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“TOMMY’S" BAPTISM OF FIRE

“WENT SILLY AND CRIED FUR MOTHER.” ANOTHER EALACIAVA CHARGE, Tho feelings of a young eoldicr in tho fighting lino for tho first time—how courage camo suddenly following on fear—are described in tho following letter written by Private W. A. Cast, who took part in the famous charge of tho 9lh Lane ora : “This was my first timo in action. I have been marking for men when firing for their proficiency pay, but being in proper action sent me silly. Pm sure I cried for my mother 10 times, but of a sudden courage loomed up in mo. My comrade was blown to pieces, a shell taking his head, arms, and legs in different directions. We advanced to Mons. We went through this outlie with rather had casualties. Arriving at a place called Shulin, we got into the thick of it. We Wei's resting by a coal factory, and, by Jove l you should just have seen us. We were behind great heaps of coal dust, and as the shells camo great clouds of du.,.. liew up. fso jou can imagine what we were like We were black with dust, and 1 daresay the Germans thought ve were Indiaiis. Ail of a sudden came the German advance. We quickly got ichiivi a til gar factory. ’* Our colonel gave a command for T, sq<:..dr>n to charge, hut cur regiment- cci-.-. m small numbers, A, 15, and C scpuidrons and some of tho 18th Hussars joined in-, making about 600 in all. Our loader was a Captain Grenfell. As in the coal factory, both captain and adjutant got badly wounded. Wo charged a battery of 11 heavy guns that woro harassing cvr troops. The artillery were posted in a wood. The 9th rode s’,might at them, sabred the gunnera. and put tho guns m t of action. It was a magnificent achievement—splendid but ghastly. It made me think of the Balaclava charge, and I re membered the guns in front, guns to infright, and guns to the left. On wont, the 9lh Lancers through a deadly 'd/n-rn of lyddite and shrapnel. Twice we tried and got within 500 yds of them the third time. Captain Grenfell said to tie; “Scop those shells, or the 2nd Division will be cut up.” And on wo went—'“hell for leather.” This timo we got there; and well wo knew 1 ii. Out of 600 only 2 oamo back, but an- ’ other 100 or eo more returned two days I after. Captain Grenfell is a. hero, so is squadron-sergeant-major Durant, w'Jto was also in the charge. lie fell with five lanco wounds in different parts of his hodv, and a. shell that killed a young lieutenant wounded him in the arm. While lying on the ground ho shot dead a German's boro-, bat tho man escaped. It was the last ! round in his revolver. The German, { noticing him moving, lifted his rifle and i fired at him, wounding him from head to : knee with a terrible wound. The poor j fellow is now in Cardiff Hospital, where I lie was in a pitiable condition when 1 left j him. I took part in tho charge, but gm | through it with only a smashed oollarbip.- | and bruised ribs. My horse was kilVd under me. and in tho fall mv collarbone was broken. I was also badly trampled on. 1 Lay under shrapnel fire for four horn’s in a ditch—it was an awful ordeal—till picked up by stretcher-bearers. Sever will I forget those awful five days.” Private Cast lias four brothers at the front. George is a corporal in the j K.L.A. ; Charles is corporal of the Ist , Royal Dragoons t William is a driver in ( the Horse- Artillery ; and Arthur if» private 1 in tho. L.N. Lancashires. The father of I the quintet served for 12 years in the i York and Lancashire regiments.. j Both Captain Grenfell and Sergeant- ( major Durant were awarded the V.Q for I “ conspicuous gallantry.”

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141123.2.85

Bibliographic details

“TOMMY’S" BAPTISM OF FIRE, Issue 15657, 23 November 1914

Word Count
665

“TOMMY’S" BAPTISM OF FIRE Issue 15657, 23 November 1914

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