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The Great War News from Lancaster in 1914

11th December 1914

These pages include reports from the local press in Lancaster and district from December 1914.

Comforts for Soldiers in our Midst
A Gratifying Response from Readers. A Piano Secured.

We are very much gratified at the response made to our appeal last week for sleeping helmets, knitted gloves, a piano, and plum puddings for the National Reservists who form the military guard at the Wagon Works Prison.
These men, giving up civil employment, have undertaken military duties again in the hour of the country’s need and are performing important and necessary service. They have set free for other duties younger soldiers, who are thus able to undertake active service, or to prepare themselves for such service as the country may require.
The plum puddings are provided for, so that our readers need not further concern themselves with that section of our appeal.
We are very glad to state that a piano has also been offered, and gladly accepted. This is a very handsome gift by Mr W S Peel and Miss Peel, of Melling, to whom our thanks are hereby given.
Some helmets and mittens have been sent in as well as subscriptions. These will be acknowledged through our columns next week.
We make a special appeal this week for sleeping helmets and gloves. The latter should be made to cover the whole of the hand, with thumb piece, and to come well up to the wrist.
The helmets will be a great comfort to the men when asleep as their apartments are large and draughty. The gloves will be a great protection when on duty during the cold nights.
We should like our readers to have the satisfaction of knowing that every member of the National Reserve at the Wagon Works has been provided with at least one knitted helmet and a pair of gloves.
We are glad to be able to say, on the authority of the Vicar of Lancaster, who visits the Wagon Works each week as chaplain and who is brought into contact with the guards and sentries, that the appeal has the entire approval.

Major Black’s thanks

Major Black, commander of the National Reserve detachment at the Wagon Works camp, writing to the editor of the Observer on the 9th December, says:-
“On behalf of my men I beg to thank you very much indeed for the interest you have taken in their comfort. Please assure your readers that we very much appreciate the kindly thought no less than their valuable gifts. With reference to the piano, we have a suitable place for it in the barrack room. It will indeed prove a boon. Again thanking you and assuring you of our gratitude, I am, yours faithfully,
A O Black, Major
Commanding NR Detachment Wagon Works Camp, Lancaster.

Soldiers’ Stories
Detailed account of Captain Clutterbuck’s Death

A sergeant of the King’s Own, recently seen by an Observer representative, told a graphic story of the gruelling which the 1st Battalion King’s Own received in the early stages of the war, of the heroic death of Colonel Dykes, and the tight position in which the regiment found itself, along with the Dublin Fusiliers and other regiments of the brigade. He declared that the Germans were discovered attired in French uniforms, speaking French fluently, and by this means the English were for a short time misled. “Germans came through our lines when we had halted for a very much needed meal after a long march, and as they were attired in French uniforms, we believed they were allies. They picked up bits of information before they were detected.” After describing the incidents that led to the death of Colonel Dykes, and to his parting words to his troops, the sergeant went on to describe the later events of that memorable afternoon and evening. The regiments were reformed as quickly as possible, and the King’s Own, sadly depleted of officers and men, marched down the street of a village. At the end of the street, facing them, was a church, on the steps of which was a number of soldiers, singing lustily, “Rule Britannia.” “Are there any King’s Own men there,” inquired Captain Clutterbuck, as he tried to pierce the gloom. “This way captain,” was the prompt answer, and the company commanded by the gallant captain, marched on. Suddenly the soldiers on the steps of the church jumped up, and called upon Captain Clutterbuck and his company in the name of the Kaiser to surrender. Here again French uniforms and English speech had given the Germans a temporary advantage. “Surrender be hanged,” exclaimed Captain Clutterbuck, realising the situation quickly. “King’s Own fix bayonets, charge,” he exclaimed, and before the astonished Germans had time to think the King’s Own got in some deadly bayonet work. Unhappily, Captain Clutterbuck fell mortally wounded as he was leading his gallant company, but the men rushed on, and gave a good account of themselves against tremendous odds. The companies were not able to reform until dark, when the men were collected from various places where they had taken cover. The sergeant told a gruesome story of the fate of a German officer. He crept up alongside a projection of some sort, with the object of ascertaining if behind it were any of the enemy. His cautious crawling was described in vivid language. He took no risks. He first of all put his hand on the edge of projecting cover, as though to draw the fire of the enemy if they were concealed there. As a matter of fact, there was a single British officer behind the doorway, and he bided his time. He would not be “drawn.” The German officer got his head slowly inch by inch past the edge of the door, and as his neck appeared down came the British officer’s uplifted sword, and the German’s head was severed at a blow. Not a sound was uttered, there was no cry, but a German body fell on one side of the cover, and a German head rolled away on the other side. Needless to say, the reconnaissance did not materialise.

Asked as to the atrocities said to have been committed by the Germans, the sergeant – who was in all the operations up to a late date on the Aisne – said the stories were perfectly true. They burnt and pillaged houses without the least reason, ill treated the non combatants, and certainly made women and old men march in front of them when advancing to shield them from the fire of the British. “It was that kind of thing that made us mad,” added the sergeant , and the thought seemed to stiffen him up, and to put a light in his eye that boded no good to the enemy, “and it is the recollection of what I saw that makes me eager to get back into the firing line.” He added that he had seen fighting in South Africa and elsewhere, but he had never encountered an enemy so far last to all sense of honour, or who disregarded the rules of war so flagrantly as the Germans.

