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LETTERS FROM THE FRONT

—Delights of a Cavalry Charge.— " We. were walking our horses up a. rather steep incline, when, coming over tho brow of a hill, we noticed a party of German cavalrymen. Our fc words were out in a, tick, end wo wore at 'cm. They bad eeen lis at tho time, and wo came together with great, force. The impact cleared many a saddle, but we cut our wav througir.ind wheeled before the enemy had time to recover. They scattered in all directions, and wo *-ent a parting voliev after them just to show there was no ilf-feeling. Wo lost n couple of our men. but. th.\v suffered much worse losses. . . . The German cavalrymen are great horsemen, but thev have, not much heart. Wo hoard tho other day that a largo partv of them had been charged by a body of infantry. You don't know the delight of a charge. It make* your blood rut. quick to think of it. There is not a 'funker' among us. We have seen some pretty .stiff fighting, I can toll you. In one fckirnii?h I nearly came a cropper. We had, received orders t<> clear a little wood in which a rompjnv of Hermans were quartered. When wo got about 20 yards off wo could e.ee nothing, but before wo advanced another yard a ' sau.sage' seemed to pop up out of a hole in tho ground in front of me. T had jttnt time to catch him a whavk with my' sword, other-wife ho would have turned me out of the paddle with his bayonet."—A British Hussar, to his friend* at Stanley {Durham). —Killing Their Own Wounded.— "Tho day after our captain was killed I was taken to our temporary hospital for a day or two. The hoapitui was a farmhouse. Wo had about 80 Or man wounded, and they wore all in a shed together, also porno in tho farmhouse. Tho Germans were shelling our position, and a lot of the- shells wove falling just wido of tho farmhouse. All at oneo the Germans altered their range, and started to shell the farmhouse v.-hero the Gorman wounded were lying. One or two came in the back va.rd, mtiking the fowls scatter; then, us if to mock them, the Germans put, three *hclls through the roof of the shed whore t.ha German wounded were lying, eetting tho shod on fire, actually setting fira to their own men. All of'a. midden down canto another shell, blowing in all the doors and windows of the house where our men lay. Before we, had time to think one. more came crashing in through the roof of the house. There were 15 men lying in the house, three more orderlies, and myself. I thought the world had come to "an end. The top part, of the house was wrecked and tito room whore I was. Alt the walls shook, and the. top part, of the house took lire. AVe were all lucky wo wore not killed. Our first job, of course, was to get all wounded away, which wo managed to <io after a. terrible struggle. Sonn: of our men helped the Germans to a place of safety, which was a cave about 100 yards in length, not unlike a, gateway. We managed to got thorn to this "cave. A lot of our men fat arourd tho mouth of the cave, and a Gorman shell dropped in among them Thr-'-e ofi'icera and three men wore killed and 20 others injured. Of course, the cave was in darkness. Just fancy what it would be like—-nil wounded men inside and then another 20 to be added. AYe could not get a Wit of candle, for a lone time, for the Germans kept shelling the"road where w.- were. It was an experience T would not, hke to go through Private T. Wilson, of the 3i ? d Battalion of Coldstreams. —Grim Battlefield Sights.— Corporal Claude Latham, of the heavy battcrv of the Garrison Artillery writing on October 17 to his father, said, inter alia.: — , . "It is principally a tale of hard marching over rotten roads after an enemy who never stop to wait for us. It is awiul. terrible, ghasf.lv to see tho way in winch this fair land is beinjf laid waste, a lot ot it being sheer wanton destruction on the part of the enemv. God forbid that you should ever seen England as this part ot France now is. As wc have been allowing up the battle, so closely, and are pressing home our pursuit so raptdlv, there has been no time to clear the battlefield, and. as a consequence, one sees some awful \ sights. A few days ago 1 was literally j marching through pools of