you I have had a nice bath and a change of clothing. It was a treat. They say if they can manage it we are to have one every week, and I hope we shall. … We had some ‘fags‘ given us to-day with a card inside them. The one I had came from Dr. White, of Newport, and I am writing him to thank him. I am going in the trenches again on Monday, so that we are only out for two days this week.”
B.S. 1915 Dec. 18th
Prior to joining the Bedfords, on April 11th, Private J. Atkins, whose home is in North Square, Newport Pagnell, was employed at the International Stores. Three months later he was sent to the Dardanelles, and from hospital at Bristol writes of the wounds he received on Chocolate Hill, whilst fighting with the 1/5th Beds Regiment;
“I am glad to say I am recovering from my wounds and from enteric fever. The bullet went in just under my ear on the left side of the neck. The bullet lodged in the right jaw, knocked one tooth out and took away a piece of my tongue. I also had a shattered mouth, but I am pleased to say I can now eat fairly well. I have the “Bucks Standard” sent on to me every week and a fortnight ago I saw Newport Pagnell’s roll of honour. I was very pleased to see so many men from the town had enlisted.”
Concluding his letter, Private Atkins writes; “Are we downhearted? No! Not for a bit of lead.”
B.S. 1915 Dec. 25th
News has been received that 26 year old Private Lawrence Wright, of the Machine Gun Section, 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, died on December 11th, whilst being conveyed to hospital aboard H.M. hospital ship Panama. His body was buried at sea. The only son of the late Mr. Isaac Lane Wright, and Mrs. Wright, of Newport Pagnell, before the war he had assisted his widowed mother in her business of painter and decorator, and was extremely popular in the town. Early in the war he had volunteered for military service, and having enlisted in the 6th Lancers was subsequently transferred to the Munsters. An excellent soldier, he had been at the Dardanelles for some months. Only on Thursday his mother had received two letters from him. In one, dated November 30th, he wrote; “We have had a most trying ordeal by water; a fearful storm.” Four days earlier he had written; “We are suffering from exposure and frostbite, so are going in hospital somewhere.”
B.S. 1916 Jan. 1st
Private Ernest Sanders, of the 1st Northants. Regiment, has been seriously wounded in action in Flanders, and is now in No.3 Stationary Hospital, Rouen. He has served with the B.E.F. from the early days of the war, and writes home;
“I daresay you have heard or read that I have been seriously wounded. I have not been able to write before, as it is a terrible strain to do so. I have been hit by a shell that burst against me, and made a hole or two in my back and injured my spine. I went through an operation as soon as I got to the first clearing station, and I think it was successful. I also went under the X Rays on the 22nd, but I don’t know what the doctors discovered, but I hope I have not to undergo a second operation. I should have been in England before now had I been fit to travel, but I may as well stay here a few more days as it is a nice hospital, and I am well cared for.”
Before enlisting, Private Sanders was employed at the London Central Meat Company’s shop in St. John Street, Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1916 Jan. 8th
Miss Olive Kathleen Rowlatt, the elder daughter of Mrs. Rowlatt, late of Newport Pagnell, and a niece of Mr. H. W. Whitworth, of Wellingborough, met her death recently in a marine disaster, when she was engaged in nursing aboard H.M. Hospital Ship ‘Drina.’ In a letter of sympathy to Mrs. Rowlatt, Dr. Edward Sutton, the Senior Medical Officer, states that Miss Rowlett went to visit a ship close to where the Drina was anchored when the disaster occurred.
B.S. 1916 Jan. 15th
With a number of civilians, on Friday last, ten Red Cross men - members of the British and Canadian Army Medical Corps - arrived in London from the German prison camp at Ruhleben. Amongst them was Private George R. Carr, who in an interview says;
“On April 25 we were in two motor ambulances, approaching our trenches in the direction of St. Julien. There had been some heavy fighting following a German poison gas attack. German star shells were lighting up the front so that our Red Cross could be clearly seen, yet the Germans opened fire on us. Of our party of eight, one escaped, two of us were captured, and the remainder, I believe, were killed. When we asked the Germans why they fired on us they replied that English sometimes used ambulances to bring munitions to the trenches. That was an abominable lie. Our captors treated us well. But when we were taken back to the main party we had a very rough experience. Though wounded I was struck in the face by one of the guards. We were hurried on to Roulers, forced to march along by the point of the bayonet. Those who lingered, helping along wounded, had Uhlans back their horses on them. We were sent to Giessen, where there were 600 Canadians. Conditions there are now much better than they were. Our chief trouble has been the punishments inflicted on our men because they will not work in the mines for the Germans. Fifteen are now in prison, and have been for three months for refusing.”
(Private Carr, whose mother still lives in the town, is the son of the late Mr. William Carr, of Newport Pagnell. He was in Canada when the war broke out, and volunteered for service with the Canadian Medical Corps.)
B.S. 1916 Jan. 22nd
Saddler A. Chapman, of the Royal Bucks Hussars, whose home is in Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, sends an interesting letter, in which he relates some of his experiences with the Western Front Force;
I need not describe the trek across the desert and the two battles we took part in, but I must tell you of my last escapade. We had captured a flock of sheep and lambs. Last Friday we hungered for the taste of lamb, so some from my tent sallied forth, captured a lamb, slaughtered and dressed it. The feast was fixed for last night (December 18), and we lit the fire, cut the lamb up and commenced to fry parts of it. Some of our fellows found some onions in a very exposed position down at the dock. These we boiled. The meat was nicely (?) done, handed round proportionately, and we commenced to relish it. Remarks were passed on the cooking, &c. We had been eating about ten minutes when we were startled by hearing bang! biff!! bang!!! and bullets came whistling along. One or two tents were hit. We rushed out with our rifles, saddled our horses, and then crawled into positions around the camp. Fortunately it proved to be the work of snipers, and no one was hit. The excitement died down, but in the rush our mutton was knocked into the sand and spoilt. We shall have to try our luck again. It is a bit of a sensation when bullets are flying over you, and I ducked fairly low. The men in action against us are called Sa-lou-Chees. They are very cruel, and I trust I shall never fall into their hands. The Berkshire Yeomanry made a charge and rushed down a gully all holes and one poor fellow’s horse bolted with him right into the enemy’s hands, and they nearly cut him to bits. . . . The enemy must live under very hard conditions as regards food for all their transport is done by camels. We are at a part called Matroull, about 200 miles west of Alexandria. It is only a Coastguard station.”
B.S. 1916 Feb. 19th
Letters received from officers in Flanders with the Bucks Territorial Battalion contain sad news of A catastrophe has befallen the machine gun section of the Bucks Teritorial Battalion. Information to hand is somewhat vague, but it seems that on Thursday last, February 10th, whilst the territorial gunners were occupying a trench, during a stubborn battle an enemy shell burst in the emplacement, putting the entire machine gun crew out of action. One of these was Corporal Thomas Attkins, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Attkins, of Frederica Cottages, Newport Pagnell, who having been badly wounded in the legs and head by pieces of the bursting shell is now in hospital. From Captain B. Long, dated February 11th this letter was received at the beginning of the week;
“Dear Mr. Attkins,
I very much regret to have to inform you that your son, Corporal Thomas Attkins (1st. Bucks Bn.) attached to my company, was wounded yesterday. A shell burst right in the emplacement, and the others were killed. The doctors tell me that your son, though somewhat badly wounded, has every chance of a recovery. His conduct, subsequent to being wounded, as at all times before, was admirable, and I regarded him as one of my best N.C.O.s.
I should be glad to know how he progresses.
Believe me, yours sincerely,
145th Inft. Bd., Machine Gun Company.”
Another officer of the Bucks County Territorial Battalion, Captain H.V. Coombs, has written the following to Mrs. Attkins;
“British Expeditionary Force,
11th Feb., 1916.
I very much regret to inform you that your son, Corpl. T.W. Attkins, was badly wounded yesterday by shell fire. One leg is severely damaged, but the other is fractured by the thigh; he also received slight injuries in the head. The medical officer tells me that thered is every hope for his recovery. I feel sure that it will pleae you to hear that he displayed great courage when hit, crawling along the trench on his arms in an endeavour to get help for some of his comrades with the gun who were also hit, shells bursting around him all the time. I feel his loss almost as much as you will to hear of his wounds, as he was such a splendid gunner and a fine soldier in every way.
P.S. I shall be most interested if you will let me hear from time to time how he progresses, as I expect he will soon be in England.”
The day after being wounded, Corporal Attkins was able to write a short letter to his mother;
“My dear Mother,
I am asking our Chaplain to write to you as I am in hospital. A shell burst near me and broke my right leg, but I am in good hands and in a comfortable bed, so don't worry, as I shall be sent to the base and be out of this war for at least three months, so you can be easy about me, dear.
Best love to you and Dad and all at home,
Your loving son,
The Wesleyan Chaplain wrote as follows;
“Dear Mrs. Attkins,
I have just been talking with your son. I am sorry to say he was in hospital wounded. He has had rather a bad shaking up, and his leg is broken, but his spirit is magnificent, and I believe there is every reason to hope that he will make a complete recovery. He left for the Casualty Clearing Station quite cheerfully, and probably in a little while he will be back in England.
Hoping that all will go well with him, and that he may be restored to you in health and strength,
I remain, yours very sincerely,
Two letters from members of the Hospital Staff have also been received by the parents of the young soldier. They are appended;
No. 1 General Hospital, B.E.F.,
Dear Mrs. Attkins,
Your son, Corpl. T. Attkins, has just come to us very badly wounded in the right leg. I am afraid it means an operation to-day, which I hope will improve his condition, which is very serious at present. I will write again to-morrow. I am sorry to send you such sad news.
No. 1 General Hospital, B.E.F.,
France. Feb. 14, 1916.”
Dear Mrs. Attkins,
I am sorry to say that your son has had to have his leg amputated. He was very restless and ill during the night, but seems rather more comfortable to-day, though his condition is still most serious. I will write again in a day or two.
Yesterday (Friday) morning Mr. and Mrs. Attkins received this further communication from the Sister of the Hospital;
“Corpl. Attkins had a rather bad night, but seemed very much the same this morning (February 15). I am glad to tell you that he is fairly comfortable.”
For some years prior to the outbreak of the war, Thomas Attkins was in the employ of the Newport Pagnell Brewery Company, and by his own perseverance and industry worked his way up to the responsible post of chief clerk. He was a man in whom the Company placed implicit trust, and by his fellow workers at the Brewery he was highly esteemed. Shortly after the outbreak of war he joined the Bucks Territorials, of which he had been a member in peacetime, and as an experienced rifleman and marksman he had few equals in North Bucks. In fact his ability as a rifle shot led to him being drafted to the Machine Gun Section of the Battalion, where he soon distinguished himself. He had been home on leave about Christmas time, and on his return was appointed lance corporal, and then a fortnight ago to the full rank of corporal.
(In June, recovering in hospital in Reading, Corporal Attkins would be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. As a result of his wounds, his right leg had to be amputated, with two fingers on the left hand being practically useless, but his progress is such that it is expected that he will shortly be sent to a south coast convalescent hospital.)
B.S. 1916 Feb. 12th
The 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, in which several Newport Pagnell and Wolverton men are serving, has experienced heavy fighting recently, and in a letter Private Levi (Bob) Moseley, the son of Mrs. Macguire, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, tells how a comrade, Private F. Leach, met his death in action on January 14th. The two soldiers were fighting side by side, and Private Mosely says his chum died five minutes after being wounded. He was buried just behind the firing line, and a wooden cross marks his grave.
B.S. 1916 Mar. 4th
Writing to a friend in Newport Pagnell, Private W. G. Pack, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, (attached to the Munster Fusiliers), says:-
We had a d----- rough time of it in Serbia for about two months, facing frost and snow and Johnny Bulgar. We had eight days in the trenches, and our clothes froze on us. We had poor living a biscuit and a tin of ‘bully’ between two of us. The Connaughts came to our relief and we were given a rest. The weather broke and the Bulgars tried to rush the trenches we had left but they had a hot time of it. After a few days’ rest we had to go up in support of the Dublins. The Bulgars were shelling us the whole day, but they didn’t do a lot of damage. I was one of those sent down to the village for water, and we had to carry it back under shell fire. As soon as we got back we had the order to retire just as it was getting dark. About 20,000 Bulgars came up, but they were ‘had on.’ We had gone! There was some lead flying about, but they sent it in the wrong direction.”
B.S. 1916 Mar. 4th
The following lines have been received from Private A. Webb. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Webb, of Greenfield Road, Newport Pagnell, and is serving in the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force:-
We’ve said good-bye to Anzac,
(Or, maybe, au revoir)?
For who can tell the turning
Of Fortune’s wheel of war?
One day on top we’re winning;
The next day comes a blow,
And we must take it smiling;
It is the game, you know.
We’ve held the cliffs of Anzac
Since, on that glorious morn
We landed there, and gained them
With British pluck and brawn;
And now, our work there’s ended,
Lock, barrel, stock, and gun,
We’ve nothing left behind us
Of use to Turk or Hun.
We’ve left the shores of Anzac,
To join the waiting Fleet,
And no one breathed surrender,
And no one said “retreat”;
We only left our comrades,
Who had not died in vain,
To guard the empty trenches
Until we come again.
We’ve said good-bye to Anzac
(Or is it au revoir)?
For who can tell the turning
Of Fortune’s wheel of war?
But none can poke the finger,
And none can ever say
That Britain left her honour
Behind at Suvla Bay.
W.E. 1916 Mar. 17th
Aged 23, on Sunday, March 5th, 1916, Private Arthur Edward Keech, of the 6th Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action in Flanders. The tragic news regarding their eldest son was conveyed to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. Keech, of 31, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, on Sunday morning, from the comrades of his platoon, Lieutenant G. E. Middleditch, and 2nd Lieutenant D. C. Burn, who wrote;
“It is my sad duty to inform you of your son’s death. He was killed outright by a rifle shot this morning whilst out in a listening post. Pte. Keech was one of the original men of my platoon, besides being one of the best. He always did his duty thoroughly and without grumbling. His loss is deeply felt by my platoon and by myself. Please accept my deepest sympathy and condolence, and try and remember in your sorrow that your son did not suffer any pain, and that he died doing his duty for you and his country.”
Lieutenant Middleditch wrote to say that he was very sorry indeed to have to inform her of her son’s death. He had not been near enough at the time, so could not give all the details, but apparently Private Keech was hit in the shoulder by a bullet, which passed out through the lower part of his back. He was carried out of the trenches as soon as it was dark, but with the doctors being unable to save him, he died in the First Aid post.”
The Lieutenant concluded that he knew enough of the late Private to convince him that “he was a good chap.” Private Keech, who had been apprenticed as a finisher in Wolverton Carriage Works, volunteered for the war in early September, 1914, and is buried in Essex Farm Cemetery, Ieper, West Vlaanderen, Belgium.
B.S. 1916 Mar. 25th
Trooper Charles W. Pearce, of the Royal Bucks Hussars, was recently wounded in action in the eastern campaign. He is now making satisfactory progress in the 19th General Hospital at Alexandria, and writes to his parents, at 6, North Square, Newport Pagnell;
I suppose you will have heard I have been wounded. Do not let this worry you, for I am being well looked after and I do not think it will be a great while before I am able to get about again as usual. I might say that my wound is a bullet wound in the head. I cannot tell you much about our action as I was one of the first to be wounded. I hope all the other boys got through alright. I saw most of them before leaving the field and they seemed quite gay. Harry Buckingham put my first dressing on.”
B.S. 1916 Apr. 1st
A Newport Pagnell soldier, who has been fighting in France almost from the beginning of the war, is disgusted with the conscientious objector, and writes to the editor;
Oh, these canting hypocrites! I cannot make out how the Local Tribunal can tolerate such humbugs. The recent case - published in the Bucks Standard of the Bow Brickhill individual is about the most miserable thing I have heard for some time. Some of these specimens have only just found out that they have a conscience and a religion, now that their own precious skins are in danger of being scratched. And I suppose they call themselves British!”
B.S. 1916 Apr. 15th
Private C. W. Brice, of the Bedford Regiment, has been wounded in action in France, and to his mother, Mrs. Brice, of 14, High Street, Newport Pagnell, his company officer writes;
I regret to say your son has been wounded in the chest, but I don’t think you have any cause for anxiety as he was fortunately close to a dressing station at the time of the casualty and he did not have to suffer the pain of a long journey in a stretcher. He was very plucky, and I don’t think he realised at the time he had been hit. Personally, as his section officer, I shall miss him very much as he has done excellent work during the short time he has been out here, and was always keen and ready to do any bit of work, no matter how arduous.”
Private Brice has since been removed to the base hospital, where he is said to be making satisfactory progress.
B.S. 1916 Apr. 22nd
Last Tuesday, Mrs. Hackett, the wife of Mr. Edwin Hackett, of High Street, Newport Pagnell, received official news that her son, Private Dennis Stanton, R.A.M.C., was a patient in No. 1 General Hospital, France, it being seemed that his illness is of a serious nature. From the hospital a nurse writes;
He is, I think, a little better to-day. The improvement is very slight, but his strength is maintained fairly well, and I trust that in a few days I shall be able to give you more cheerful news.”
(Employed before the war as a porter with the L.&N.W.R., Private Stanton had been on active service in France for 11 months.)
