The latest in our series of excerpts from the Alnwick and County Gazette in 1914.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1914
MESSAGES FROM THE FRONT
EXPERIENCES OF LOCAL MEN
Letters from our soldiers at the front have been received by their friends in Alnwick and with regard to the Northumberland Hussars (Yeomanry), through the kindness of their friends we are enabled to give a very brief account of their arrival and reception in Belgium.
WRITING HOME UNDER DIFFICULTIES
Mr. and Mrs. John Mattison, Clayport, Alnwick, have two sons, Harry and Jack, serving on the Northumberland Hussars (Yeomanry). Harry is out at the Front with his squadron, in which there are several lads of Alnwick. He has written one letter to his parents since landing in Belgium, not France as they expected. He says: “We had a nice sea voyage, but rather too short, We are having good fun with the Belgians, who are very anxious about our buttons and our badges. You may write to me very often, and don’t forget to send me an “Alnwick Gazette.” We are all in good health and the best of spirits. But it is very cold here. We know nothing as to our future. We landed near the firing lines. I expect we will not be long in getting to business. Excuse my writing, as I am writing on my cap, and the horse is pulling my hand.”
Trooper Harry Mattison is the youngest of three brothers, sons of Mr. John Mattison, Clayport, who are serving their country. His two elder brothers, Tom and Jack, are serving in the Royal Engineers and are at present stationed at Newcastle. Mr. John Mattison, their father, was for several years a non -com. in the 2nd Northumberland (Percy) Volunteer Artillery, in which he came into some prominence as a marksman with the carbine. He also served for some years in the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers
RESERVE FOR NORTHUMBERLAND HUSSARS TO BE DISBELIEVED
On Thursday, last week, October 16th, an ugly rumour was current in Alnwick that our cavalry had sustained a severe cutting up, and amongst them the Northumberland Hussars. We hope, in fact we believe, that the rumour was untrue, for on Monday morning, Mrs. Dickinson, of the Blue Bell, Clayport, Alnwick, received a post-card from her husband Trooper James Dickinson, saying: – “We have spent the first night here under good conditions in a ball room. The Belgians are the kindest people in the world. They load us with all good things, more than we can carry. It is a fine country, and we are all in good health and spirits.
The post card bore the office stamp Brugge, Bruges and dates 16–17 October.
FIRST BRUSH WITH THE ENEMY AND ALL WELL
Trooper James Dickinson, in a subsequent letter to his wife, dated October 15th, but bearing the stamp of no post town, says: –
“I have just received the first lot of letters from you since leaving, one with the note and one wrote the Sunday we left. I was very pleased with them. I think you could send the field glasses on and send a box of woodbines, as some of them are always on the look out for them, for they cannot get them anywhere. This country is the best I have ever seen ; it beats Africa by far. We have been moving about a lot since landing, so I have seen a good deal of it, and the people in it are much the same class as we have in and about Alnwick. They are very kind to us. We get lots of pears, apples, cigars etc, given to us. In fact they don’t know what to do for us. It seems very hard on them, having this war forced on them, which will ruin a large proportion of them altogether.
“We have had our first brush with the enemy, and none of us have taken any hurt. Harry Mattison and all the Alnwick lads are keeping very well. I cannot give any details of our movement, as everything military has to be suppressed, so I will have to keep my memory good and relate all when we return.”
Trooper James Dickinson went through the South African campaign with the Yeomanry cavalry. When he first enlisted he was groom under Major S. F. Widdrington at Newton Hall, and lived with his uncle, Mr. Givens, who farmed Newton Low Hall.
Mr. Joseph Weddell, horseshoer and blacksmith has also received a postcard, written on the 14th October from his son, Farrier Corporal Arthur Weddell, and received on Monday, that the Northumberland Hussars were doing well and were being well treated.
On Tuesday night, a telephonic message was received in Alnwick, from an authentic source, that the Northumberland Hussars were all right, and were on the lines of communication.
ENEMY DRIVEN BACK 30 MILES
The Press Bureau issued the following on Sunday evening:
The British Troops have made good progress. During the fighting of the last few days in the northern area the Allies have driven the enemy back more than thirty miles.
The following official communiqué was issued in Paris late on Sunday evening:
Last night two violent attackes were attempted by the Germans to the north and east of St. Dié They were repulsed with serious losses for the enemy.
A bulletin issued earlier in the day was as follows:
The Belgian Army in Belgium has vigorously repulsed several attacks made upon it by the Germas at crossings of the Yser.
On our left wing north of the La Bassée Canal the Allies occupiedthe front Givenchy-Illies-Fromelles. The Allies from Fromelles have retaken Armentières. The situation to the north of Arras yesterday was marked by an appreciable advance. Between the Arras region and the Oise we have made slight progreess at certain points.
In the centre and on the right the situation is unchanged.