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Names & Particulars of 5 Soldiers Buried at Le Cateau

on Sat 8th July 1916 in the Cemetery there

in my presence C.C.Frank 2nd Lieutenant

7 West Yorkshire Regiment

LEEDS RIFLES

1             S.H.Graham No: 3734 Ist Queen Victoria Rifles

Home address The Punch Bowl Inn Turners Hill Sussex

Severe bullet would in head 3 Doctors gave him every attention

2             Noble queen’s Westminster Rifles A Company

Taken to the College as a severe case on arrival

Query – lived at Balham Qy No4022 Platoon

3             C.F.Butt No 1721 London Rifle Brigade

5th City of London regiment

Travelled with him Wounded in stomach

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4             Ford No 339 5th City/County of London Regiment

L. M . L. (?)

5             An unknown man. They have photographed

him & sent photo to Bureau at Berlin

will send it via Switzerland to England

and any things he had too – He was very

badly wounded and sent to the College at once as

dangerous case

6             (Not died) Ollerenshaw H.S. Sergeant in the 5th

City of London Regiment (London Rifles Brigade)

Severely wounded in left leg

These particulars given by H C Sichnell No 2198

of same regiment

Married                Wife lived at 51 Eastwood Road

Goodmayes Essex

c/o Mrs Challens

119 Elgin Road

Seven Kings

ESSEX

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Army Message Book 153 WW1 diary

Army Message Book 153

Army Book 153 WW1 diary

Army Book 153, Inside front cover

 

Army book 153 WW1 diary

Pages 1-33 are torn out. P34: 7 July 1916. Seven days after being wounded and captured, Charles made a list of the details of the wounded men, including himself

Addresses of Men 7th July 1916

Keith William Gould

2nd Lieutnt IX Royal Irish Rifles

Ingelside Seaford Sussex England

Left shoulder bullet wounded

 

Robert C ????burgh

2nd Lieutnt IX Royal Irish Rifles

c/o Dr Darling, Lurgan Ireland

( Chin wounded)

 

C. C. Frank.

2nd Lieutenant

7 West Yorks Regiment

Leeds Rifles

c/o Barclays Bank

LEEDS

England

 

Army Book 153 - p34v Addresses of men 7th July 1916

p34v the list continues

2nd Lieutnt Reginald Fellorton

IX R Irish Rifles

Barnsridge

(left ???)                             Ireland

 

2nd Lieutnt J J Haigh

Selly 5th York Lancs

(Right hand)

 

Captain A Whyte

16th Royal Scots

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

 

2nd Lieutnt J W Mausby

Yelverton Norwich

6th North Staffordshire Regiment

 

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“I have a confession to make, Grandfather.” I lean forward – earnest, shy. After all, I don’t know this man, although I am learning much about him. And he certainly doesn’t know me. How to manage this nascent relationship?

He looks at me. His eyebrows rise almost imperceptibly. I think he knows what I’m about to say. I’m unable to meet his gaze. I have to fill the silence, and start gabbling.

“I’ve been reading it – well, trying to!” I strangle a nervous laugh recalling that our previous conversation about his writing hadn’t ended well. “Your diary from 1916 – in your Army Message Book – preparations in Le Havre, the goat eating your door curtain – remember?! The nightingale? Going over the top on the First of July, being wounded. Your capture, for goodness’ sake! Then the hospital train, PoW camp at Gütersloh…  Your friends, Grandfather.”

He turns away with a sigh.

“I’m sorry. I really can’t simply leave it. It’s just – well, you held onto it for years, then dad kept it, too – along with the essays. They were always there ‘in the garage’ wherever we were living depending on where dad was posted to. I can’t ignore that. They’ve all been put away for decades, and – well, now I’ve read the essays, done some research – I understand so much more, I’m making sense of it. And of you, and dad, maybe. A little, anyway.”

He is silent. I so want his approval. I lay my hand on his shoulder, but he stays turned away. The rough wool of his jacket feels like barbed wire under my hand.

“Grandfather, the first essay I read – quite by accident, I just pulled it out of the jumbled pile – was ‘A Road’ which is the first essay to do with the War you wrote, and that wasn’t until 1922. I thought it was a most extraordinary piece of writing! You describe noticing the sunlit day and the trees and insects with lyrical beauty, and all while you’re under enemy bombardment and facing machine gun fire! You wrote it as a memorial to the ‘… thousands of brave men’ who used the ‘corduroy road’ of the title. Please understand, Grandfather. The reason I’m reading your diary is that I have that same impulse – I can’t just leave you in the darkness, and all the people you mention…” Shaking slightly, his slender, fly-tying fingers, so like dad’s, briefly touch my hand.

I think it’s the closest I shall ever be to having his blessing.

