Leeds Mercury 1914: Letters from the Front 11th September

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Readers who received letters from men on active service were invited to submit them to the “Leeds Mercury.” Any extracts published were paid for, with the promise that letters would be carefully and promptly returned to the senders.

ILKLEY MAN’S BRAVERY

Mr. Frank Beaumont of Nelson Road, Ilkley has received the following letter from his brother, Mr. Cecil Beaumont who is serving under Commander Samson, R. N. with aeroplanes and armoured cars.

It is dated from Ostend, October 10th, and says

“I am quite safe, having just escaped from Antwerp through the German lines. I lost our own party and joined in with the marines, who were defending Antwerp.

The Germans had very heavy artillery and we had none. It was murder in our trenches, and in less than an hour we had lost 100 dead and wounded. I had managed to get some of our wounded into a farm house when a German shell struck it and blew it up.

We had to retreat down a road with houses and trees on each side and it was really fearful, houses and trees falling on every side. One shell burst near a sergeant and ten men, killing or wounding the lot.

It’s pitiful to see the poor women and children; the Germans are no better than savages.

Luckily I escaped with a slight wound on my right hand and you will be pleased to learn that I have been mentioned for bravery.

have lost everything bar what I stand up in and have not had my clothes off for ten days.

This place is full of wounded and some are off their heads with what they have gone through.”

LETTER FROM HARROGATE FOOTBALLER

Lieut. A.L.P. Griffith, the Yorkshire county footballer of Harrogate who was mentioned in despatches writing to a Harrogate friend says:-

“I have lost a good many pals and someone has got to answer for that before I come home. I get frantic with this rotten silly little wound keeping me here all this time when I ought to have been back at the front long ago.

I got hit on the 14th - only a bullet wound.

Went in by the wrist, turned on the bone and came out long ways on.

t ought to have healed long ago but the exit hole will go on festering just below the elbow.

Twenty sacks of letters for us were captured which annoyed us more than anything.

I must get back before we advance from the Aisne or I shall miss a bar on the medal.

I shan’t be ashamed of my Coronation medal any longer now with another to keep it company.

SHELLS THAT FALL ALL DAY

Mrs. H. Nicholson, of Hustler street Bradford has received a letter from her husband, who is with the R.F.A. at the front. He writes:-

“We have been in the thick of the scrapping here. The death toll has been terrible on both sides.

The Germans have a lot of big siege guns trained on us and they fire a shell that is about 32 and a half inches long by 8 and a half inches in circumference and weighs about 200lbs.

They are firing from about 8 miles away.

They hit a barn where some of the King’s Royal Rifles were, not twenty yards away from us and killed seventeen of them and wounded about forty.

Our battery has caught it. We have had four killed and about a dozen wounded, five of the wounded being in our sub-section.

We have already been complimented by General French and the battery has been mentioned in dispatches.

“I have a piece of shell in my pocket that fell at my feet whilst I was talking to another chap. It just shaved my cap.

I am going to bring it home if I am spared.

The shells come ripping over all day long.

War is hellish!

I shall be glad when it’s all over.

“Our boys call the big shells “coal boxes”.

We would sooner have them than shrapnel as shrapnel spreads when it bursts.

Kiss the little kiddies for me and tell them I’ll soon be home and then we’ll have some jolly times together.”