blood. Burning | houses cast-off equipment and clothing, j broken-down carts, waggons, and motors, ; dead men and horses were everywhere. The poor civilian people hero are. almost c-azy. Thev stand crying and wringing ; their hand*' over their belongings and | household furniture lying about broken , and strewn in the mack in front of their ] burning houses. Our fellows are getting , into an awful pitch. When wo get to Germany thev will want some holding. The French will, any way. But this game | cannot go on much longer. Human nature will never stand it. Already strong rumors are current that the enemy have had ■ about enough, for their losses must be ; enormous and staggering, as we are giving j them absolutely no rest. Yon may look : for a dramatic coup soon. Two days ago ; T witnc.--.ed an exciting scene—a battle in j midair. A German aeroplane hail been observing our column marching along the ; road, we ocasionallv having pot-shots at it. without effect. Then a French biplane j appeared, and opened fire on it with a ; maxim in midair. It was fine to see. the ; German crumple up. He fell in his own • lines, but he must have been killed, for he ; fell 2,000 ft or more." —"Tommy's" Ttibttte to German Bravery.— " I have seen it stated in the paper? since I have been in the hospital that the | Germans were not brave. Don't you be- , licvo it. They will not stand up to the ■ bayonet unless pushed on to it. I know, but they face rifio fire and shrapnel in a manner'which you can't ln.-lp but admire. The way they" are massed and marched against our trenches is madness, but they are not cowards. I am telling you what I know personally and what I have seen. It was only last week I saw a sight I shall never"forget. I was at a place justbehind our trenches when a whole corps of Germans made for us at different positions. Mind you, they did not come in n mad rush, but they stepped out as it out for a long march." They sang their national song lustily, and must have known, as they were so thickly mawd, they were marching on to destruction. But thev came, on, and our chaps were awaiting'them with glee. Not a shot was fired until they got so close that it was impossible, to miss them. ITien the order was -riven, and didn't- our rifles and maxims speak! Of course, they fell in their hundreds, but there was no wavering. _ U was amazing. Hundreds stepped into their places, and ranks closed again. They still came on only to fall, and tiiis kind of fighting went on'for some'time until they realised that even numbers can't take British trenches in this fashion. They had to fall back at last to take cover, but were shelled out of all kinds of hiding place?; j only to face shrapnel. The ground round j the" trenches was packed with dead bodies, j and hundreds were taken prisoners. One ; of them who could speak English well , bogged me to give him food, and he told i me his colonel assured them before th.y > commenced the attack that there were I onlv a mere handful of English troops in I the" trenches, and that capturing the posi- j tions would mean the retreat of 10,000 . British troop-. But what a ' suck-in ' for (hem! He also said that his captain, sooner than surrender, shot himself."—ByCorporal Reid. of the Signalling Corps. —A Marvellous Escape.— "On Monday afternoon. October 26, 1 was out in front of our trenches about 10 yards, when a shell burst right in front r>f me. A piece of it hit me on my pack —the hng I carry on my back—and blew me i straight back into the trench. I was nn- j conscious for about 15 minutes. AA'hen t j came to again I got my rifle put up on | the trrnclTand was aiming at a German, j when 'Jack Johnson' sent another shell j in mv direction. A piece hit in« right , on the forehead and knocked me out for | about an hour and a-hnlf. AVh«n I woke | np I was told by my ehumi that the cap- j tain of my company" told them to pick me j up and tliww me on top of the trench for | dead. I lay there for an hour among all j the fire and shells, and, thank God, I; never got hit. When I came to I could j see about 700 or 800 Germans coming I straight over to where T was lying, right- \ in front- of my trench. I ju«t collected my | thoughts and dropped down into the |

