HAUNTED: Wounded troops suffering shell-shock display the ‘1000 yard stare’. Photo: The Digger’s View by Juan Mahony Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details forNovember 26 – December 2, 1917IN PALESTINEThe latest official report from Palestine states:Sir Edmund Allenby’s advanced patrols have been pressed back to the southern bank of the Nahrauja.Mounted men captured Bittir station and Ainkarim, three and a-half miles westward of Jerusalem.Strong bodies of Turks are holding the high ground westward of Jerusalem, and covering the Jerusalem-Shechem road to the north.
ENGINEERS, MINERS WANTEDThere are a number of vacancies at present in the Reinforcements for the engineers and mining units at present on active service. Men desiring to join the engineers should be tradesmen or good horsemen, and those for the mining companies should be underground workers or surface workers. Intending recruits will be required to enlist for general service, but should first communicate or interview the Engineer Adjutant, Engineers’ Depot, Moore Park, Sydney, stating age, and full particulars as to trade and experience, when they will be informed of the correct procedure necessary to ensure inclusion in these units.
SOLDIERS’ ESCAPETwo n soldiers, Hector Holmes and Henry Thomas, who escaped from a German prison camp at Fredericksfeld, have reached London.
Both men came from the Newcastle district. They were taken prisoner on July 20, 1916, at Fleurbaix. They spent two days at Lille, and from there they were taken to the Dulmen prison camp. Subsequently they were taken to Fredericksfeld, where they were put to work in a tar distillery. The men were greatly helped in their escape by a map given them by a Russian prisoner, and by a compass obtained from a Frenchman. On the day chosen for their escape the two men secreted themselves in the distillery. They got through a rear building and made their way towards the river, knowing that only half an hour could elapse before the roll was called and their escape would be discovered. They hid on the bank of the river until dark. They endeavoured to obtain a boat, but all were secured with chains and padlocks. Eventually they found one filled with water. They went to an adjoining farmyard and borrowed dishes used in the feeding of fowls, with which they baled it out. With improvised oars they crossed the river in the direction of Jessel.
The only food they had was a quantity of special biscuits made in Melbourne, containing meat constituents, which are supplied in n Red Cross parcels, without which, they say, they would not have been able to complete their arduous wanderings. They hid during the day and went from place to place at night, skirting several towns, until they reached the Dutch border. Eluding the German guards they crossed the border, hungry and suffering from cold, and reached a Dutch guard-house, where they were hospitably treated, and supplied with hot coffee and sandwiches, and then passed on to the second and third guard-houses, when it was found they could eat no more, the Dutch guardsmen remarked: “Poor fellows. They cannot eat, for it is so long since they have seen white bread.”
The men arrived in England in excellent health. They say that the first food parcels sent under the old system of one a month arrived irregularly, but under the new system, whereby six are sent monthly, the parcels arrived with the greatest regularity. They were the best parcels received at any German camp. They speak highly of the good treatment received in the German military hospitals, but at the prison camp the men were treated badly. From what they could learn, the German civilian population was suffering greatly from the lack of food, but the military were well provided for.
SOLDIERS’ LETTERSMr Thomas Abel, of Wallsend, is in receipt of a letter from his son, John Samuel Abel, dated from France, 3/10/17. He says: “I have been in some very hot stunts, but this one is by far the hottest. Those who have fought right through from the beginning say there has been nothing in comparison with this lot. What has hurt me most is that nearly all the boys who came over with me got killed. To look at the boys is awful. One would think they had all come through hell. It was pitiful to see them; some big, strong, healthy chaps crying like babies, being knocked about so much with the concussion of the shells. Lots were taken away suffering from shell shock, while others broke down completely after coming out of the line. Never again do I wish to be in such a hot lot as this has been. We could not dig in as the ground was too soft with the constant churning by shells. If I was buried once with the exploding shells I was buried 100 times. Everything that will kill a man is used, and Fritz starts first, but is always sorry for it after, as we pay him back in his own coin, and he was well paid back this time. We took about 1600 prisoners, and everyone was glad to cry “Kamerad”to us. I do not think the war will go any more than another 10 years.”
NEWCASTLE’S OWNAn officer of ‘Newcastle’s Own’Battalion, writing to a friend in Adamstown, says: “There is great interest shown at present among those concerned about the rumour that 5000 troops who have been longest at the front are to return to for a holiday. Many of the men have been away from home for three years and richly deserve a spell at home.” The same officer, who was wounded in July last, and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery at Messines, writes under date 15th September, that he was recovering from his wounds. He adds there is every appearance of another winter of the war. “We shall win the war, the more I see of it the more convinced I am on that point, but it’s a slow game.”