A Well Deserved Rest

Writing to a friend at Fermoy, Private J Wilson of the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, says:- “No doubt you heard about the colonel being killed and all the casualties we have had. So far I’ve had the good luck to escape, and I feel very thankful indeed, as we have been in a very warm place this month. We have been billeted about four days now, and we fully appreciate the rest, as we were in the advanced trenches for over three weeks – I cannot tell you where, but we were in the thick of it, and by George! it was hot, too – constantly being subjected to heavy shelling and numerous attacks which, I am glad to say, were splendidly repelled by the British troops in spite of the Germans’ far superior numbers. I only wish that British troops were half as strong. I bet we would give them a dose that would leave its mark.
“You should have seen us the day we left the trenches. There was a vast difference between us and the ‘King’s’ who used to march down to church in Fermoy so spick and span. We were haggard, unwashed, unshaven, and covered from head to foot in mud…. We had a long march to this place, and we are now in large barns full of straw. This may sound very uncomfortable to you at home, but to us the Hotel Cecil is in the shade compared with these quarters. We are being refitted by degrees, and have had several good washes and shaves and managed to shake some of the mud of the trenches off our clothes. We are beginning to look more like the ‘King’s’ once more. We were inspected by General French yesterday, and in his speech he gave us a great name.”

Local War Items

Among the wounded undergoing treatment at Bowerham Barracks in the early part of the week was Sergeant Frank Whiteside, of the Royal Lancasters, a Lancaster man. he was wounded in the arm by shrapnel, and had the bone of the forearm shattered.

Edward H Keir, eldest son of Mr S Keir, secretary of the Royal Albert Institution, has this week been gazetted second lieutenant in the 9th Royal Lancaster Regiment. He has only just left the Royal Grammar School, where he was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps.

Sergeant Arkwright Reported Killed

A communication was received yesterday by Mrs Arkwright, of West Place, which stated that her husband, Sergeant John Arkwright, of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, was reported killed or had died of wounds. There had been much uncertainty about Arkwright. He was reported wounded at Mons on the 20th August, and on several occasions he has been reported “missing.” The message was received yesterday unfortunately confirms the worst fears. He is the son of Mr Henry Arkwright, of 47 Clarence Street, who is employed at the Barracks. He went out with the second batch of Royal Lancasters, and was in the early engagements. A brother of the deceased, also belonging to the King’s Own, is wounded, and in a German hospital.

Thanks for Gifts to the King’s Own

Mrs Hibbert has received the following letters from Captain Wilson, 1st Battalion The King’s Own Regiment, acknowledging the last two consignments of comforts she sent to the front. She again thanks all those who so kindly contributed, and feels sure they will be glad to know how much their gifts are appreciated.
“Dear Mrs Hibbert,
I have again to write and thank you for your further parcel of comforts for the officers and also for the parcel for the men. All have been received and distributed, and we are very grateful. The weather is very broken – snow, frost, and rain alternating, and as most of our work is trench work your gifts have been most acceptable. No time for more – post is just going out. – With every good wish, yours very sincerely,
Geo Wilson.”

“Dear Mrs Hibbert,
Many thanks for your kind gifts to the men of the 1st The King’s Own Regiment, which arrived safely and were at once distributed. The men greatly appreciated your kindness.
Yours very sincerely,
Geo. Wilson.”

Thanks for Comforts

Dear Sirs,
I would be so glad if you will allow me to express through the columns of your newspaper the thanks of the officer commanding officer and the men of the 1st The King’s Own Regiment for the many valuable gifts, comforts etc, that have been sent out to the men by the residents of Lancaster and neighbourhood. In this respect we wish also to thank Mr Yates of your town, for his valued gift of tobacco and cigarettes sent per Mr Alf N Greenwood of your town. For all these gifts the men are very grateful indeed.
Yours faithfully
George Wilson, Captain
1st The King’s Own Regiment
On service, 6th December 1914.

King’s Own Royal Lancasters Inspected by the King

The following is an extract from a letter received in Lancaster from an officer of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment now at the front. The letter is dated 4th December:
“We were inspected by his Majesty the King the day before yesterday. Fortunately we were having our rest in our billets at the time he came, so that I was able to turn out the whole battalion for his Majesty. The King walked all round the ranks, and said he thought the men were looking very well, and asked me all sorts of questions, which I was able to answer. The King told me he was very glad to have had a chance of seeing the regiment, and that the general had told him how well the regiment had done; in fact, his Majesty said many kind things. As his Majesty said many kind things. As his Majesty left I called for three cheers, and the men gave them really well. HRH the Prince of Wales was with the King, also General Pulteney and Major Clive Wigram.”

A Military Family

Colour Sergeant Instructor John Salisbury, of Batley, who is now engaged at Bowerham Barracks, has this week received a postcard from his son (Sergeant James Salisbury), of the same regiment, an old scholar of St. Thomas’ school, stating that he has been invalided home with a bad leg. Sergeant Salisbury went out with the regiment as corporal, and has since been promoted to full sergeant. He has been in all the fighting, and escaped without a scratch. The postcard was written from RMS Asturias.
Colour Sergeant Instructor Salisbury, who was employed as a motorman on the Corporation tramways before he went to Batley, has himself served 21 years with the colours, seven years with the Volunteers and Territorials, and joined the National Reserve on its formation. He rejoined the regiment as instructor, and up to a week or two ago had been with the 9th Battalion at Seaford. His stepson, Torpedoman Wilfred Wilson, was lost on HMS Cressy; another stepson, Herbert Wilson, is in the Rifle Brigade, and a third, Percy, is also serving in the army. In addition, his sister, Mrs Walker, of Coverdale Road, has one son in a Scottish regiment, one in the artillery, and one in the Royal Engineers; and other sisters, Mrs Lockley, Long Marsh Lane, Mrs Nesbitt, and Mrs Baines (Chorley) have each a son in the 5th Battalion Royal Lancaster. The family record is thus a proud one.

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