The Great War, I was there - Part 7

Part 8 of THE GREAT WAR: I WAS THERE!On Sale Everywhere Next Tuesday Leaves from the Editor’s Note-Book (Continued from page ii of this wrapper) Anyway, sir, here's wishing the publication every success, and I can assure you it will always have a place of honour in my home as an intimate link with the old days. Yours very sincerely, (Sgd.) hArt u rF. Cart er. (Late 13834 Private, 4th Mid d ’esex Regt.) THE receipt of this letter adds still more to my satisfaction that my own visit to Mons and its Museum was so successful in discovering this and the other really remarkable photographs which I was able to include in our first Part and also our second Part. I have little doubt that I shall soon hear of other similarly interesting personal identifications. The second letter to which I want to make immediate reference is from another Private who "was there”at Mons. I was glad that one of the results of my visit to Mons was the discovery of the identity of the British soldier who fired the first shot in The Great War. I have noted in page 41 of Part 1 how I discovered Sergeant Thomas at Brighton and induced him to recount his experiences of that historic hour. The letter I have now received is from Private Goodman, who describes himself as Sergeant Thomas’s “first comrade. The point of interest is that Private Goodman appears to have been the second man to fire. Here is his letter :To the Editor. Acocks Green, Birmingham.“ I Fired the FirstS h o t,"b y Serge antE. Tho mas. Dear Sir ,As 1 was his first comrade, 1 should like to endorse his account of that now “Historic Deed." The Bandsrmn, which was his rank at the time, also fired the second shot. When he had fired his first shot, Thomas said," D on’t fire yet, Goodman, I’ll tell you the range.” His second shot certainly felled a German officer. Thomas immediately said “400,'' at which range I opened fire. Yours truly, (Sgd.) The First Com rad e.(Late Private William Goodman, Reg. No. 6834, 4th .I.R Dragoon Guards. C Squadron, 4th Troop.) Such letters as these are in themselves full and sufficient justification for the appearance of this new work in afield that many, probably lacking discernment, had thought was already over-cultivated. I t is more than merely probable that recent events in Europe have revived interest in the beginnings of war 24 years ago, certainly on the part of what old soldiers used rather condescendingly to call the mere civilian. To have gone, to have been pressed, so close to the abyss of anew and more horrible war as we were all, civilian and old soldier alike. in October 1938, necessarily brings back to the mind the war-weary days of October 1918 and the preceding years. And thus, if there is onetime more right than any other for the launching of anew and very expensive publica­tion such as this, I may claim that the present is that psychological moment. His issue ol The Great War: I Was There !appears within a few days of our yearly celebration of the Armistice of 1918 and of our remembrance of that vast army of men who laid down their lives in the service of their country. I have therefore included in this aPart special plate in two colours of the celebrations at the Cenotaph from the first permanent memorial column of 1919 to last year, and it seemed tome most fitting that on a background of the vast, silent crowd that fills Whitehall each year we should present each of the three Kings of England who have taken their rightful part as Chief Remembrancers. On the other part of the Plate our three Kings are seen at War. TURN1NG now to the pages of the present Part, the six articles here included offer very varied fare in the way of personal experiences. For the first time we have something from the Home Front, and in Chapter 51 the officer who was then commanding the defending forts at the Hartlepools tells the really astonishing story of the first bombardment of English shores for two and a half centuries. In fact, so far as my memory of British history goes, apart from quite minor incidents, there has been no occasion in all our long history, apart from the Hartlepools and the Dutch in the Medway in the reign of Charles II, when it could be accurately stated that we were subjected to bombardment by guns. U U e now reach, with the present Part, the end of the first year, and accordingly several pages deal with the first Christmas of the War. It will be remembered by many that the more optimistic spirits among us then were quite certain that the troops would be home by Christmas, but the first battle of Ypres made the impossibility of such hopes perfectly clear, and dashed much easy optimism. There was, however, as the late Sir Edward Hulse here recounts in the pages from his “War Letters,” a most extraordinary Christmas celebra­tion on part of the Front, when English and Germans came out into the open, exchanged souvenirs and fraternized in the most extraordinary manner for the whole of Christmas Day. THEREAFTER we begin Section VIII of our work which covers the first three months of 1915. The outstanding event of this otherwise rather humdrum period of trench life was the great battle of Neuve Chapelle, which gives the title to our section. Humdrum as trench life was, it nevertheless provided only too many incidents of the tragic kind relieved occasionally with the comic, stories of which are told by Private Frank Richards in Chapter 54, to which I have given the title“ 1 he Sergeant Who Went the Wrong Way.” I here are two other chapters which will,Iam sure, be read with the greatest of interest for entirely different reasons. The first tells in his own words the experiences of the private who, lost at Le Cateau, wandered about, starving and hunted, until January 1915, when he was given shelter by a French­woman, who hid him in a cupboard from the Germans who frequently searched and were even billeted in her very house. And in that cupboard he remained off and on until the Armistice of 1918 freed him once more. The other chapter is an account of Beatty’s great naval triumph at the Dogger Bank, when the Bliicher, which was one of the ships which smashed up the Hartlepools, was herself destroyed and sunk with hundreds of her crew, a quick and fitting revenge. Like every chapter in this publication, all those to which I have referred in this Part are selected because they are the vividly written and direct experiences of eye-witnesses— the men who were there 1 To Make Sure of Getting Your Copy, Give Your Newsagent a Firm Order NOW
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