Leeds Mercury 1914: Letters from the Front: 20th November

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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.

Mrs. Jane Johnson of North Street, Wetherby has received the following letter from her son Herbert who is lying in the Lincoln Hospital, slightly wounded.

Letters from the front

Letters from the front

“We’ve had a very hard time since I came out marching and fighting night and day and on Tuesday the 13th October we came on the enemy strongly entrenched and so the Durhams and East Yorks had to take the position at all costs.

Our company, under Lieut. Wright had to go and see what was in the nearby village.

We got to the entrance of it and the French cavalry were in it.

Lots of them laid in the streets killed and wounded, horses too so we had to stay there.

Our officer sent me and an N.C.O. to a gateway across a field to see what was there.

A turnip field further on was full of the enemy with big guns as well.

We reported to the officer but he seemed to doubt it because he and the N.C.O. went out again.

They had not gone far before we were minus the officer so we stayed where we were till the battalion came up.

Then we were ordered to advance across in companies in extended order.

They started to open fire. It was murder, shells dropping all the time.

Many a good man went under that day. One was Major Cliff from Leeds; a shell dropped right on his head. It was a sudden death for the poor fellow.

We took the position but I was glad when it was dark. We stayed in the trenches all night, wet through and cold and tired out.

We chased them on and on. They gained a stronger position on Sunday and towards night it was awful. We could not move them.

The General told about a dozen of us to stay in a ditch up to the knees in water till dusk as the enemy was only about fifty yards in front.

When it got dark we set off to find our company but they spotted us and then I got wounded in the hand.

I don’t know how many casualties we had that day as I came down country with the wounded, but our brigade suffered heavily.

There were about 200 wounded came down with me and there were a lot more to follow.

I am now in hospital at Lincoln but hope to be out soon.

They might let me have a day or two at home before I go back.”