The difference between fair terms & absolute surrender

The son of the vicar of Radley, Captain Austin Longland was serving in Salonika with the Wiltshire Regiment, where he struggled with the heat, but hoped the Germans were about to give in.

Thursday July 6th [1916]

Temperature in here continues at 95-105 degrees I’m told by the doctor. Also I’ve just had my 2nd dose of typhoid & perityphoid inoculations & have a day off duty in consequence. Twice clouds have gathered, & once we had a violent storm of thunder & lightning but never a drop of rain. Needless to say all beauty’s gone. The sun glares down, trying the eyes, and our view of the town is blurred by a continuous cloud of fine grey dust. I have told you that from the sea up to the hills the ground rises steadily till the last steep ascent, & we’re therefore, tho’ considerably below the level of the actual hills, some height above the town which is about 5 miles away. We are to the left of the road this time, but we can see the sites of our 2 early camps and get a rather different view of the town & the citadel. You remember the shock I had on returning our bivouacs last Sunday fortnight & finding them gone and all my kit packed. My first idea then was that we were going forward – first stop Nish or Sofia, but when it was known that we were to march back over the hills no one knew what to expect.

The men were more cheerful than I’ve seen them in this country – all firmly persuaded that they were going back to France – an opinion which I hadn’t the heart to discourage, but did not hold myself.
Since then nothing has happened. From about 6 to 6.45 each day in the morning the battalion does its old physical drill, & parade which the officers, except Waylen who takes it, do not attend, going out instead to study tactics with the NCOs, each company by itself. This lasts 6 till 9. Three days a week we go a route march from 5-8 a.m. In the evening we parade from 5.45 till 6.15. doing physical exercises gain, officers & all – & that is the day. The NCOs class was ordered by the Brigade & is most useful – tho’ of course it’s what we ought to have done at Marlboro’. So from 9 till 5.45 every day & from 6.30 onwards we have nothing to do except sit in our hut.

Wood as usual is scarce, so there’s not chance to make a chair. At present I am seated on 2 sand-bags, which raises one off the ground a bit. We have a hut for a common room, but tho’ it has forms and a table, it’s very hot & full of flies. Here the flies grew so unbearable that I ordered yards of muslin from the town & with its aid we ae at last at peace. We feed in a hut off a sand bag table & seated on sand bag seats. I’ve just been busy trying to make that fly-proof – harder but even more necessary. If you sit still for a moment you can always count over 50 on the plate in front of you.
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Wounded soldiers will be fit subjects for these dreadful germ-carrying flies

The arrival of wounded soldiers to Reading gave a new impetus to the battle to fight contagious disease in the town.

SAVE THE WOUNDED

The Municipal Authorities have joined forces with the War Office in a great crusade, the object of which is the extermination of flies.
It is a matter of common knowledge that the house fly is a carrier of diseases, including the germs of consumption, typhoid fever, diphtheria and other infectious diseases.

A committee was recently formed to deal with this question which is a most serious one in view of the fact that there will be in Reading hundreds of wounded soldiers, who will be fit subjects for these dreadful germ-carrying flies.

It was decided that every house within a quarter-of-a-mile radius of each war hospital shall be regularly and systematically visited, and that fly traps shall be provided to each of these houses.

Many V.A.D. Nurses, District Visitors, and other ladies have already offered their services for this work, valuable not only on behalf of the soldiers but for the benefit of the health of the entire community.

This is a tremendous undertaking, as many thousands of houses will require to be visited, and the offers of help at present received are not nearly adequate to deal with the work.

There must be, many ladies, who would be glad to do any useful work on behalf of our soldiers, more especially for the wounded who have already risked life and limb for us as a nation.

As we in Caversham now have a Red Cross Hospital the work has to be taken up here.

The Hon. Secretary (Miss Innes, Health Department, Municipal Buildings, Reading), or Mrs. Cleaver, who has undertaken the work of Supervisor for Caversham, will be glad to receive offers of help, and to give particulars with regard to the duties of the voluntary inspectors.

A lecture will given on “Flies” at Balmore Hall, at 2.30, on Thursday, June 3rd, by Dr Stenhouse Williams, and it hoped that all who are able will be present.

Caversham parish magazine, June 1916 (D/P162/28A/7)