October 23rd 1915

Captain Charlie Childe (Gloucestershire Regiment) has also been in the vicinity of Loos and reports further on the treatment of prisoners – this time by the Germans.

Charlie Childe

Capt. CM Childe

9/10/15. “It is impossible to realise what a war of extermination this is until you get here. In that last advance there was apparently mighty little quarter asked or given. We know that the Welsh and Royal Welch Fusiliers who attacked (with us behind them waiting our turn) had a taste of it.

The attack was held up and the Germans called in the wounded: ‘Come in Tommy, we won’t hurt you,’ and so on.

They then put them into a traverse and bombed them to death with hand-bombs, and the same thing was done to the Black Watch.

Certainly, our people are frightfully sick and think they would bayonet every German on sight…”

16/10/15.  …this ought to cheer you up. It appeared in ‘Intelligence’ the other night, that an officer of the German General Staff had been found dead near the Hohenzollern Redoubt by Loos, and his diary quoted the following as being partly the words of a certain General and partly his own opinion.

The General said, ‘…We have failed to defeat the Russian Army, which has withdrawn from our grasp and retired to a destination unknown. If the Russians cannot be discouraged, a time will come when we Germans will have to treat for a peace, the terms of which will be dictated by our enemies. It will not rest on this generation, but on our grandsons to gain the world power for which we strive and for which our soldier heroes are sacrificing themselves on the limitless fields of Russia.'”

That our children and indeed our children’s children might be still be engaged in settling this conflict is unthinkable.

October 20th 1915

Tom Whittingham

Lieut. Thomas Whittingham (Leicestershire Regiment)

It transpires that, only four days after writing to console us on the deaths of Leslie Eastwood & Tom Higginson, Tom Whittingham was himself killed, along with Alasdair Macdonell on October 13th at Loos.

He was killed in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The 4th Leicesters had the honour of leading the attack and Tom’s platoon was in the first line.

He sent a message, which was passed down the line, of best wishes to the men in their effort, while they stood waiting for him to lead them over the parapet.

When the time came, having first mounted the parapet, with a walking-stick in one hand and revolver in the other, he led the advance at a slow double over the 150 yards that separated them from the enemy, through machine-gun and rifle bullets, till they reached the limit of the hand-grenade range of the Germans, where they received a momentary check while our bombers replied.

Then Tom called on them to advance, and they were within a few yards of the enemy’s trenches when a German officer threw a bomb, which hit the ground and exploded right in front of him – killing, it is said, five and wounding others.    

Tom is the third Old Dragon to die in the fighting around Loos, content we hope in that it is (as he said himself in his letter) “the noblest death a man can die.”

 

From the OPS, Tom gained an exhibition to go to Felsted School, where he joined the OTC. From there he went to L’Ecole de Commerce in Lausanne and then spent six months in Germany in the Hartz Mountains.  Returning home in 1913 he was articled to a firm of accountants and at the same time gained a commission in the Leicestershire Territorials.

We heard that, as Scout Officer, he took personal interest in the men under him; he also applied himself to know and help the young fellows in an artisan quarter of a large town parish, taking part in their games and working up a Bible class, and getting to know them in their home life. In a short time he won a considerable influence.

As a boy at the OPS, his influence on others was always for the very best, and his steady, quiet determination to get the right thing done in the right way, gave promise of a good, useful life.

Tom was wounded in April and he came to visit us all last term, well on  the road to recovery. He returned to the Front on July 12th.

He was one of our most loyal old boys and we shall miss him sorely. It seems only yesterday that he and Alasdair Macdonell were with us. Their deaths touch us most profoundly.

 

                  

October 16th 1915

Alasdair Macdonell

2nd Lieut. Alasdair Macdonell (Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders)

News of Alasdair’s death has come as the greatest of shocks to our community. Living next door – at 6 Chadlington Road – Professor & Mrs Macdonell are well known to us all. Alasdair we have known all his life. He was at the Front for a mere ten days before he was killed, in the renewal of the offensive at Loos three days ago.

The family have received this account of his death (on October 13th) from the Colonel of his Regiment:

“We only know that he was acting most gallantly with an advanced party of bombers down a trench leading into the German line. The actual portion of the trench where he was, was unfortunately regained by the Germans, and is still in their hands; hence nobody can say what actually happened to him…”

The Adjutant has provided some further detail:

“He was seen to fall wounded and a great many bombs, both ours and German, afterwards landed in the trench close to where your son fell, and we fear that he must have been killed by one of these.”

Another officer adds:

“We were unable to recover his body, as we had to build obstacles after he fell to prevent the enemy getting into our trenches.”

 

Alasdair, as a boy at the OPS, displayed many talents, performing in three of our Shakespeare plays, for example – but he was too shy and reserved to come into the front rank of our actors.

I think of Alasdair as one of the finest performers (if not the finest) in athletic sports we have had at the school. His record long jump of 17 ft 1 in marked him out as an athlete of promise. Indeed, when up at Balliol College, he won his Blue (and he was also captain of the Oxford ice-hockey team that played against Cambridge).

Yet another Old Dragon for whom one would have hoped for great things in life…

 

 

 

October 8th 1915

Robert Rawlinson 3

2nd Lieut. Robert Rawlinson (Border Regiment)

Yesterday’s edition of the Times bears the news that on 25th September, the first day of the battle at Loos, Robert Rawlinson lost his life.

A brother officer has written to Rob’s mother:

“I can’t help feeling you would like to know exactly how poor Rob met his death. The regiment was ordered to support the 8th Devons, who were to lead the attack and Rob was detailed to go with them to keep up communications between them and ourselves. It was a difficult job to do and he was chosen by the Colonel because of his ‘coolness and bravery’ under fire. He went off very cheerfully, delighted at being selected. The attack started at 6.30 a.m. on the 25th and poor Rob was killed just before getting to the first German line trench.

His death was a great blow to us all, for he was one of the most popular officers in the Regiment…”

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Also of interest in yesterday’s paper (although with no connection to the OPS) was the notification that Rudyard Kipling’s son John Kipling was wounded at Loos and is declared missing in action.