July 10th 1915

The next edition of ‘The Draconian’ is due to be published in August and we are grateful for news from Old Dragons at their Public Schools. Our Oundle School correspondent has contributed a good piece on the war work they have been doing this term:

“It is an ideal school for Dragons, as it is run on very much the same lines as the OPS, namely liberty and open air life. This term we have been doing very strenuous work, as we have taken advantage of the fact that we have the best school workshops in England, and we have been making munitions of war.

A firm in Peterborough is supplying us with the rough castings, which we finish and return to them to be tested. We started by doing various brass pieces of aeroplane engines and also mine-heads; these required turning on the lathes, drilling, planning and plenty of filing which needs some patience! Of course everything has to be done very accurately, the usual standard being that they should be correct to 1/2000th of an inch, and after the parts have been worked they are tested by the more experienced boys by means of micrometer screw gauges.

The firm was very pleased with the first lot of work which we returned and have now sent still more as the demand is so great at the moment, and they have also promised us more difficult and varied work in the future. It is possible to have 30 boys working in the workshops at the same time, and the work has been organised by forms, each form spending one whole day (7-8 hrs) at it each week…

Owing to the enormous demand we have now started working in double shifts of six hours each, so that the shops are being used for 12 hours each day, and the work is to be continued during the first month of the holidays by about 60 boys who have volunteered to stay, and are to be under military control…

I have written all this thinking that you might be interested to know how we at Oundle (and some other Public Schools which have now, I believe, followed our example), are doing some little active work, small as it may seem in comparison to the needs, for the Country.”

* * * * * * *

We have received news from 2nd Lieutenant Robert Rawlinson, 2nd Border Regt., 20th Brigade, 7th Division, BEF, dated June 30th 1915.

Robert Rawlinson

2nd Lieut. Robert Rawlinson

“We came into the trenches on Sunday afternoon and all was quiet till breakfast time on Monday morning, when they dropped a few High Explosive (H. Ex.) Shells into our front line…

About 1.30 p.m. they started again and got the range perfectly. One officer and three men were blown to nothing; the shell pitched in the dug-out and all we found was the officer’s head and one shoulder; nothing at all of the others. Another officer lost his nerve and a third was wounded…

Tuesday was fairly peaceful till the early afternoon, when they shelled the next regiment on our right for a time; then all was quiet again till 5.45 p.m. when a fiendish rifle and machine-gun fire was opened on our right. We had sent up a couple of mines and had caught the Germans bolting. In less than half a minute the air was full of shells, shrapnel and rifle-fire. They shelled our lines too. I’ve never heard such a row in all my life; the H. Ex. Shells are most frightfully demoralising. One pitched with a deafening crash 15 yards to the right of my dug-out. Two hailstorms of shrapnel bullets splattered all round me when I was going along a communications trench and a bit of H. Ex. Shell missed my head by a foot. The old hands said that it was really bad shelling.

We didn’t lose many, but I saw two ghastly sights in it all. It gets on my nerves! I didn’t mind the sniping and shrapnel, but I can’t stand the H. Ex. shells. You don’t stand a chance with them…

The gunners think that the Huns are running short of shells; it has been very noticeable in the last ten days, so they say, and for every shell they send over they get about four back from us or the French.”


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