Private Alec Childerley Cambridgeshire Regiment – Eltisley

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on December 8, 1916
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No doubt you will be surprised to hear I have been wounded in the back, but I am going on nicely. I should never have been alive to tell the tale if it hadn’t been for the parcel you sent me in the wooden box. We were going in the trenches to relieve another battalion when all of a sudden a shell from the Germans burst within a short distance of us. I was hit in the back by a piece. I had got the wooden box tied to my back and it was smashed to pieces and all the contents. The tin with the Oxo cubes was bent all shapes. I have only the parcel to thank   for my life. I happened on a St Neots boy this afternoon at the Dressing Station, his name is Bill Gilbert. He was sick but I am glad to say was not wounded. I am quite happy and well looked after and in a few weeks will be fit again.

Lance Corporal Sidney Rose Cambridgeshire Regiment – Eltisley

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on December 1, 1916
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Thank you very much for the “Advertiser” and letter, which I received safely. No doubt you saw in the papers about the charge of our regiment on Oct 14th. Well, that is not all. We were in the big advance last week. In the mist I got lost but I got where I had orders to go. We advanced nearly a mile deep, and took a lot of prisoners. I got several myself and it was great sport poking them out of dug-outs with our bayonets. Lance-corpl Day, who was in the St Neots Post Office, was killed in the attack by a sniper who happened to get left behind in the mist. Tell his people he won’t snipe again, a pal of mine blew half his head off first shot. Day was shot through the heart and suffered no pain. We only had about 63 casualties, so we did pretty well. I saw Frank Riseley after he was hit, but I didn’t think he would be sent to England. I also saw Alix Childerley, but I never spoke to him, so I didn’t know it was him until I passed him. It was pretty rough when he got hit I can tell you. We are now out on rest, after being in the thick of the fighting on the Somme for three months without getting a rest. I think there is a chance of getting home again before long, as we have all been promised leave. I am A1. Don’t forget Christmas puddings.

Bombardier Joe Baker – Eynesbury

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on November 17, 1916
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Now for a few lines to let you know I am still well, under the present weather conditions, and our houses are shell holes now, and the other night we got flooded out with 18 inches of water, everything wet through and no dry ones to put on, but still we keep on smiling. The ground we are on is all like ploughed land and mud and water. One has to be very careful walking about here at night, or else you would soon get a good bath, as the shell holes are nearly full of water, which is 8 and 10 feet deep. I have been busy today, it has been my wash day.  The usual shirt, socks and towel, water from shell holes, muddy, but it has to do. I went out the other day to go and find my brother, and I had a great surprise to meet Tom Sharman, he looks well. only covered in mud the same as myself. I had a good chat with him, his Division is now with ours. We have been in action for 17 weeks, and only 2 days’ rest, but we have the honour of being in action the longest here of any Division, which is a lot to say, and we have been mentioned for our grand work. I am real proud of being in a Division like that, but no doubt I shall be able to give you a good lecture when I do come home, which no doubt will be very interesting, as I can tell you since July 4th I have seen some sights and towns – well I may say heaps of bricks where towns and villages have been – but still we keep going. The Bosche don’t like us artillery boys, we are hot stuff. The prisoners often want to know if we have gone mad, which is very interesting to us, as we like to know we annoy him as much as we ever can.  Aeroplanes have been very active lately. Well, I expect we must rest content to have another Christmas dinner out here. George is not far from here. I have seen young Judd, of the Beds., but they were the digging party. Give my love to Mrs — , and Family, and kindly remember me to all friends and the Choir – well, what you have left of it, I expect you haven’t many. What has Jon Bass gone in? Well I really must close. Oh, I forget to tell you I have been promoted to full Bombardier, which makes eight shilling a week more money to me. I am still showing them what we can do if only we try. Well I have a parade at 9 pm to fall the boys in for a run which they like.

