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Edwin Lambert
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Oulton and Woodlesford Men at the Front.
Rothwell Courier and Times. January 15th 1916.
Mr P.C. Higgins, of Woodlesford, the hon. Secretary of the Oulton and Woodlesford
War Fund, which has done so much for the men who have gone from the two villages to join the Colours, has had a batch of interesting letters sent to him by grateful soldiers at the Front, who each received a parcel of comforts for Christmas. The following extracts from some of the letters have been taken by the courtesy of Mr Higgins.

Gunner G.W. Steel, of the R.F.A., in thanking the committee, says his parcel “was
the envy of all the chaps in the billet.”

Rifleman W. Atha, C Company, 10th Platoon, 1st/7th West Yorks., in an interesting letter says: “We can get no sleep at night owing to the shells flying over us. One never knows where they are going to drop, and a shell makes a hole big enough for a horse and cart to stand in, so you can guess what damage can be done. It is grand, however, to see them burst in the air. They light up all around, but, mind you, I should not like to be hit by one.
On some nights we have to go out on working parties, filling sandbags to repair trenches. We are working on top all the time, but once the Germans spot us they don’t forget to put the  machine gun on us, and then it is get down as quickly as you can drop. One has to drop anywhere, and I have dropped many a time into a pool of water.”
Rifleman Atha goes on to relate his experience with the ration party, whose duty it is to supply the men in the trenches with food, and says he would sooner be in the front line trenches, as then he would be clear of the shells.
A postcard from Armentieres.

Driver H. Stead, Transport Section, 10th Battalion K.O.Y.L.I., gives a vivid picture of the life of the unfortunate people in the towns which have been so ruthlessly shelled by the Germans practically ever since the war began.
He is at Armentieres, which, he says, has been such another town at one time as Leeds. The houses and villas look like white marble, and electric cars run down the streets, but it looks like a rag-shop now, as the Germans have shelled it nearly every day. “They send shells but still people live in the houses, as they don’t seem to have anywhere to go, poor beggars.
One day about one o’clock I was in the street, when the Germans began to send their shells. A number of children were returning to school, and as the shells exploded they broke the pavement stones and hurled them into the air.
One piece of shell went through the window of a house in which a lady was seated getting her dinner. She was practically cut in two. It is not war, it is murder. Another day I saw a German aeroplane fly over the town, but the first shot from our guns tipped him right over and down he came.”

Private A. Nettleton, 1st/7th West Yorks., gives an idea of the artfulness of the Germans. “It is terribly wet in the trenches,” he says, “and in some places it is up to the waist in water. The Germans have an old trench, (a communication trench) which runs into ours, and it is slightly higher in position, and they have solved the problem of drainage by turning the trench into a canal and pumping the water into our trenches – their sewage as well.”

Gunner Walter Townend, A Batt., 72nd Brigade, R.F.A., writes a hopeful letter. He says: “We get things pretty hot in this part, I can assure you. It is the hottest part of the line, but we have been one too good for them up to now, and I think we shall keep it up, too. I can tell you this. The Germans are not so dense as people make them out to be. They are up to every game on the board, but they would as soon face the devil himself as face our “Jocks,” who are as fine a set of fellows as you have ever come across. I think they fear nothing. Once they say go they don’t stop in a hurry.”

Gunner H. Mates, B Batt., 125th Brigade, R.F.A., says: “We are having a pretty warm time here at present. We are going to let it ‘rip’ in twenty minutes time. I am waiting for the order while I write sitting on the gun seat. We have not had much rest since Christmas, as the Germans have been very active, but we have got the upper hand of them. I wish it were all over. I have seen enough, but we have got to go a long way before we reach the end.”

A number of letters expressing thanks were received from Oulton and Woodlesford
men in training in England.
For more stories from 1916 click on the link below.