“The crack of bombs and the whistle of the bullets”

There was news of a number of wounded men from Ascot. One, Augustus Turner, wrote an illuminating letter about his experiences under heavy fire in the trenches.

We have to record, with regret, the following casualties during the past month.-
Harry Cooper (R. Middlesex Regiment) wounded, now at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
Corporal of the Horse Harry Bonnard (1st Life Guards) wounded.
Captain Sidney Clement (5th Australian Bush Regiment) missing.
James Johnson (1st Life Guards) missing.
Rifleman Augustus Turner (London Irish Rifles) wounded, now in Woolwich Hospital, progressing favourably.
Ernest Oran (1st Life Guards) sick.
Thomas John Minns (1st Batt. R. Berks) wounded.

We give some further extracts from Rifleman Augustus Turner’s interesting letter from the Front.-

“In the evening, by which time we had got accustomed to the noise of bullets and shells and conditions in general, I was one of a party to go sapping. This experience will ever remain in my mind. A sap or a trench had already been dug a distance of about 50 yards from our first trench towards the Germans, and it was our duty to dig still further. I entered the sap first, and when a short distance along a star shell was sent up by the Germans. I’d been warned to keep low when any star shells were sent up so as not to be seen. I did bend down, but almost immediately after the star went up a bomb followed and exploded in the air above me. I don’t remember whether I laid full length on my own accord or really how I got down, but after the bang I found myself lying on my spade measuring my height and a little more perhaps, at the bottom of the sap. The explosion was terrific, it shook the ground and me too, but apart from that I was uninjured. This is just another form of a greeting of the Germans, but in a very short while the crack of bombs and the whistle of the bullets from our men and the ‘Germs’ which passed just above my head, had not the slightest effect and I worked on merrily, smothering myself with clay and throwing above that which didn’t stop on my clothes. It seems strange, but it is quite true that one gets accustomed to the worst of conditions in a very short while.

The sapping continued all night, reliefs taking place of course, and at 3.30a.m. on 12th March, I finished my duty in the sap, when an order was given ‘Rapid fire.’ It continued for an hour, and such a noise is hard to beat. An attack from the Germans was about to take place, but was repelled by this deadly fire. A fellow who dare risk being out in the open under such fire deserves V.C.’s all over him. Just before this hail of lead, an attempt to blow up the trench next to ours by mines, was made; the earth blew up high in all directions, in front of the trench. This made another tremendous report. Morning began to dawn, and things quietened down a bit, and at 9.a.m., on the 12th March we went from the trenches back to our base, after having an experience, which I think, none of us will ever forget.

Our stay in barracks was not for long, for on 13th March we were ordered back to the trenches again for a stay of 24 hours. It is pitiful to see some of the houses- which used-to-be. In villages near the trenches it is one mass of ruin; churches, too, are included. All that remains of what must have been a fine old church is half of the tower. An extraordinary thing in one of these wrecked villages is a beautifully constructed shrine by the roadside. It is practically untouched excepting for a bullet hole just here and there. Needless to say, it attracts everybody’s attention. Our Sunday service was conducted last Sunday in a modern theatre, built 1912. Holy Communion was celebrated at 8 a.m. on the stage of this theatre, but there not being sufficient room we had to remove the pit. This may strike one as being very curious, but I can say from experience a theatre can be turned into a very fine church. Our chaplain, who is a very pleasant gentleman, officiated.

The soldiers here seem fine fellows. They all look very fit and not a tiny bit perturbed through the war. Fighting has not the tiniest effect upon them apparently. That ‘Use is second nature’ seems perfectly true. This war is a fearful thing, but it is giving us all such an experience and bringing upon most of us such a fine condition of health that if we are spared to see it through we can never forget it. I am indeed sorry to hear of the outbreak of disease at the Ascot Hospital, but am more sorry to know of Miss Blackburn being a victim. I truly hope it will be very soon suppressed. I trust, sir, that my letter will not be boring to you, and in conclusion, I would like to say that I’m longing for the day when I can enter Ascot’s dear old church and thank the Almighty for deliverance and protection from and through this awful and terrible war.

With best wishes for your health and well-being.

I am, sir, yours faithfully,

AUGUSTUS T. TURNER.”

* *

A WORKING PARTY has been held (usually at the Rectory) from August to December, and is now going on. In the first instance the work and a contribution in money was sent to Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. At the present time we are working for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (Scottish Women’s Hospitals.) Pyjamas, slippers, and hot water covers are out chief contributions. Units are in France and Serbia. The sun of £41 13s. 3d. has been sent in money: and we have an “Ascot bed” in one of the Hospitals.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine (D/P151/28A/17/6)

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“In death, they were not divided”

The people of Ascot mourned the death of some of their sons who had lost their lives at the Front – including two brothers, a soldier and a sailor, killed on the same day. They also had a military hospital in the village, and contact with well-wishers in Japan (which was an ally of the British).

Roll of Honour
Oscar William Tottie R.I.P.
Eric Harold Tottie R.I.P.
Alfred Harry Tidbury R.I.P.
Bernhard Pratt-Barlow R.I.P.

A REQUIEM EUCHARIST for our Sailors and Soldiers is celebrated on Saturdays, in All Saints Church, at 8 a.m.

THOSE AT THE FRONT.

We have to add the following names to our List in the October Magazine.

NAVY – William Walter Paxford, Stephen John Waite, Egbert Arthur Tidbury.

ARMY – Sydney George Sumner, Charles John Walls, Ernest Monk, James Johnston, George Lappage, Ernest Oram, Harry Bonnard, Matthew O’Connor, Thomas John Minns, William Brown, Paul Meakin, John Henry Baker, Robert Waight Sensier.

LIEUTENANT ERIC TOTTIE, Northumberland Fusiliers, was wounded at the Front on Sunday, September 20th, and expired in the base Hospital on the 22nd, being the same day on which his brother Lieutenant Oscar Tottie lost his life on H.M.S. Aboukir. “In death they were not divided.” We can only repeat what we ventured to say last month in regard to the elder brother. We pray that GOD will comfort the father and mother of two noble lads. R.I.P.

A Memorial Service for the two young officers was held at All Saints Church on Tuesday, October 6th. It was largely attended.

“THE SUGGESTION” in last month’s Magazine has met with a most generous response, and a family of Belgian Refugees is happily installed at Easton Villa, Kennel Ride – resting after their sad flight on foot from Antwerp a short time ago. We know they will soon have many friends, for we feel sure that all who go to see them will want to go again. Anyone wishing to pay his or her subscription direct to Mrs. Elliot and “Sandridge” will find a box on her front door on Sundays, from 10.45 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 2.45 p.m. to 4 p.m. Envelopes to contain the subscriptions (on which the Donors names must be written) will be given on application to Mrs. Elliot – who is the Hon. Treasurer for all monies subscribed for the purpose.

THE ASCOT MILITARY HOSPITAL is, at the time that we write, full to overflowing with wounded and sick Soldiers. They seem happy in their quarters; and in many cases, what with Ascot air and good treatment, their convalescence has been rapid. Already several patients have sufficiently recovered to be dismissed.
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