Gunner H Marshall Waresley R.G.A

I am pleased to tell you that the weather is better now, it is not cold here at present, and I do hope the worst is over now.  Most of our horses have gone through the winter well, though the work is very anxious and trying for them, but they are now hardy and fit. I am glad to hear there is a good sale for the oils.  I have just finished a cure for poisoned foot. A man had a chilblain, it broke, letting the dye of his sock get into it: he let it go until he had a very severely poisoned foot.  I have been treating him for five or six weeks now, and he is completely cured. I have also had several cases of the same kind recently. I am still doing night duty and have got quite used to it now. As regards the war, we have been very busy recently, we have heavily bombarded the German positions on several occasions lately, but they will take a lot of bombarding, but once we have got them on the run and away from their present positions they will have to go many miles before they can turn into a good position again; but we are in hope of doing big tings when that happens. For hour after hour we put shells into them, and the number of bullets must be awful, the hundreds of shells passing through the air at the same time sounds just like express trains. I do not know how they can stand it. It would be very nice to right away from the firing and screeching of shells. We have been in action practically all the time we have been out here : the only time we were out of action is when we have to move from one part of the line to another. We have been in this one position four-and-a-half months, and been in action every day. We have had a few wounded, but only one killed, one of our Majors was wounded in four places, he was a soldier to the backbone, he was observing our fire on the enemy’s position from the top of haystack. The Germans sent out a “Jack Johnson” which burst between the haystack and the barn. He got off the stack to find out which direction the battery (German) was firing from. He was taking measurements and such like when a second one came, wounded him and killed a Corporal. He was in hopes of finding the German Battery and silencing it : he has been through several wars. We were on the march one day when a large party of Uhlans were seen a short distance away, they spotted us and prepared to make a charge, we whisked round into action but the distance was too short for our guns, so we had to resort to riles. He (the Corporal) came amongst us and said “Now lads, let them have it hot, when your ammunition is expended use your fists, I want none of my men to surrender.”  I think that time was about the closest I have had. We should have been cut up if it had not been for a timely manoeuvre of our cavalry and infantry.  The Uhlans got wiped out instead.

 

H Harrison, Royal Engineers, St Neots

We saw the big attack our troops made on Feb 6th from a hill about 3 miles away. It was a sight to see the shrapnel bursting in the air, and the other shells making the earth and dust fly all over the place. Our Artillery is fine, also the French. I was told by one of the N.C.O.’s who was in the attack that when they made the final charge they found the Germans in their trenches absolutely petrified with fright, so much so that they offered no resistance whatever. The ruin out here is awful, it makes one say: “Thank God the war is not taking place in England.” I am afraid that very few people in England really realize the damage that has been done. The Germans generally round about here have had quite enough of it from all accounts. I was told the following by a man who was in the trenches at the previous place we were at, which shows how some of the Germans feel. One night the troops who were in the German trenches put up a big board on which was written: “We are Saxons in these trenches and do not wish to fight you, so do not shoot at us, and we will not shoot at you, but keep your shots for the Prussian Gaurds who are relieving us to-morrow night” – and the shooting stopped, except for the outposts occasionally firing shots up in the air, for the 24 hours which the Saxon troops remained in the trenches. The German shells are not anything like so good, according to all accounts, as they were at the beginning of the War. The other day the section I was in was working near the village where the severe fighting has recently taken place, and the Germans fired 11 “Jack Johnsons” at it, and nine out of that number did not explode. When the war started the Germans were firing about 20 shots to our one, now we are firing about 23 to their one, which seems to point to their being short of shells. The chief thing we require out here is more men, so that men can be relieved more often, as it is a sight to see troops returning from the trenches all over mud and water, and it makes you wonder how they can keep their smiling faces, and make jokes as they pass you along the road. It speaks well for an Englishman’s endurance. I am glad to see that men are enlisting in St Neots and round about, for the more men we get the sooner the war will be over.