Private Herbert Reed Royal West Kent Regiment – Eynesbury

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on November 3, 1916
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I think it is about time I fulfilled my promise to write you. You will see I am now in the Royal West Kent Regiment. I was transferred just before leaving Aldershot, 23rd Sept. Just getting seasoned now to the noise of the guns. I have been in the line, and at present we are in reserve in the ruins of a village which has been horribly knocked about by shells. I find it quite a treat from last week. It was very cold at night, sharp frosts. I and five others were guarding a mine crater and Fritz just across the way. I was glad when it was my time to come out again and have a good stretch and a lie down – we couldn’t there  – in fact there was hardly room to sit and too cold to sleep. I am making the most of it now this week. Old Fritz got angry a few times last week , especially one afternoon he was sending over trench mortars, which made things hum a bit I can tell you. Three of us were huddled together in a frail little shelter and the T Ms were dropping all around us; we were expecting one one on us each minute, it didn’t come through. It made me think of Bairnsfather’s picture at the time “There goes our blooming parapet again” I didn’t think it at all funny though you my guess. However, we came out all right.  Soon after I landed in France I saw Fred Bull of Eynesbury, and he nearly fell off his engine with astonishment when I yelled at him, and last week when going up the trenches I was surprised to hear a voice say “Is that Bert Reed?” I turned and saw it was Alf Harvey. We couldn’t stop to chat. I hope to find him out. I think I’ll stop now, its nearly time for “brown stew” Kind regards to the Choir.

Lance Corporal A F Caress Bedfordshire Regiment – Kimbolton

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on November 3, 1916
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Please allow me a small space in your valuable paper, which I read when opportunity offers, so I thought I would write a few lines just to let you know I was still in the land of the living. I used to get the “St Neots Advertiser” every week from my sister, but since she has left home I have failed to get it.  Of course we lads out here always like to know what is going on at home. Well, the reason I am writing to you is that I happened to pick up the St Neots news paper a few days ago, and to my sorrow saw the report of Pte Mould’s death. You cannot imagine how I felt upon reading the sad news, and I am sure every man of the Beds, was sorry to lose such a good pal. I new Pe Mould in civilian life, I also served 14 months with him out here and a  more joyful fellow I have never met, he was the life of the Regiment, and was liked by both officers and men alike. He would also set a good example under shell fire, as cool as a cucumber and feared nothing. I saw him in an engagement we took part in in July 1916, sit on the parapet with shells and bullets flying all around him, and he didn’t move a muscle, but was singing nearly all the time. He helped bury Pte R Chamberlain of Eynesbury, the same day. I got wounded myself three days afterwards in the same place. Pte Mould was quite all right when I left, so you can imagine my surprise when I read of his death. His relatives and friends have got my deepest sympathy in their sad bereavement. I will now endeavour to tell you a bit about myself. Well, my wounds weren’t serious after all, and I got no farther that the Base, where I soon recovered under the treatment I received, and was soon bundled up the line again, with the best of luck. I had a most marvellous escape in a recent engagement, it was the telephone that I was carrying that saved me. A bullet passed right through the phone and ripped the front of my jacket open. Of course that is only a minor affair. We had the pleasure of seeing some   “Tanks” the other day, and queer looking objects they are. I should think Fritz would get the wind up when he saw one of those coming. We are having a lot of wet weather lately , and are splashing about in the mud, but we are good swimmers, and it takes a lot of wet to damp the spirits of the lads out here; the only thing that greaves them is the “quakers” at home. There isn’t many lads from St Neots way in this Battalion, there are two from Eaton Socon- Pte F G Humphery and Pte C Day. I was serving in South Africa when the war broke out, and came out here with the Battalion early in Oct 1914, but got invalided home in Dec, and came out again in June 1915. I was expecting to come on leave when it was stopped for the big push; I shall be amongst the first when they start again. My parents live in Kimbolton now, but we used to live at Eynesbury at one time.  Well, Sir, I must close as there really isn’t any news.

Private Horace Jaikens Royal Warwickshire Regiment – Abbotsley

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on October 27, 1916
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Just a line to let you know I am alive and quite well and a prisoner of war on the way to Germany. Hope this finds you all well at home. Do not worry, I am well treated. Will write a letter at first opportunity. Let Clara know I am quite happy. Must be satisfied with this until the end of the war. So must close with love to you all.

Private Robert Slaymaker 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards – Eaton Ford

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on October 13, 1916
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I expect you saw in the papers what we did last week, it was quite an exciting time, I don’t know how I missed getting it, but it must have been my lucky day, they say it;s better to be born lucky than rich, and I think it is anyhow I don’t want to go through another lot like that was. I think I got my own back on the Germans this time for what they did for me, and also for poor old Jack. I don’t know what made me think about him at the time, as you have not much time to think about anything. I shall not be sorry when this is all over, and we can all get back home again. i have hopes of it being over this year. It’s nearly twelve months since we came out. If I can get through the next day or two all right I think I stand a good chance of soon being home on leave. I am pleased we have done our bit in the big push, I suppose if we had not we should never have heard the last of it from the line Regiments. You might send a few cigarettes, you know how handy they are.