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Well – we’ve done it. By the skin of our teeth (as usual) we’ve posted off our Christmas cards just in time for the Christmas delivery deadline. The process was much speeded by the application of address labels in preference to hand-writing the address on each envelope. This is an eminently practical thing to do and therefore – understandably – it is a widespread practice.

In fact, most of the Christmas card envelopes we get bear our address blandly typed within neat white rectangles. I confess, this saddens me a little as, given the opportunity, I take great delight in recognising the writing of the sender, before opening a card. I love the individuality of hand-writing and, sadly, it’s ‘public’ use seems to be on the way out. Not surprising really, as most of the means of communication we use on a regular basis require use of a keyboard, so there is little need to write anything beyond lists and ‘post-it’s.

I guess handwriting must be taught in schools as part of teaching children to read, so it’s unlikely to die out completely, but I wonder how much a person’s writing will reflect their personality if they don’t write very often? Will writing styles all become so similar they end up indistinguishable?

I recall my writing being ‘corrected’ at each of the many schools I attended (I was Forces child, not a reprobate… not really, anyway) and I tried all sorts of different approaches including rounded or skinny letters, slanting or straight, closed loops or open, added flourish or puritan plain. I even dallied with strange descenders which flicked forwards then backwards, ending tiny loops on the ends – mercifully, that phase didn’t last long. Rough hand-writing seems to run in my family – my dad’s was well-nigh illegible, and his dad’s was – well, challenging!

Without intending to, I’ve ended up with two quite distinct ‘styles’:  a hideous barely formed scrawl when I’m making hurried notes for myself, or a strange barbed-wire flurry of strokes for ‘public consumption’ comprising odd spiky characters and – unaccountably – a looped descender on a lower-case ‘b’ (where that came from, I have no idea!).

Hate to think what either says about me – thank goodness for address labels!

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“Honestly, your writing’s terrible!”

Grandfather looks up from the fly he’s tying – a March Brown, he told me as he settled at a table covered in small boxes of silks and feathers. “What are you reading, lass?”

“It’s this” I waggle his Army Field Message book in his direction. Army Book 153.

“I had been shot in the shoulder when I was captured.” he reminds me, exasperated.

I sigh. “I know, Grandfather, forgive me. It’s just… well, I really want to be able to read it”. He looks at me – carefully excluding from his glance the book in which he’d scribbled bits of his life in 1916 . “I’d like to find out more about your time in PoW camp.”

“Well, lass.” His hands fall from his work. “I came back. It should rest there.”

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After weeks in the leafy dark, I crawl blinking, scratched and tattered from a clump of briars – a metaphorical tangle of thorns pulling me this way and that, snagging on half-formed ideas, hazy thoughts and slow-won research. So what prompted this off-blog excursion? A fox hunt and a book, that’s what. The hunt quietly trampled over my powers of reason and the books exploded my little knowledge of war into a dangerous thing.
Hmm. No wonder it’s been quiet on the relativleyfrank front…

So – the books first: two really fascinating books about the First World War I’ve been immersed in over the past couple of months are ‘Forgotten Voices of the Somme’ by Joshua Levine and ‘To End All Wars’ by Adam Hochschild. The first is a collection of verbatim reports about various aspects of the Battle of the Somme given by men who were there, of various ranks. Yes, it is tough reading in places, but it’s also wry, surprising, touching, fatalistic, uncompromising and sometimes amusing. The second puts forward a fascinating variety of viewpoints about WW1, including those of dissenters, generals, politicians, propagandists and suffragettes.

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild

Forgotten Voices of the Somme by Joshua Levine

Forgotten Voices of the Somme by Joshua Levine

I’d just started reading Adam Hochschild’s observations about how officers at the turn of the last century tended to come from the Cavalry, which in turn came from the moneyed classes because only they could afford the horses and kit, and were used to riding and – of course – hunting, when also I re-read TMP’s ‘A Tale – The Cleveland Fox’.

On the face of it, in the essay (written November 1922) TMP simply reports the description of an extraordinary chase by the Sinnington Hunt in the early 1880s as related by ‘The Colonel’ who had participated. The fox they flushed was reputed to have travelled to the locality around Kirkbymoorside and Sinnington from Cleveland, and to have run about twenty miles pretty much in a straight line due north in a bid to get home to safety. The essay is well written, but not really one of his best, but the essence of it is the admiration for the extraordinary feats of endurance and instinct on the part of the quarry, expressed not only by the Colonel but also by other members of the Hunt.

At the end of the essay, TMP’s fellow SES members enter into arguments for and against fox-hunting, which are all very familiar, even a hundred years on. I confess I don’t understand how civilised people could chase a creature to exhaustion and then allow a pack of baying hounds to tear it apart. But then I’m a soft southern suburbanite – what do I know? So I had to go and research it, didn’t I – and the first briars started catching at my sleeve.