B.S. 1916 Apr. 22nd
An interesting account of the British evacuation of Gallipoli comes from Trooper Victor Hedge, whose home is at Newport Pagnell. He is on active service with the 1st Norfolk Yeomanry, having prior to the war been a stud groom at Tyringham House;
As you know, I joined the Norfolk Yeomary when the war broke out, and being drafted to Gallipoli we came off at the evacuation, in which our boys had the honour of being amongst the last to leave. Although it was rumoured that we should be off by Christmas, none of us realised that fate would be so kind to us, and until a few days prior to the evacuation everything indicated our remaining some time.
ȁour days previous to the final withdrawal the news was well circulated amongst the troops, and there was a good deal of speculation as to what was to really happen, and how the affair would be managed. On the night of December 16 small parties of sick men and others from various units evacuated, and on the following night a few more left.
It was whilst we were at ‘stand to’ on the 17th that the official order was read out, and all ranks were assured of a safe embarkation if every order was obeyed and instructions carried out without hesitation. Everyone felt elated at such good news, though we realised the magnitude of the undertaking, and there was much discussion as to how the last party to leave the trenches would fare.
‟w thought of failure, and it seemed a rare joke hoodwinking the Turks, though it seemed difficult to understand why the Turks didn’t ‘cotton on’ to our movements, especially as a huge blaze was caused through burning stores, etc. However, they did nothing out of the ordinary ‘strafing,’ except to shell the blaze. Probably you have read accounts describing how the troops stole quietly away from the trenches, through the saps to the embarkation pier, then on to the lighters to be transferred to warships and steamers in safety. It was a thrilling experience; no one seemed particularly nervy, in fact, everyone proceeded in Indian file through the saps as if it was a daily occurrence.
The anxious period was immediately prior to embarking, when we had to lie on Anzac beach while other parties of various units (mostly Sikhs, Gurkhas, and Australians), joined up. Stray bullets whizzed about, but fortunately no one was hit, and after waiting about 15 minutes we were ordered to embark. A couple of shells came over our heads from ‘Beachy Bill’ as we marched to the pier and almost struck the lighter and after ten minutes sardine treatment we were transferred to one of His Majesty’s ships, where we were splendidly treated by Jack Tar, it being then early morning.
I could tell you a lot more, but suffice to say all were safely got off, and we were given a good rest in Alexandria, where I met Arthur Cole and Geo. Atkins, both looking very well. We are now on service again; still in touch with John Turk.”
B.S. 1916 May 6th
News is received of the death of Private William Henry Pettit, of the 3/4th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, the eldest of the two sons of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Pettit. Educated at the Newport Pagnell Council School and Bedford Modern School, in his youth Private Pettit was an all-round athlete, and when at Bedford won distinction in cross-country races and in long distance swimming events. On leaving school he then became associated with his father in the butchering business, and relinquished all recreation in order to devote himself to a business career. However, from the declaration of war he showed a keen desire for military service, and applied unsuccessfully to join the Royal Flying Corps. He then volunteered for the motor cycle section, but with the corps at full strength he was put on the “waiting” list. He next turned his attention to the Bucks county regiment of Yeomanry, but after completing the tests at Buckingham was informed that he had failed. On returning to Newport Pagnell, that same evening he attested under the Derby Group system, and seven weeks ago joined up in the 3/4th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, for training at Weston-super-Mare, in Somersetshire. He soon showed the potential to become a useful soldier, but only about 3 weeks he unfortunately contracted spotted fever, and was removed from his billet to the Stationary Hospital at Weston-super-Mare. After a critical and anxious fortnight the doctors and nurses were able to report a decided improvement, but on Good Friday he suffered a relapse from which he didn’t recover, and he died, aged 20, on Friday, April 28. His birthday would have been on Easter Sunday.
B.S. 1916 June 3rd
Private Frank Green, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is in the 4th London General Hospital, Camberwell, suffering from wounds in the foot received in action. Septic poisoning set in after he had been taken to a French hospital and for a time there were fears that the foot might have to be amputated. Happily this was avoided, and Private Green is now making good progress towards recovery, despite having also been gassed. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Green, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, and from employment at Messrs. Vickers’ munition factory, 14 months ago joined the R.A.M.C., after three unsuccessful attempts at enlisting. Due to his health he then applied for a transfer to the Infantry, and being drafted to the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, he was in the firing line at the time that Corporal Reg. Odell was last wounded.
(On December 31st, 1915, Corporal Reg Odell had been wounded for the third time. He was hit in the side by a bullet, which smashed his rifle, and was taken to Boulogne Hospital.)
B.S. 1916 June 3rd
Private Amos West, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, has been wounded in action in France, and to Mrs. West, his mother, of 143, High Street, Newport Pagnell, Sergeant W. H. Kennerley, writes on May 13th;
“I am sorry to inform you that your son Amos has been wounded this afternoon. At 12.30 to-day the enemy commenced a terrible bombardment of our trenches, which has just ceased. It was during this that Amos was hit in the leg with a piece of shell. Please do not be anxious about him as we are all confident he will soon be well again. The writer is a sergeant of his platoon, and I must voice the wishes of the non-commissioned officers and men of the platoon in wishing Amos a speedy recovery and our deep regret that this unfortunate business has happened. Amos was not with his platoon at the time, being attached to the bombers. I have been up the line to see how it all happened and everyone speaks in the greatest praise of Amos while in pain. We, his close chums and comrades knew him, and can quite understand his patience and bravery. We have lost a good comrade - how good I can't express, for never a better man put on khaki; always aimable and willing in his duty and as brave as they are made. A personal chum of mine, I feel his loss. I never wish to have a better chum. All the boys in his section and others in the platoon feel his loss, but depend upon it if he does not come back to us his memory will live with us as long as we survive.”
B.S. 1916 June 3rd
The editor has received the following interesting letter from Sergeant W. H. Reynolds, of Newport Pagnell. The elder of two soldier brothers, he is serving in the 7th Wiltshire Regiment with the British forces at Salonica;
“Salonica, April 30.
𠇞r Sir, - I have often wondered whether you would care to hear how some of we Newport boys are faring far away from home, just doing, as is only right and proper, our wee little bit for King and country. Well, in the first place, we get on as only British Tommies can by not grumbling, taking everything as it comes, and making the best of it. Of course the worst part of our life is the monotony of it; every day practically the same, so that any recreation we do get is always doubly welcome. On Sunday April 9th, the 8th Duke of Cornwall’s L.I., who are in our Brigade, had some sports, and Dickie Barnwell, of Newport, ran second in the mile (open to the 26th Division) in a field of 28 runners. On the following Sunday the 7th Oxford and Bucks L.I. had some sports, and the district was again in evidence, as Barnwell ran third in the mile, again open to the 26th Division. Private Sherwood, of Wolverton football fame, was second in the long jump with a leap of 17ft. 3½in.; so you will see we have our little periods of sports. The Royal Scots Fusiliers have a really first-class concert party to which we are now and then invited, and this helps to relieve the hardships of our daily life. At Easter our Brigade (that is the 79th) went on a six days’ manœuverings up in the mountains of Macedonia. We started on Thursday, April 20th, and came back to camp, or rather our dug-outs, on Tuesday, April 25th, after having covered some 70 miles with full packs on, over country more suitable to goats and mules. You will see that with training we are able to accomplish a task which had anyone told us two years ago we were to do such a thing we should have thought them mad. Our regiment was specially complimented by the General for the splendid way in which they came into camp after their trying and most harassing time, as during the whole of the six days only three men fell out, and these with sprained ankles. We are very near to a lot of our Newport pals in the 7th Oxford and Bucks, and then it is that we talk of the ones who are still mean enough to stay at home in dear old Newport, and are content to let others come out and do the fighting for them. Surely if they don’t realize by now that they are wanted they are best at home. Small wonder the married men are cribbing at having to come whilst there are still a number of young able-bodied men still hanging about. It is really funny the number of people who have developed ‘consciences’ just lately, imagine us all being the same! How about old England then? Then another thing that has been had over a lot since the good old “Bucks Standard” of the 15th inst. came yesterday is this: We see in your columns the names of six men of Newport Pagnell who played for the Conservative Club at billiards. Three of them, much to our surprise, are single young men who are as well able as us to be out here or in France doing a little bit for King and country. Sir, I can tell you it is these little things that are taken notice of, and again I say small wonder the married men ‘kick’ about it when so many are still content to hide under the stigma of a ‘starred’ man. I am pleased to tell you that all the Newport boys are in the best of health, just watching and waiting for the time to come to get back to dear old England once again.
I remain, yours truly,
WM. H. REYNOLDS.”
B.S. 1916 June 3rd
Serving with the Salonica Force, in a letter to his wife, who lives at Wesley House, Newport Pagnell, Corporal William Cunningham, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, tells a thrilling story of a narrow escape that he and some of his regimental comrades experienced recently. Writing on May 18th he says;
Last night I had the narrowest shave I expect I shall ever get. We had a very bad storm. There were eleven of us in an ordinary bell tent, when it was struck by lightning, which ripped the tent up. A box was nailed to the pole, and on the pole was hanging a looking-glass. Both the box and the glass were smashed up to little bits. The glass flew through the tent in all directions. We all had a very nasty shock, which affected our legs so that we could not stand for four of five seconds. Fortunately it came right through the tent and seemed to burst on reaching the ground. The report as it reached the ground was terrible. The doctor was soon there to know if any of us were hurt, but we were lucky to escape. Of course, as soon as the rain stopped sufficiently we had everyone round to see the damage. The Major said it was the narrowest escape we are likely to get.”
B.S. 1916 June 17th
Mr. and Mrs. Chapman, of Caldecote-street, Newport Pagnell, have just received from their son, Musician J. Chapman, of H.M.S. Benbow, a letter which briefly describes the recent naval battle in the North Sea. Musician Chapman writes:- Some of the papers seemed to think we got whacked in the scrap. Please don’t take any notice of them. I know for certain that we gave the Huns a jolly good hiding, because during the action I was in communication with a chap who could see everything, and he was letting me know all that was going on. Naturally we lost some ships, but what does anyone expect? A naval battle is not a lawn tennis match. It’s a great pity that the weather was so bad; if the mist had only lifted for half an hour I feel sure we should have smashed every one of them up. Everything went beautiful on the ‘Benbow,’ and when the order to load was given everybody was as pleased as Punch. The order to ‘Fire’ absolutely made all yell ‘Hurrah!’ and you would have thought it a picnic instead of a life and death struggle. The Huns threw away their torpedo boats like they are throwing their troops away at Verdun, though it was done to save their battle fleet who were in a very bad state. Anyhow, I am so convinced that they have got badly mauled that I would willingly go out with half the fleet and engage them again; and if they would fight instead of running away we would beat them. I can’t explain things like I would wish, because I am not allowed, but when I get home we will sit round the old fire and I will spin the yarn. All you’ve got to do is to keep on smiling. I only hope we can get at the beggars again, then we will make them pay the penalty for telling so many lies.”
B.S. 1916 June 24th
Mr. O. H. Bull, J.P., headmaster of the Newport Pagnell Council Schools, has received an interesting letter from one of his old boys, Corporal L. Chapman. He is in Salonica with the 7th Oxon and Bucks, and writes;
No doubt you have received lots of letters from your old boys out in this part of the world, but one more may be of some interest. You know we were almost the first out here, and when we came I think we dropped in for something - not fighting, but hard work. When we first came here the wind was north, something like 10 deg. of frost, and the streams were frozen up. But this did not last long and our sheepskins were of little use. Then the enemy started to mass ready to attack Salonica, and we had to work from before sunrise till long after sunset. We dug rough trenches at first, but now they are the best and would stand more than any army in the world could do to destroy them. God help the poor d---s if they should be sent for they will be killed as fast as they come up, like they are at Verdun. Salonica in itself, with its surroundings, is the world’s fortification, for when you leave it you soon come to high ranges of hills, and then plains followed by more hills. When manoeuvring we come to villages where you can see storks with their large nests on top of chimneys, and the people do not interfere with them."
Corporal Chapman says that it was grand to have a swim in the hot springs, and speaking of the conscientious objectors he says “some of us would like to deal with them. Very little rest would they get.”
B.S. 1916 July 8th
A member of the “Bucks Standard” staff has this week received the following interesting letter from Sergeant. R. G. Read. He is serving with the military police at Lemnos, and prior to enlisting was in the Bucks Constabulary. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Read, of Spring Gardens, Newport Pagnell.
“Dear Sir, - Having read with interest Sergt. W. Reynolds’ letter which appeared in the “Bucks Standard” of June 3, I should like to say how pleased I am to see that Newport boys are still keeping up the traditions of good, clean sportsmen. Bravo, for Dicky Barnwell! While I was at Salonika I saw Bruce McCourtie on several occasions. He was in camp, quite close to us. I also saw fellows from Wolverton, Stony Stratford, Linford, and the district generally. It is a great change to meet fellows from one’s own district; that is the time when local news is discussed, with not always good results. I tried hard to see the Newport boys, who were then about 7 miles away. Unfortunately I had had to be guided by circumstances which existed at that time. Sergt. W. Reynolds also refers to single men who are at home at the present time. The letter reads as if all single men should enlist. Quite so; but there are some who are absolutely unfit for the army, and who, if called up, would help to swell the country’s debt, which is hardly necessary at present. If there are any fit single fellows at home then I readily agree with Sergt. Reynolds in his version of the subject. I wish to convey my good wishes and speedy return to all Newport boys through the medium of your valuable paper. Thanking you in anticipation, - yours truly, Sergt. R. G. READ.”
B.S. 1916 July 15th
Private T. Hammond, of the Royal Warwicks, has written to his sister, Mrs. Bunker, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, saying that he is in the 3rd Scottish General Hospital, Glasgow, suffering from an injury to his ankle received in action. He writes;
I am going on quite as well as you can expect considering what we had to go through. But I am a lucky fellow to come out of the scrap as well as I did, as it was terrible. Oh, that glorious 1st of July morning. We went over the top like a lot of wolves out of a cave, but quite happy; singing and smoking as we went over to the German trenches. I got over quite safe, and me and two or three more fellows had a fine scrap with ‘Mr. Fritz’ in his trench. Of course we got the best of it, but two of my pals were killed by the side of me in the bayonet fight we had. At last I got hit with a big piece of something in the ankle that knocked me out of time. I couldn’t walk but I managed to crawl back 300 yards to our own trenches without being hit again.”
B.S. 1916 July 15th
This letter has been sent by Lance Corporal Albert V. Minney, of the 139th Field Ambulance, France, who before joining up was employed by the Newport Pagnell Co-operative Society;
“Dear Mr. Editor, - I have just finished perusing the columns of the ‘Bucks Standard, the coming of which I eagerly await each week, and I feel I must just drop you a line to say how pleased I feel on reading of the splendid efforts of our townspeople for such a great and glorious cause as the hospital. I am sorry the Clerk of the Weather hadn’t more respect for such an occasion, but if he damped the ‘spirits’ of the workers he failed to weaken their powers, as the splendid result shows. I am all the more interested as our Ambulance is at present stationed at one of the four hospitals - or to name them properly, casualty clearing stations - somewhere in France and not far from the firing line. As you are aware the censor prohibits me from saying where. We see a good many sad cases at times, but not more than one can expect under the circumstances, and it makes one feel glad that there are such havens of refuge. All honour be to those who take such an interest in so good a cause and work for the well-being of the institutions. In reading the names of the workers I recognise a good many old friends, and both they and Bury Field seem a long way off from here, but with things going on so well for us at the present - and I am sure all of us hope it will continue in our favour - we look like being home for Xmas. As I sit writing the news has just come through that Russia has captured 16,000 Huns, and we are still advancing. Good and heartening news to go to sleep on, Eh! Mr. Editor? Well, I hope you will pardon me for taking this liberty of writing and taking up your valuable time, but I thought I should like to express my feelings on such a good result, from Newport; in war time, too. By the way, a suggestion has just crossed my mind. Newport had better have a fete day for the Hospital when peace is declared. What a day they would have! What do you think about it Mr. Editor? Wishing you and your journal every success, I remain, yours faithfully, Lc.-Cpl. ALBERT V. MINNEY.”
B.S. 1916 July 22nd
News was received on Thursday morning that Lieutenant Francis Maurice Taylor, of the Royal Fusiliers, had been killed in action on Sunday, July 16th. Aged 19, he was the third son of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Taylor, of “The Limes,” Newport Pagnell, to whom Lieutenant Colonel the Hon. R. White, the officer commanding the Royal Fusiliers, writes;
He was killed carrying back a wounded soldier in the face of terrible machine gun fire.” Educated at Berkhampstead School, Lieutenant Taylor on completing his educational studies had entered the firm of Messrs. Peek Bros. & Winch, Ltd., tea merchants, Eastcheap, London, but joining the Inns of Court Training Corps in January, 1914, he was in training when the war broke out. Given his commission in September 1914, he went to the front in July the following year, and since that time had done a good deal of trench fighting and night patrol duty. His elder brother, Lieutenant Fred Taylor, of the Manchester Regiment, suffered wounds to his thigh by a shell burst on Friday, July 14th, and was transferred to a London Hospital. Twenty-seven years of age, he was educated at Cranleigh School, and subsequently became associated with his father in the business of a chemist, being engaged in that profession when war broke out. He joined the Public Schools Corps only a few weeks after hostilities commenced, and was given a commission in November, 1914. The greater part of his training was undertaken at Grantham, and he went to France with his regiment twenty months ago.
