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Key dates over January 1915

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Lives lost on this day: 0

16th January 1915 - Severe injuries to Worcestershire men

Rolling casualty count: 590

1st Batt:La Gorgue: In Corps Reserve Billets; 2nd Batt: In billets at Gorre. GOC 5th Infantry Brigade inspected billets; 3rd Batt: Relieved Liverpool Scottish, Royal Fusrs and Lincolnshire Regt In billets at Westoutre.

On Friday afternoon 11 British wounded soldiers arrived by motor ambulance at the Infirmary from the First Southern Military Hospital, Birmingham, and were placed in G Ward. All the men appeared to be more seriously injured or in worse health than some of the batches which have previously arrived, but all were in bright spirits with the exception of Pte. A. Flannigan, of the 3rd Worcs. He frequently moaned with pain, and was very anxious to be placed in bed. He had been injured in the chest, arm, and back in the fighting at Messines. Several of the men had to be conveyed to the ward on an ambulance, only three being able to walk with ease. Some of the men carried dainties with which they had been presented, and all were particularly pleased to hear that “Smoking was not strictly prohibited,” and at once “lit up.” A word of praise must be given to the Infirmary porters who conveyed the men from the ambulance to the wards with the greatest care;

John William Martin, a Bromsgrove survivor of HMS Formidable, which was torpedoed on New Year’s Day, relates his experiences to a Press representative this week. He states that the boat was torpedoed at 2:10 am, when he was asleep in his hammock. The force of the explosion put all lights out. His duty was to attend to the searchlight, and he was at his station when the Captain came on to the bridge. The Captain signalled to the flagship, gave instructions for the watertight doors to be closed, and ordered, “Out launch and sailing pinnace, and away seaboat’s crews.” The Captain set a splendid example of calmness. Turning to the officer of the watch, he asked for a cigarette, and lit it, and then picked up his dog and patted it. Rubbing his hands, he calmly remarked, “A cold morning, is it not?”…;

A German Concert: Pte. R. A. Ham, 1st Somerset Light Infantry, writes to his home in Bromsgrove:- “I daresay it will hardly seem credible to you in England, but what I am just about to tell you is absolutely true. On New Year’s Eve the Germans came out on the top of their trenches and gave us a few selection of music, played by a band which they had, and a cornet played the chief part. They gave us our National Anthem, ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ and ‘Home, sweet Home.’ As they had not fired a rounds at any of our chaps since Christmas Eve we let them carry on for our amusement;”

Pte A. Freeman, of the 2nd Worcs Regt, has been wounded. In a letter to his relatives he describes the severe fighting in which his regiment took part. Referring to one action he says: “Two of our companies went through a wood, and when we got to the bottom of it the Germans opened fire at us with their big guns. I thought my time had come. The Germans retired, and you should have seen the sight – men lying with head, legs, or arms blown off. It was enough to make one’s hair turn grey.”; Cpl Harry Williams, a motor despatch rider, formerly a chauffeur in the services of the Earl of Dudley, has just returned to the front after a short furlough, granted in order that the 6th Cavalry Brigade, to which he is attached, should be brought up to its full strengthen. Cpl Williams said the Brigade went out 1,300 strong two months ago, and had been reduced to 70. The greatest dangers to despatch riders were shrapnel and snipers. On one occasion the Colonel sent two riders for reinforcements, and then, as an afterthought, sent Cpl. Williams, with the same urgent message. The last named had only got half a mile on his way when he saw his two comrades lying dead in the road. Both had been killed by the same shell;

Germans’ Cool Trick: Quartermaster-Sergeant Smith of the 2nd Worcs, has written stating: “For the past 6 days we have been in trenches with have been partly filled with mud and water. To make matters worse, the Germans diverted the course of the stream into our trench, which caused us to evacuate it, leaving our kits behind.”

Information researched by Sue Redding