Centenary of the Great War

Centenary of the Great War

Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for October 29 – November 4, 1917.
SuZhou Night Recruitment

LETTERSWriting to Mr J. O’Connor, of Newcastle, from “somewhere in Belgium”, Sapper J. Hughes, of Newcastle, says: “As you know, this quarter has been pretty lively now for a month or more. We had another stunt here yesterday, of considerable violence. It lasted for the best part of 18 hours – the barrage fire. Old Fritz launched some of his new gas at us during the early hours. He can come with all his bombs and shells, only God forbid this gas. I’m now attached to the armoured broad gauge petrol locos, with a siege battery of the R.G.A. I would ten times sooner be here than at the base. There are only four of us here. We never see any of our company. If the guns quieten down, you wonder what has happened. This country is waterlogged. The water anywhere is only within two feet of the surface. I know nothing to beat the mud here. There is very little difference between this here and the swamp where we used to tip the slag at the steel works. All the same, this place is not without its humour. One laughs and jokes more here than ever. You can hardly believe your eyes when you see the front, which stretches for three miles wide. There is not a blade of grass to be seen. Everything is shot away. Villages are no more than a few broken bricks and tiles. The aerial fights are a great sight to watch, or trying to get one another’s balloons.”

IN FRANCEPrivate H. H. Johnson, son of Mr. W. Johnson, of New Lambton, writing to his brother Thomas, who is a resident of Aberdare, relates some of his experiences in France. He says: “I started out from Balestone camp (England) on 23rd September, 1916, and embarked next day and crossed the English Channel, which took us one hour and three-quarters. We landed at ___, where I had my first sight of sunny France. We were then marched to a rest camp for the night, but were despatched early next morning by train for the base at E. We were trained there for a couple of days, and were sent up to the battalion we were allotted to at 2 o’clock in the morning. We were given 120 rounds of ammunition. We entrained for a place in the line. After travelling all night we reached the battalion we were to fight with. They were enjoying a much-needed rest. Next night I received my baptism of fire. I was sent up into the first line with a working party, and I regret to say my division suffered heavily; but it was some scrap, as the Huns know only too well. We then went to the Somme. We stopped at __ for one night, and then marched 14 miles, which took us within 12 miles of the firing line. We camped, and experienced a hard frost, and we were roughing it too. We were called at 4am, and were in a hot corner, where I received the hottest and roughest time of my life. From October, 1916, to January, 1917, I was right in the thick of it. How any of us came through it is a mystery. Even the Tommies wanted to know how we stood it. We were complimented on all sides for the manner we carried out our part of the scrap. I have only a hazy recollection of some of it. I know I was fighting all the time. My comrades were just as busy. We had the satisfaction of knowing we were victorious. The same night we sneaked over to where we had pushed Fritz, and dealt him some more ‘hurry up’, and retired safely to our own trench. The next night I lost my luck. I got a piece of tin. Fritz did not like the way we treated him, so he retaliated, and returned the compliment in the shape of a bombardment which consisted of 9.2 shells, and light stuff, shrapnel, and whizz-bangs. I was on post duty at the time. I heard one of the shells coming. I had my hand on a petrol tin at the time, which was lying near a box of ammunition. I ducked down, and a piece of shell struck the tin, and some splinters (tin and wood) entered my left hip, lifting me in the air, and dumping me in the trench. After being attended to, I was sent to the casualty clearing station, then on to the big French hospital. After two weeks I was sent up to the base again, enjoyed a month’s rest, and then joined my battalion, which was a mile out of Bapaume. A big advance was on, and I was just in time to take part in it. Fritz proved himself a good runner here, and we kept him going through Fremcourt, and up to Bullecourt, where he must have stumbled, for he put up quite a decent fight for a day or two, but was booted out altogether. He continued to resist, and the ns proved that they have got to be reckoned with when it comes to a struggle. Whilst we suffered heavily, we had our revenge when we counted the dead Germans lying about. Those are sights we don’t want to see often, but they asked for war, and they are getting it. While my luck sticks to me I want to be there to hand out my share. You get quite hardened.

BRUTAL: A sad reminder of the fate that awaited 46,000 n troops on the Western Front. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony.

CAPTURE OF BEERSHEBAThe ns and New Zealanders, after 12 hours fighting, brilliantly captured two hills on the Hebron-road. When German machine-gunners held up the attack late in the afternoon the Anzacs fixed bayonets and charged, sending in wave after wave. They dismounted at the first trenches, and went on afoot, sweeping away resistance. Then they remounted and charged into the town of Beersheba.