B.S. 1916 July 22nd
Sergeant Harry Tate, of the Royal Scots, was recently wounded in action, and from the Convalescent Depôt, at Le Havre, writes to his father, Mr. D. Tate, of Newport Pagnell;
Just a short letter to say I am almost well again, I got rather a shake, but nothing to worry about. My nose was cut and the left side of my throat. My left cheek you would have thought had been pricked all over with pins. Luckily it did not touch my eyes. I was very lucky; several men standing with me were badly wounded. It was a 5.9 shell, and they make a decent noise when they explode. I shall soon be in the front line again, and it is good to be there to see the Boches in the open. Our artillery bombardments are top hole and although I have been in some of the Boches’ trenches I am sorry for them when ours starts, for it sounds as if you are standing in a station and four or five expresses rush through at once. They keep it up for a good time too, so the Boche loses his breath a bit. You have only look at the prisoners coming down to see what they have been through. I expect to leave here in a few days and go up to Base Depôt to re-fit, and up again to the battalion. The battalion did very well in taking a wood and guns, and it is fine to see the waves going forward - the boys of all regiments mixed up after a bit of an advance; but they go as cool as if on parade at home. It is really surprising how all keep so calm. It is that I think that has a big effect on the Boches.”
W.E. 1916 July 28th
The Colonel Commanding the Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers has written to Mr. And Mrs. Francis Taylor, of The Limes, Newport Pagnell, stating that their third son, 19 year old Lieutenant Francis Taylor, was killed in action on Saturday, July 16th, whilst carrying back a wounded soldier in the face of withering machine gun fire.
B.S. 1916 Aug. 5th
Last Friday, Mr. and Mrs. George Mapley, of Beaconsfield Place, Newport Pagnell, received official news that their second son, Private Thomas Harry Mapley, of the Bedfordshire Regiment, had been killed in action in the big advance on July 7th. Only 21 years of age, Private Mapley enlisted less than a month after the war broke out, and, going with his regiment to France more than 12 months ago, was attached to the 34th Machine Gun Corps. He had seen service in the field with the 99th Trench Mortar Battery, and invariably took part in hard trench fighting and also patrol duty. A good and reliable soldier, popular with his comrades, as a lad he worked at the “Bucks Standard” office, and prior to joining up for war service was employed by Messrs. Salmons & Sons’ motor carriage works. An older brother, Private George Mapley, is training with the Suffolk regiment “somewhere on the coast.” The father of the deceased was an ex-army man, who, principally in India and Burma, had served six years with the colours in the Bedfordshire Regiment, and 10 years on the Reserve.
B.S. 1916 Aug. 19th
Mr. O. H. Bull, J.P., the head master of the Newport Pagnell Council Schools, has received an interesting letter from Private B. L. Stanton. Serving with the Machine Gun Section of the 7th Oxford and Bucks, he is one of his old pupils, and writes from Salonica;
“We are experiencing some very hot weather, and next month it is likely to get much hotter. Personally I think the fellows are sticking it well, although of course a good many have to go hospital.”
He also adds that they are not yet troubled by mosquitoes, but the flies are a great nuisance, for they bite something terrible. He relates how one day the thermometer touched 108 degrees in the shade, and a few days later the wind was very cutting and it was as cold as anything. According to Private Stanton, the men get amusement from watching their comrades wind their pugarees round their pith helmets.
B.S. 1916 Aug. 19th
In a letter to the editor, Sergeant W.F. Venables, of the 1st Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, writes from Mesopotamia to make an appeal for a gramophone and records “just to pass a few hours away when the boys have nothing to do.” He is well known in Newport Pagnell, and prior to the war was employed by Mr. John Odell, ironmonger of the town, as a clerk.
B.S. 1916 Aug. 26th
Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Wadsworth, of Spring Gardens, Newport Pagnell, received official information on Sunday morning that their second son, 30 year old Private Arthur Reuben Wadsworth, of the Machine Gun Section, Northants Regiment, had been killed in action in France on August 4th. He enlisted on January 6th, 1915, and went with his regiment to the front early in 1916. His accuracy as a marksman led to his being specially selected for duty with the machine gun section, and he witnessed much heavy fighting on the Western Front. An energetic worker on the fete days for the Northampton Hospital, in civilian life he was employed in the gas department of Wolverton Railway Works, where his father has been engaged for many years. In a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Wadsworth, Private H. Bamford, a friend of their son, writes;
“We were all very grieved at the loss of a good chum. . . I can assure you that he died doing his duty, which he always did so well. He was a good soldier, and is missed greatly by his chums.”
B.S. 1916 Sep. 9th
Private William Henry Lineham, of the Bucks Territorials, has been killed in action. His parents live at a High Street address, Newport Pagnell, and, regarding the death of his eldest son, Mr. Lineham has received a letter from Captain P.A. Hall;
“Dear Mr. Lineham, - I deeply regret to inform you that your son, Pte. W. Lineham, was killed in action during an attack on a German trench on August 23rd. Your son was a very excellent soldier and had always done well. He is a very real loss to us. Please accept my sincere sympathy with you in your loss.”
Further particulars have been furnished by a Hanslope soldier, who was wounded in the same action. The machine gun section, of which Private Lineham was a member, were holding the Germans from a shell hole, but their machine gun became locked and unworkable, and so the section gallantly stood their ground with their rifles. The enemy kept up a terrific bombardment, but the little band of Bucks men held their ground. Two of Lineham’s comrades - Cole and Abbott - were wounded, and he dressed and bound up their injuries. He had only just completed this work when Abbott on turning round found the Newport Pagnell lad lying at his feet mortally wounded. He was the last of the section to be killed. This is the second bereavement that Mr. and Mrs. Lineham have suffered in the war. Another son, who followed his trade as a saddler in the Royal Bucks Hussars, was killed at Suvla Bay on August 21st, 1915, and a third was wounded and taken a prisoner by the Turks at the memorable battle of Chocolate Hill (Gallipoli Peninsula). The late Private Lineham was 24 years of age, and having joined the Bucks Territorials on September 4th, 1914, had been on active service for about 18 months. Despite taking part in a great deal of heavy fighting he had been fortunate to come through without a scratch, and was home on a short leave from the front at Whitsuntide.
B.S. 1916 Sep. 9th
For conspicuous bravery in France, Corporal W. Barnwell, of the Bucks Territorial Regiment, has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Barnwell, of 104, High Street, Newport Pagnell, and while attached to the Lewis Gun section Section of his regiment was wounded in the early days of the big advance. He is now in Sevenoaks Hospital, and Lieutenant R. Ellis, officer commanding D Company, writes;
“Dear Corpl. Barnwell,
I have the very greatest pleasure in writing to tell you that you have been awarded the D.C.M., and I offer you my heartiest congratulations. We all know how thoroughly you deserved it, and the whole company is simply delighted. You will be glad to hear that Bugler Scragg has also got the D.C.M., so D Company has done splendidly. The only other D.C.M. awarded was to Sergt. Jennings, of B Company. You will probably wonder why I am writing to you, but I am now in command of D Company as Mr. Earl has gone to England. Once more offering you mine and the whole Company’s heartiest congratulations, yours truly, R. GREGSON ELLIS, Lieut., O.C., D Company.”
As to the circumstances of the award, the Bucks Territorials were being relieved from the trenches by the Berkshires, and were preparing to march back to the rest camp when the Germans made a surprise attack and threatened havoc among the soldiers from Bucks and Berks. With remarkable and highly praiseworthy coolness and courage, Barnwell got his gun into position and poured into the enemy a withering fusillade of bullets, compelling him to beat a hasty retreat. He thereby averted what could have developed into a most difficult situation. In civilian life Corporal Barnwell was employed as a coach body maker at Wolverton Carriage Works, and having previously served for four years, rejoined the Bucks Territorials on September 1st, 1914.
B.S. 1916 Sep. 16th
Private Harry Umney, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, has been severely wounded by shrapnel in the recent fighting at Salonica. He is one of the five soldier sons of Mr. and Mrs. Umney, of Broad Street, Newport Pagnell, to whom he writes;
Just a few lines to let you know I am going on as well as can be expected, for you will already have heard I have stopped one and am now a very lucky fellow to be alive. I went under the X rays a few days ago, and they found the shrapnel had entered my left shoulder and struck down towards my heart. Two small pieces missed my heart by a hair’s breadth. The doctors say it is a most marvellous case, so I have a lot to thank God for. Our Battalion ‘koped’ out pretty stiff as you will have seen, but we did what we were sent to do, so we must cheer up. But what a hell let loose! I am glad I am out of it for a short time, but the worst of it is it seems to have taken all the use out of my left side.”
Sergeant J. R. Geary also writes, saying that the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry made a name for themselves in the fighting during the night August 17th to 18th. He speaks highly of the bravery and cool courage of Private Umney, who he says was an excellent soldier and did his work well.
Sergeant Frank Underwood, of Little Woolstone, also writes, to pay a glowing tribute to the wounded soldier who is in his company.
From employment at Wolverton Carriage Works, Private Umney enlisted on September 3rd, 1914, and after a short period of service in France was drafted with his regiment to Salonica. One of his brothers, Private George Umney, of the Royal Scots, has just recovered from wounds received in action in France, and is now on his way to Salonica. A second brother, Bert, has also been wounded in the fighting on the French front.
B.S. 1916 Sep. 23rd
Corporal W. G. Barnwell, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell, of High Street, Newport Pagnell, who is at home recovering from wounds received in action in the ‘big advance’ in France, last Wednesday received the following letter from Lieutenant R. Gregson Ellis, the officer commanding D Company of the Bucks Territorials;
“16/9/16. Dear Corporal Barnwell, I wrote to you some time ago and told you about your D.C.M., and now I have further great pleasure in writing again to tell you that you have now been awarded a Russian decoration, the Medal of St. George 2nd Class. This is the first foreign decoration which the Battalion has got and I need hardly tell you that the Battalion is very proud of you and more especially D Company. I know I am voicing the sentiments of all officers, N.C.O’s. and men of the company when I offer our very heartiest congratulations on your thoroughly deserved honour. Yours sincerely, R. GREGSON ELLIS, Lieut. O.C. D Coy., 1st Bucks Batt.”
Accompanying the letter was the following extract taken from the Battalion Orders of Friday night last;
The G.C.O. in C. has under authority given by His Majesty the King awarded the Russian decoration to the undermentioned N.C.O.:-
Medal of St. George 2nd Class. No. 2244 Corpl. W. G. Barnwell, 1/1st Bucks Battalion.”
It seems, from reports received, that the Bucks Territorials had orders to re-take some trenches which had been lost during the night. Corporal Barnwell, at great risk and under heavy enemy fire, rushed his Lewis gun into position and held the enemy in check, thereby enabling the Bucks men to advance and take the lost ground without the need for British and Russian reinforcements. It was during this action that Corporal Barnwell was wounded in the arm by an enemy bullet.
B.S. 1916 Sep. 30th
Private John Dudley, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, has been killed in action in France. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Dudley, of 58, Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, who this week have received the following letter from Lieutenant Rodocanachi;
“Attached Oxford and Bucks L.I., B.E.F., 24th Sept. 1916. Dear Mr. Dudley, - You have probably already heard that you son, No. 17071 Pte. J. Dudley, was killed in action on the 15th of this month. He was killed by shell fire and his death was quite instantaneous. Please accept my very sincere sympathy in the great bereavement which his death has brought upon you. I knew your son well and he was a good soldier and a brave and cheerful man. I am very sorry indeed that I have lost him, and deeply sympathise with you in his death. - Yours very truly, T. Rodocanachi, Lieut.”
Aged 26, Private Dudley had been in France for 12 months, and before volunteering had worked for Mr. Duncombe at the Abbey Farm. Two of his brothers are serving with the colours, one of whom was wounded in action in France on August 24th.
B.S. 1916 Sep. 30th
Private Vincent Stapleton, of the Royal Sussex Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 3rd. He was the eldest son of the late Mr. James Stapleton, of Newport Pagnell, and of Mrs. Stapleton, 40, Sackville Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, to whom a corporal of her son’s company writes;
It is with the greatest sorrow that I am writing this letter to you. Poor dear Vincent is reported missing. We were in rather a fierce fight on Sunday, Sept. 3, and at the roll-call afterwards Vincent was reported as missing. I feel I ought to tell you that two men in our regiment say they saw Vincent killed. . . . It will be a great consolation to you to know that he behaved splendidly. I was with him when we were under the most severe shell fire and he was most cool and fearless. I am so grieved about it as he was my best friend in the regiment, and we were always together. His influence over people was wonderful, and all our men respected him.”
Second Lieutenant H. H. Story has also written a kind and sympathetic letter to the bereaved mother, stating that on September 3rd “the battalion assaulted the enemy trenches and your son was then hit. I was not near him at the time. I feel it very much that your son should go; he was exceedingly popular with both officers and men.” Having expressed the sympathy of both officers and men, Lieutenant Story concludes; “I hope that you may derive some little consolation from the fact that your boy died doing, and having done, his duty.”
(Aged 31, Private Stapleton was well known in Newport Pagnell, and for some years had been a clerk in the office of Messrs. Coales & Sons, millers and merchants.)
B.S. 1916 Oct. 14th
Aged 20, Private Harry Hartup, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action during the great British offensive on August 13th. The eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. William Hartup, of Greenfield Road, Newport Pagnell. He enlisted five months ago, and had been in France for only a short while. Prior to entering the army he was in the employ of Mr. J. Tarry, builder and contractor, Newport Pagnell, and his brother is serving in France with the Royal Engineers (Railway Battalion). In a letter to the friends of the deceased, Lieutenant Waley speaks very highly of Private Hartup, and writes;
He was last seen fighting bravely on, and in the confusion of battle it was impossible to know anything for certain. . . My very deepest sympathy goes with you in this time of trouble. He was beloved by all his comrades and has been very much missed.”
W.E. 1916 Oct. 27th
Company Sergeant Major John Edward Chapman, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has been awarded the D.C.M. for specially meritorious service in the Somme campaign, more specifically a particularly brave deed at Thiepville. He has two casualty stripes, and is now in England recovering from his second wound. The official record for the decoration states;
“For conspicuous gallantry in action. When all his officers had become casualties he led the Company with great skill and coolness. Though wounded early in the day he stuck to his duty, and finally brought the Company out of action. During a prolonged bombardment of our trenches he was always the first to dig out buried men.”
In fact, of his several narrow escapes, in one engagement all around him were shot down and all his clothing was burnt off. Indeed, how he managed to escape that day he himself does not know. Being the brother of Mrs. J. Clark, of 76, Jersey Road, Wolverton, he is one of the five soldier sons of Mr. and Mrs. V. J. Chapman, of 4, North Square, Newport Pagnell, and, having lived there during the disturbances last Easter, his wife and three children reside in Dublin, where at the outbreak of war he occupied a responsible position in the Dublin Civil Service. He fought in the South African campaign with the Rifle Brigade, and having now been granted a commission, is gazetted second lieutenant to the 3rd East Lancs. Regiment at Marsh on Sea, Yorks.
B.S. 1916 Oct. 28th
Corporal Percy Odell has been killed in action on the Somme, and on Thursday, October 19th his parents received the following letter from the Reverend C. H. Hadfield, chaplain of the forces;
“Dear Mr. Odell, - I deeply regret to have to tell you that your son, Corpl. Odell, has been reported killed in the recent fighting. Our men showed great bravery and attacked with complete success, but unfortunately not a few were called upon to make the supreme sacrifice for their country. We shall miss your son. May I offer you our sincere sympathy for you in your loss. May God give comfort to you and yours.”
On Sunday last the news was then confirmed by an official communication from the Army Council. A member of the Bucks Territorial regiment, Percy had been well known in business and social circles not only in Newport Pagnell but also a very wide district, and his death at the age of 37 has been deeply lamented. The eldest of the three sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Odell, of Newport Pagnell, he was educated at the National Schools of his native town, and after a period at Bedford Grammar School went to Windsor, and for some years was with the late Mr. Thomas, before returning to Newport Pagnell to assist his father in his extensive business as general and furnishing ironmonger and seedsman.
In earlier years he had been a member of the Bucks Volunteer Corps, and being a splendid soldier and a first-class rifle shot, he took a great interest in the formation of the Newport Pagnell Rifle Club. For a period he was assistant secretary, and on the retirement of the late Sergeant Major G. F. Trimmer he was appointed to the office of secretary. More than once he was included in the team which shot for the Astor Cup, and he had also taken part in competitions on the Bisley ranges. Apart from shooting with the service rifle, he recognised the importance of the miniature weapon as an aid to marksmanship, and, when Mr. Walter Carlile kindly presented the miniature range in the grounds of the Unionist Club, Percy was the one who designed and superintended the building of the facility. As with the service rifle, so he was an excellent shot with the miniature version, and, winning several prizes, represented the Newport Pagnell Club in the competitions held on the North Crawley range. Within an hour of the outbreak of war he offered his services to the Bucks Territorial Battalion, and after training at Chelmsford went with his regiment went to France some 20 months ago. He has taken part in much of the heavy fighting, and was one of the most popular and best liked men in the Battalion. Despite his abilities marking him for promotion, he was content in the company only of “the boys” - as he was proud to call his comrades of the ranks - and it was only after much persuasion that he consented to accept the corporal’s stripes. Only a few months ago he had been wounded in action, and after recovering spent a brief leave at home with his parents and friends. He subsequently returned to the western front with a draft of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, and it was whilst heroically fighting with that regiment that he met his death on October 7th. A staunch churchman, he had been a sidesman of the parish church, a member of the C.E.M.S., and frequently helped as a teacher in the Sunday School. He was also a Past Master of the SS. Peter and Paul Lodge of Freemasons, and in politics was a Conservative, who took a prominent part in the establishment and future success of the Unionist Working Men’s Club.