Sister Jennie Sibley Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service – St Neots

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on October 13, 1916
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We are in such an out of the way place where other things are of far more importance than our daily wants, that we go short of things generally. No one has time, or conveyance, to heed our many wants, and we are too far from headquarters to make our songs heard by men of might. Believe me, we are a most forbearing camp, all qualifying for Victoria Cross, will be a rush to come out top! But I am living in luxury and entertaining my many friends on my parcel. Believe me, never before have biscuits tasted so delicious and been enjoyed. Our is a barren Land.
Still the camp is in very high spirits, the French Government sent representative today and bestowed the French Military Croix de Guerre with palm on one of our Sisters.  We are all enjoying the glow surrounding the halo! Then one Royal Visitor has sent for complete list of all Sisters here to be sent him at once – we presume for decorations, but I have heard a saying “don’t count your chickens etc. ” the fact is this. I am going to tell you what has so far been a big secret, but as it has been reported in the English papers and we have read same, surely may mention same to you. We were under fire (in our camp) seven times during our 1st, 2nd to 3rd weeks here by hostile aircraft guns. We began to think we should have to leave, but like John Bull, we just held on like grim death and faced things. I am not saying we didn’t cultivate nerves, and used to start at the least sound and do ditto even now. The moment we know things to be active we just flopped flat on the ground, it was really funny, and you will laugh when I am able to give you details in person. Lately we have been too busy to realise things, but we shall do so when we return. The days are beginning to get very cold, especially nights, we feel it under canvas. Still we are very happy, and doing good work. We hear the news is good all round. We are fed chiefly on rumours. We shall all be glad to get letters which are shockingly delayed.

Gunner H Marshall Royal Garrison Artillery – Waresley

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on October 6, 1916
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I am first class in health at present but the weather is very trying, it rains most days and the soil is simply saddened, but luckily we are in some caves and under cover. Not the guns and horses, only the men. We get up at 3:30 and retire about 8:30. This is the 7th or 8th day of battle, but we have been rather quiet with the exception of once, when we got it rather hot. I have been all round the village trying to buy eggs for the officers’ mess, but could not obtain one. I got some milk for myself, for which I was very thankful, it is the first I have had since we left England. It is a hard task to make the French people understand what we want. I don’t want any more French cocoa, it is awful. I get plenty of tea, bread, jam, cheese, bacon, and bully beef, far better than the old brand we used to have. The French potatoes have the disease in them just the same as we had at home last year, they are not unlike the King Edward, but entirely red.

In a later letter he says:

A party of the Bedfords passed here yesterday, and I met a young man from Gamlingay. He was quite pleased to see a local fellow. I have been here 11 days now.

A shell has just gone over my head as I write this letter, and burst down in the valley quite harmless. We do not mind how many they throw away as long as they do not come too close. Our Major and two men have been wounded and one killed – the first in this Battery. Had a Church Service last evening.

We are still at the Farm House, and I am getting quite fat in fact. The only thing I have to complain about is that we have no A.G. cigarette papers. I really have not much news to tell. We are taking part in the great battle of the Aisne, and I think this is the 18th day. Our Major has been wounded in three places but we hope he will go on well. My officer has made me a nice present of a body belt and sleeping cap. I could not want a better gift for at night in the open it is very cold.

Sergeant R Jakins Royal Field Artillery – Great Gransden

Posted by St Neots Museum originally published in St Neots Advertiser on October 6, 1916
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The weather has improved a great deal lately, and we are very busy again. I have been to see the Beds. Regiment, as they are near to me, and saw a lot of fellow I know. They wanted me to write and tell you, so will you please let their parents know how they are. Ammon Medlock’s son Will looks quite well ; Ted Medlock is slightly wounded and in hospital (did not see him); Harry Medlock is missing (believed to be wounded). Have also seen James Hart; he is rather poorly and has gone to hospital sick, but he will soon be all right again. I also saw Hardy from Waresley, Wisson from Abbotsley, and Gurney from Everton, who travelled with Kitcheners engines and came to Gransden, they are all well; also fellows from Potton, Gamlingay, St Neots, Huntingdon and Godmanchester, in fact I knew nearly all in the Battalion. It seemed as if I was at home, meeting so many old faces. The “tanks” are here and have been in action. I have seen four of them, and been inside one. They are queer things to look at and go over anything. You should have seen them after the action, hundreds of bullet marks all over, but the bullets did not penetrate them, just scratched them, that was all. I have seen many queer weapons of war down here. We are now on newly one soil.