The Sinnington Hunt, which Charles Clark Frank used to run with on foot as a boy, is a renowned Hunt of long-standing in North Yorkshire. It has a very good website at: http://www.sinningtonhunt.co.uk (sadly, though, the history doesn’t mention ‘The Old Gentleman’ Tom Parrington as Master of Foxhounds, although he was apparently quite noteworthy in the area in his time – see August 2012 archive), and seems to be thriving, in spite of the ban on hunting with dogs (or “Hounds if you please, gentlemen!” as TMP insists – followed by an explanation, of course!).

On this very good website is a thorny document called ‘Hunting, Wildlife Management and the Moral Issue’ which is a revised version of a report first published in 2009 by the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management and the All Party Parliamentary Middle Way Group. This paper is well worth reading. It states the case for hunting with dogs, and it does so very reasonably and convincingly, particularly considering is was written by vets. Check it out (at the bottom of the webpage) at: http://www.sinningtonhunt.co.uk/17.html

By the time I’d read that document, I’d also absorbed more information about the utterly inhuman attitudes of the officers and politicians waging the war against Germany, and running cunning and sophisticated propaganda campaigns at home because they needed more troops for the Front. So I became well and truly snagged, stuck and tangled in a morass of moral brambles.

The extraordinary self-belief and pompous certitude of the chateau-dwelling generals safe behind the front line are well documented, but the sheer callousness of massively promoting patriotism and viciously stamping on pacifism at home simply in order to increase the quantity bodies to be peremptorily pulped in the bloody war machine, is shocking.

Accostomed to simply massacring peoples they perceived as inferior – for example, in the Boer War – these leaders of men were apparently unable to make the intellectual leap to even entertain the possibility that perhaps their tactics were, at best, ineffective. They simply stuck to their guns and expected the enemy to ‘play the game’. Like the instance when the Germans began to gas against the Allied army – a week prior to the gas attack a German message had been intercepted requisitioning 20,000 gas masks for German troops, but no-one had thought to act on the information. Men were just numbers.

According to his son, General Douglas Haig:

“felt it his duty to refrain from visiting the casualty clearing stations, because these visits made him physically ill.”1

A hint of humanity? Or perhaps too much harsh reality for the man who wrote:

“The nation must be taught to bear losses, … Three years of war and the loss of one-tenth of the manhood of the nation is not too great a price to pay in so great a cause.”

Hochschild records that Haig could: ‘fly into a rage when he thought British losses – and so, by association, German ones – were too low.’ And ‘Hungry Haig’ taught his subordinates well: ‘On September 30 … General Rawlinson wrote in his diary “Lawford dined. In very good form. His Division lost 11,000 casualties since July 1.”2 News of these appalling losses was filtering through to those at home. But still they came, believing that there was a ’great cause’ to fight for.

(So the briars and brambles snake and tangle – what on earth drove men to enlist in their millions? Propaganda and patriotism? But can such a double-edged sword really be enough of a prod? Could a greater spur be the fear of being thought unpatriotic? Or was the propaganda so convincing that a sense of adventure could be sufficiently stirred to make a man sign up? Are any of these really sufficient incentives?)

Remoteness was what the exalted commanders excelled in, dealing only with facts and figures. Nearer the action, but still safely behind the lines, some cavalry officers, redundant in the face of a no-man’s land filled with craters and barbed wire, held competitions, a horse show, or went fox-hunting with dogs they had brought with them to France.
Some officers, and even some troops, are recorded as revelling in what Julian Grenfell called the:

“fighting-excitement [which] vitalizes everything, every sign and word and action.”3

As a keen huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ Lord’s son, Grenfell was a good shot, and took his ‘game book’ with him when he went to fight in France. In it were entries for October 1914 of ‘105 partridges’ bagged at home, followed by ‘One Pomeranian’ on November 16 and ‘Two Pomeranians’ the next day, after a raid on a German trench.4 Julian Grenfell is celebrated as a Poet of the Great War in Westminster Abbey, for, among other work, ‘Into Battle’: http://net.lib.byu.edu/english/wwi/poets/IntoBattle.html. He was killed in action in 1915.

Will it ever be possible to truly understand why men were willing to endure the appalling conditions and sacrifices they experienced in the trenches of the First World War? The sheer complexity of this animal we call human makes it possible for the decision-makers to plot their wide objectives with intellectual detachment, then stir the blood and raise the emotions to persuade men to fight to attain them, no matter what the cost, no matter whether their efforts were effective.

