The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.

O.R. NEWS.

Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”

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Lives complete in self-sacrifice

A naval and army chaplain with links to Windsor reports on his experiences at Gallipoli ad in Egypt. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was open to learning from the non-white and non-Christian peoples he encountered, and respected the Turks as an honourable enemy.

The Vicar has received the following letter from Mr Everett:

Hospital Ship “Asturias”
Alexandria
February 1st, 1916

My dear Vicar

Since I last wrote I have seen so much, and gathered so many new impressions, that I find it difficult to decide what to write, and what to leave out. I have been several times through the Aegean Sea, either from Malta or Alexandria, on my way to Lemnos, the Gallipoli Peninsula, or Salonica [sic], from which places we, of course, brought back sick and wounded…

What thoughts are produced by Mount Olympus – hoary Olympus – once believed of men the home of the greater Gods! There, standing lofty and snowcapped, it has looked down through the ages on the surrounding country and the Gulf of Salonica. What has it seen in the past, and what now! Then, men seeking an unknown God in their own way, making wars, too, or carrying on their simple business, or cultured lives, on land and sea; using their frail ships with their banks of oars, or driven by contrary winds, and now, watching the great ships go by, battle cruisers and hospital ships (two strange contrasts), huge transports for the gathering of armies, and busy torpedo boats, all more or less independent of storm and tempest, and defeating space with their wireless installations.

But my pen has run away with me over my fascinating travels, nd I must turn to twentieth century history. The Dardanelles campaign is over, but I am not likely to forget my brief visits to Anzac Beach or Cape Helles; nor will those splendid men of all ranks, who spent months there and at Suvla Bay, under conditions which are well known. At Cape Helles I was sometimes ashore, and went over ground once held by fire and sword. It would take too long to describe it – the camps, landing places, “River Clyde”, and the town and fortress of Sedd El Bahr; but one enclosed space, of pathetic interest, held me – the little grave yard studded with crosses, some elaborate, but the majority rough and ready, marking the resting places of some of the many on the Peninsula whose lives, though so short, were so complete in their voluntary self-sacrifice. I eagerly scanned the names and rude inscriptions, in case I could recognise some brave friend from Windsor or elsewhere, in order to tell someone at home about it, and bring back a photograph, but found none I knew. I venture to think that the Turk, who has been an honourable foe, now that he is again in possession of Cape Helles, will reverence that little spot. I might add that I carefully looked at the crosses on Lemnos Island, over the graves of those who had died in hospital there, and have also seen the military burying place in Alexandria, but have only come across one name I knew.

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“It is fatal to rely upon Greece doing anything but letting us down with a bump”

Ralph Glyn reported to his boss and mentor General Callwell on plans to use aeroplanes to defend against submarines, both representing new forms of warfare.

Union Club
Malta

November 10th

My dear general

I have been spending the last few days in a destroyer looking out places from which the Air Service can patrol the entrance to the Aegean. This new influx of submarines – some mounting a 4” gun – will prove very serious. It is fatal to rely upon Greece doing anything but letting us down with a bump. Any scheme of protection that counts upon Greek help is worse than useless since it means that precautions that might otherwise be taken are not put in force, & evil results. The worst of it all is that Medforce & the NAS are so dreadfully short of aeroplanes that I fear in the future – unless the Admiralty get more & better machines we may lose command of the air which will have most dire results on the Peninsula as our gun fire can only be effective as long as our machines can keep the air and ‘spot’….

I learn that K is now coming out here. I wonder so much if you are with him. What he can do I cannot think – facts are facts & the sooner they are reorganised the better.

I’m sorry to be away from GHQ but with K there I might have been finally executed! I am to see the Admiral now & go on to France I hope tomorrow or the day after. I miss my work with you more & more but only hope I may make a success of this job.

Unsigned letter from Ralph Glyn to General Callwell (D/EGL/C24)

“Just the sort of absurd thing that a gang of civilians would decide upon”

Ralph Glyn’s boss shared the latest top secret discussions about a withdrawal from the Dardanelles.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W
15th October 1915

My dear Ralph,

Many thanks for your interesting letters from Paris and Rome. I suppose that by this time you are somewhere in the Aegean and will soon be fetching up at Imbros. I have worried Brade without ceasing about the ship for the King’s Messenger and am confident that by the end of the war something thoroughly satisfactory will have been arranged.

I imagine that you will find things a little uncomfortable when you get there, although I do not know how far everything will leak out even there at once. Monro is crossing from France today and I suppose that I shall see him tomorrow; but I do not know how he will manage about staff and so forth. I am very sorry for Sir Ian and Braithwaite who have had a very difficult game to play and have had the cards against them, while they have not received the backing from home that they might fairly have counted upon, It is to be up to Monro to recommend whether the Dardanelles operations are to be gone on with, or whether it is to be a case of clearing out – a nasty thing to have to decide. Afterwards he is apparently to go wandering about the Levant seeing what can be done there, as if a stranger to those parts could decide such matters at a moment’s notice. Just the sort of absurd thing that a gang of civilians would decide upon.
Carson is out of it – at least he has resigned; but there may be some hitch over Squiff’s accepting it, or he may be got at by the King. The Government is all over the place over the Dardanelles and compulsory service, and I do not know how they are going to pull themselves together.

Long says that he will send a banana ship to you, so your suggestion like so many of yours is bearing fruit. I have also rosined up the MS over the honours and have mentioned the matter to K, so that will be all right. Entre nous, I have got Lord Stamfordham to approach the King as to sending out a Prince to visit Gallipoli but have not heard how the All Highest takes it. Of course, that would only fit in if the operations are to be proceeded with; one could hardly pack off a Princeling to witness a retirement.

Our people made another attempt at a big push near Loos and it seems to have been virtually a failure. Robertson, who has been over, HW and JF all insist that they can break the line when they like, but when they try there is no tangible result. Offensive, barring local digs, will now be off for a bit I imagine. Mackenzie wanted to tell you off as 3rd Grade merchant of Mahon’s division, where there is a vacancy, but I pointed out that that would be sending you to Salonika contrary to K’s orders. I prefer your being at GHQ if it can be managed, but do not tell them I said so. Any way I will mention to Monro if I get the chance, as with your experience you might be very useful to him if he goes poking about.

Your “diploma” for the order of chastity or whatever your Serb decoration is arrived; but I suppose you do not want it in the field, and the MS watches over these things. Office much as usual, the “appreciation” epidemic is still virulent, but it has given old man Kiggell indigestion – and no wonder – so we are over the worst. But I miss your cheery presence.

Half asleep.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)