A number of Old Dragons are involved in the battle that has been going on in the Ypres area since April 22nd. Donald Innes enlisted immediately at the start of the war as a despatch rider in the Motor Cycle Corps:
May 1st 1915. “On one of my rides I came across Treffry Thompson OD at Hazebrouk; he seemed very fit. Since Ypres is at present the centre of interest, perhaps a short account of it would not be amiss…
One’s first view of the Cathedral reminds one of Magdalen tower; and the cloisters attached are very like those there also. The town has been smashed up more or less in zones, just short of and just beyond the Cathedral: where the shells fell short or overshot it. I was there the night before the attack on Hill 60, and then the Cloth Hall did not seem so very badly damaged, but of course I don’t know what this other bombardment has done.
The inhabitants seem to take things very philosophically, and one got a limited but quite excellent dinner there in a more or less patched up café. Where the shops are absolutely smashed, the owners sell their goods in the street outside.
With regard to the actual fighting, one sees very little of it and it is just a matter of chance if one happens to be there at the time, the trenches acting as a kind of touch-line inside which we play; so I will leave the description of that to ODs who are in the thick of it.
I saw a little of Neuve Chapelle, and for an infantry man a modern attack can only be described as ‘Hell let loose.’ I thanked God I was a Despatch Rider. Our troubles are rather neatly put by one of the D.Rs in what he called the D.R’s prayer:-
From holes, shells, and motor ‘bus
Good Lord deliver us.”
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Donald Innes was one of the five Old Dragons to win Oxford hockey blues in 1911. All five of them are now in the Army.
Standing: Donald Innes (Sgt. Motor Cycle Corps) and Patrick Duff (2nd Lieut. RFA in Gallipoli)
Sitting: John Brooks (2nd Lieut. Indian Army), Sholto Marcon (2nd Lieut. OBLI), Ronnie Poulton (Lieut. Royal Berks).