Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, who died during the two World Wars.
LETTER FROM A CLAVERLEY SOLDIER IN THE TRENCHES [Bridgnorth Journal, 14th August, 1915]
An interesting letter has been received from Lance-corporal G. E. Roden 1086, 10 Platoon, C. Company, 1st West Yorks (son of Mrs Roden, Post Office, Claverley), from which we give the following extracts:-
"Sunday, Aug 1st, 1915; in the Trenches. I get a lot of letters from my friends in different places, and I spend most of my spare time in writing letters. What do you think of me getting the stripe? I knew that I should get one in time, and feel that I have earned it, too.
The weather has been simply grand these few days. It does not seem like Sunday here, with the big guns going all day long. I am pleased to hear the Claverley lot are out at the front now; it was time they left England.
We have had another terrible week of it in the trenches. On Friday morning at three o'clock, the Germans attacked just on our right. Before attacking they used burning liquid on our trenches, and the whole line of trenches were one mass of flames for about 15 minutes. It was a marvel to see how they sent it across. It was worse than gas. Our troops on the right had to retire out of the burning trenches. The Germans then came across and captured 400 yards of our trenches when the flame had died down. All the time the guns were bombarding heavily.
At 3 p.m. our troops advanced and tried to capture back the trenches, but failed.
At 2 a.m. on Saturday the Germans attacked again, but were repulsed with heavy losses. At 9 o'clock last night they tried again, and also at 11 p.m., but were repulsed both times with very heavy losses. I wonder what they will try next? It is the first time that they have used burning liquid on the English.
Between the German trenches and ours it is simply one mass of dead Germans. It was a terrible slaughter for them. One could not believe it without seeing it. These last few days the guns have not been quiet for a minute. God has taken me safely through it.
Our regiment has lost heavily, counting the wounded and killed. Some of my old chums in 11 platoon have been killed - some blown to pieces and others buried alive. It is too awful to talk about.I could never have believed such things possible. One poor fellow got killed who had not been with us a week. Our coy.-sergt.-major got wounded. One poor fellow - a chum of mine - had both legs and one arm broken, his back all wounds, and a cut across his head; in fact he was all wounds. He was quite happy (brave fellow) when he left the trenches on a stretcher, but I hear he died while they were dressing him at the dressing station.
Another sad case - they were two chums (with both of whom I was very familier); one got killed on the Thursday, so the other wrote to his own wife and asked her to break the news to the dead man's wife, thinking it would be better than getting the news from the War Office. Then the one who wrote got killed on Friday - blown several yards by a shell, - and we found the letter ready to post in his pocket. We then wrote a letter breaking the news of her husband's death as gently as possible, and we enclosed the letter her husband had written the night before asking her to break the news to his chum's wife. Fancy the sorrow that poor woman is suffering.
Are there any single young fellows who dare stop in England and shirk, when men with families are giving their lives for their country's sake? It is all the absolute truth, what I have seen with my own eyes these last few days. And, mind you, the Germans are suffering worse than us. There is no shortage of shells now; we have tons behind us, and, what is more, we have as many men as the Germans, so we do not fear. The Germans are having their last attempt to break through, and if they fail, which they surely will, because they will never get through us here; they might have done at the beginning of the war, but we are too good for them now - the war will soon end.
Have hardly had any sleep this last week, as we have been busy with our rifles all night, and no man was allowed to leave the firing trench. It has been a terrible ordeal for us all. Just gone 12 o'clock, so will have something to eat, and then will have a sleep this afternoon in our dug-out as there is quite a lull in the fighting. Am in the best of health. Get relieved to-morrow night, if all is well, and have six days in billets. I feel as if I could lie down and sleep for a week. We all feel the same."
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.