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The Great War News from Lancaster in 1914

18th December 1914

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

Soldiers’ Stories
A grateful soldier

The following letter was received by a Bolton-le-Sands lady from 7545 Corporal William Clare, D Company, King’s Own Regiment, who is on active service, which shows how thankful our troops are for gifts from the kind people at home:
“Just a few lines to let you know I have received from you a shirt and tobacco and matches, for which I thank you for the bottom of my heart, as it was a great kindness you have done me. I wish you the best of luck, and I shall always remember you for it. I am in the best of health and spirits, and we are doing our best for our king and country while we are out here. The weather is very cold, and we are also having plenty of rain. Dear Madam, I now draw to a close, wishing you the best of health and strength, and good luck to you. Wishing you a merry Christmas when it comes, and a happy new year.”

Letter from a Royal Lancaster Prisoner of War

The following letter has been received by Mr J L Barrow, headmaster of Christ Church schools, from Sergeant R Wilkinson of the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, who is a prisoner of war at Sennelager, Berlin. Writing from that place of internment on the 1st December, Sergeant Wilkinson says: “Just a line in answer to your most welcome post-card. I cannot tell you how agreeably surprised I was to hear from you. I am pleased to state that I am enjoying the best of health here, under the circumstances in which fate has placed us, but I must not grumble, as lots of poor fellows in the field are a lot worse off than us. The weather here is simply grand, a sharp bracing air and not too cold. Personally, I think that the climate here for the time of year is a lot warmer than England. I shall not be sorry when it is all over, as it comes hard to be caged up after being used to my liberty. Well, I shall have to draw to a close. Thanking you for your kind wishes, and hoping to hear from you soon. Also wishing you and your scholars every success. I remain, one of your old scholars.
R Wilkionson.”

Royal Lancaster Officer and the Legion of Honour

Corporal J Callaghan, of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, writes as follows to a friend in Salford:
“I had a lucky stroke for I was hit in the back, but the bullet did not penetrate my pack, and the butt of my rifle was also shot through. I am still in fighting trim. I am glad to let you know that my regiment has received very great honours out here for the way they have made their attacks. Some of the officers have received the Legion of Honour. My brother who is in the same battalion, was captured in a bayonet charge, and is now a prisoner in Germany. He has written home for food and cocoa, so they must not be giving them much food in Germany. We had much pleasure in being inspected by His Majesty King George. The people of England have been very kind to us as far as presents are concerned. They have sent us plenty.”

War – As it is.

Private James Chadwick, of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, writing home, says:
“One cannot describe war properly, and one forgets a lot of things, but it is fairly exciting when there is a big battle on. You go nearly mad with rage at first, but soon cool down, and then when you come out of it you begin to look round, wondering where so and so is, and saying to yourself “I am lucky again.” There are over 200 dead Germans now lying between our trenches and those of the Germans, which are only 100 yards apart. They have been lying there for over three weeks, and were all killed in a night attack. At the battle of Meterin I was with Major Jackson and 13 others when we went after one of the Germans guns which was doing a lot of damage. We were so far advanced that we were in danger from our own artillery. We took the gun and killed the whole of the Germans in charge of it. This place is an awful wreck. Some of the children, who are nearly starved, come round and ask for bully beef, and they get many a tin – and jam, too. There are no houses left for them to live in.”

King Presents Medal to A Royal Lancaster Corporal

The King has honoured an Oldham card room operative, Corporal E Howard, of the Royal Lancaster Regiment, by decorating him in France, with the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Lance corporal Cooper, of the same regiment, describes the gallant deed in a letter as follows:
“We were at ---- when the order came to retire to a better position, and he and four men were told to hold the enemy at bay. The bullets were buzzing around galore. They managed to keep them back, and on returning to join us Corporal E Howard, saw his captain lying wounded on the field. Nobody had seen him fall when the others retired. He took his field dressings from his pocket and bandaged the officer as best as he could. Then, picking him up, he carried him to a place of safety. The act was rewarded by his Majesty the King on Wednesday 2nd December, when he inspected us. The Prince of Wales also gave him a little present. The medal was one of the first to be presented on the battlefield by the King.”

Sergeant Wood a Prisoner of War

The friends and acquaintances of Sergeant F W Wood, number 9478, of the Royal Lancaster Regiment, will be pleased to hear that he is quite well, although a prisoner of war. He was reported “missing” and some people have concluded that he was killed. Writing from the English Lager Sennelager, via Paderborn, Germany, on the 12th October, he says:- “I am quite well, and untouched.” He asks his friends not to worry about him, as he is “quite safe” and will be home at the end of the war. He asks for a supply of tobacco (a special brand) and a tobacco pouch. These were sent, and in another postcard sent on the 29th October, he acknowledges the receipt of the pouch, and “expects to receive the tobacco.” He says he is all right, and would like to hear news of how things are going on in Lancaster, but he says it is no use sending newspapers. Indeed he says “don’t send them”. His last postcard is dated 29th November. He says “I am quite well, but it is awfully cold here. Don’t write long letters, but write often. I will write when I am able. I am looking forward to coming back some day.

