Trooper J. F. Allen, D Squadron Bedfordshire Yeomanry

Considering it’s a month ago since you wrote to me I think its about time I answered your kind, and interesting letter, and trust that when this reaches you the Company, that’s boys out here from Eynesbury as you term us in your letter, hope that you and all yours are quite well, as I am pleased to say all are here bar myself. I am in Hospital sick, but am getting on fine and hope to be out soon with the boys. It must indeed make you feel proud to get so many letters from your Old Boys, it shows how very much they all appreciate your kindness and
trouble to them in days gone by, and your sincere friendship now, I know of us do in the Beds Yeomanry, and the utmost singular thing is that the Eynesbury boys always stick together. I had a letter from Jim Chamberlain, he is quite well and cheerful and sends his best wishes on behalf of us all, I shall write to him as soon as I get back. I heard St. Neots was very busy with holiday makers; also that you had a Sung Eucharist on the Sunday. I should love to get into a cassock and surplice again. I hope it went off all right, guess it did though. We went to the sea-side for our Bank Holiday this year Brigade training. Was up at 4 o’clock Monday morning and had breakfast at 5. 30. Had a scheme on the way to our destination, so took us until about 1.30 p.m. to do about eighteen miles. It was a large stretch of land against the the sea, all the Brigade was there, so there was a large number of us altogether. We went on the sands until stables at 4 o’clock then after tea Geo. Baker, C. Twigden, and I went bathing, it was treat the sea, but jolly cold out, so we had a run up the sands to keep ourselves warm, and to top it up it rained like blazes when we were getting dressed ; there were no houses to run to, only a large French Searchlight and one Estaminet (pub), so went in and had a drink. and then back to the lines to make our bed, that is a couple of saddles and a sword stuck in the ground and a sheet over the top, but that was no good, it rained and blowed, it’s about the roughest night I’ve had since I’ve been in France Gig fell out of “bed” I think any way he was up at 3 o’clock and grooming his horse and trying to get warm again.
Stables were at 4 a.m. again and drilling on the saddles from 5.30 to 8.0, when I think I was just getting hungry. After breakfast time was our own until 12.0, as our Regiment had a swimming race. Gig came fourth, he would have been first only he couldn’t run fast enough when he got out owing to have taken too much salt water in: also the officers of the Brigade had a horse race, all right it was too. We met a chap from Eaton there named Ernest Partridge, about the only one I’ve met from our way I think
Things went on as usual until a week last Thursday when we had to go and dig trenches again, only we went in motor buses this time. It’s a large park about 11/2 miles from the firing line, a fine place it is too, a big chateau stands right in the centre, belonged to an Austrian count, that accounts probably for the reason its not being shelled, because just to our left the village is absolutely done for. Furniture and clothing lay about everywhere in the houses, people must have left in a great hurry, and all the Church is absolutely ruined, a hole in it large enough for a donkey and cart to go through easily, but the majority of it is down, bricks and mortar and great holes in the churchyard, with bits of coffins and bones lying about.
On Monday night I was up all the time sick, so on Tuesday morning the Doctor sent me here, and now I am pleased to say nearly better.
Please excuse the writing this time, am sitting up in bed to write this, and have only got a stump of a pencil, and as its getting dark will have to close with my kindest regards to all

Trooper Frederick Howe, Bedfordshire Yeomanry

I now write to you a few lines again from somewhere in France, and I hope that they will find you quite well as this letter leaves me in the very best of health and happy. I have been going to write to you two or three times but could not get at it until now. Well during the last eight days I have been digging with many more of my comrades just a short distance behind the firing line, and we were at a very large village that has been wrecked by the Germans when they went through it, but mostly by their shell fire. I will just tell you what the sights were that we saw as we went through the village. The first was that there were no people living in the houses at all, unless it was our Tommies here and there. I suppose it really was because every house had been hit by a shell. Some had great holes in the roof, others in the walls, and many right down to the ground. But what one noticed so much was the white stone building (or rather part of one now) which can be seen some distance off on a clear day. When we first saw it we wondered what it could be as it was so high in the air. On getting into the village, we saw that it was one side of a tower which but a few months ago stood at one end of a splendid church, but is now a heap of bricks and stones. It was shelled by heavily by the German’s big guns and all that is left of it now is one side of the tower and one end wall. I should say by the look of it it was a larger church than our own Parish one. I have been quite close to it and I saw that the shells had blown gravestones out of the ground also. It was an awful sight to see (I must not name the place where all this has happened). While we were digging we had shells from the German guns dropping quite close to the trenches, but no one was hurt act of the Beds Yeomanry while I was there. I came back yesterday to our horses, but we have still got some up there. One afternoon we had to get in the trenches, as they were sending their shells over, and they were dropping rather close to us. The nearest one was 50 yards from the trench. That dropped in a hedge alongside the road. So you see we (the Beds. Yeomanry) have been under shell fire. We are not having much wet weather out here now, today is a lovely, the sun is real hot, and its giving people who have corn to cut a good chance to get it carted. It all looks lovely out here. I suppose our English farmers are getting on with the harvest now at home. All the boys are quite well and wish to be remembered to you. Well now I must come to a close with this letter as its just on stable time. With all my best wishes to you, believe me to remain yours sincerely Fred Howe.

Private J. Clough, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Private Clough, who used to drive Messrs, Hinsbys’ motor ‘bus, and now drives a Motor Ambulance at the Front, writes as follows I am very sorry to keep you waiting for a letter but we have been so unsettled this last week that I could not find time to drop a line, Since Saturday I have not taken my boots off until last night. You will be surprised to hear that we have shifted
again, a little bit nearer the firing line this time and had the experience of being under shell fire for the first time yesterday. The Germans were shelling all round the hospital at the rear of the lines, so we were sent up to remove the wounded. It is very exciting to hear the shells bursting over your head, I tell you it makes you feel bad for the time but you soon get used to it. You see the other chaps go up and down the road not taking the slightest notice. One would wonder how it is, but it’s like everything else, you get used to it. I was on guard on Sunday night and the cannon was terrible. They started about 12 30 in the morning and lasted right up to last night without hardly a break and they have just started again. The
German aeroplanes have been flying all day over our lines and the shots that are wasted trying to hit them is surprising, but still they come. They don’t take the slightest notice. Now about myself. I am still keeping all right, nothing to grumble at, and I get on just as well as I did before. I have been very fortunate up to now. I have met three more fellows that I know, Harry Stanford from St. Neots and two of the Bedford bus drivers. They stopped in the same town where we were for two days. They belong to the 6th Beds. and went
off to the firing lines yesterday morning. Now I cannot tell you any more news. I am expected to be called out any minute. Remember me to every- body and say that I am quite well up to the present. God bless you all and trust he will keep me safe for your and the children’s sake.