Lieutenant J E P Howey, Royal Flying Corps, Great Staughton

I was captured at Courtrai at 10 a.m. on the 11th of this month (November), and I met two German Officers there who knew several English people that I knew, and they were most awfully kind to me. They gave me a very good dinner of champagne, oysters, etc, and I was treated like an honoured guest. I then came by train the next day to Mainz, where I was confined in a room by myself for two days. I have now been moved into a general room with eight other English Officers where we sleep and eat. We are treated very well and play hockey and tennis in the prison yard. Poor B––––, I was so sorry he was killed, he was such a nice boy and only 19. I had a fight with two German aeroplanes and then a shell burst very close to us. I heard a large piece whizz past my head, and then the aeroplane started to come down head first spinning all the time. We must have dropped about 5,000 feet in about 20 seconds. I looked round at once and saw poor B–––– with a terrible wound in his head and quite dead. I then realised that the only chance of saving my life was to step into his seat and sit on his lap where I could reach the controls. I managed to get the machine out of that terrible death plunge, switched off the engine and made a good landing on terra firma. I shall never forget it as long as I live. The shock was so great that I could hardly remember a single thing in my former life for two days. Now I am getting better and my mind is practically normal again. We were 10,000 feet up when B–––– was killed, and luckily it was this tremendous height that gave me time to think and act. I met one of the pilots of the German machines which attacked us. He could speak English quite well and shook hands after a most thrilling fight. I brought down his machine with my machine gun and he had to land quite close to where I landed. He had a bullet in his radiator and petrol tank, but neither he nor his observer were touched.

Private A Yearell & Private W Chapman, 6th Bedfordshire

Dear Sir, – We are having a few moments to spare so we are sending you a few lines hoping to find the readers of the “St. Neots Advertiser” and yourself quite well, as we are in the pink of condition ourselves. We are two strong readers of the paper and we get it every week, and we are delighted to get it just to hear news of that dear old town and the surrounding villages. We two happen to be in the same billet and reading letters about our soldiers and sailors, so I think we shall be quite right in writing to you. We have not had a very comfortable time during this wet weather, plenty of times up to our waist in water, but we have come through top dog and its just a bit better now. I have had just on six months out here, and my friend, Pte. Chapman, who has recently joined us was wounded at –––––– and came and joined us just lately. We have been up the line ever since we came in France, and I suppose we shall get a rest before long (perhaps). We shall be quite busy with the Huns by when you get this. Hoping to see the old paper again before long, we must close now with best luck and kind regards to all at the dear old Hunts.

Corporal S Cross

We are no longer in the firing line, and are safe from shot and shell. It does seem to be nice to be able to walk about and know you are safe. We are on an island, and sleeping under bell tents, so it is almost like camp life but isn’t quite so nice as being in England. The natives here cause plenty of fun. I went into one of the villages, nearly every house is a shop, and they understand only a few words of English, but they know how to charge for the stuff that they sell. For a pound loaf of bread they charge 6d, and always sell out. How would you like to pay for that? I am quite well.

Private Rodney Barringer, Royal Garrison Artillery

We have had a very hot time the last few days. We have been shelled very heavily. I have never been in such heavy shell fire before. To make it worse they were nearly all gas shells. They sent us about 153 shells in 33 minutes, and after that they kept it up for several hours. One officer was killed and several wounded, and one man killed. We had orders to leave the place so they all went, but I hung back and stayed with one wounded man, Shells were flying all round, I was the only one anywhere near that I could see, and the poor fellow I was risking my life for, trying to save, died in my arms. He had only been with us 1 ½ hours. I have been recommended for the D.C.M. I shall be home in a fortnights time.

Corporal S Cross, Eaton Socon

We are no longer in the firing line, and are safe from shot and shell. It does seem nice to be able to walk about and know you are safe. We are on an island, and sleeping under bell tents, so it is almost like camp life but isn’t quite so nice as being in England. The natives here cause plenty of fun. I went into one of the villages, nearly every house is a shop, and they can understand only a few words of English, but they know how to charge for the stuff that they sell. For a pound loaf of bread they charge 6d, and always sell out. How would you like to pay that for it? I am quite well.

Private R Barringer, Royal Garrison Artillery, Eaton Socon

We have had a very hot time the last few days. We have been shelled very heavily. I have never been in such heavy shell-fire before. To make it worse they were nearly all gas shells. They sent us about 153 shells in 33 minutes, and after that they kept it up for several hours. One officer was killed and several wounded, and one man was killed. We had orders to leave the place, so they all went, but I hung back and stayed with one wounded man. Shells were flying all round. I was the only one anywhere near that I could see, and the poor fellow I was risking my life for, trying to save, died in my arms. He had only been with us 1 ½ hours. I have been recommended for the D.C.M. I shall be home in a fortnight’s time.