Griffiths C – Trooper – The Horrors of War


Mexborough Times, Dec 5th The Horrors of War Trooper Griffiths

Trooper C Griffiths, D Squadron, Royal horse guards, with the seventh cavalry Brigade of the expeditionary force, a Conisbrough man, now on active service in the neighbourhood of Ypres, writes to his wife a letter from which the following are extracts:

“The reason you do not see many Horse Guards in the casualty lists is that the Royal Horseguards, First Lifeguards, and Second Lifeguards, are chiefly composed of the biggest men of Dragoon and Hussar Regiments, transferred to them to make the household cavalry the proper strength, and when these men get killed, because they have not taken the trouble to write `horseguards´on their identities, they go in the casualty list as Dragoons and Hussars. We have lost a lot of men both killed and injured… It is not war. It is simply slaughter, and I think when it is all over they should hang the Kaiser. It would make you shudder to see French, German and British dead lying about the fields, and they can’t be removed for shellfire, for the Germans do not respect the white flag. A party of six others were ordered to fetch in the body of a certain household cavalry officer, which had been lying in the field for about a week. We had to give it up; it would have been certain death for us to try and recover his body. We’re not do much cavalry work yet; it is all trench work. We are like infantry, and fight with bayonets as well as swords. Three nights ago I thought we were going to use them. The German fire was awful; both rifles and guns. Twice they tried to break through ours, but we repulsed them. They’re shelling of our trenches were so accurate that some of us had to run for it. The Germans have made a mess of the towns and villages with their big guns: hardly a house is left, and the beautiful cathedral of Ypres, where we are fighting, they have played havoc with. But I think their game is almost over. A great many of us think it will be over by Christmas.”

In another letter to his wife, Trooper Griffiths speaks of the hardship which have to be encountered on account of the weather. He says: “We have had nothing but rain this last fortnight, and are up to our knees in mud. But we have at just had a change in the weather, and now it is frost and snow. We are in the thickest and hardest battle that has been for yet, and the longest. I don’t think you were many more days before the Germans are on the retreat. It has been the very devil in the trenches this last fortnight… But for all the shelling. they give us, our casualties are very slight – just a few killed and wounded. One would think it impossible to live under such fire, for they keep it up until dark, and then divide their attention between the surrounding villages and Is. It is the same with our guns; our artillery shells them all night long.”

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