B.S. 1916 Oct. 28th
Private William Davis, of the Queen’s Royal West Surreys, attached to the London Regiment, is reported to have been killed in action on October 7th. He was the son of Mrs. Davis, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, and a letter received from one of his mates - on Saturday last - says that he was one of a carrying party up the communication trenches. A shell then burst amongst them, and his death was quite painless. His comrades all express their keenest sympathy, and the official news was received on Wednesday. He joined up on May 2nd, and before enlisting had been employed by the Newport Pagnell Co-operative Society for 4½ years. He was only 19 years of age, and had been called up a day before this birthday. Mrs. Davis’s eldest son is in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and the other son has received his papers to go up this week. However, this has since been put back 14 days, and he had previously been rejected twice as medically unfit.
B.S. 1916 Oct. 28th
Private Ernest Arthur Sharp, of the 1st Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is now reported to have been killed in action. He had been missing since the defence of Kut, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Sharp, of Chicheley Street, Newport Pagnell, have this week received the following letter from the Inquiry Department of the British Red Cross and Order of St. John;
“We have now been able to obtain a little more information about your son’s death. Our representative in Alexandria has seen Private C. Haynes and Cpl. Thompson, 1st Oxford and Bucks L.I.
Pte. C. Haynes describes the nature of the attack, saying:-
The Turks attacked one of our forts outside Kut on Christmas Eve and he was missing after it. They just got into our fort, at least a few of them did, and then we drove them out.’
ȁpl. Thompson knows more and says:-
He was killed close by me in Kut during the Turkish attack of December 24th. A sniper’s bullet came through the loop hole of the fort wall that we were defending and hit him through the head. He died at once, saying nothing. He was buried just outside the fort at dusk.’
It will be a great comfort to you to know that your son’s death was quick and painless, and that he was buried by friends.”
B.S. 1916 Dec. 2nd
In late October, the Royal Bucks Hussars took a prominent and distinguished role in the successes gained by British troops in the western desert of Egypt. Our county Yeomanry shared in the honours of the occupation of the Dakhla and Baharia oases, and in a letter from Company Q.M.S. Herbert Percy Nicholson (Newport Pagnell) gives some details;
“I am enclosing cuttings from the Egyptian Gazette, of yesterday (October 28), accounts of the operations, etc., in which our regiment has been engaged for the last six months. These operations are a continuation of those in which we took part last November until April, against the Senussi, only from another base, and ended with the recovery of the crew of the “Dart,” when the Duke of Westminster made his famous dash with the armoured cars. So far as the regiment is concerned we have finished this side of the Nile, and we expect to leave for another part of Egypt almost at once. From what I understand, the Camel Corps will carry on, it being impossible to use horses to any great extent right in the desert, the chief difficulty being water. As you perhaps know several local men transferred to the Camel Corps from this unit, and have worked side by side with us. Now I am afraid we shall be separated indefinitely. It is impossible to tell you much about what we are doing or where we expect to be in the near future owing to the strict censorship of all letters leaving Egypt. The climate out here is now at its best, consequently everyone looks fit and well. All we look forward to now is a speedy end to the war and a safe return to dear old Blighty.
P.S. - We have just heard about poor Percy Odell. I can’t say how sorry all we Newport boys are. He was such a good sort.”
One of the cuttings from the Egyptian paper forwarded by Q.M.S. Nicholson reads as follows;
‘British troops have occupied the bases of Dakhla and Baharia, the former being captured on the 20th and the latter on the 21st. The capture of the two oases were effected by columns operating from Kharga and Shusha with the co-operation of the Imperial Camel Corps and armoured cars. By the rapid movements of the mounted troops and armoured cars a complete surprise was affected, and practically no opposition was encountered. So far the number of prisoners reported amounts to 175, mostly Muhafzia with a few Turks, also several important political prisoners. A quantity of arms, ammunition and treasure, including a stock of ivory, has also been taken. Our troops suffered no casualties at all.’
(Herbert Percy Nicholson was the son of Mr. A. Nicholson, clerk to the Newport Pagnell Justices. He mobilised with the Royal Bucks Hussars on August 5th, 1914, and after training and duty on the east coast embarked for Egypt on March 8th, 1915. He saw service against the Senussi tribes on the Western Frontier of Egypt and in Upper Egypt in the Baharieh and Faioum districts, and being in the first attack on Gaza, Palestine, subsequently went through with General Allenby’s advance to Jerusalem. Around Christmas, 1917, Yeomanry Brigades were then ordered to train as machine gunners for service in France - two regiments each brigade - with their place being taken by Indian Cavalry. After handing over horses and stores the Bucks men duly commenced machine gun practice at Alexandria, which they eventually left on the Leasowe Castle in May. However, 180 miles out at sea the ship was torpedoed and, being picked up 11 hours later, the troops were taken back to Alexandria. A fortnight later they again left for France, and, travelling through Italy, arrived at Etaples to complete their training. They then went into the line on the Arras front for the first time in August. They later took part in operations in the Ypres sector, and were on the Menin Road when the final breakthrough took place in September. They proceeded to Flanders, and were on the left of Audenarde when the Armistice was signed. Demobilised, Mr. Nicholson arrived back in England on May 6th, 1919, and in the Birthday Honours List of the King would be awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.)
B.S. 1916 Dec. 9th
News has been received that Lance Corporal John Richard Brooks, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry (Territorials), was killed in action in France on November 23rd. Aged 19, he was the only son of the late Mr. Arthur Brooks, of Mill Street, Newport Pagnell, and the nephew of Mr. Andrew Brooks, of 29, Bury Avenue, Newport Pagnell, and in a letter his lieutenant writes that he was killed instantly by a bomb. Extending his sympathy to the relatives, he pays eloquent tribute to the fine soldierly qualities of the deceased, and says that “he was one of the best and most popular men in my platoon.” Lance Corporal Brooks had been in the County Territorial Regiment prior to the war, and volunteered for active service when hostilities broke out. He went into training during the first week of the war, and had been in France for about six months when he was killed. Formerly he was employed in Wolverton Carriage Works, and then at Messrs. Salmons and Sons’ motor carriage building works.
B.S. 1916 Dec. 23rd
Official news was received last Saturday that Rifleman Reuben Hoare, of the King’s Royal Rifles, was killed in action on October 6th. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Hoare, of 11, Delamere-street, Crewe, but formerly of Newport Pagnell, where Mr. hoare is well known. In a communication dated December 1st, a comrade writes;
We were in the front line trench on October 6 and were expecting a relief. Only two short hours before it came we were ordered to move to one end of the trench and let another company of ours go to the other end. The move was fatal, for we had only just settled down when a shell dropped in the trench near your son. Need I say any more, Mrs. Hoare? I know it will pain you, but he died doing his duty like a Britisher.”
Lieutenant E. J. Male also sent a kindly letter of sympathy to the parents. Rifleman Hoare voluntarily enlisted on October 25th, 1915, and went to France in April of this year.
W.E. 1917 Jan. 5th
Sergeant William Wise, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Wise, of Wolverton Road, Newport Pagnell, has been officially recognised for a heroic action on the French battlefield. This was in the severe fighting around Ypres, when one night he was in an advance to take over some trenches occupied by another battalion. Early the next morning the Germans opened a terrific bombardment and smashed all means of communication, and a volunteer was needed to take a message to the Cornwall Battalion headquarters. Thus bringing relief to his Brigade at a very critical moment, under very heavy fire Sergeant Wise succeeded in this mission, and, with his bravery and cool courage being highly praised by the Brigade Commander, and by his own Battalion Commander, he was awarded the Military Medal. Employed as an apprentice at Wolverton Carriage Works, as a coach builder, when war broke out he joined up at the age of twenty, and having been wounded once quickly gained promotion on the field to sergeant. He is as excellent an athlete as a soldier, and holds the championship gold medal for the mile flat race open to regiments of his Brigade.
(On September 3rd, 1916, Sergeant Wise had been badly wounded when shot in the shoulder by a German sniper. The bullet passed through the right lung and underneath the shoulder bone, close to the middle of the back. However, he made a good recovery and was able to spend a short leave with his parents at Christmas. With his brother, Harry, as best man, on Easter Monday, 1917, at Newport Pagnell Congregational Church he would marry Miss Lilian Cousins, the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Cousins, of Newport Pagnell. Her only ornament would be the badge of the bridegroom’s regiment made into a brooch, and after the service a reception would be held at her home.)
B.S. 1917 Jan. 6th
His many friends in the town have been pleased to learn that Sapper Albert Weston, of the Royal Engineers, has been awarded the Military Medal, this being for distinguished conduct whilst serving with the Royal Engineers on the Somme front. A day or so later he was promoted to Lance Corporal, and the presentation was made at a parade of troops ‘somewhere in France,’ where he received the warm congratulations of the Brigade and regimental commanders. Formerly employed at Salmons and Sons motor body building works, Sapper Weston joined up at the beginning of the war, and has seen almost two years of active service in France. His wife and three children live at 51, Greenfield Road, Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1917 Jan. 13th
Private John Baxter, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, Machine Gun Section, has been wounded in action in France. He is presently in Dr. Stevens’ hospital at Dublin, where the gunshot wounds to the face have affected the sight of one eye. Whilst employed by Mr. F.J. Taylor, in the gardens at Lovat Bank, he enlisted at the outbreak of war, and initially saw service at Salonica. On Christmas Eve, 1915, he fell ill with enteric fever and dysentery, and after a while in hospital at Malta was sent home to Netley, and then to Addington Park Convalescent Home, Croydon. On recovering, in September he rejoined his regiment and a month later was in France, where he became a casualty after nine weeks. His older brother is with the army in Salonica, and his parents, Harry and Sarah Baxter, live at 17, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell.
(A native of Newport Pagnell, as Corporal Baxter, of the 4th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), he would die of wounds on Wednesday, April 10th, 1918, aged 25.)
B.S. 1917 Mar. 3rd
Official news was received this week that Private William Barnes, of the 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, had been killed in action in France Tuesday, February 13th, 1917. Aged 24, he was the youngest son of the late Mr. James Barns and of Mrs. Barnes of 45, Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, and had joined up in October 1915. For a while he worked with Mr. Joseph Plackett as hay-tier in the Army Service Corps, but when the thinning out of young men from the Army labour departments took place, he enlisted in the Duke of Bedford’s Regiment. Five weeks before Christmas he had paid a visit to his widowed mother, and, being drafted to France on returning to his regiment, had been on active service for only two months when he was killed.
B.S. 1917 Mar. 10th
On the morning of Thursday, March 8th, Mrs. W. Jones, who lives with her four young children at 12, Pegg’s Court, Newport Pagnell, received the following letter. Dated March 1st, it is from Nursing Sister B. Davison, No. 1 Canadian General Hospital;
Dear Mrs. Jones. I am so sorry to have to write you the sad news of your husband’s death. He was admitted to my ward on February 27th late in the night and died this morning at 7.30a.m. The patient in the next bed to him wrote you a letter which your husband dictated to him just before his operation on Feb. 28. You probably have this letter by now. He had a terrible wound in his arm with gas infection, so there was very little hope for him from the first. He was so bright and cheery and seemed to appreciate everything we did so much. He will be buried in our military cemetery quite near to here, and perhaps after this awful war you will come out to see his grave.”
The letter referred to by Sister Davison was written by Private E. Slater, and reads;
“Dear Madam. I am writing these few lines for your husband who is in this hospital suffering from slight wounds in the shoulder and arm. I am pleased to say they are not serious, so you have no cause to worry, and he hopes to be in England in a day or two, and I hope to follow very shortly after if not with him. I think this is all the news I can give you at present, so will close wishing him the best of luck and a speedy recovery.”
(Having been employed as inside cleaner at Wolverton Carriage Works, Private William Jones had been called up on the National Reserve. Born at Shenley, but resident at Newport Pagnell, He joined the 2nd Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry on September 3rd, 1914, and for two years took part in the heaviest fighting in France. His parents, John and Sarah, live at Loughton, and a brother is on active service in Salonica.)
B.S. 1917 Mar. 17th
The name of Private John Emmerton, of the Army Service Corps, has been brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War, for, at one of the large English ports, performing valuable service whilst engaged on important duties in the Embarkation Office. He is the only son of Mr. Thomas Emmerton, of Bury Avenue, Newport Pagnell, and being formerly engaged as clerk in the offices of Messrs. Foll and Bawden, auctioneers and land agents, on leaving them secured an appointment with a firm engaged in war work. As a civilian, later he joined the Army Pay Corps, with a view to enlisting in that department, and from March to July 1915 served at Woolwich. On July 5th 1915 taking with him a special recommendation from his commanding officer he visited Whitehall and was enlisted in the Army Service Corps as a confidential shorthand typist for special foreign service. Three days later he was sent to Aldershot and passed a shorthand and typing test with flying colours. He expected to be sent immediately to France, but instead on arrival at Southampton he was given a responsible post in the office of the Deputy Assistant of Director of Railway Transports. He would then serve on the clerical staff of the Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, his chief, Brigadier A. Hamilton C.B., the Embarkation Commandant, being the brother of General Sir Ian Hamilton, commanding the British Force in the Dardanelles. Whilst a scholar at the Newport Pagnell Council Schools he won a County Scholarship, and completed his education at Wolverton Secondary School. He has also gained several honours at the Wolverton Science and Art Institute.
(The name of Bawden, in that of the auctioneers Foll and Bawden, refers to Captain T. Bawden, who, before enlisting voluntarily in the early days of the war, had offices at Newport Pagnell and Olney. Serving in the Royal Army Service Corps, in 1916 he was mentioned in despatches for work on the Somme, and on March 6th, 1919, he would be mentioned by Sir Douglas Haig in his despatch of March 6th, which was subsequently published in the London Gazette. This was for work in the St. Quentin area in 1918, and as a member of the Western Divisional Train R.A.S.C. Army of the Rhine, he would be scheduled to return to England in August 1919.)
B.S. 1917 Mar. 31st
On Friday last, official information was received by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Morley, of 35, Bury Avenue, Newport Pagnell, that their youngest son, Private George Morley, of the 184th Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), had been killed in action in France on Wednesday, February 28th. He was just 19. Praising the all round soldierly qualities of Private Morley, in a letter the sergeant of his section writes that he was sitting in a dug-out and talking with his sergeant when, at the onset of a heavy bombardment, he was killed instantly by an enemy shell. When the engagement ceased the Machine Gun Corps gave him a military funeral, and placed a white wooden cross at the head of his grave. Private Morley mobilised with the Bucks Territorials at the beginning of the war, and took part in the Dardanelles campaign. Just before last Easter he paid a short visit to his parents, before being sent to France, where, with the Machine Gun Corps, he was noted for his keenness and courage under fire. Before the war he was employed by Messrs. Dant and Co., florists and fruiterers of Newport Pagnell.
(In the Bucks Standard in April 1919 extracts from a letter sent by Staff Sergeant Emmerton to Mr. W. Foll are published, describing his experience with the Mesopotamian Force.)
B.S. 1917 Mar. 31st
Sapper Edward Stanley Moore, of the 483rd Field Company, Royal Engineers, was killed in action on Tuesday, March 13th, 1917, during the recent fighting in France. Born at Wood Green, Middlesex, he was aged 25, and in a letter to his mother, Ada Moore, of Mill House, Sherington, Bucks, on March 2nd Captain C. Keeling writes;
It is with the very deepest regret that I have to tell you that her husband, Sapper E.S. Moore of this company was killed in action on 13th March. His death has been the very greatest regret to the whole company, with whom he was deservedly very popular, both for himself and for his fine soldierly qualities. I had known him for a long time now - ever since he rejoined at Maidenhead after coming back from the Dardanelles - and personally know what a great loss he is to us all. Please let me say that I hope you will be able to find some little consolation in the fact that he fell nobly doing his duty in action. He was buried at a place called Aqueduct Valley, near Le Sars, which is between Albert and Bapaume, and his grave is marked by a cross to his memory, with his name and company upon it, and the inscription ‘Killed in action March 13th, 1917.’”
(Formerly in the Bucks Territorials, Sapper Morley saw active service at the Dardanelles, and on returning to England he rejoined the Engineers at Maidenhead. He then went to the Western Front about eight months ago, and until his death had remained unscathed. Before the war he had been employed by Messrs. Wilford Bros., builders, Newport Pagnell, but then worked at the Wolverton Carriage Works. He was the eldest son of Mr. Edward Moore, formerly of Newport Pagnell and the Mill House, Sherington, and had married Gertrude, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. West of High Street, Newport Pagnell, who with their child lives at 109, High Street, Newport Pagnell.)
