We have been notified of the death of another very dear Old Dragon.
Lieut. Roderick Haigh (Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Roderick has been killed; his crusade has come to an end. He was in the last charge of the 22nd Battalion at Klein Zillebeke (also known as Hill 60) near Ypres on the night of the 6th– 7th November, when the Brigade, only 700 strong, attacked and carried the German trenches, capturing three machine guns.
A private in his Regiment witnessed his death:
“We had the order to attack some trenches at dawn. I saw our Adjutant (Lieut. Haigh) cheering the men. We had only advanced a few yards when the enemy saw us and fired ‘Rapid Fire’ at us, and then we charged through a terrible hail of bullets, and got the first line of trenches.
Then Mr Haigh gave the order to advance, which we did, quick; and we took another trench, and then were told to get ready again, and we took the last trench; but when we got into it we found it was a running stream. The Adjutant with myself and 14 others got into this ditch only to find that the Germans were only 10 to 15 yards away, strongly entrenched.
We were firing point-blank range at each other, and all the time the Adjutant was standing up in the trench, head and shoulders showing. I actually stopped firing to look at him and admire him. He was using his revolver with great effect, and kept saying to encourage us, ‘That’s another one I hit.’ Oh, he was a cool man.
The Lance-Corporal went back for reinforcements, but couldn’t return. We kept firing for half-an-hour afterwards; then the brave Adjutant was shot through the temple. He died a noble death. I found myself alone, the only one of the fifteen alive, and I made a dash for it, and never got hit, though I had three bullets in my pack close to my neck.”
One of his tutors when at Corpus Christi writes:
“When the war broke out, he was recalled with his battalion from South Africa, and ordered to the front. I know that he went fully realising the possibility that lay before him, but counting it the highest honour which can befall a soldier, to be allowed to give his life for his country and his king. For him, therefore, we must not grieve. Almost ever since I heard of his death, Shakespeare’s glorious words have been beating in my brain:
‘Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier’s debt.’…
‘Had he his hurts before?’
‘Ay, on the front.’
‘Why then, God’s soldier he be!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death.’
May his memory and example long continue to inspire those who knew him.”
Roderick’s sister was notified of his death on November 11th by way of a telegram from the War Office:
Lieut CR Haigh Queens Reg’t was killed in action 7 November no further details – Lord Kitchener expresses his sympathy.
* * * * * *
Treffry Thompson is not only an Old Dragon but a sailing companion. Some of you may have read of our voyages together in the ‘Log of the Blue Dragon.’ He is kindly sending us extracts from the diary he is keeping.
Having been a casualty house surgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, he joined the RAMC. At present he is attached to the headquarters of XV Brigade with the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA). He writes of the battle which has been going on at Ypres since mid October.
“It might interest you to know what sort of things the Germans fling into Ypres. One of the RAMC men was walking outside a large house on the outskirts of the town, which had been taken over for a hospital, when a large shell burst some distance away, and the flat base only of the shell came back and hit him on the foot. This flat base was 16 inches in diameter and weighed 93 lbs., so that the whole shell probably weighed about 800-900 lbs.
These evidently come from large howitzers a very long distance off, as one never hears the bang of the gun, but suddenly a rushing noise, just like that of a train in a tunnel, ending in a mighty crash, which even 3-400 yards away shakes the ground and trees, and when they fall only 50 yards away, as a couple did this morning, they make the whole house rock.
One great advantage here at present is that the ground is very soft; so that the shell buries itself about 12 feet (down) before it explodes, so that most of the force is spent hurling large sods and chunks of shell into the air; one can be quite close comparatively without real danger. It is anywhere from 100-150 yards away that one may get hit by the fragments.”