Swan and Edgar Corner at Ypres

Piccadilly in the Front Line

Towards the end of September 1918 I was one of a party of nine men and an officer taking part in a silent raid in the Ypres sector, a little in front of the well-known spot called Swan and Edgar’s Corner.  The raid was the outcome of an order from Headquarters demanding prisoners for information.

Everything had been nicely arranged.  We were to approach the German line by stealth, surprise an outpost, and get back quickly to our own trenches with the prisoners.

Owing perhaps to the wretchedness of the night – it was pouring with rain, and intensely black – things did not work according to plan.  Instead of reaching our objective, our party became divided, and the group that I was with got hopelessly lost.  There were five of us, including “Ginger,” a Cockney.

We trod warily for about an hour, when we suddenly came up against a barbed-wire entanglement, in the centre of which we could just make out the figure of a solitary German.  After whispered consultation, we decided to take him prisoner, knowing that the German, having been stationary, had not lost sense of direction and could guide us back to our line.

Noiselessly surmounting the barbed wire, we crept up to him and in a second Ginger was on him.  Pointing his bayonet in Fritz’s back, he said, “Nah, then, you blighter, show us the way ‘ome.”

Very coolly and without the slightest trace of fear, the German replied in perfect English, “I suppose you mean me to lead you to the British trenches.”

“Oh!” said Ginger, “so yer speak English, do yer?”

“Yes,” said the German, “I was a waiter at a restaurant in Piccadilly before the war.”

“Piccadilly, eh?  You’re just the feller we want.  Take us as far as Swan and Edgar’s Corner.”

R. Allen (late Middlesex Regt., 41st Division, 7 Moreland Street, Finsbury Park, N.4

William Gibbons killed on 1 September 1918


From the Andover Advertiser, 25 October 1918

Much sympathy is extended to Mr and Mrs Henry Gibbons on the loss through being killed in action of their youngest son, William, at the age of 24 years.  On 12th January 1915, he joined the A.S.C. but was later transferred to the Somerset Light Infantry, in whose ranks he fell.

He had been in France for more than 3 years, and had not had leave for 12 months, so that his relatives were eagerly looking forward to seeing him. Their hopes, however, were blighted about a fortnight ago when the War Office wrote to say that he was killed on 1st September.

Mr and Mrs Gibbons have three other sons serving: all are in France, and it is our sincere wish that they will be spared to return.

At the parish church on Sunday, a memorial service was held for the deceased, also for Hector Hibberd, whose death in France we reported recently.

Private Barnes Severely Wounded

Andover Advertiser 12th July 1918

SERIOUSLY WOUNDED – Mr and Mrs Barnes of Ivy Cottages, have received news from the War Office that their son, Pte. Barnes 2nd /4th Oxford and Bucks , has been severely wounded and is now in hospital in Birmingham. This is the first news they have heard of him since 4th April. All their friends hope he will have a speedy recovery.



Gallantry Award For Sergeant Holdway

Andover Advertiser 7th June 1918

DEVOTION TO DUTY – Sergeant W.C. Holdway of the 2nd King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, son of Mr and Mrs Holdway of Link, has been awarded the D.C.M. under the following circumstances :- For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a counter attack. During the advance through a heavy barrage he moved about from section to section of his platoon, guiding them through the wire and inspiring them by his cheerfulness and utter disregard of danger. When the company, after capturing the objective, was much troubled by an enemy sniper, he worked his way out to a flank and succeeded in putting him out of action. He set a splendid example to his men through out the operation. All of us congratulate Sergeant Holdway and hope he may be spared to return home with further honours.



Private Frank Willis Killed In Action

Andover Advertiser 31st May 1918

GIVEN HIS LIFE – Above we reproduce the photograph of Private Frank Willis, R.A.M.C. son of Mrs Edward Willis (formerly of St Mary Bourne), who was killed in action on 29th  April 1918 near Ypres, His Commanding Officer, writing home, says ; “He was one of my best lads. He always did his work cheerfully and well”.


