The Great War, I was there - Part 32

Part 33 of THE GREAT WAR: I WAS THERE!On Sale Everywhere Tuesday, May 16 Leaves from the Editor’s Note-Book (Continued from page ii o f this wrapper) retains in the hope of finding the owner or the latter’s next of kin. I have already arranged for an entry in the “Old Comrades’ Corner." Gunner D arbyshire’s story of L Battery, published in Part 3, has brought forth a spate of correspondence, much of which 1 have printed abut few supplementary notes sent by Mr. W. H. Parker are of interest :“After Nery. September I, 1914, L Battery came home to Woolwich and was reformed St.at John's Wood Barracks. Along with BandY they formed the 15th Brigade R.H.A. They left Avonmouth March 17,1915, for Egypt and Galhpoh Gunner Darbyshire was present with L, but for some reason Driver Osborne was absent. Sometime in the summer of 1915 at Galhpoh Gunner Darbyshire was badly wounded them head and died soon after "Man chester reader, Mr. J.G errard, has sent me three letters. T woof his letters were to tell us that he could definitely identify the photograph in page 728 of Part 18 as showing men of the 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, chiefly D Coy. Mr. Paul Maze’s article in the previous Part brought some further notes from Mr. G errard, including this :Part 17, page 682, contains an account by Paul Maze of the Tyne­ side Division’s capture of La Boisselle. He does not know half the facts. I was there as a Battalion Signaller in the 58th Brigade, who waited in an assembly trench a!! day. Our Colonel wired several times asking if he must come up in support, and he was told each time he was not needed—just another Brass Hat stupid action, wanting the honour for themselves, which caused the Division to be cutup. They went to the fourth German line, so we were told on the phone, leaving the Germans down the dug-outs to come up afterwards and machine- gun them from the rear. Next morning they had only a handful of men left, holding about 50 yards of the German front. The 58th Brigade went over next morning, and a Brigade did what a Division had failed to do the first day, all through the stupid people who would not accept help. The refusal by the Tyneside Division of the 58th Brigades help the first day must have cost about a Division in casualties. What remained of the Tyneside Division we received as reinforce­ments. My Company got a Platoon of Tyneside Scottish, and some of them were with us until the end of the War. These men included some very fine fighting soldiers indeed, mostly colliers from the Durham coalfields. ”W^ITH reference to the last phrase quoted, it is satisfactory to read them newspapers of 1939 that the Government have placed mining among the essential reserved occupations, and that it is therefore unlikely that men who can give such valuable technical service on the Home Front will again be assent, they were in the Great War, to the battle-front as ordinary soldiers. Far too often men of valuable special capacities and training were wasted in infantry work which any non-technical man could have done equally well. |HAVE already noted in these columns information from two interested sources concerning the group shown in the photograph in page 376. Further letters have now arrived from two other old soldiers, whose identities are hidden in the nom s-de-plum e of “AVery Interested Reader ”(Barrow- m -Furness) and “Runner ”(London.) The former has dis­covered in another work this same photo of Canadian troops, with a caption stating that it was taken just outside E trun on May 3,1918. This village of E trun (not, as my correspondent out,points to be confused with that of the same name near Cam brai) appears in the background, and is four kilometres N .W .of Arras, immediately south of M aroeuil. “Runner ”agrees with M r.M cKelvie (whose letter I quoted last week) that the group is of the 3rd Canadian Battalion Toronto Regiment, to which he belonged. The cap badges worn by these men are the Battalion’s own, and the maple leaf emblem is only a minor part of the design. He recognizes several of the officers and men, and explains the Lee-Enfield rifles in the photo as having been overtaken from dead Tom mies. tfJ oR RES POND ENC E from distant parts of the Empire or dealing with the war-time fighting forces of the Dominions is exceptionally heavy, and I always take particular regard of the views expressed and the information vouchsafed by the men who voluntarily crossed the world to fight—as we believed then—for both freedom and lasting peace. INVINCIBLE patriotism is the keynote of along letter fromM r.A.j. Duffey, of Newcastle, N .S.W .,who begins thus :“Being one of the many British ex-Servicemen herein Australia, allow tome send a letter of appreciation of your placing upon the market the new picture books, I Was There .”He continues in this admirable vein :Old soldiers never die—once a soldier, always a soldier. If our Empire was worth defending then, it is more so now. Surely we owe a debt to those who lie buried on foreign fields. Surely they have not died in vain surely we, the old, lame, sick and weary, did not suffer in vain. To the Youth of the present generation may I appeal to their sense of responsibility or obligation to us, the remnants.” M R.D u F FEY S reminiscences of his early Army days make good reading: I joined upon September 9,1914. At Christmas 1914 I, with others, paraded at the barracks for anew outfit. We were dressed to kill—done up like fighting cocks. The brand-new outfit was incomplete every detail, even to the pay-book, where we signed our last Will and Testament. The little red fibre disc, with Name, Number, and Regiment, attached to apiece of string, was our Identity Disc. For three months we marched about in civvies with no rifle or bayonet. To fire our course we were lent a rifle. How I came to abe first-class shot got me beat it was my downfall. I had joined Kitchener’s Army, but the Powers that were decided that first-class shots, or marksmen, were wanted and needed in France. So,on January 3,1915, we landed in Rouen or Havre— I forget which—and I was to complete my course of Army training in a bullring, where all movements were done ‘At the double ’and ‘As you were,’ 4 Look to your front,’ etc., etc. ...“Our train eventually arrived at some railhead. We were met by men of our own regiment and marched off to a place called Estaires, and were billeted in a cotton factory. The cotton waste came in very handy, as we made ourselves comfortable amongst the machinery In a postscript Mr. Duffey turns philosopher :“These war-time photographs [in I Was There ]reveal to us the youths that we were. I can hardly imagine myself, now an elderly man, being as young as the youngsters portrayed in the photographs. And yet when we come to look back we must realize that as the years by,pass as the years change from one year to another, so we too must change with the times. Col lowing the publication in the Editor’s Note-Book of M r.F. G. Holyoak’s information there Canadian Ex-Servicem en’s Association of Great Britain (with head­quarters at Leicester), I have had further correspondence both from Mr. Holyoak, who thanks us for having successfully publicized his Association, and from Mr. L. D .Harvey, who is, it appears, the Hon Secretary of a similar organization at Hastings, with an almost identical title. This Association was informed March 1937 as the Hastings and District Canadian Ex-Servicem en’s Association, and assumed a more general name a year later. M y correspondents, to both of whom I am indebted for their information, also state that there are other Canadian Ex-Servicem en’s Associations in Bexhill, Folkestone, and (since January 1939) London, while Birmingham and Peterborough have branches of the Leicester Association. All Back Numbers Specially Kept in Print for New Readers
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