While researching for our Warwick War Memorial website, Unlocking Warwick’s Tricia Scott came across an unusual account of some of the exploits of Royal Warwickshire Regiment soldiers on the Western Front in the First World War.
It was an article in the Warwick Advertiser on October 13th 1917, taken from interviews with soldiers by Philip Gibbs of the Daily Telegraph. This is the text:
WARWICK’S BATTLE TALES The Warwickshire lads told queer tales of the battle, and they bear out what I have heard from their officers elsewhere. There were numbers of German soldiers who lay about in shell-holes after our barrage has passed over their lines and blockhouses, and sniped our officers and men as they swarmed forward, though they knew that by not surrendering they were bound to die. It was the last supreme courage of the human beast.
There was one of these who lay under the wreckage of an aeroplane, and from that cover he shot some of our men at close range; but because there were many bullets flying about and shells bursting and all the excitement of a battleground, he was not discovered for some time. It was a sergeant of the Warwicks who saw him first, and just in time. The German had his rifle raised at ten yards’ range, but the sergeant whipped round and shot him before he could turn.
Some of these were discovered after the general fighting was over, and a nasty shock was give to a young aide-de-camp who went with his Divisional General to see the captured ground the next day. The General, who is a quick walker, went ahead over the shell-craters, and the aide-de-camp suddenly saw two Germans wearing their steel helmets rise before the General from one of the deep holes. “Now there’s trouble”, thought the young officer, feeling for his revolver; but when he came up he heard the general telling two wounded Germans that the English had won a great victory and that, if they were good boys, he would send up stretcher-bearers to carry them down.
The Warwick War Memorial website commemorating all those from Warwick who died in the First World War can be found at: www.warwickwarmemorial.org.uk