Three More Prisoners Of War

Andover Advertiser 3rd May 1918

PRISONERS IN GERMAN HANDS – Last week we mentioned that Pte. A. Biggs R.M.L.I. had written home to say that he was a prisoner of war at Limberg. Three other local men are now known to be prisoners of war in Germany. 2nd Lieut. J.R.H. McIntosh, Private Fred Annals and Pte. Richard Davis of the Inniskilling Fusiliers, son of Mrs Brown of Lower Rank. A card was received from him on Thursday morning saying he was quite well, and he was taken prisoner.



Private Biggs Is A Prisoner Of War

Andover Advertiser 20th April 1918

A PRISONER IN GERMANY – After an absence of information for five weeks Mrs Biggs of Woodbine Holdings, has received a postcard from her husband, Private Arthur William Biggs, saying that he is a prisoner of war at Limberg. Private Biggs who belongs to the Royal Marines Light Infantry, is the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Biggs, Cress View, St Mary Bourne. He joined up about a year ago, and for the last five months has been on service in France. His card was written on 31st  March but it only reached St Mary Bourne on Wednesday morning (18th  April), bringing welcome relief to the great anxiety which was felt for his safety. No official communication has been received from the War Office. Private Biggs has two brothers serving as well. Q.M.S. Walter Biggs with the Royal Field Artillery and Trooper Joe Biggs with the Yeomanry in Palestine.



The Moorse Family Contribution To The War Effort

Andover Advertiser 8th February 1918

ANOTHER MILITARY FAMILY – We have been asked to write a paragraph concerning the military history of Mr W.C. Moorse’s family, and have great pleasure in doing so. Harold the youngest son, joined the Hampshire Regiment when 18 years old. For five years he served abroad, two years as schoolmaster sergeant, until war broke out. He was sent to England, and having been given a commission in the York and Lancaster Regiment, proceeded to France in February 1915. We regret to have to say that he lost his life in action about a month later. – Sergeant Frank Moorse R.A.M.C. was at Netley Hospital for some time. Two years ago he was drafted to Salonika and has been there ever since. – Sergeant William Moorse was in the Wessex Division when war broke out, and for the first three years saw Service in the Dardanelles, Egypt and Palestine. – Driver Walter Moorse also of the Wessex Division has seen the same service as his brother William, and strange to say both had their Christmas dinner in Jerusalem.



Military Cross Awarded to Lieutenant W R Tovani

Andover Advertiser 28th January 1918

MILITARY HONOUR – Some time ago we reported that Lieut. W.R. Tovani, of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), elder son of the Rev. W.T. Tovani vicar of Hurstbourne Priors, with St Mary Bourne, had been awarded the Military Cross. The following is the official account of what he did :- Lieutenant William Richard Tovani (Royal Highlanders). On 31st  July 1917 during the attack, when his Company Commander had become a casualty, though wounded in the face carried on leading his men with the utmost gallantry, and capturing a machine gun concrete emplacement which was causing great hindrance to the advance to the first objective. He continued to lead his company to the second objective till he was twice again wounded and compelled to desist.


Rumour Of Death Greatly Exaggerated!

Andover Advertiser 25th January 1918

A MISTAKE SOMEWHERE – There has been a mistake committed by someone in the army, but fortunately, although serious on the face of it, it turned out amusing. On January 11th  Private Richard Davis, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, son of Mrs M. Brown, Lower Rank came home on a 14 day furlough from France. Last Saturday while he was at home, his mother received an important letter from the Dublin Records Office, stating that her son, Private Richard Davis 42463, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was posted as wounded and missing on 28th  November 1917. It is understood that about that time there was a very serious engagement in France, as a result of which some of the men of that battalion were thought to have been cut off, and no doubt the mistake had arisen through this. Had their son not been at home at the time that the letter was received, the mother would have had a most anxious time, but everybody had a good laugh at the mistake. In the earlier days of the war Private Davis belonged to the A.S.C, but was transferred with many others into infantrymen, and he has been in France for eighteen months. His chum was killed by his side on Christmas Day, but we are glad to know that although ill fate is trying to dog this young man’s footsteps, he has escaped injury so far, and we hope he will come through all right