This is a round-up of pieces from the Batley News this week relating to the parishioners of St Mary’s.
Men from the parish were now serving with a variety of units and service branches. This included on submarines and with the Indian Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. One man was in Germany, a prisoner of war.
As usual I have put in bold the names of those connected to the parish who served with the military. And, as ever, the spelling and punctuation matches that of the newspaper.
Reassuring letters from the local Terriers, the 1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I., newly arrived in France, appeared in this edition of the paper. They included one from St Mary’s parishioner Willie Barber, as follows:
Private W. Barber, 1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I., in a letter to the Editor of the “News” for the benefit of K.O.Y.L.I. friends, says:-
Dear Readers, —I am pleased to let you all know we have landed safe and sound at our destination. The lads who are able to join the Army and are still at home ought to come, and be pleased to answer duty’s call. I am learning grenade throwing, which is a very serious job, and though it is a job some don’t like, it has to be done, of course, despite the danger. While I have been out here, I have seen a few Batley lads, and was delighted when I did come across them.
There are some awful sights – churches, bridges, houses, and all sorts of buildings blown away, but I am glad to say that our Battalion has not had many losses in the trenches. It seems to me there is not much danger in the first line of trenches as in the second line.
We are having very hot weather at present, and it makes one feel glad to lie down and have a rest on the floor, although it is hard! Nevertheless we welcome the chance after our day’s work.
While we are learning our special work we are a fair way from the firing line and billeted in an empty house, which is at least preferable to a barn.
As I write the officer is just giving the order “Fall in” for physical exercise; for we have physical exercise in the morning from 6.30 to 7.30. Then we have breakfast, and start at 9 o’clock for bomb throwing till 12 o’clock; then dinner; more exercises in the afternoon, and thus we have finished our day’s routine.
The officers have picked a certain number out of every company for the grenade work, and I am one of them.
P.S. —I have just received my favourite paper, “The Batley News.”
Michael Groark (as he was on the War Memorial), wrote home with news of his exploits with the Royal Scots Fusiliers. His letter read:
ROYAL SCOTS PRAISED.
BATLEY MAN IN A FINE BRIGADE.
Private M. Rourke, Royal Scots Fusiliers, of Cross Bank, Batley, writing from the Front, says he is well and that the weather is very hot out there. The men get a bath and a change of clothing when out of the trenches. He encloses a copy of an address to his Battalion, by the Brigade Commander, highly complimenting them on their part in an action in which Private Rourke took part. The officer said:-
“In order to cover the right flank of troops on our left, your battalion was ordered to take up a very bad and exposed position on a forward slope, and sure enough on the morning after you were exposed to a very heavy shell fire, followed by an infantry attack by vastly superior numbers. The Germans came pouring through, and it soon became obvious that your position was untenable, and we were ordered to take up a position further back.
“The Colonel, gallant soldier that he was, decided, and rightly, to hold his ground, and the Royal Scots Fusiliers fought, and fought until the Germans absolutely surrounded and swarmed into the trenches. I think it was perfectly splendid. Mind you, it was not a case of ‘hands up’ or any nonsense of that sort. It was a fight to a finish. What more do you want? Why, even a German General came to the Colonel afterwards and congratulated him, and said he could not understand how his men had held out so long. You may well be proud to belong to such a regiment, and I am proud to have you in my brigade.”
General Sir Smith-Dorian also praised the R.S.F. for their fine work after Neuve Chapelle. He visited them in billets and addressed them in terms of high praise. “None but the best troops could do the work, and so I sent for you, and you have done it,” he said.
Meanwhile Walter Waite, with the Indian Expeditionary Force on the Western Front, wrote of the actions with which he was involved.
AN ECHO OF HILL 60.
CARLINGHOW GUNNER’S WAY BLOCKED BY GERMAN VICTIMS.
Gunner Walter Waite, R.F.A., with the Indian Expeditionary Force, writes to his home, Beck Lane, Carlinghow:—
I am quite safe yet. We went into action on Saturday. Day and night their guns are firing, and it is like Hell let loose. You will have read about the Hill 60. We could scarcely get up with ammunition on account of German dead and wounded, etc. They paid dearly for their attack. You would not think a fly could live here among the bullets and shells. The sky is lit up at night. The other day I thought I saw a Batley lad, but could not get to speak to him. I shall have to finish now – getting ready to send the Germans some more souvenirs. I did not realise what war was like when I was in England, but I do now. Our Canadians went through them, but lost a lot of men.
Hill 60 was the setting where Joseph Hart, who had a parish connection, received his wounds. He featured twice in this edition of the paper.
Private J. Hart, 2nd K.O.Y.L.I., son of Mrs. Hart, Ward’s Hill, Batley (wounded).
More details followed later in the paper.
BATLEY MAN’S WOUND.
NEWS FROM A FELLOW TOWNSMAN.
Private J. Hart, 2nd K.O.Y.L.I., who referred in a letter in last week’s “News” to a rendering of “Homeland” on a tin-whistle as the sweetest music he ever heard, is reported by a comrade to be wounded.
Sapper George Rhodes, a Batleyite in the same regiment, writes to a friend as follows:
“I expect you will have heard about Joe Hart getting wounded. I heard that it was a slight wound, but it is a bit serious. I hope he gets over it. On the same day as he got wounded he came and gave me a cup of tea…I was fighting for Hill 60, and we were successful in driving the Germans back.”
Prisoner of war Michael Manning had food and cigarettes on his mind as he wrote home. Meanwhile his brother Cecil Manning was now believed to be on a submarine.
SOLDIER PRISONERS IN GERMANY.
CARLINGHOW AND BATLEY MEN THANKFUL FOR PARCELS.
Able Seaman M. W. Manning, Royal Naval Division, who is a prisoner of war at Doeberitz, and acting as interpreter in a German military hospital, writes to his parents:— “Please don’t leave off sending cocoa, bread, cakes, bully beef, and other things.” In another letter he says, “I have got all your parcels, but no cigs. You know if you cannot get food or cigs through, you can always send money, and then I can buy what I am short of. With the money you have sent, I shall be able to last another month, and then perhaps you will send some more. In good health. Please send cocoa and biscuits.”
Seaman Manning has a brother in the Navy who, after serving on H.M.S. Berwick for some years, has recently been moved. From sentences in letters, it is now surmised that he is on a submarine, but his parents do not know what vessel he is on…
There was one relevant local court appearance.
Batley Court – Monday.
Thomas Morley, labourer, Batley, denied being drunk and disorderly in East Street on Saturday night. —Constable Walton said defendant, when spoken to, exclaimed “Lock me up —you can’t lock me up!” —There were 30 previous convictions, the last being in March 1911. —Fined 10s.
Finally, there was an update of the parish’s charitable donations.
Batley Catholic Church has up to date raised £53 1s. 10d. for the Batley Belgian Refugees Fund.