Mr Massey, the official correspondent, telegraphs: n mounted men were the first to enter Beersheba. The enemy was in extremely strong positions, but nothing went wrong. The n Horse in the moonlight charged up with bayoneted rifles, overwhelming the Turks, and galloped cheering into the town.

Mr Massey, in a stirring despatch, describes General Allenby’s surprise blow, which smashed up the eastern end of the Turkish line, and wrested Beersheba from the enemy. He states that there was a stern fight all day long, in which the New Zealand and n mounted troops and the British infantry displayed great endurance and courage, doing everything as planned, so the staff scheme seemed to go like clockwork. The story of the day will add glory to the lads from English cities and shires, and the ns and New Zealanders. Splendid British infantry, after long night marches, attacked with such determination that they tore down wire entanglements with their hands. Then as the moon rose over Judea Hill the n Horse dashed in among the strongly-held trenches, and captured the town at dawn on October 31. The ns and New Zealanders were south of Beersheba, the British infantry facing the northern, western, and south-western defences which were cut in a range of hills hiding Beersheba from view. The Turkish entrenchments were elaborate, skilfully chosen, and heavily protected. Wire and guns covered all the approaches. Prisoners declared that they believed Beersheba impregnable. General Allenby’s astonishing success in concealing the march across the sun-parched desert is the outstanding reason for the success of the movement. It commenced with a cavalry scrap on October 27, when 3000 Turks with 12 guns attacked a British cavalry screen occupying high ground near the Jerusalem-Beersheba railway. The British squadron held out throughout the day. Though both flanks were enveloped, and another was surrounded on three sides. When the infantry arrived they were able to occupy the ground without fighting. The British infantry marched at night, and hid in the daytime in the Wadi beds. There was a beautiful moon on the night of the 30th. The ns and New Zealanders made a wide rapid sweep to the south-east, in order to rush in at dawn and get astride the Hebron road to prevent the Turkish retirement. The infantry attacked Hill 1070, and succeeded in an irresistible rush within half an hour, though a German machine-gun section occupied the hill.

The infantry pushed on to the Wadi Sava trenches. Bombers dashed in wherever our artillery had not proved effective, and broke down the wire from iron supports with their hands. It was grand work, the English countrymen showing inspiring courage. Though fighting for 12 hours, they captured one defence after another until all the Beersheba stronghold was captured by half-past nine. Many of the ns and New Zealanders rode 30 miles before getting into action. Their work was as meritorious as that of the Britishers. They first captured Sakaty, a high hill six miles north-east of Beersheba, dominating a wide district, with their usual elan. These big ns stopped at nothing. They rounded up every Turk on the Sakaty hill by one in the afternoon, and then captured the Hebron road. Even more difficult was the taking of Tel el Saba, a foothill three miles east of Beersheba, which had been converted into a redoubt of great strength, and as made almost unapproachable by the steep banks of the Wadi running alongside, but the New Zealanders and ns carried it by half-past three, and then turned their attention tohouses between the hill and the Hebron road, held by German machine-gunners.It was getting dark, and there was anxiety about water for the horses. The ns settled matters. They formed up against the eastern trenches, fixed bayonets, and charging line after line, went for the enemy. Before the last wave reached the trenches the German machine-gunners were silent. Dismounting at the first line of trenches, the Anzacs went on foot, overpowering the Turks. Then bringing forward their chargers, they galloped cheering into the town. There was evidence the Turks were completely surprised. A train wasin the station, and the warehouses were full of corn, almost intact.

ENLISTMENTSDaniel Horisha Burchfield, Newcastle; Edward William Dean, Morisset; George Campbell Greaves, Mayfield; William Lester Harragon, Hexham; John Joseph McMahon, Singleton; William Thomas Sampson, Hamilton.

DEATHSPte Edward James Devereux, Ash Island; Bdr Oscar Edwards, Millfield; Sgt William Thomas Flood, Stroud; Pte Harry Robert Keevers, Tighes Hill; Dvr Augustus Sydney Lennox, Newcastle; Dvr George Bernard Martin, Aberdeen; Spr Roy Richmond Mason, Cooks Hill; Spr John William McInnis, Largs; Gnr William Angus McLeod, Newcastle; Pte Frederick Gould Pullen, Stockrington; Shoeing Smith Frederick Charles Robinson, Gundy; Pte Herbert Angus Sullings, Hamilton.

David Dial OAM is a Hunter-based military historian. facebook苏州夜总会招聘/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory