Soldier – Williamson, Herbert – Territorials at the Front

April 1915

Mexborough Times, April 24, 1915

Denaby Territorials at the Front
Lieut. Williamson’s breezy letter

Some of the territorials who left in large numbers for France last week, are already in the trenches. Lt Herbert Williamson, attached to the Denaby detachment, assistant engineer at the Cadeby main colliery, and son of Mr Ralph Williamson, chief engineer, has already written a breezy letter from the firing line.

“We have arrived here all right, he says, “and are having a rough time of it, but wouldn’t miss it for worlds. I’m not spinning the usual soldier’s tale when I say that the field guns are walloping away right and left of me now, and we have expected a rest camp for a week or two! Machine guns and all were at it last night’s, and some funny remarks were passed by the men on the sound.

Aeroplanes are as common as birds, and there is always at least one hovering above us, but they are all either French or British.

I am having a a lot of fun with the lingo. You’re simply pushed into a billet’s where they don’t speak English, and you may guess what happens. They don’t seem to understand our French very well.

There is a church which was burned by the Germans when retreating, and wanton damage all-round – just sheer destructiveness – while, only half a mile off 12 civilians were shot because a German lieutenant was lost. The people are all delighted to see us.

I am in an old farm house lately occupied by the Germans, who appropriated the owners money, safe, blankets, cattle and furniture, and then made his wife wheel the six kids in a heavy cart in front of them to protect them in case they met any of the French Chasseurs. It sounds incredible in the papers, but it is so.

And away from the roads there are several doubtful bundles lying about. We are likely to remain where we are for a day or two.. Everybody’s happy, and not much notice is taken of the noise.

The star shells, the German send to light up the opposing trenches, are very pretty