3rd September 1917 Monday
Douglas shows his immense courage under intense shellfire
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“Next day I was sent up to Allovette Farm to take Stanley’s place.”
The following account of Douglas’s momentous day is harrowing enough, but to get some idea what it’s like to be under the kind of intense “drum-fire” that Douglas endured that night please visit this posting on Youtube. For the full effect, it is best reproduced on a decent sound system or something like a Sonos.
“I went up via Gallwitz Farm. Burnt Farm and Steenbecque Aid Post, and found the 13th R.W.F. Headquarters in a captured enemy pill box – a nasty spot, surrounded by mud and shell-holes, and with its entrance facing towards the enemy, of course. Major Lloyd was in command, Col. Campbell being on leave, lucky dog! At night the Huns shelled all around us with terrific intensity. There were ten direct hits on our concrete home, the concussion stunning us for several minutes. We couldn’t keep candles alight as the concussion of bursting shells outside kept putting them out. It was terrible. My Aid Post was behind (nearer the enemy) our pill box, and twelve men inside it were wounded by a shell bursting just outside the door. The Brigadier-General – Price-Davies – came up to see us in the midst of the bombardment. He has a charmed life. Much against Major Lloyd’s wishes, the General set out about midnight with Lloyd and Lt. Pritchard (signalling officer) to inspect our front line – a series of outposts in shell-holes. About half-an-hour after they had gone the enemy shelling increased to drum-fire and the General came rushing in to our pill box for me and my stretcher-bearers as Lloyd and Pritchard had been hit. I dashed out with the General at once, who took me to where the wounded were lying. It was a terrible journey across the muddy shell-shattered ground, and twice we were blown over by the explosion of shells close to us. The General left us as soon as he had located the wounded. I found Pritchard first. He was lying huddled up in a new shell-hole, and was very badly wounded in the head and chest and left leg. He was dying and I could do little for him. Major Lloyd was lying in another newly-formed shell-hole close by, and was wounded in many places, the worst wound being in the left thigh which was broken. He was conscious and in great agony. I had to lie there beside him in the shell-hole until the stretcher-bearers could locate us. It was a lovely moonlight night. We had a hard time of it getting the two wounded into my Aid Post. Twice the enemy shelling seemed to concentrate on us, and we had to lie down in shell-holes until the storm passed on. Poor Lloyd was in an awful state. He was so heavy too, that it took four of us to carry him on the stretcher. We were continually stumbling into shell-holes, and each time we stumbled we gave poor Lloyd fresh agonies of pain. We eventually got him in safely, and after bandaging him up, and doping him with morphine sent him off ‘down the line’ when the enemy shelling had subsided a little. He died next day at a Casualty Clearing station. He was one of the best. Poor Pritchard died before we got him into the Aid Post. It was a ghastly night. Later I was to be awarded the Military Cross for my part in this small episode of the war.”
It was the habit of Major-General Price-Davies VC, CB, CMG, DSO to go up the line and inspect trenches and installations even under heavy fire. Clearly, he was a brave man having won the Victoria Cross during the 2nd Boer War.
He wrote. ”Going round has been difficult and last night after waiting and waiting for a suitable time I got out with Lloyd 13th RWF to see a trench he had dug and on the way back just as we parted he got badly wounded and Pritchard who was with him was killed”.
“I have lost my nerve to a great extent which is most annoying I find I am alright in action but I dread going into danger and find I avoid dangerous places more than I ought. When I think of those who have to be in continuous danger all the time I feel ashamed but I suppose it can’t be helped though perhaps if I get the chance it would be wise to take some other job as the effect on the troops cannot help but be bad if they see I am afraid.”
Second Lieutenant John Pritchard of the 13th Royal Welsh Fusiliers had been injured on the 11th July 1916 at Mametz Wood on the Somme. He returned to his Battalion at Ypres only to be killed on this day. He was 23 years old.
Major Frank Stuart Lloyd was from Wrexham in Denbighshire, but he had been living in Disraeli Road, Putney before the war. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 13th RWF on 3rd Sept 1914 he had begun to rise through the ranks, reaching the rank of Major on the 13th July 1916 at the Somme. He died from his serious wounds in No.61 C.C.S. on the 5th September. He is buried and commemorated at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, West Vlaanderen. He was just 24 years old.
The Military Cross. Introduced as a reward for acts of exemplary gallantry by King George V for officers of the rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers.
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