About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.

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

 

The Toll Of Wounded From St Mary Bourne

Andover Advertiser 18th January 1918

A HOUSEHOLD ROLL OF HONOUR – It gives us much pleasure this week to refer to the patriotic family of Mr and Mrs G. Choules, of Riverside, who have (or had) four sons and two sons-in-law on the fighting roll in the present war. C.S.S.M Charles Choules A.S.C. 31, married living in Andover, served 18 months , and was discharged because of ill health.

Private George Edward Choules, A.S.C. transferred to the King’s Royal Rifles, 28, single, has been up three years, 16 months of which have been spent in France. He has had the misfortune to be wounded, for in the great push around the Cambrai area he had the sinews of his leg blown away by a bursting shell. With painful difficulty he dragged himself through water and mud to the dressing station. He was then sent to England, and for seven weeks he has been in hospital in Dundee. So serious was his wound that he has had to undergo two operations and tubes have been put in his leg in order to draw off poison engendered by the shrapnel. The latest news is that he is getting better and hopes that his leg will be saved. Before the war he was a policeman at Aldershot.

– Corporal Henry Choules Household Battalion, 25, married, was a policeman for five years in Bournemouth. In May 1917 he joined the Household Battalion, and in November he was drafted to France, On two occasions he has had to seek the kindly shelter of the hospital on account of a frost-bitten foot, but at the time of writing he is again out in the trenches.

– Private William Frank Choules, R.M.L.I., 20, single, joined in March 1917, having spent the last three months in France. In the great battle of Cambrai he lost his speech through shell shock, but we are profoundly thankful to hear he has recovered his speech and can talk in his accustomed manner. At present he is in hospital in Southampton.

– Private W. Mattingley, of the Anti-Aircraft Corps, has had two years experience of the present war. He is near Netley but suffers a great deal from chills.

– Private W. Allen, an old soldier, went out to France with the Scots Guards when the war began, and early on lost an eye through a bursting shell in his trench. Needless to say he has been  discharged. – This is a good record for one family, and our sincerest wish is that they may be spared to return safe and sound to their pre-war time occupations.

 

 

Private William Thring Killed In France

Andover Advertiser [December]1917

DIED FOR HIS COUNTRY – The sympathy of a wide circle of friends goes out this week to Mr and Mrs F.W. Thring, of the Post Office, on the news just received of the death in France of their eldest son Private William Henry Thring. Two years ago Private Thring joined up with the East Surreys, and for the last 19 months he has been in France and has seen much heavy fighting. Strangely enough he was home on leave three weeks ago, and he left home with a very cheerful spirit. During an attack on Beaudricourt on November 20th  he was wounded in the chest and died at the clearing station two days later. The following beautiful letter was written by his company officer, which says much for the esteem in which the deceased was held :-

7th East Surreys

My dear Mr Thring, – It is with deepest regret that I write to inform you of the death of your boy, who for so long has been my devoted servant and personal friend. Since he went home on leave – I have not seen him at all. I expect he told you that I was going on leave shortly, and now I have returned to find that the Battalion has been in another attack and your boy went over the top with them and got wounded in the chest. He went over on Tuesday last, the 20th , and your son was hit and taken back to the casualty clearing station. He died there on the 22nd  at a place called Tincourt, and was buried there in the British military cemetery. It is not far from Peronne. We have spent hours together in the trenches, and had many and many a confidential chat. He was a faithful as well as a brave fellow, and I loved him, and never tired of sounding his praises. It will indeed be a long time before I feel the same after this loss, which is a mutual one to us both. I trust you may be comforted by the thought that he played his full share in this terrible struggle. He never missed a “show” and never failed with us when men of his stamp were most needed, and he never “went sick” in all the weary months he was over here. He was indeed a splendid chap. In this your great sorrow I am anxious to tender you my most sincere sympathy.

– yours sincerely

JOHN HALFORD

Besides the official notification from the War Office the Chaplain of the Clearing Station has written a cheerful letter saying that Private Thring died cheerfully and bravely. – Another son Sergeant Frederick George Thring who had won a commission is about to be discharged from the Australian Forces with a shattered foot, the result of wounds  received at Pozieres. This son was in Australia when war was declared, he joined up on 5th  August 1914, and was fighting on 19th . He has seen much service in German New Guinea, in Gallipoli and Egypt, and lastly on the Continent. We join in sympathy with the relatives in their loss.

 

 

 

Verdun: 21 February 2016

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Verdun’s storm of shellfire that obliterated 300,000 men (The Independent 14 May 2014)

Synonymous with futility and heroic defiance, it was the biggest battle the world had ever seen. John Lichfield on an inferno that marked the birth of the age of warfare by mass destruction

On 21 February 1916, a single German shell looped high over a wooded ridge in eastern France and fell on the town of Verdun. Over the next 10 months, but mostly in the next four months, the Verdun ridge was hacked and ploughed by 32 million shells. In places, it has been estimated, 10 shells fell on every square centimetre.