NEWCASTLE SOLDIERS AT PLAYPrivate Peter Coppock, writing to the secretary of the Northern Soccer Association, sends news which should be interesting to Newcastle Soccerites. Peter says he had been away for a “short”fortnight’s rest, but now his rest was over, he expected to be sent back to the trenches, and so ready for the next “push.”” Peter says the war game is very different to the soccer game. There is no half-time, time of play is unlimited, and the game is to a finish. But he expects to be on the winning side, as he was when he wore the red and white stripes for Merewether. He refers to games of soccer which they have played. The 34th Battalion (to which Coppock is attached) played and defeated the 35th. The 35th, in its turn, defeated the 36th. A defeat, which Peter says made the late Private Fred Alberts assert he would never play again. However, the 34th and the 36th were to meet, and the report received had better be told in Peter’s own way. “The 34th (for whom Coppock was elected skipper) went over to the chosen ground, and found a Rugby game in progress, but immediately that game was over the 34th and 36th Soccer teams took the field. Alberts won the toss from Coppock, and decided to kick down the slight slope. ‘Mustard’Jones kicked off for the 34th, the ball going to inside left Messenger, out to Jack Bates, whose shot was saved by Briggs, the 36th goalkeeper. Briggs sent well up to Medcalfe, on to Fred Alberts, who tricked a couple of opponents, and sent it out to Abemove, but lack of condition was the cause of the winger being unable to gather the pass. Davies threw the ball in to Bates, who beat Hamilton, and sent along to Messenger, on to MustardJones, but Shot Jones, like a shot from a gun, was quick, and got the ball before Mustardcould shoot. The ball went up to Coleman, but this ‘has been’was too slow, and ‘has been’Coppock secured, only for Harrison to rob him, and send up to Alberts. The State’s (NSW) centre tricked the defence, and put in a hot shot. Goalkeeper ‘Buggie’White thought the shot was fatal; he partly saved, but the force behind the ball carried it over the line, and the 36th led 1 to 0. Resuming, Alberts again secured, and put over to Abemove, who crossed to Coleman, tricked Coppock, and central, Alberts secured, but Davies intercepted his pass, and sent up the field. Joss miskicked, and MustardJones was away as if for his life, sending out to Paddy Slavin, and that player, putting well into centre. Coppock, who was on the spot, put one through, a feat which surprised Peter, and everyone else. One goal each was now the score. From the centre kick, the 36th came away. Alberts sent to Medcalfe, whose quick shot beat the 34th goal-keeper, and gave the 36th the lead – 2-1. The 34th now pressed, and looked like equalising. Coppock narrowly missed, and from the goal kick the 36th came away. Veitch with a lovely screw, shot, scoring the third goal for the 36th. The ball was sent towards the centre of the field, when it was found that the wind was coming out, and so with 10 minutes still left for play, and no other ball handy, the referee, who was no other than Tommy Wardlough, was forced to stop the game.
Coppock also reports that at night Sox M’Kinnon (34th), fought Newbury (36th) a 10-round fight. According to Peter’s statement, Newbury won easily.
The account of the soccer game should be interesting reading to the Newcastle district. More than half of the players who took part in it were Newcastle men. Two of them had represented this State; five of them were members of Merewether Club; while others are well-known all over the district.
Peter concludes his lengthy letter by stating they were all well, but, wished the war was over.It is sad to record that the game reported must have been Alberts’ last one. Fred, as reported in these columns previously, having been killed.
Munition-worker Jim Hands, ex-president of the Northern Association, in a recent letter, reports all well, and mentions a recent air raid in the locality where he worked.Another Soccerite, in the person of Bob M’Fadyen, who, prior to enlisting, was president of Weston Soccer Club, writing to W. Tweedle, states that a colonial team played a team of ‘Tommies’.”The first half was, so Bob says, very even; but in the second half the condition of the colonials told against them, and the Tommieshad matters all their own way. Bob does not state what the score really was, which is perhaps a good thing.
THE ORIGINS OF ‘SAMMY’The name of ‘Sammy’,which has been given to General Pershing’s soldiers, is no doubt suggested by ‘Uncle Sam’.And it is odd to recall that the original Uncle Sambore the same surname as the present President. Samuel Wilson was a commissariat inspector, whose title of office was a tribute of affection from his clerks. When one of them was asked the meaning of the then new and unfamiliar initials, US,with which Wilson marked the army provisions, he jokingly replied, “Why, Uncle Sam, of course.”The joke caught on, and USand Uncle Sam have been synonymous ever since. Wilson died in 1854.
ENLISTMENTSJohn Wesley Armstrong, Maitland; William Charles Challis, Carrington; Alexander Walter Lochrin, Dora Creek; John Murdoch, Waratah; Arthur Parsonage Scarfe, Mayfield; Thomas Wears, Neath; Edward Lee Young, West Maitland.
DEATHSPte John Henry Fairhall, Cessnock; Pte Michael John Sharkey, Campbells Hill; Sgt Joseph Gordon Morris, Dunolly; Pte Edward John Young, Merriwa.
David Dial OAM is a Hunter Valley-based military historian. Follow his research at facebook苏州夜总会招聘/HunterValleyMilitaryHistory