B.S. 1917 Apr. 7th
On Thursday, March 29th, 1917, Second Lieutenant John Goodwin Butler, of the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, died of wounds received in action. Aged 20, he was the only son of John and Adeline Butler, of the Bank House, Newport Pagnell, and to them Major Clarkson, commanding their son’s regiment, writes on March 29th;
It is with great regret that I have to write and inform you that your son was killed early this morning in a raid on the German trenches. It was whilst our men were returning to our line that a shell burst near to your son, wounding him dangerously. He was at once attended to and carried into our line, but unfortunately died whilst being carried to the 1st aid post. He will be buried to-day in the military cemetery. … Please allow me to express the deepest sympathy of every officer and man in this Battalion with you and your family in your terrible loss. We were all very fond of him. He was such a cheerful and lively young fellow. Nothing seemed to upset him, and under difficult and trying conditions he was just the same as usual. He was very fearless and was in every way a most excellent officer. He always set a splendid example to his men both at work and at play, and they are very much upset at his death.”
Captain Hugh Dixon writes;
“Your son has been in my Company for several months, and has been a most excellent officer, always doing his work cheerfully and fearlessly. On two or three occasions he took command of the company when I was away. His place will be difficult to fill. I have been to his funeral this morning (March 30) along with Major Clarkson and the Adjutant. … It will be gratifying to you to know that your son died whilst leading his men. Please accept my deepest sympathy in your great loss - a loss in which we also share.”
On July 19th, 1915, the deceased had joined the Officers’ Training Corps (prior to which he had been on the local staff of Barclay and Co’s. Bank) and having twelve months later been gazetted to a commission in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, went to the Western Front last October.
B.S. 1917 Apr. 14th
It is now officially presumed that Rifleman Frank Jeeves, of the 9th London Regiment, Queen Victoria’s Rifles, who was posted as missing on July 1st, 1916, has been killed in action on that date. The younger son of the late Charles Jeeves, and of Ann Jeeves, of 17A, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, he enlisted at the age of 18 in February 1915, and went to France in June of that year. When war broke out he was employed as clerk in the Gas Works at Epsom. His elder brother is a corporal in the Signal Section of the Royal Engineers, and has been in France for nearly 18 months.
B.S. 1917 Apr. 14th
The War Office has now officially reported that 22 year old Private Ernest Sharp, of the 1st Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, has been killed in action, having been posted as missing since the operations in Mesopotamia on Christmas Eve, 1915. Born at Newport Pagnell, he was the youngest son of Mr. Walter Sharp, and the late Jane Sharp, of 48, Silver Street, Newport Pagnell. He is buried in the Kut War Cemetery, Iraq.
B.S. 1917 Apr. 14th
Lance Corporal John Umney, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is unofficially reported to have been killed in action during the heavy fighting in France on April 1st. A friend in the same regiment, Bob Moseley, also from Newport Pagnell, has written to inform his friends of the news. Whilst working in the coal mines in the Coventry district, John Umney had volunteered for active service at the outbreak of war, and having been in France for two years and four months, had taken part in some of the heaviest fighting. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Umney, of 2, Church Passage, Newport Pagnell, who have three other sons on active service.
(From the Records Office at Warwick, on the morning of April 13th Mr. and Mrs. Umney would receive official confirmation that their son was killed in action on April 2nd.)
A contemporary award of the Military Medal would be made to the deceased’s friend, Lance Corporal Bob Moseley, for conspicuous bravery in the recent fighting. He is one of two soldier sons of Mrs. John Macquire, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, and before enlisting was in the service of Mr. F. Allfrey, in the gardens of Bury Lawn.
B.S. 1917 Apr. 14th
Many letters of appreciation have been received in Newport Pagnell, from soldiers who were the recipients of Christmas parcels. Signaller Charles Chapman, serving with the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry in Salonica, writes to the editor;
“Dear Sir. I wish to acknowledge (with your permission) through the medium of your valuable paper, the receipt of a parcel so kindly sent to me by the townspeople of Newport Pagnell. The same was very acceptable, especially as the delicies it contained are very dear and hard to obtain out here. Therefore, if you will be so kind as to publish this I should be very much obliged. Thanking you in anticipation.”
From Mesopotamia, the son of Mrs. Moore, of 34, Priory Street, writes;
“I have received two or three letters which were posted in December, so I may also get the parcels which were sent at the same time if I am lucky. I have not received your parcel, but I received one from the townspeople. I can assure you that this was a great surprise, but at the same time it was very nice to think that there was someone thinking of the boys in Mesopotamia.”
B.S. 1917 Apr. 28th
A letter received this week from Private Charles Dixon, of the Bedfordshire Regiment, states that he has been recently badly wounded in the face in France, and underwent an operation in the 7th Canadian General Hospital. He is now in the Bagthorpe Military Hospital, Nottingham. Having joined up at the outbreak of war, he has been in France for about 16 months, and during this time was previously wounded in the face. Private Dixon is the youngest son of Mrs. Dixon, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, and his wife and family reside in Priory Street, Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1917 Apr. 28th
After two months in a French field hospital, suffering from trench feet, Sapper Walter Pearce, of the East Anglian Royal Engineers (att. 2nd Welsh Regt.) is now in a clearing hospital at Eastleigh, near Southampton. He is making good progress, and expects to be transferred to a London institution. Of his journey from France to Southampton he travelled with some 650 other casualties aboard the troopship ‘Donegal,’ which was either mined or torpedoed in the Channel. Fortunately there were no stretcher cases on board, and in a letter to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. G. Pearce, of North Square, Newport Pagnell, he writes;
I managed to get on a destroyer. It was a sight to see the poor chaps, most of them with arm cases, struggling in the water. We arrived in Southampton at 2 o’clock in the morning, so you see we had quite an exciting time. I thought my last days had come, but anyway I am alive and well, though we had a bit of a shaking.”
Sapper Pearce enlisted nearly two years ago, and was previously serving an apprenticeship at Messrs. Salmons and Sons in Newport Pagnell. He being the youngest son, two of his brothers are also in the Forces; one in the Royal Flying Corps, and one in the Royal Naval Air Service.
B.S. 1917 May 5th
On Thursday, at her home in Bury Street, Newport Pagnell, the mother of Private William Page, of the 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, received a letter from him, saying that he is going on as well as can be expected under the circumstances. He is in the 1st Canadian General Hospital, France, suffering from serious shrapnel wounds in close proximity to the spine. Private Page, who was aged 19, enlisted at the outbreak of the war. He had been in France since the beginning of last December, and since being in the Army has gained a reputation as an athlete at regimental and brigade sports. In peacetime he worked as a French polisher at Salmons’ motor works. His father is also in the Forces, in the Army Service Corps.
(A resident of Bedford, on Wednesday, May 16th, Private Page would die in the hospital from his wounds, which, including a fracture of the vertebrae, had proved more serious than initially thought. After the war his family would commemorate his memory in the following verse;
“Silently the shades of evening
Gather round our cottage door.
Silently they bring before us
Faces we shall see no more.
No one knows the silent heart-ache,
Only those can tell
Who have lost their best and dearest
Without e’er saying “farewell.”)
B.S. 1917 May 12th
Last Sunday morning Mr. and Mrs. H. Goff, of 5, St. Paul’s Terrace, Newport Pagnell, received the following letter regarding their son, Private William Goff, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. Dated May 1st, it is from Second Lieutenant Harold Jones, commanding the platoon;
“I am extremely sorry to have to inform you that your son was killed in action the other morning. Will you please accept mine and the platoon’s most sincere sympathy in your great loss. Your son was one of my best men and had won the respect and esteem of his fellow men by his cheerfulness under all circumstances.”
Before joining up, Private Goff had been employed in Mr. Cowley’s parchment works as a flesher. He had been in France for 18 weeks, and would have celebrated his 27th birthday on August 8th. One of his brothers was killed earlier in the war.
On May 18th, Mr. and Mrs. Goff would receive official news that he had been killed on Saturday, April 28th, and in a letter dated May 15th, the Reverend W. Arrowsmith, chaplain, wrote that “I saw the men before they went out to action, and they were all cheerful. He died bravely taking an enemy’s outpost with his company. We must be as brave in our loss as the men are in their death.”
B.S. 1917 May 12th
Private Albert Bottoms, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was wounded on April 25th on the Salonica front, where he has been for some eight months. However, the degree of severity is not stated in the communication received on Thursday morning by his wife, to whom the license of the Horse and Jockey Inn, Newport Pagnell, was transferred when he joined up 13 months ago. He was formerly “boots” at the Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford, and later held a similar position at the Swan Hotel, Newport Pagnell.
(He would endure several months in hospital, with fears that one of his legs might be permanently stiffened.)
B.S. 1917 May 19th
Official news was received this week by Alfred and Alice Mitchell, of 30, Bury Street, Newport Pagnell, that their only son, 25 year old Lance Corporal Charles Mitchell, of the 7th Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, had been killed in action at Salonica on Saturday, April 28th. Tragically, after the battle on April 26th he had sent his parents a field card saying that he was quite well. Having enlisted a month after the outbreak of war, Lance Corporal Mitchell had been on active service in Salonica since October 1915, consequent to serving on the Western Front for a few weeks. A keen cricketer, often playing for the town club, before joining up he was employed at Salmons and Sons motor works in Newport Pagnell. He is buried in Doiran Military Cemetery, Greece.
B.S. 1917 May 19th
Addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Liggins, of 18, Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, a letter from No. 11 General Hospital, France, states that their second son, Private Charles Liggins, of the Berkshire Regiment, is suffering from dangerous shrapnel wounds in the buttocks, arms and chest, received in the recent big offensive by British troops. At the age of 18, private Liggins joined up a year ago, from employment with his father as a close plater at Messrs. Salmon’s and Sons motor works.
B.S. 1917 May 19th
Private Joseph Rust, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is in a field hospital at Salonica, suffering from wounds received in action on April 23rd. In a letter to Private Rust’s sister, Mrs. Fountain, of Abbey Farm Cottage, Sergeant Geary, the platoon sergeant, writes that whilst the regiment was taking part in an attack on the enemy a bomb burst close to Private Rust, wounding him in the face and left hand; “I hear he is going on nicely and out of danger. He was always a hard worker and willing fellow, and was liked by everyone.” From employment with Mr. J. Duncombe, a farmer at Newport Pagnell, Private Rust joined up on September 2nd, 1914, and after five weeks in France went with his regiment to Salonica, where he has seen over 18 months of active service.
B.S. 1917 June 9th
Corporal Albert Brawn, of the 2/1st Bucks Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry (Territorials), is the brother of Mrs. H.K. Welch, of 17, London Road, Newport Pagnell, and, at a parade of troops on the Western Front on May 19th, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. At the same time the following written statement was handed to him by his commanding officer, detailing the particulars of the deed that lead to the award;
“Near St. Quentin, on 26th April, 1917, a party of 20 of the enemy had advanced and occupied an old trench about 50 yards in front of his post. Realising the imminence of the danger he left his post and took with him his section of bombers, manoeuvred to the enemy’s flank, and with great coolness and gallantry attacked this superior force, killing six of the enemy and taking five prisoners. By his initiative in thus leaving his post and manoeuvring to a flank he prevented the enemy from piercing our line.”
B.S. 1917 June 16th
News has been received that Driver Walter Wright, of the East Lancs. Royal Engineers, has died from serious wounds received in the recent severe fighting in France. With a simple wooden cross to mark the grave, he was buried with full military honours in Ceresey Cemetery on Thursday, June 7th, and at Newport Pagnell his widow has received a kind letter of sympathy from the chaplain, who says that everything possible was done for him. Aged 40, he was the son of the late Mr. Eli Wright and of Mrs. Wright of Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, and, having been wounded at the Dardanelles, had seen two years and eight months of active service in Egypt, Gallipoli, and France. Before the war he had been employed in the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway works, at Newton Heath. Besides a widow, he leaves two boys and a girl.
B.S. 1917 June 16th
On Monday, a telegram from the Red Cross was received by Mr. William Fleet, a butcher of Newport Pagnell, stating that, aged 22, his youngest son, Trooper John Fleet, of the Royal Bucks Hussars, had died in Turkish captivity from typhus fever on Sunday, February 4th, 1917. In August 1915 he had been taken prisoner at the battle of Chocolate Hill, in the Dardanelles, and was subsequently imprisoned at Constantinople. In civilian life he had followed his father’s trade as a butcher, but as a recruit in the county Yeomanry Regiment, at the age of 19 he immediately volunteered for active service when war broke out. His elder brother, after serving with the Bucks Yeomanry in Egypt transferred to, and is presently serving with, the Camel Corps. He is buried in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq.
B.S. 1917 June 30th
Captain Fred Taylor of the 13th Manchesters, has been awarded the Military Cross. This he gained for gallant conduct in the heavy fighting in Salonica on April 24th, when British troops stormed and captured the Bulgar trenches, and his coolness and courage under terrible enemy fire is praised in the highest terms by the Divisional Commander. The son of Mr. and Mrs. F.W. Taylor, he joined up at the beginning of the war, and as a lieutenant saw service in France for nine months in 1915-16, being wounded in action in July 1916. In November 1916 he was then sent to Salonica, where he was given his company.
B.S. 1917 July 7th
At the age of 19, Private J. Barnwell, of the Beds. Regiment, has been awarded the Military Medal. This was for service in France, having under a barrage of fire crept back with messages which he delivered safely. In fact according to the official record this resulted in half the division being saved from annihilation. From employment at the Newport Pagnell Brewery Company, he enlisted at the end of 1915, and having gone to France on Christmas Day, 1916, was gassed after six months on active service. He is the third son of Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell, of High Street, Newport Pagnell. An older brother, Sergeant W. Barnwell, Royal Engineers, had previously been awarded the D.C.M., Military Medal, and Russian Medal of St. George (2nd Class), when serving with the Machine Gun Section of the Bucks Territorials in France.
(In March 1918 Private Barnwell’s parents would receive news that, having been gassed in the recent fighting in France, he was in hospital in Grosvenor Square, London. Then in June 1918 news would be received that one of his brothers, Lance Corporal W. Barnwell, had sustained a bullet wound in the hand, and was in the 36th Base American Hospital. From employment at Messrs. Salmons and Sons’ motor works, after enlisting he went to France in April 1917, and, being posted to the Lewis Gun Section of the Wiltshire Regiment, subsequently took part in much of the fierce fighting. )
B.S. 1917 July 28th
On Wednesday morning Mrs. F. Baker, of 38, Spring Gardens, Newport Pagnell, received the news that her husband, Gunner Frederick Baker, of the 219th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, had been killed in action in France Tuesday, July 10th. Major Keates Wilson, commanding the 219th Siege Battery, writes;
It is with the deepest grief that I have to inform you that your good husband was killed on the 10th inst. I cannot express sufficiently strongly my sympathy for you, but my one hope is that you may be given strength to bear up in your great sorrow. I grieve, and my whole battery grieves, at the loss of one who was a good man, a good soldier, and a beloved comrade. I am sure it must be some comfort to you to know that, mercifully, he suffered no pain, as death was instantaneous. Again expressing my heartfelt sympathy for you and yours, I remain yours sorrowfully, Keats Wilson, Major.”
A native of Newport Pagnell, Gunner Baker, who was aged 44, had been in civil life a bricklayer in the employ of Messrs. T. and C. Shelton, and enlisted on August 2nd, 1916. Apart from a widow, he leaves three young children - one a babe in arms.
B.S. 1917 Aug. 11th
Aged 21, Private Fred Tandy, of the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, has been killed in action in France on Wednesay, July 25th, 1917. Concerning her only son, his widowed mother, Mrs. B. Tandy, of 11, Church Passage, Newport Pagnell, received the news on Tuesday morning, in a communication from his commanding officer, Captain John Craigie;
“27/7/17. Dear Mrs. Tandy. It is with my deepest and most heartfelt sympathy that I write you this appalling news of your son of my company. The poor fellow had just come back from having some tea to join his mate at the guard they had to find when a shell landed on them both. Death was instantaneous, and he suffered no pain. He was such an excellent fellow, and his death is an awful loss to the company in which he was very popular, as well as being one of the best men in it. He was buried close to the spot where he was killed. I can only offer you my deepest sympathy in your terrible loss. Yours sincerely, John Craigie, Capt.”
Having worked for some years in the Tickford Abbey gardens, he was employed by the London and North Western Railway Company at Manchester when he voluntarily enlisted on January 1st, 1915. He had been in France for two years, but came home on a short leave from the trenches only some two months ago to visit Newport Pagnell, where he was very well known. On Friday Mrs. Tandy received the following letter from the chaplain to the forces;
“I am very sorry that I have to inform you that your son, Private F. Tandy, has been killed in action on July 24th, and was buried by me. I can only say we all regret his loss very much. I can only hope that God will give you consolation in the knowledge that your son died in a noble cause and that his sacrifice will surely not be forgotten in the reckoning up of accounts. It is surely better to have lived this young life well than to go on living without the joy of God.”
B.S. 1917 Aug. 11th
Last Wednesday, on the eve of breaking up for their summer holidays, the girl pupils of the Newport Pagnell Council School contributed 133 eggs and 7s 1d in cash to the National Egg Collection, “as a mark of gratitude to our soldiers and a thank offering that a happy and safe holiday is possible to us owing to their sacrifice.”