Company Sergeant Major Rowley

Company Sergeant Major Rowley is one of Lancaster’s many brave men, of whom his family and Lancaster may well be proud. He belongs to the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, and his mother and sister reside in Havelock Street. He has seen active service with the regiment in India, and received a first class certificate for cookery as a lance corporal, and was made sergeant cook in 1910. He resigned this appointment to return to duty in the ranks. Since leaving for the front he has been made company sergeant major. He has received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, for meritorious conduct on the battlefield, the incident being recorded in a recent issue of the Observer. The sergeant major, who is 28 years of age, was educated at Scotforth and Bowerham schools. He is expected home in January for a few days.

Mackintoshes for Sentries

A movement was set on foot recently in and near Lancaster for providing fifty oilskins for the sentries of the 1st Battalion, Royal Lancaster Regiment, on duty in the firing line. Mrs Hoyle, of Scarthwaite, collected £22 for this purpose and the remainder of the money required having been obtained, the oilskins have been provided. They will prove a great boon to the sentries in the present wet and trying weather.

Thanks for Comforts

The following letter, received by Mrs Coulston, of Bolton-le-Sands, speaks for itself:
“Dear Mrs Coulston, Many thanks for your kind gift from the people of Lancaster, Bolton-le-Sands, and several other places, to the 1st The King’s Own Regiment, which arrived safely, and was at once distributed. The men greatly appreciate your kindness.
Yours faithfully
Geo Wilson, Captain
1st King’s Own Regt.
28th Nov 1914.

Soldier’s Suicide
Sergeant Severs Carotid Artery with Penknife.

A sensation was created in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Bowerham Barracks by the unexpected suicide of Colour Sergeant Instructor George Henry Brazier (42) of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. Deceased joined the regiment in September after completing 21 years service three years ago. Much of his service had been in India, China and Burma. On Monday night he went early to bed, and just after midnight his room mates were awakened by hearing him yell, and on getting up found that he was bleeding from the throat. He died soon after his removal to hospital, where it was found that he had stabbed the carotid artery with a penknife. Deceased’s widow lives at Chapel-en-le-Firth, Derbyshire.

The inquest was held at the Town Hall on Wednesday evening, before Mr Neville Holden, coroner.

Company Sergeant Major William Smith said he had known deceased fifteen years. He had served twenty one years in the regiment, and left on pension about April 1911, rejoining in September on the formation of Lord Kitchener’s army, as colour sergeant instructor. Nearly all his service was in India, China, and Burma. After rejoining he was at the depot a fortnight, and then went to Tidworth, returning about the middle of October through inability to march. He was then appointed to the depot staff, and posted to witness’ company. Some years ago he had an accident to his arm, always wore a wrist strap, but he did not complain of it rendering him unable to do his duty. He seemed in fairly good health. Witness was roused early on Tuesday morning by the police sergeant, and told that deceased had cut his throat. When he reached deceased’s quarters he found him alive. He had him removed to hospital, and telephoned to the infirmary for medical help.
Sergeant Thomas Henry Whybrow, who occupied the same room in the married quarters as deceased, who he had served with for twenty years, said during the last week deceased had been drinking hard, but he did not know if he was in debt. He had never suggested that he would no away with himself, and did not appear likely to do such a thin. Besides deceased and himself Sergeants Shepherd and Hanson were in the same room. Suddenly deceased yelled out, and witness jumped up and held him down until Shepherd came to his assistance. He went to bed at 8.40 quite sober, and witness said he cold swear positively that he had not had anything to drink since Saturday. He had no doubt that deceased was not in his right mind; he was not the man to do such a thing if he had been. He saw at once that deceased had cut his throat with a knife, which was lying on the floor near his bed in a quantity of blood.
Sergeant Edward Parker, a member of the Metropolitan Police and drill instructor at the depot, said he had known deceased for the last two months as a steady, sober man. He might have been drinking latterly, but witness had not seen him drunk. At 12.5 am on Tuesday he heard the yell, and immediately went to deceased’s room. He was struggling on the bed and Whybrow was holding him down. After he had stopped the bleeding, deceased sadi, “Why didn’t you let me cut my head off?” Witness went to the hospital with him and was at his bedside when he died about 12.20.

Major Holmes, RAMC, stated informally that a couple of days before his death deceased was sent to him for examination prior to being discharged from the army. He was very shaky through drink, and said he had been drinking very hard, but would not admit taking more than three or four pints of beer a day. The major added that he did not know deceased was in difficulty except with regard to his discharge.
At the suggestion of the Coroner, who pointed to the absence of evidence of mental trouble, the jury found that deceased had committed suicide by cutting his throat.

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