Leeds Mercury 1914: Letters from the Front: 30th October

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.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 30th October 2014, 6:00 am


Corporal Harrison of the 18th Hussars in a letter to his mother at Horsforth says;-

“We are in the thick of it just now on the left of the line. The other day it was a repetition of Mons but in the opposite way.

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We drove the Germans right back but it was very risky. The 18th did all the work.

I tell you I was glad when the day was over as we had been in some very tight corners but once again we were lucky to be spared.

Unfortunately we lost a few of our chums.

I was sent to inspect a village about three miles from the regiment.

Three men were with me and when we got to the village we came to the conclusion it was clear of the enemy when we were suddenly fired on by drunken Germans in a drinking house.

We had to scout for our lives galloping back to the regiment with the news.

The Germans were jolly soon paid back as the regiment came up and took them prisoners.

The Germans are so cruel and heartless with the inhabitants especially the women and children.

The papers don’t paint things black enough.”


Writing from hospital at Aldershot to his brother in Hull, Private Robert Heaton of the Coldstream Guards says:-

“I have asked the doctor if I might sit up but I have to wait two or three days as there is so much discharge from the wound in my back.

Of course, I cannot walk but let me once get up and I shall soon be able to move about.

I could start hopping if only I could get home that way.

I have asked the Colonel to send me to the Hull infirmary but he says I am not fit to travel yet.

I tell them I am going on well - anything to get home, but they will not have it.

You ask where I was when I was wounded.

I was at a village about twelve miles from Braisne where the Germans had long been holding the position and where they defeated the French in the war of 1870.

We had been in the firing line twelve days without leaving when I came away. I need not say that it was hot - you need not go away to see fireworks.

When I received my lot I really thought it had blown my back and legs off.

Tom Bradley got hold of me, but he had to run for fresh lodgings himself as shells were bursting all around us and I never saw him any more. I think they thought it was all up with me when they cut my clothes off and saw my back bleeding so much but I kept a good heart.

I just asked the officer for a cigarette and started smoking. I have had some rough passages one way or another but give me a fag and I am all right.

You ask me what I think of the Germans. Well, if it were not for their artillery they would be bowled out first ball.

Their infantry are not good and they won’t face the bayonet.

Our battalion has gone through it.

We have had about 900 killed and wounded.”