B.S. 1917 Aug. 18th
Official news has been received that, aged 34, Private William Herbert Nicholls, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, died of heat stroke in Mesopotamia on July 21st. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. George Nicholls, of Maids Moreton, near Buckingham, and leaves a widow and three small children at St. John Street, Newport Pagnell. Some time after the outbreak of war he relinquished his business as a fishmonger, and took a position with the Bradwell Co-operative Stores. However, having enlisted in November 1916, after a short period of training at Portsmouth he was selected for service with an Indian Expeditionary draft, being later transferred to Mesopotamia. A younger brother, Wilfred, was sent to German East Africa, where he has suffered two attacks of fever. Writing to the widow of Private Nicholls, Platoon Sergeant R. Ramsay, 1st Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, says;
I am very sorry to inform you that your husband died of heat stroke last Sunday (21-7-17). N.C.O.’s and men of his platoon wish me to convey to you their sincerest sympathy in your sad bereavement. All in his platoon have found him a good comrade and a good soldier - always ready for duty.”
.S. 1917 Aug. 18th
On Saturday morning, in a letter from the Reverend R. Parslow, chaplain to the forces, Mr. and Mrs. John Dudley, of Manor Cottage, Caldecote, Newport Pagnell, (and late of Priory Street), learned that their youngest son, Private Philip Dudley, of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, had been killed in action in France on Thursday, August 2nd. As reads part of the letter, Private Dudley died “as a true and worthy soldier, doing his duty. He did not suffer, being killed instantly by a shell. His loss is mourned by his comrades and friends. He was buried by men of his own company with others of his comrades and a cross marks the spot.”
In a letter of sympathy, Second Lieutenant Arthur Joyce writes;
“He was a good laddie, and one of whom I was proud. He was always a happy boy, liked by all his platoon, and one whom I could always rely on to do his duty.”
Private Dudley was aged 19, and from employment in the paint shop at Wolverton Works had enlisted two years ago. He was wounded in the hand in November 1916, but returned to France at the end of February 1917. His elder brother was killed on September 15th, 1916, and the other brother is in hospital with fever.
B.S. 1917 Aug. 18th
Private Horace Cox, of the Bedford Regiment, posted to the Royal West Surreys, was dangerously wounded on August 7th by shrapnel in both legs, one of which had to be amputated. He died three days later, and in a letter to his parents, Newland and Emma Cox, of Mill Street, Newport Pagnell, the sister in charge of the 11th Casualty Clearing Station writes;
“I am sorry we could not save him, but from the first there was little hope of his recovery. Everything possible was done for him, and we tried to make his last hours as easy and peaceful as possible. His injuries were so severe that from the first we were very anxious about him.”
20 years of age, Private Cox had taken part in the Suvla Bay operations, and having been invalided home had only gone to France about eight weeks ago. Before joining up he worked at the Newport Pagnell branch of the International Stores.
B.S. 1917 Sep. 8th
Private Frank Shedd, of the Bucks Territorials, was killed in the severe fighting in Flanders on August 27th, with the news being first conveyed to his widow, Dorothy, of 9, Station Road, Newport Pagnell, in a letter from her brother in law, a quarter master sergeant in the Territorial Regiment. On Wednesday, Mrs. Shedd then received a confirmatory message from the captain of her husband’s company, in which he stated that Private Shedd had been killed instantly by a German shell;
“His death was a great blow to us, as we had learnt to appreciate his worth. Always cheerful and hardworking, he showed a magnificent example to his comrades.”
Born at Buckingham, the son of John and Elizabeth Shedd, he was educated at the Royal Latin School, Buckingham, and had for some years been employed as a shop assistant by Mr. John Odell, ironmonger of Newport Pagnell. Had he lived until next month he would have been 26 years of age. He joined up last April 28th, and having taken part in all the heavy engagements of his regiment, had been in France for just over a year. One of his brothers was killed on the Western Front.
B.S. 1917 Sep. 29th
Formerly in the Bucks Constabulary, and stationed at Great Marlow, Corporal Edward Wilding, who was promoted on the field, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery and devotion to duty. As reads the official record, in the recent severe fighting in Flanders under heavy shell fire he went out and dressed the wounds of comrades, at great risk to his own life. Corporal Wilding is the elder son of the late Mr. William Wilding, and of Mrs. Wilding, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1917 Oct. 6th
Private William Kilpin, of the 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, died on Sunday, September 16th in the 17th Field Ambulance, France, from wounds received in action on that day. He had been previously wounded on February 11th, 1916, by gunshot in the left arm and face, but following his recovery returned to France at the end of June, and had only been back in the firing line for a month when he was killed. He was the youngest son of William and Mary Kilpin, of 1, Club Court, Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, and having been employed on the farm of Mr. J. Duncombe, at Newport Pagnell, he voluntarily enlisted two years ago. His elder brother is fighting in Flanders with the Royal Garrison Artillery.
B.S. 1917 Oct. 20th
Private George Mapley, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, has been officially reported as missing since September 6th, the day in which his regiment took part in very heavy fighting in Flanders. Wounded in the same battle, from the same regiment Private Jim Clarke, of Chicheley, sends a letter of little assurance, but it is hoped that perhaps news might soon be received that Private Mapley is a prisoner of war. Born at Newport Pagnell, he married two years ago (his wife is presently living at Eaton Socon), and when working at St. Neots joined the Bedfordshire Regiment in February, 1916, being later transferred to the Lancashire Regiment. In civilian life he was employed by Messrs. Salmons and Sons, at Newport Pagnell. Aged 28, he is the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. George Mapley, of 14, Beaconsfield Place, Newport Pagnell, who tragically lost a younger son in action some months ago.
(In August 1918 official news would be received that Private Mapley must have been killed on the date he was posted missing.)
B.S. 1917 Oct. 27th
Regarding the part played by the county of Buckinghamshire in the war, a native of Newport Pagnell, Private Brice Higgins, of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, writes from Neville Ward, Brancepeth Castle, near Durham;
“Dear Sir. I wonder if the following will be of interest to you as showing, quite apart from the magnificent efforts made by North Bucks on behalf of the Red Cross and auxiliary hospitals of which I read in the ever welcome Bucks Standard, the quite remarkable part Bucks plays in this great war? Recently, while being conveyed by hospital train to a French town I noticed it was built at Wolverton Works, as also the train which conveyed us from Dover to the north. During the journey we several times had malted milk, a product of Slough, and a beverage greatly patronised by soldiers. In the days when butter was supplied to us, our tins almost invariably certified the contents as coming from Aylesbury. I need not say it was good. My nurse in the French hospital hailed from near Buckingham; and on arrival up north I found myself in close proximity to a 4th Reserve Oxford and Bucks man; and, to my surprise, when I sat up for the first time, the chair bore the name of a High Wycombe chair manufacturer. These may be mere coincidences, but I do not remember having seen any other county so much in evidence.”
B.S. 1917 Oct. 27th
Mrs. John Smith, of 6, Pegg’s Court, Newport Pagnell, received unofficial news on Thursday morning that, on or about October 19th, her son, Private Horace Crisp, of the Light Railway Operating Company, attached to an Anzac Railway Operating Company, had been instantly killed, when a shell fell on the dug-out where he and his comrades were resting. In a letter, a fellow soldier pays high tribute to the abilities of Private Crisp, and expresses sympathy with his widow, a daughter of Mr. Freeman, of Olney, and their young child, who live at 43, Warwick Terrace, Olney. Private Crisp had formerly worked as porter for two years on Newport Pagnell railway station, and having joined up at the end of March 1917, went to France in mid May. He was aged 24.
B.S. 1917 Oct. 27th
Gunner Stephen Stanton, R.G.A., was badly wounded on the night of October 11th, whilst in his battery position, and besides a flesh wound in the leg sustained a compound fracture of the left arm. In a letter to Gunner Stanton’s mother, Second Lieutenant K. Aitken writes;
“I am afraid he was in great pain when I saw him at the dressing station, but I am glad to say he was bearing his pain like a man and an Englishman, and the Doctor assured me there was no fear of permanent disablement, but that it would be a question of four to six months before he would be quite fit again. This, of course, means that he will be sent home, and he is doubtless on his way there now. I hope he will have a complete recovery and be fit again as soon as possible. By the time he is quite fit again I trust the war will be over and there will be no necessity for him to run any further risks. I need hardly say that I greatly regret the misfortune which has befallen your son. He has proved himself a thorough soldier, and to me he has been a devoted and most attentive servant. I call him this, but I regard him as a friend and a comrade.”
Gunner Stanton is the fourth son of the late Mr. Charles Stanton, and of Mrs. Hackett, of 111, High Street, Newport Pagnell, and was formerly employed by Mr. John Odell, ironmonger, of the town. Having entered the army five months ago, he has been in France for only eight weeks or so. Two of his brothers also joined the Forces. After serving for a considerable time with the R.A.M.C., Private Dennis Stanton contracted rheumatic fever and double pneumonia, and has been discharged. The other son, Sidney Stanton, a married man, is in training.
W.E. 1917 Nov. 2nd
The wife of Gunner Sidney Dickens, 200th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, resident at 33, Spring Gardens, Newport Pagnell, was informed on Monday, by the officer commanding her husband’s company, that he had been killed in action Wednesday, October 24th. Born at Stoke Goldington, but resident at Newport Pagnell, having previously been employed at the Newport Pagnell Brewery, he joined up on April 14th, and had been in France for about six weeks. He was aged 29, and leaves a widow and one child. A sister, Mrs. Darvill, lives at 25, Thompson Street, Stantonbury.
B.S. 1917 Nov. 3rd
On Friday, October 26th the news was received that Sapper William Garratt, of the No. 18, Wagon Erecting Company, Railway Works Operating Division, Royal Engineers, had died in a Flanders Casualty Clearing Station from shrapnel wounds in the head. He was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. William Garratt, of 5, Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, and, from an apprenticeship in body making at Wolverton Carriage Works, voluntarily enlisted at the age of 19 in the Works Battalion. He had been on the Western Front since August 1916, and in a letter to the bereaved parents, Lieutenant H. Woods writes;
“I deeply regret to inform you of the death of your son, who died in hospital at 8.15a.m. on October 21. He was seriously wounded by shrapnel from a shell that burst near his sleeping quarters at 4.15a.m. He was immediately conveyed to the hospital, where he received every attention from both doctors and nurses. Whilst being with my company he proved himself to be a good and willing worker, and his cheery smile will be missed by all his comrades. I join with them in offering my deepest sympathy to you in your loss.”
B.S. 1917 Nov. 3rd
On Monday morning, Mrs. R. Dickens, resident with her young child at 33, Beaconsfield Place, Newport Pagnell, received the following distressing news in a letter from Major P. Birch;
“I very deeply regret to have to inform you that your husband, Gunner S.R. Dickens, was killed in action at his gun on the 23rd October. Ȃ I have just returned from the funeral. He is buried in a quiet cemetery in -------, and I am having a suitable cross erected. It will, I think, be a comfort to you to know that your husband could have felt no pain as he was killed instantaneously. I am very depressed at the occurrence and can only beg you to accept my very real and deep sympathy in your loss, and I hope that if I can be of any help to you with advice and so on you will not fail to let me know.”
The fourth son of ex police constable J. Dickens, Gunner Dickens had for ten years been in the employ of Mr. Harry Reynolds, grocer and provision merchant, but for the past five years had been an employee of the Newport Pagnell Brewery Company. Born at Stoke Goldington, he enlisted in the Field Artillery on April 14th, 1917, and had been on active service for only seven weeks. He was aged 29. Two of his brothers have been serving in the Grenadier Guards since the beginning of the war; Sergeant Albert Dickens was wounded in October 1914, and Private Fred Dickens is fighting in Flanders. Another brother, Cyril, served for a while with the R.A.M.C., but was medically discharged, and is now employed at Messrs. T. and F.J. Taylor’s mineral water works.
B.S. 1917 Nov. 10th
News has been received that Private W. Saunders, of the Australian Light Infantry, is in Chester Royal Infirmary, where, sustained in the recent fighting in Flanders, he is making a good recovery from concussion and shell shock. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Saunders, of the Cannon Brewery, Newport Pagnell, and having migrated at the age of 16 to learn farming, enlisted in Australia. He had been in France for six weeks.
B.S. 1917 Nov. 17th
Last Thursday, Corporal Reg. Odell, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, attended an investiture at Bristol, where, presented by the King, he received the Military Medal posthumously awarded to his deceased brother, Corporal Percy Odell, of the 6th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. After being wounded four times - the last being a shoulder wound, which was treated in Chelsea Hospital - Reg., who had been promoted on the battlefield, has been discharged from the army, and the recommendation of the Military Medal to Percy was made before his death in action.
B.S. 1917 Nov. 24th
Last Saturday, Mr. and Mrs. G. Attkins, of 2, Frederica Cottages, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, received the sad news that their younger son, 23 year old Shoeing Smith George Attkins, Army Service Corps, had died on November 11th from cerebral abscess, at the 24th Stationary Hospital, Kantara. He enlisted in early 1915, and after six weeks of training, and without being granted a leave to re-visit his parents, was sent to Egypt, where he had been on active service for more than two and a half years. His father having been employed there for many years, he served his apprenticeship to the shoeing and general smith’s trade at Mr. George Taylor’s, Tickford street, Newport Pagnell, but prior to enlisting was in the service of Mr. F. Allfrey, as under gardener. Previous to their son’s death, his parents had been officially informed that he was dangerously ill in the hospital with suppurating mastoiditis (sic). His elder brother, ex Corporal Thomas Attkins, mobilised at the beginning of the war, and, taking part in several of the big battles in France, as a machine gunner displayed such courage and devotion to duty that he was awarded the D.C.M. As a result of serious wounds he lost a leg, and is now in a civilian occupation.
B.S. 1917 Dec. 1st
Private Bertie David Umney, of the 5th Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, has been missing since the fighting in France on May 3rd, and Corporal C. Barrington of the same regiment, writes;
“Umney was with a working party digging an assembly trench and was on his way back to our first line trench and was instantly killed by German shell fire. Some of our men saw him killed and he was left with others in a trench who were either the K.R.R.’s or the Rifle Brigade.”
However, although this communication was sent by Private Umney’s mother to the War Office, they say that they cannot justify the corporal’s testament as official proof. Born at Newport Pagnell, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Umney, of 33, Broad Street, Private Umney was aged 21, and from employment at the Wolverton Carriage Works had enlisted at the beginning of the war. Having been wounded by shrapnel in the knee, sustained during the fighting at Ypres, in March 1916 he would write to his brother from the County of London War Hospital, Epsom, saying that he was lucky to have come out alive, and his chief worry is that he has lost all his kit, including a razor and brush. He is able to leave his bed and wheel himself about in a chair, and he speaks well of the treatment that he is receiving. All five of his brothers are now on active service.
(In March 1918 it would be officially reported that he had been killed on May 3rd, 1917.)
B.S. 1917 Dec. 15th
Last Saturday, unofficial news was received that Private Arthur Vickery, of the Coldstream Guards, had been killed in action in Flanders. In a letter to his wife, two regimental comrades write;
“ … on December 1st we were in an attack at a certain place, and were under heavy machine gun fire, when he was shot through the heart, and his death was instantaneous. The last time we saw him he was quite alright, and that was just before the attack commenced. He was quite happy then, but little did we think that was the last time we should speak to each other. … One could never wish for a better soldier, as he was always bright and never feared anything. … We are sincerely sorry at your great loss, and you have our deepest sympathy, as he was one of the best in the world, and a very good chap to all. Everybody liked him.”
Born in London, but having lived for practically all his life in Newport Pagnell, Private Vickery enlisted in October 1916, shortly after his marriage to Miss Frost, the daughter of Mr. H. Frost, of 27, Wolverton Road, Newport Pagnell. He was aged 26, and since leaving school had worked at Messrs. Salmons and Sons, where he had risen to the position of wages and pay clerk. As a half back, in football he probably had no equal in North Bucks., and apart from playing many games for the Newport Pagnell Autos, as captain lead his men to many victories in League matches.
B.S. 1917 Dec. 29th
Charles and Annie Smith, of 28, Spring Gardens, Newport Pagnell, have received an official notice, from the Admiralty Record Office, stating that the eldest of their four sons, Private Walter Smith, of the 1st Royal Marine Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Royal Marine Light Infantry, is now assumed to have been killed in action in the heavy fighting in France on Saturday, April 28th. Mrs. Smith has already lost two brothers in the war, one only three weeks ago. From employment in the electrical department of Wolverton Carriage Works, at the age of 18 Private Smith voluntarily enlisted in early 1916, and went to France at the end of that year. A brother joined up a few months ago, when he reached the age of 18.
B.S. 1918 Jan. 5th
Official news was conveyed this week from the Warwick Record Office to Mrs. F. Roberts, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, that her husband, Private Frederick Roberts, of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, has been reported as missing after the severe fighting in France on November 30th. Aged 28, he was the third son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Roberts, of Newport Pagnell, who have four other sons serving in the Forces. Private Roberts had joined the army in July 1916, and went to France in the following February. In May 1917 he suffered wounds in the face, right wrist and both hands, caused by a bursting shell, and subsequently spent several weeks in hospital in France. Before joining up, he had since leaving school been employed by Mr. J. Sawbridge, a butcher of Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1918 Jan 12th
Aged 26, Lieutenant Edgar Smith, M.C., of the Machine Gun Corps, was killed in action in France on December 3rd, and a local correspondent writes;
“If ever a man in khaki was conscientiously convinced and convicted that it was right to take up the cudgels of defence and weapons of offence in a sacred cause that man was Lieut. Edgar Smith.”
“When an Infantry Company had lost all their officers (on Dec. 3rd),” writes the Adjutant, “he stepped forth and took command, leading his men over the parapet until he was hit. That was Smith all over!”