By the end of the battle – the longest single battle in human history – more than 300,000 French and German soldiers had been obliterated in an area of 50 square miles. Most are still there, pounded into the sand and chalk of western Lorraine.

When fighting ended in December 1916, the two armies stood a few hundred yards from where they had been. For the French, the name “Verdun” still symbolises the murderous futility and the impossible heroism of the 1914-1918 war. And yet Verdun was less destructive than the Somme. It was less costly to the French, month by month, than the foolish and largely forgotten offensive battles of 1915.

It has become lodged in French popular memory partly because, despite 170,000 French deaths, it was a French defensive “victory” in a war in which victories were scarce.

“All the regiments in the French army were rotated in and out of Verdun,” said the French historian Jean-Yves Le Naour. “It seemed as though the blood of the entire nation was coursing through one battlefield.” The slogan of defiance attributed to Marshal Pétain, “Ils ne passeront pas”, fuelled the heroic legend.

There is another reason why the name “Verdun” has been seared on the memory of mankind. “The logic of Hiroshima began at Verdun,” said Mr Le Naour. “It was at Verdun that the notion of industrialised mass destruction was pushed to its limit for the first time.”

At Verdun – and from 1 July that year on the Somme – the firepower, and the ingenuity behind it, exceeded even that seen in the murderous campaigns of 1914 and 1915. In both battles, artillery was assembled by the Germans, and later the French and British, on an unimagined scale. Flamethrowers (Verdun), tanks (the Somme) and more efficient forms of poisonous gas (both) joined the world’s arsenal of mass butchery.

A French soldier is shot during a counter attack (Alamy) A French soldier is shot during a counter attack (Alamy)
Richard Holmes, the great British historian of the Western Front, also points out that there was “something particularly dreadful” about the distilled horror of the tiny battlefield of Verdun. “The front was so narrow (less than 15 miles)… Men might be killed instantly but without apparent damage by concussion; blown to tatters by direct hits; cut up as if by some malicious butcher; crippled by flying fragments of their comrades’ bodies or shocked into babbling incoherence by a capricious hit which left them unscathed among the remnants of their friends.”

An anonymous French officer left an account of the first days of the fighting: “Thousands of projectiles are flying in all directions, some whistling, others howling, others moaning low, and all uniting in one infernal roar. From time to time, an aerial torpedo passes, making a noise like a gigantic motor car…

“Beyond, in the valley, dark masses are moving over the snow-covered ground. It is German infantry advancing in packed formation… They look like a big grey carpet being unrolled over the country…

“There is a whistle over our heads. It is our first shell. It falls right in the middle of the enemy infantry… Through glass we can see men maddened, men covered with earth and blood, falling one upon the other.

“When the first wave is decimated, the ground is dotted with corpses, but the second wave is already pressing on. Once more our shells carve awful gaps in their ranks… Then our heavy artillery bursts forth in fury. The whole valley is turned into a volcano, and its exit is stopped by the barrier of the slain.”

Another French officer, Lieutenant Henri Desagneaux, wrote: “Numb and dazed, without saying a word and with our hearts pounding, we await the shell that will destroy us… There’s death everywhere. At our feet, the wounded groan in a pool of blood. Two of them, more seriously hit, are breathing their last. One, a machine-gunner, has been blinded, with one eye hanging out of its socket and the other torn out: in addition he has lost a leg.

“The second has no face, an arm blown off and a horrible wound in the stomach. Moaning and suffering atrociously, one begs me: ‘Lieutenant, don’t let me die.’”

Devastation near Fort Souville, Verdun (Alamy) Devastation near Fort Souville, Verdun (Alamy)
Erich von Falkenhayn, the German Chief of the General Staff, claimed after the war that his aim had been not to break through at Verdun but to kill French soldiers, and “bleed the French army white”. This is now thought by many historians to have been a lie by von Falkenhayn to explain his defeat. His intention had been to break through, and to destabilise the Allies before the new Pals regiments of Kitchener’s British volunteer army could enter the war further west. The initial German assault captured a handful of forts and advanced about four miles. From April, the Germans were stopped, only to advance again, be pushed back, and advance once more, before eventually being repulsed.

It is sometimes forgotten that the battles of Verdun and the Somme overlapped between July and November 1916. The Germans were also heavily engaged in defeating a Russian offensive on the Eastern Front. It was an extraordinary – but hugely costly – achievement by the German army to fight these three great battles in one year. Berlin’s casualties in 1916 on the Western Front alone – at least 700,000 dead, wounded or captured; some say 900,000 – are part of the ghastly arithmetic of eventual German defeat.

But even those terrible losses fell short of persuading the Germans that they had lost. That took another two exterminatory years and American intervention.