A good day with a bayonet

Our diarists William Hallam (over the border in Swindon) and Florence Vansittart Neale (in Bisham) were both impressed with the way British soldiers were fighting.

9th May 1915
Wife’s birthday, 47 years of age. We all went to St. Paul’s at XI. Then Cameron came in and spent 2 hours with us. A very decent fellow. He told me his ancestors built Melrose Abbey and generations of them are buried there. He is anxious to be out at the Front. One chap we spoke to yesterday said regarding the Germans, he didn’t care if he fell riddled with bullets to-morrow if he could only have a good day among them with the bayonet before.
Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)

9 May 1915
Wonderful account landing Gallipoli peninsula – really marvellously brave!
Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“The Huns do not spare a thing”

The voice of ordinary working class soldiers is often hard to find, but here is a letter from a Stratfield Mortimer man to the vicar of his church at home:

A Letter from the Front
We are glad to print the following extracts from a letter to Canon Lovett Cameron from Private C. E. White, 73rd Co. A.S.C. M.T-

I am all right, and like it out here very much. I am very glad now that I joined the Army, as it must be awful for a man walking the roads of England knowing that this is a life and death struggle and doing nothing for their country, or I may put it for their own homes. They ought to see a few towns of Belgium, then they might realise the nature of this terrible war. The Huns do not spare a thing. There is a most lovely church not far from here; as I expect, you know the churches here are splendid; this church which I have seen myself they have reduced to ruins, and have torn up the graveyard by their shell fire. It is most wicked…

We get plenty of good food, also plenty of clothing… You ought to see some of the roads here, awful to drive over, holes in places 2 ft. deep, and with all this rain very slippery. We have about 180 lorries and over 700 men in this Company. We got through the retreat from Antwerp all right, and up to now have only lost 2 men killed and 3 injured, that was at Ypres, the Germans shelled us there.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)