Before the war, Edgar Smith had been a pleasant and obliging assistant at the Caldecote Street Co-operative Stores, Newport Pagnell, and as a keen Bible student was a gifted Sunday School teacher. When the war broke out he was pursuing a successful life in a Theological College at Hampstead, to which he had gained admission by studying hard for the examination after his usual day’s work, and on joining up was posted to the Beds. Regiment. Later he received a commission, and was ultimately transferred to the Machine Gun Corps.
B.S. 1918 Jan. 12th
On Friday morning Mrs. F. Roberts, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell received a postcard from her husband, Private F. Roberts, Royal Berkshire Regiment, stating that he is now a prisoner of war at Munster, Germany. He was previously reported as missing.
B.S. 1918 Jan. 19th
Mrs. F. Moore, who lives with her four children in Mill Street, Newport Pagnell, has just received news that her husband, Private Frederick Moore, of the 37th Trench Mortar Battery, is a prisoner of the Germans. He was reported missing after the battle of Cambrai, and in a letter to Mrs. Moore the Lieutenant in command wrote;
“He was up in the front line trenches with his gun team when the attack commenced. As the line at that point was broken into and none of the gun-team came back it is impossible to say what has happened to him. However, there is every hope that he is a prisoner. … Your husband’s loss is greatly felt in the battery. He was an excellent man in the trenches, as in fact he was in every respect.”
Aged 29, Private Moore came to Newport Pagnell from Harwich, and before joining the East Kent Regiment in June 1916 had for nine months been in the employ of the Newport Pagnell Brewery Co., as a maltster. He went to France in October 1916, and was later transferred to a Trench Mortar Battery, in which he had seen much severe fighting. He has four brothers also serving.
B.S. 1918 Jan. 26th
There is much regret in Newport Pagnell following the news that, in the presence of his mother and elder sister, after six days suffering from severe pneumonia Rifleman Cyril Stapleton, of the 15th London (Prince of Wales’s Own) Civil Service Rifles, had died at 10.30a.m. on Saturday, January 19th, at the Military Hospital, Richmond. Only a fortnight ago he had been home on leave from his training camp at Wimbledon Park, but contracted the illness on the second day after his return to duty. Aged 18 years and four months, he was the seventh son of William and Jane Stapleton, of ‘Newlyn,’ Wolverton Road, Newport Pagnell, and had been in the service of Mr. C. Glanville, clerk to the Guardians and Rural District Council of Newport Pagnell for a couple of years, before going as an assistant clerk to Tredegar Union Offices, South Wales. There he was employed for nine months, until on reaching the age of 18 he enlisted in the 15th London (Prince of Wales Own) Civil Service Rifles. The funeral was held at the Parish Church on Thursday, January 24th, with floral wreaths from his family and relatives, former colleagues, comrades, and the nursing staff of the hospital.
B.S. 1918 Feb. 2nd
Private James Sellars, of the Beds. Regiment, has received a vellum certificate for gallant conduct in the field. The wording reads;
“I have read with great pleasure the report of your Commanding Officer and Brigade Commander regarding your gallant conduct and devotion to duty in the field on 24-28 Oct., 1917. Signed R.B. Stevens, Major-General, Commanding 5th Division.”
The son in law of Mr. N. Smith, of Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, Private Sellars was an old soldier, and joined up from the Reserve at the outbreak of war. Wounded four times, he has seen much severe fighting in France, and is now on the Italian Front.
B.S. 1918 Mar. 9th
Mr. and Mrs. Flavell, of St. John Street, Newport Pagnell, have recently received a letter from their daughter, Nellie. As a cook in an Army Service Corps Unit, she is serving in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in France, and in the following extract she describes something of her work;
“There is little of romance about the A.S.C., it is mostly work, and reminds me more of Salmons’ shops than anything. The men fall in and march to and from work, and we have to feed them all at once. Most days a little bunch will come in from the line, tired and hungry, but happy to find a stopping place for even one night. Others go out to take their places, and so the days go round. We are doing practically everything a man does in the Army out of the war zone, except learning to fight. W.A.A.C.s cook, paint, print, and all kinds of clerical work, drive cars and wash them. Where a number work together, they march to and fro, and we do drills occasionally. There are nearly 200 of us in this town, and we are now working for nearly every stationary unit. We form a large part of the Army Postal Staff. There are over 10,000 W.A.A.C.s in France at the present time. We are divided into units and areas, and our officers are splendid. We get lots of good concerts out here. Our choral society is going fine. This week we practised a piece by Elgar, entitled “Torrents in Summer,” which is the most difficult we have had as yet.”
B.S. 1918 Apr. 13th
On Wednesday evening, through a letter sent by a comrade to his brother, at Tyringham, it was learned in Newport Pagnell that Private Ronald Harris, 42nd Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C., had been killed in action on the Western Front on Sunday, March 24th. The official news reached his parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. Harris, of High Street, Newport Pagnell, at mid day Friday. From the letter, it appeared that Private Harris had been attending a wounded soldier when a bomb exploded nearby. 24 years of age, he joined the R.A.M.C. on his 21st birthday, August 31st, 1914, and having been in France for over three years, had seen much severe fighting. Before the war he was apprenticed to Mr. F.W. Taylor, chemist of Newport Pagnell, and when hostilities broke out was acting as assistant to Mr. W. Cooke, chemist, of Wellingborough, who was formerly with Mr. Taylor. Two of his brothers are serving in the Forces; the eldest is with the Bucks Hussars in Palestine, and the youngest is on the Western Front with the Field Artillery.
B.S. 1918 May 4th
Dated April 4th, 1918, a postcard sent by Private Percy Coverley, of the Wilts. Regiment, from Cassel, Germany, has been received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. Coverley, of 11, Bury Avenue, Newport Pagnell. Taken prisoner on March 21st, he is their fourth son, and asks for some ‘fags’ to be sent. Before joining up he was employed by Mr. W. J. Cole, carpenter, builder etc. of Newport Pagnell. His three brothers are serving in the Forces.
B.S. 1918 May 11th
Sapper John Yakes, of the Royal Engineers Railway Battalion, died of wounds in the 36th Casualty Clearing Station, France, on Friday, April 26th. Born at Filgrave, he was the youngest son of Mr. W. Yakes, of Silver Street, Newport Pagnell, to whom in a letter the Matron states that he had been admitted the previous day with dangerous wounds in the back. Aged 32, he was formerly of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and had joined up from employment at the Wolverton Carriage Works. After training in Scotland he went to France in March 1917.
B.S. 1918 May 25th
News reached Newport Pagnell this week that Private Harry Old, of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, had been killed in action in France on Saturday, May 11th. Regarding her eldest son, his mother, Mrs. Harriet Old, of 5, Tickford Street, has received the following letter from Lieutenant J. Smith;
“It is my painful duty to inform you of the death of your son Harry, on the evening of the 11th. I had just joined his platoon and was beginning to know and appreciate him very well; to admire his bright genial spirit at all times, his keenness for his job as Lewis gunner, and his exemplary character. I can hardly realise that he has gone, and to you, as his sorrowing mother, I can only offer a sympathy which is not mine alone but that of everyone who had the good fortune to come into contact with him. He was one of a working party … a shell landed near him killing him instantaneously. … Please accept my deepest sympathy in your inestimable loss. What mothers have to bear these days no man can tell, but I sincerely trust that the blessing of resignation to that Power which guides us so unreasonably at times may be yours. You are the mother of one of those who ‘poured out the sweet red wine of youth, gave up the years to be of rest and plenty which men call happiness … and to those who would have been his sons he gave his immortality.’”
Private Chuff, a comrade of Private Old, also writes to Mrs. Old;
“We all miss him so much as he was liked by everyone, being always ready to give a helping hand. We were on night work and a shell dropped where he and others were working. Another of his mates was killed and five wounded. I myself was in another part of the trench, but helped to bring your dear son back, and he will now be buried as decently as circumstances will allow. … You have all his chums’ deepest sympathy. … May God help you to bear this news.”
Born and resident at Newport Pagnell, Private Old was aged 20, and had joined the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry on June 22nd, 1916, being formerly an apprentice at Wolverton Carriage Works. He was later transferred to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and had seen 16 months active service in Italy and France.
B.S. 1918 June 8th
Corporal John Baxter, of the 4th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry, was wounded and posted missing on April 8th, but now his parents, Harry and Sarah Baxter, of 17, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, have received official news that he died of wounds received in action in France on Wednesday, April 10th. Lieutenant Ling writes;
“He came to me as a private in September last and went through all the fighting with us at Ypres during the winter. We are awfully sorry to lose him, and you can judge what a fine soldier he was by his getting his two stripes almost at once. Why he hadn’t received promotion before I don’t know, as he was certainly the most efficient man I ever had in the section.”
Born at Newport Pagnell, Corporal Baxter was aged 25, and on joining up at the outbreak of the war was posted to the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry. Serving in Salonica, he was invalided home from there with fever, having been previously wounded once. He was later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, during which time he received promotion.
B.S. 1918 June 8th
Private Reginald Daniells, of the 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died of wounds received in action in France on Friday, April 26th. Aged 18 years and 10 months he was the second son of the late Mr. George Daniells and Mrs. Daniells of 44, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell. When Mr. Daniells died, on May 3rd, a message was sent to France asking permission for the two sons fighting on the Western Front to come home to attend the funeral. However, no answer was received, Private Daniells having died exactly a week before his father. He joined the army in August 1917, and before then had been serving his apprenticeship at Messrs. Salmons and Sons’ in Newport Pagnell. In other pursuits he had been a member of the Excelsior Silver Band.
(By the following verse he would be remembered;
“One of the many to answer the call,
For those he loved he gave his all;
Somewhere afar, in a soldier’s grave,
There lies our loved one, among the brave.”
His brother, Private George Daniells, R.A.S.C. (Ammunition Column) would tragically die after the war on the eve of his anticipated return home to civilian life. Aged 21, he succumbed to influenza, and although hopes had been expressed for his recovery and transfer to the base hospital, but in the event he was not deemed strong enough to make the journey. He died on January 16th, 1919, at No. 32 Casualty Clearing Station, and was buried the following day in Valenciennes cemetery. He had enlisted in the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry in May, 1915, but on account of his health was transferred two months later to the Ammunition Column of the R.A.S.C. He had served on the Western Front for almost two years, and before enlisting was in the employ of Dr. C. Bailey.)
B.S. 1918 June 15th
Mrs. Leonard Taylor has received a postcard from her husband, Captain Leonard Taylor, of the Durham Light Infantry, stating that he is a prisoner at Zerbst, Anhalt, Germany. He has been wounded in the foot, but is otherwise well. Captain Taylor is the youngest son of the late Alderman Taylor and Mrs. Taylor, of The Cedars, Newport Pagnell, and before enlisting was headmaster of Darlington Grammar School.)
(In the Bucks Standard of January 11th, 1919, Captain Taylor gives a graphic account of his capture, and subsequent experience in German hands.)
B.S. 1918 July 20th
Enclosing his subscription for the Bucks Standard, Mr. Albert Daniells, formerly of Newport Pagnell, but now living in Pennsylvania, U.S.A., writes;
“I look forward to its coming like a letter from home. I am pleased to see the good work that dear old Newport is doing in the fight against the Hun domination. I’m sure that Newportians would be gratified if they could see the wonderful work that America is doing in the same cause.”
B.S. 1918 July 27th
Omer and Florence Burnell, of 43, Broad Street, Newport Pagnell, have received official news that their two sons, who were previously reported missing from Tuesday, April 24th, 1917, at Salonica, must have been killed on that date. Harry, aged 23, was the eldest, and Frederick, aged 22, the second son. Both had joined the army in September 1914, and, being posted to the 7th Wiltshire Regiment, in 1915 were sent to France. After some seven weeks on the Western Front their regiment was then drafted to Salonica. Suffering from dysentery and a poisoned hand, Harry would spend four months in hospital at Malta, and had only rejoined his regiment a few weeks before he was killed. Before enlisting he was a fitter at Wolverton Carriage Works, and being of a musical mind played violin in the Newport Pagnell Orchestral Society. Frederick was more sports orientated, playing football for the Autos Club, and before joining up had been serving an apprenticeship at Salmons and Sons’ motor works. Both boys were members of the Parish Church Choir. Mr. Burnell had already lost two brothers in the war. Sick Berth Attendant James Burnell went down with H.M.S. Formidable in the English Channel, whilst Bugler Walter Burnell, of the 7th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action only a fortnight after having arrived in France.
B.S. 1918 Aug. 3rd
Mrs. Ellen Holt, of 52, Priory Street, Newport Pagnell, has received official notice that her second son, Private William Holt, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, must have been killed in action on the date that he was posted missing, Wednesday, August 22nd, 1917. He was aged 24, and from employment at Wolverton Carriage Works volunteered at the outbreak of war. After a period of training he saw active service in France, before being drafted with his regiment to Salonica. Whilst there he contracted malaria, and subsequently spent several months in hospital at Malta, before being transferred to England. When recovered he was then sent to the Western Front. His younger brother, Private Thomas Holt, of the 2nd Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action on Sunday, May 16th, 1915, aged 19, and after a period in the Forces his elder brother received his discharge.
B.S. 1918 Aug. 24th
Private Alan Warren, of the Queen’s Westminster Rifles, writes to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. Warren, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, describing the various places of interest that he has visited whilst at Jerusalem. He joined the Forces in London in early 1916, and later went to France, where he took part in a great deal of trench warfare. His regiment was then drafted to Salonica, and after various operations in that theatre of war subsequently went to Egypt. He remained unscathed all through the Palestine campaign, but spent three months in hospital at Cairo suffering from an attack of fever. He is now in a convalescent camp.
We entered by the Damascus Gate and went to the first and fifth stations of the Cross, where Christ rested when carrying the Cross. We then went on to the Ecce Homo Church, which is the second station and where Christ was crowned with thorns. This church has three old pillars where Christ passed under on his way to Calvary, and this is the reason why the church was built there. It is a very wonderful church, and the altar, which is very fine, is in front of the three pillars. Afterwards we visited Pilate’s house, but there is nothing very special about this, but outside there was a very old Greek pillar. The next place of interest was the Pool of Bethesda, and here we went right down the steps to the water. You will remember that this is the pool where the sick used to go and dip themselves and were healed. We also saw the spot, close by the pool, where it is stated Christ said to the sick man ‘Take up thy bed and walk.’ We then inspected Soloman’s Palace and St. Stephen’s Gate. From there to Herod’s house; this is where the Jews throw part of the clothes of their newly-born children, because they believe that by doing so they will be kept from all ills. The Golden Gates were the next thing of interest, and through these Christ passed on his way to and from Bethany. They are very fine, but are bricked up now; also I might add there is no gold there, only stone. We then climbed on to the old city wall and had a splendid view of the Valley of Jehosaphat, including Solomon’s tomb, Absolom’s tomb, Zachariah’s tomb, the Mary Magdalene Church (which is very fine) and tomb which goes down very deep indeed. Also the tombs of St. Anne and St. Joseph, and the Russian Church with the top all covered with gold. We also had a magnificent view of the Mount of Olives with the German church on top, and the Church of the Ascension with its very high tower and which is erected on the spot where the Ascension took place. We then went through Solomon’s stables and on to Herod’s gardens, which is nothing but grass and olive trees now but they are extremely old. Following this we took off our boots and went into the Mosque of El Aksa which was originally a Christian church built bby the Crusaders but now turned into a Mosque. We saw the altar erected on the place where the Blessed Virgin found Christ after they had left Jerusalem and had to return too find him. This mosque is built on the site of the old Temple, but only some old walls remain of this famous building. The wood in the mosque is all cedar from Lebanon and is all hand work, which makes it very precious. From there we proceeded to the Mosque of Omar, which is much larger, and there we saw the Rock Moriah upon which Abraham was making the sacrifice of his son Isaac. Also the place where the Mohammedans believe Mohamet to have ascended to heaven. They showed us his footprints on the rock and the marks where the Angel Gabriel held down the rock to prevent its rising with him. This mosque is a most wonderful building and very costly. We then went on to the washing place of the Mohammedans where they all wash their faces, hands and feet before prayer. The water runs from the Pool of Solomon, which we saw from the city wall by the Golden Gates. Solomon’s altar was quite plain and close to the pool. Next to the Jews’ Wailing Place which is part of the old Temple wall, and here the Jews wail and pray. They bring their prayers on paper, and then when they have chanted them they fasten them to the wall with a nail and leave it there to show they have been to Jerusalem and have done their part to get the city back to the Jews and also their part for personal salvation. As you can imagine the wall is full of nails. From there we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where five different religions worship under the same roof - Greeks, Armenians, Coptics, Salens, and Catholics. There is also a small chapel with a Church of England altar in, which was built by the Greeks and given by them to the Church of England. Next we saw the Tomb of Christ which is the fourteenth station. Everywhere about here is most beautifully decorated, and it is wonderful work. Just before we entered there was a Greek service being held in front of the tomb and we found it most interesting. Then we went on to the Coptic Chapel, which is the thirteenth station. And then to the chapel where the Crucifixion took place. We had to go up a lot of stairs which were very much worn. There is a very fine altar there, and we saw the hole where the Cross went in just under the altar. We also saw the Stone of Unction, and also the Crusaders’ crosses and swords which are kept locked up in a room adjoining the chapel. We then went to David’s tower and a place called David’s tomb, now a mosque but formerly a Crusaders’ Church and supposed to be built on the spot where the Upper Room was and where the Last Supper was held. Afterwards we were taken through some of the old native shopping streets which were very interesting but very dirty. Finally we left the city by the Jaffa Gate, and thus completed our trip.”