Enmerging from my thorny thicket, I realise I had always believed the main characteristics of both hunting and war to be oppression and callousness, and that a sort of ‘Tally Ho!’ mentality prevailed among the generals due to their privileged backgrounds. Now, although a few snags remain, I am certain that the oppression and callousness are solely attributable to those who plan and wage war. Politicians and commanders who commit men to kill each other for one ‘great cause’ or another, seem to deny their humanity to the point of blindness, rigidly sticking to their decisions, and damn the consequences, so long as their objectives (which are not always obvious or great) are achieved. Apparently, few peace negotiations were undertaken during the First World War, and both sides assumed that it would be over within months of starting, even as it continued and the human cost grew. Besides, God was on the side of the righteous.

As far as hunting goes, everything’s a lot clearer. During a chase, the fox, a ‘quarry species’ brings all its instincts to bear to evade the hounds, and does not experience fear in the manner attributed to it by humans, who do. Hounds are a ‘scenting and tracking’ species, and if a hound finds its quarry, the kill is instant, so no fox escapes to die slowly of injuries. Both animals do what comes naturally, and before hunting with dogs was banned in 2005, humans on horseback usually followed them, appreciating the thrill of the chase and admiring the tactics of the fox – and only one in six foxes were killed during any season.

Exrtacts from ‘A Tale – The Cleveland Fox’ written in 1922:
Extract from 'A Tale - The Cleveland Fox' 1922

Extract from 'A Tale - The Cleveland Fox' 1922 - p2

Extract from 'A Tale - The Cleveland Fox' 1922 - p3

Extract from 'A Tale - The Cleveland Fox' 1922 - p4

Extract from 'A Tale - The Cleveland Fox' 1922 - p5

References
1 P210, To End All Wars, Adam Hochschild
2 p209, To End All Wars, Adam Hochschild
3, 4 p126, To End All Wars, Adam Hochschild

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Having mistakenly thought I had come to an end when I finished reading the last essay, I’m now re-reading some of them – and delving a little deeper…

In 1922 TMP wrote an essay about a ‘corduroy road’:

“…built of logs by the Engineers, [which] lay like a dusty ribbon in front of us, barely wide enough for our passage four abreast.”

The essay concerns moments during which CCF and his men are forced to stop – in the open – while crossing the Ancre Marshes under enemy fire. Incredibly, writing several years later TMP recalls the beauty of the scene:Extract from 'A Road' 1922 - p1

Extract from 'A Road' 1922 - p2

Suddenly all hell broke loose as the two sides exchanged fire over the valley:

Extract from 'A Road' 1922 - p3

Miraculously, CCF and his men were not harmed and during a lull they were able to continue to Thiepval Wood. It must have been a terrifiying experience but, true to form, TMP defies the norm and recollects a

“…wonderful summer’s day, so happy and serene in the midst of so many and so great dangers.”

He then wistfully describes the destruction of the area wreaked when the Germans returned two years later: Extract from 'A Road' 1922 - p9

When ‘A Road’ was written CCF was fifty-one years of age and endeavouring to re-establish his practice as a solicitor in Leeds. His King, George V, was fifty-seven and had dominion over a quarter of the globe. Just four years after the WW1 ceasefire, the King travelled to Belgium and France, without pomp or ceremony, to visit the battlefields.

A page from The King's Pilgrimage 1922

King George V during The King’s Pilgrimage in 1922, when he visited the war graves and memorials of many nations in Belgium and France

Viewing the acres of graves where lay his fellow countrymen and ‘…the gentlemen from out of all the seas’, the King declared:

I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon earth through the years to come than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.”

‘The King’s Pilgrimage’ as it became known, was commemorated in a poem of that name by Rudyard Kipling (a favourite poet of Charles Clark Frank’s) who, through his involvement with the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) was part of the entourage. Just weeks after their return, the poem was published in a book with a commentary by Frank Fox and poignant photographs supplied by various press sources. ‘By his Majesty’s desire’ proceeds from sales of the book went to organisations which enabled relatives travel to the cemeteries.

You can see the original book as a PDF at: http://archive.org/details/kingspilgrimage00foxf – it is beautiful in its simplicity and worth looking at – or you can read it online at the same site, although it doesn’t give quite the same experience.
Very moving.

Surrounding the serried rows of sentinel crosses a stealthy enemy lurks to this day. Every year since the First World War, an ‘iron harvest’ is reaped by French and Belgian farmers. The swamp-like conditions of trench warfare during the War had swallowed weapons which landed in the sucking mud so that the earth now gives up unexploded shells, barbed wire, shrapnel balls and bullets during ploughing, and rusting shells pollute the land and the water table around the Ypres Salient and the River Somme. Sometimes escaping mustard gas still spreads its killing cloud, and many people have died while clearing or disposing of these destructive remnants.

War is never really over.

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