trench. When the doctor saw mo he said I/ r was for England right away. I did not want to come, but he. said I would have to go. He said : ' Yon have concussion of the brain.' "—By Privatu W. Doyle, Ist Northumberland Fusiliers.

"We arrived about a.mile or two from on the 18th, and, at midnight, we dug trenches and got into them when we finished them. Wo took everything quite cool until we had finished our dinner. Wo had not finished morn than 10 minutes when we got half a dozen shells over the top of our trench, and the damage done was one man killed and four wounded. 1 set to work to bandage up my mates. We all sat down, talking and smoking. I was enjoying it at the time, but before I knew where I was T had got in it the loft arm, shoulder, and log. I said to ray mate : 'lt is getting a bit too warm.' I managed to get out, and I pulled him up, too, and we both made our way, on our hands and knees, for about 600 yds across a field to a haystack, and then wo started to do each other's wounds up. After we hat! a rest wo made, tracks for the hospital. After the doctor had finished with me he put me. down on a bed of straw, but about, four o'clock the enemy blew the roof off. T did not think about wounds or anything else. 1 was up and down tho cellar until wo were bound for England."—By Private Kinghorn, of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

"A heavy batten- was in action against us a few days ago, and a German shell Killed two of the men. It upset tho major that much that he swore ho would have 2.C'CO Germans for Ms two. A little while after an aeroplane brought him the news of a German column crossing a road, nt got tho range, and every time the aviator gave him the word he gave the. oidei, ' One-round gun lire.' You may imagine, the result of four shells of 601h shrapnel bursting almost at once in a crowd-.1 road. He kept it up a good while that day, and again on tho next. So J think he. avenged his two poor fellows." —By Driver Hornby, of the Roval Field Artillery.

"We had a splendid position on tho Aisne, good gun pits, and cood cover. Wo were in action where there wer-3 plenty of trees to hido tho Runs, but the aeroplane found us after wo had 1 ecu there a week. Then their arvl'.lery started. What- a time wo had—hell on earth. That night wo shifted oi r pnsi tion about 200 yds to the right, and rigged up a dummy battery in our old position. It was good' to see them open on the old carts next, morning, and tan: 290 yds awav."—By Gunner Archbold. of tho Field Arti'llerv.

A dia'ry kepi- by Private Walter Thompson, of the Coldstro.'ims, who was killed in action on September 27, records : >is movements from leaving home on August 12 until the day of his death. In it ho describes his first- engagement, on August 25, as "hell let loose," and states thai on that occasion the front rank of the enemy wore dressed in French uniforms and, - u seeing the British, greeted them as'".vend.-, then charged upon them and r.itioted great damage. In that ouigaaemout 19 British were killed and 61 woundel, and the number of Germans killed was estimated at over 2,000. Of another engagement he wrote: '"1 got a. good r.'.nge ai 200 yds, and dropped three poor me i with four shots. Captain Burton congratulated mo on my good shooting. It -s awful, shooting big. line men who have done, is no harm : but no do it, or they will do it to us." The regiment's next move, was to the outskirts of - Paris, and for three weeks they were continuously marching and fighting". The Germans were kept almost always on tho run. and at Charly they left this message on tho walls of the town: "We. shall dance the tango in Paris on September 13 over the dead bodies of tho English." The "pathos of tho following letter, written by Private R. Bond, of C Company, East Yorkshires, to his wife at Murton colliery, County Durham, lies in the circumstance that Mrs Bond died a

month ago, and tho baby a week later. News of his loss has not yet reached Private Bond, although telegrams und letters have been, forwarded to him. He writes: " Dear wife.—l now- have, the opportunity of writing you, and trust that this "finds you and' dear baby in good health, as *I am at present. We havo brrn drought back from the firing line to have .a few days' rest, which we are all enjoying. I had a narrow escape tho other day, as a bullet went right through mv "cap badge and grazed my head.' rutting it just a. little. I don't think the. war will last much longer. You need not pond any tobacco now, as we are bring treated very well indeed. 1 have three or four ounces of tobacr.D now and a low packets of cigarettes, and we often /el chocolates, so that' we cannot grumble. . . . With dourest love to you and baby."

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141230.2.70

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LETTERS FROM THE FRONT, Issue 15688, 30 December 1914

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2,479

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT Issue 15688, 30 December 1914

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