B.S. 1918 Aug. 31st
Having been home on leave in March, Gunner Henry Smith, of the 1st Battalion, Tank Corps, is unofficially reported as killed in action. His parents, Joseph and Clara Smith, live at 1, Abbey Terrace, Newport Pagnell, and in a letter from the Major of Gunner Smith’s Company have learned that their son was acting as orderly to Captain Keogh, M.C., and that both were killed on August 8th. The Major further writes;
We buried him, and you will be given the place later. We all deeply regret him, for he was a good soldier and a good sportsman, winning several races for the Company lately. All of us join in expressing our sympathy to you.”
Born at Finmere, he was aged 22. Gunner Smith had joined the Northants. Regiment on August 31st, 1914, and after training went to France in May 1915. Being later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, during the following October he was severely wounded in the head at the Battle of Loos, and subsequently spent 16 weeks in Nottingham Hospital. When recovered, in February 1916 he was then sent to the Western Front, being in June 1917 appointed as a Gunner in the Tank Corps. In peacetime he had been a foreman bottler at Messrs. Hopcraft and Norris Brewery at Brackley.
W.E. 1918 Sep. 6th
An Admiralty telegram was received on Friday, August 23rd, stating that 32 year old Lieutenant Arthur Whiting, R.N.V.R., the fifth son of Mr. Henry Whiting, of Caldecote House, Newport Pagnell, had been killed at sea. With only one survivor, it transpired that his ship was blown up when it came into contact with the German torpedo the crew were endeavouring to recover. In fact this was the same torpedo that, missing its mark by only a few feet, had only a few days before been fired at Lieutenant Whiting’s ship whilst on escort duty. Educated at All Saints’ School, Bloxham, Lieutenant Whiting had trained as an engineer at Messrs. Blackstone’s, of Stamford, and later managed the motor engineering department of Messrs. Whiting’s Ltd., Euston Road, London. At the outbreak of war he voluntarily joined the Navy, and was gazetted as second officer on a patrol boat working the Irish coast. After several thrilling experiences, in the following Spring he then joined his brother, Lieutenant Harry Whiting, with whom he worked on anti submarine devices in home waters. After a course of training he was appointed to command a patrol boat in the Eastern Mediterranean, and there he remained until 1917, when, on being promoted to lieutenant, he was appointed to command one of the North Sea Transport Escorts. Subsequently he was made Division Leader, and in a letter published in the Bucks Standard of August 31st, 1918, the Senior Base Officer writes to the mother of Lieutenant Whiting;
“I need hardly tell you how his loss has affected all the officers and men on the base, and I know they will join with me in offering our very sincere and deep sympathy to you and the family. He was always a favourite among us, and without any empty flattery he was without doubt one of the most popular men on the -------. His cheery dry humour always made him welcome to all our gatherings, and he will be terribly missed by us all.”
(Published in ‘The Motor,’ of Tuesday 8th October, 1918, would be the following paragraph;
“The £100 subscription to the Cycle and Motor Trades Benevolent Fund to perpetuate the memory of Lieut. Arthur Whiting, R.N.V.R., has been oversubscribed, and in view of the desire expressed by many friends who have not yet sent in their subscriptions, the organisers of the memorial have decided to keep the list open for a few more weeks, and to hand the total amount over to the London Centre of the Benevolent Fund to augment a list of donations which will be added to the results of the forthcoming annual appeal of the President, Sir Charles C. Wakefield.”)
W.E. 1918 Sep. 6th
Joseph and Clara Smith, of 1, Abbey Terrace, Newport Pagnell, have received the news that their eldest son, Gunner Henry Smith, Tank Corps, was killed on August 8th. He was aged 22, and had joined the Northants. Regiment on August 31st, 1914. Before the war he was foreman bottler at Messrs. Hopcraft and Norris’s Brewery, Brackley.
B.S. 1918 Sep. 7th
Private Percy Stevens, of the Royal Marine Light infantry, was badly wounded by shrapnel last month in France. He is now in the 3rd Scottish General Hospital at Glasgow, and is progressing as well as can be expected. In letters to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. Stevens, of Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, he says that the shell which caused his wounds exploded only a foot or so away from him, lifting him some 4 feet in the air. He sustained 12 wounds, in both legs, thighs, and back, and lay in a shell hole for three days without any attention to his wounds, or food and water. The shell hole was in between the German front and support lines, and twice when the Germans counter attacked he caught the full force of the British barrages. As he writes;
“It was a proper hell, I can tell you. ‘Jerry’ told me scores of times that I was a prisoner; but, thank God, I’m not. There was one who came for me with a stretcher, which he put in another shell-hole, but, just as he was going to dress my wounds, our barrage opened, so he ‘scooted.’ I should have been ‘somewhere in Germany’ by now if I could have walked. I lost all my kit out there, except my tunic, and that was blown to bits.”
W.E. 1918 Sep. 13th
News has been received that Second Lieutenant Leonard Chapman, 5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment, who went to the Western Front some six weeks ago, died aged 21 on the morning of Monday, September 2nd, in the Second Red Cross Hospital at Rouen. On Wednesday, August 28th his parents, Frederick and Sarah Chapman, of 28, Caldecote Street, Newport Pagnell, had received a telegram from the War Office, stating that having sustained severe gunshot wounds in the chest, which had penetrated his lungs and left shoulder, he had been admitted to the Second Red Cross Hospital at Rouen. At the age of 17 he joined the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry on September 7th, 1914, and was posted to the 7th Battalion in Kitchener’s army. After a year of training in England, as a lance corporal he then went with his regiment to France, where he spent ten days in the trenches, and seven weeks on the Western Front. In November 1915 he was drafted to Salonica, having been promoted to Corporal, and participating on August 17/18, 1916, in the capture of Horse Shoe Hill, by the 26th Division, he was badly wounded in the knee, buttock, and back by a hand grenade thrown by a Bulgarian soldier. Subsequently he spent eight months in hospital at Malta, and when recovered returned to Salonica, to be appointed Acting Sergeant. Participating in much severe fighting, including an engagement in which his battalion lost all their commissioned officers, and 517 men, he was recommended for a commission on August 11th, 1917, and on the 29th of that month left Salonica and travelled to England via Italy and France. On November 9th he joined the Officers’ Cadet Battalion at Plymouth, and after a six month training course was gazetted to the Royal Berkshire Regiment. With full military honours (including eight officers as a special bodyguard) his funeral took place last Tuesday in France, and was attended by his parents who, on receipt of a telegram received on Sunday evening, stating that their son was very seriously ill, left for France as soon as possible, only to find that their son had died before their arrival. On Saturday morning, considering the serious nature of his wounds he had been able to talk and was most cheerful, but later he had a relapse and died from internal haemorrhage. He was their third son.
B.S. 1918 Sep. 14th
George and Mary Boughton, of 86, Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, have received a letter from a Brigade chaplain containing the news that their eldest son, Private Herbert Boughton, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, died on August 28th in the Advanced Operating Centre, from wounds received in action in France on August 27th. Everything possible had been done to save his life. He was aged 21, and mobilised with the Wolverton Company of the Bucks Territorials at the outbreak of war. He went to France the following year, and remained unscathed until March 1917, when invalided to the Lord Derby Hospital with pneumonia and bronchitis. On recovering, he then returned to France in June 1917. Before the war he had worked for Mr. A. Bullard, of Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1918 Sep. 14th
Private Ernest Craker, of the 1st Royal Marine Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Light Infantry, is officially reported to have been killed in action in France on August 22nd. The son of William and Zilpah Craker, from employment as a painter at Wolverton Works, he joined up in June 1917 and went to the Western Front in the following October. Aged 35, at 9, Beaconsfield Place, Newport Pagnell, he leaves a widow, Florence and five children, the eldest being 8. The youngest, aged 11 months, he had never seen, since his draft left for France in the week that the child was born. His widow’s brother, Private Whitlock, was killed the day after her husband.
(Private Alfred Whitlock, of the 8th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, had been born at Woburn Sands, and formerly served in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He is buried in Gommecourt British Cemetery No. 2, Hebuterne, Pas de Calais, France.)
B.S. 1918 Sep. 14th
Private Harry Edmunds, of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment), was killed in action in France on Thursday, August 29th, and his widow, of Greenfield Road, Newport Pagnell, has received the following letter from the Chaplain of the regiment;
“I can assure you that the Colonel and officers of his company, as well as his comrades and myself, deeply sympathise with you in your profound sorrow. It is poor consolation to offer you at this time, but you must, I know, feel a sense of pride even in your grief, in the knowledge that your brave husband has made the “great sacrifice” and has given his life for his King and Country - and for you and all dear to him. He was buried with his comrades who died in the same engagement, when I officiated, and his company officer and comrades, and as many as could be spared, attended.”
Born at Stoke Goldington, Private Edmunds was 39, and before joining up had been employed at Wolverton Carriage Works. He will be remembered as a capable member of the Newport Pagnell Excelsior Silver Band.
B.S. 1918 Sep. 14th
Official news has arrived that Private Abraham French, of the London Regiment, was killed in action in France on Friday, August 23rd. In a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Charles French, of 3, The Green, Newport Pagnell, Lieutenant H. Mitchell writes regarding their son;
“I know only too well that no words of mine can in any way bring consolation to you for the loss of so fine a lad, but as the officer commanding your son’s platoon I should like to tell you how much his splendid qualities were appreciated both by myself and those around him, and how keenly I, personally, feel the loss of your boy, whose dependable character and sterling qualities made him an asset to any platoon of men. I had learnt to hold him in the highest esteem, not only for his efficiency and conscientiousness as a soldier, but for his manly character. He was, in fact, all that an Englishman could be. His personal courage, his coolness, and his consistent cheerfulness under very adverse and trying conditions were an example to all with whom he came in contact. I would like to mention that your boy suffered no pain; he was killed instantly by a shell during an attack. Your son had taken part in the heavy fighting of which you will have read reports in the newspapers. Throughout the day of the 23rd he behaved with a gallantry and an endurance beyond all praise. I was myself wounded at the same time or I would have written earlier. … Please accept my heartfelt sympathy, and I do trust that in time you will allow a feeling of pride to take the place of your grief, that so fine an English lad laid down his life for his country.”
Private French was aged 19, and had joined the Beds Yeomanry when aged 16. However, when this was discovered by the Army authorities he was sent home to civil employment. When aged 18, from employment with Mr. J. Sawbridge, butcher, he then joined up, and went to France in April 1918. Two of his brothers are on active service in France, one of whom has returned to the front after recovering from wounds .
(Born at Newport Pagnell, he had formerly served in the Hampshire Regiment.)
B.S. 1918 Sep. 14th
News has arrived that Private James Ives, of the Royal Warwick Regiment, died of wounds to the abdomen in the No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station, in France, on August 30th. He was aged 18 years and 9 months, and having joined the army in October 1917, went to France in early 1918. Born and resident at Belfast, he was the eldest son of Frederick and Bertha Ives, of Belfast, formerly of Newport Pagnell, and before enlisting worked for Mr. J. Sawbridge, butcher, at Newport Pagnell.
B.S. 1918 Sep. 14th
Private Herbert Roberts, of the 2nd Battalion, Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action in France on Friday, August 23rd, and in a letter one of his comrades informs John and Amy Roberts, of 35, St. John Street, Newport Pagnell, the details regarding the death of their fifth son. He was killed instantly when a shell dropped behind him, and since there was no mark on his body, the concussion must have been the cause of his demise. All the men of the platoon send their heartfelt sympathy, and the details are confirmed by letters from Sergeant F. Law, Private C. Umney, of Newport Pagnell, and Private Lawrence Stratton, of Lathbury. Private Roberts was aged 20, and before joining up on November 10th 1916 had been employed at Wolverton Carriage Works. He was drafted to the Western Front on March 2nd 1918, and five of his brothers are serving in the Forces.
B.S. 1918 Sep. 14th
Private Alfred Whitlock, of the Machine Gun Corps, Somerset Light Infantry, is officially reported to have been killed in action on August 23rd. He was the eighth son of the widowed Mrs. Whitlock, of Bury Avenue, Newport Pagnell, who received the news last Tuesday. Private Whitlock was aged 19, and having joined up in May 1917 was sent to France in March 1918. In June he then spent a while in hospital at Boulogne, recovering from the effects of being gassed. A keen footballer, before enlisting he had worked in the paint shop at Wolverton Carriage Works. Two other sons of Mrs. Whitlock are now serving in the Forces, one on the Western Front.
B.S. 1918 Sep. 28th
Private Charles Mills, of the 18th (Service) Battalion, Gloucester Regiment, died of wounds on Saturday, September 14th in the 13th Casualty Clearing Station, France. In a letter to his parents, George and Rose Mills, of 7, London Road, Newport Pagnell, the Sister in charge writes that he was admitted on September 12th with penetrating gunshot wounds in the chest. In a second letter she then conveyed the sad news that he had died, and was buried in the cemetery at the hospital. He was aged 32, and joined the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry in March 1916, being sent to France in June. On August 26th he was wounded, and was again in hospital in France two months later with illness. In February 1917 he became seriously ill with rheumatic fever, and was sent to St. George’s Hospital, in London. When recovered he was then sent to the Western Front in September 1917 but having in January 1918 severely sprained his ankle, he underwent treatment in hospital at Rouen and also in England, later spending a period of convalescence at Llandudno. After leave spent at home in July 1918, he returned to France at the end of that month, when he was transferred to the Gloucester Regiment. Before enlisting he had for many years been employed by Mr. W. Healey, coachbuilder, etc., of Newport Pagnell. His younger brother has been missing in France since March 23rd 1918, and two other brothers are also fighting; one in Mesopotamia, and the other on the Italian Front.
B.S. 1918 Oct. 19th
Sapper Charles Rose, of the 52nd Artisan Works Company, Royal Engineers, was accidentally killed in France on Thursday, October 10th. In a letter to Mrs. Rose, of Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, the Captain of the 52nd N.W. Co. writes;
“It is with deep regret that I have to tell you of an accident to a lorry by which your son has lost his life while doing his duty. In assuring you of my sympathy I am expressing the feelings of all his comrades with whom he was deservedly popular. He is being buried in Terlingthan Cemetery just outside Boulogne to-morrow morning (12th inst.), and I may say that the response to the request for volunteers to attend was so large that the number had to be cut down.”
An only son, Sapper Rose was aged 36, and from employment at Messrs. Salmons and Sons’ motor works had joined the army on June 21st, 1915. His wife died some six years ago, and he leaves three children and his widowed mother to mourn.
B.S. 1918 Nov. 2nd
Private Walter Barnwell, of the Wiltshire Regiment, has recently been awarded the Military Medal in France. The presentation was made by the Divisional General at a special parade, where he announced that the honour had been bestowed for Private Barnwell’s courage in conveying messages through a heavy barrage and severe enemy machine gun fire, as well as for bombing an enemy trench and, in conjunction with an officer, capturing a machine gun. He is the fourth son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Barnwell, of High Street, Newport Pagnell, and having joined up at the age of 18, went to the Western Front in April 1917. He was slightly wounded the following month. One of his brothers was killed at Salonica, and two other brothers hold four medals for bravery between them.
B.S. 1918 Nov. 9th
Private William Hedge, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action in France on Saturday, October 26th, and Sergeant Russell writes to Mrs. Hedge;
“I have always found him trustworthy and ever willing. I shall miss him very much, for he was a good soldier and one of the best in my platoon. All the N.C.O.s and men sympathise with you in your great sorrow. I hope, please God, he has gone to a home of rest. He did not suffer much, for I was close by at the time, and he was killed almost instantly by a shell which burst close to him. He was right in the front with his section, and I can assure you he died a good soldier’s death.”
The officer in command of the platoon also wrote expressing his sympathy. Private Hedge, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Hedge, of North Crawley, was aged 30, and since his marriage seven years ago lived with his wife and two children at 78, Silver Street, Newport Pagnell. He joined the army on November 20th 1916, having previously been employed as a farm labourer by Mr. James Holes, of Newport Pagnell, and was sent to France in June 1917. The following summer he spent a while in a French hospital with trench fever, and came home on leave in August 1917. He then returned to the Western Front on August 28th.
B.S. 1919 Apr. 12th
Mr. and Mrs. Moore, of 25, Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell, have received the news that their son, Private Arthur Moore, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, is presumed to have been killed in action on Wednesday, August 22nd, 1917. The War Office has been unable to obtain any further information since he was posted missing, and from enquiries made by the British Red Cross it seems that he died on the 22nd/23rd August, 1917, when near Ypres the 2nd Bucks Battalion made an attack on Gallipoli and Pond Farms. Advancing up the ridge, the action lasted all day, but was not successful. After 500 yards, some 1000 yards short of the objective they had to retire, and with many casualties being caused by shells, one soldier reported; “We were on a working party carrying up trench mortars from support to front line when a big shell dropped in front of us. Several were killed and wounded. Most of the distance to the casualty clearing station would be under shell fire, and the wounded had to go back through a German barrage behind us.”
(Born and resident at Newport Pagnell, Private Moore was killed in action on Wednesday 22nd August 1917, aged 21, and is commemorated on Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.)