RHG July 1917 – training for Third Ypres

The next of Reg‘s letters from the Front to survive is a letter to his parents dated 17 July 1917. The 28th Battalion were training hard in preparation for the upcoming Passchendaele offensive which would come to be known as the Third Battle of Ypres. 

The Battalion had moved from Senlis to Bapaume, still well behind the front line, and was engaged in lengthy and strenuous training sessions with frequent route marches. Lectures were given on gas, bombing, communications, signalling and tactics. reinforcements arrived and were absorbed into the companies. (Browning, p 220).

Reg was back as company commander of C company. During this month, “No.10 Platoon (C Company) under the command of Lieut. L.G. Allen, with the extremely capable Sergeant G.F. Kennedy as his platoon sergeant, was specially trained to such a level that it was reputed to be the best platoon in the 2nd Division. Allen’s platoon was called upon to give a demonstration of its ability before an assembly of British and Australian officers”. (Browning, p. 223.

                                    “C” Coy

                                          17.7. 17.

Dearest Dad & Mum,

Received your letter for which very
many thanks, it is awfully generous of you to
make me such an offer re the bike, I will send
you the money as soon as possible. Captain Pugh[1]
my second in command went home on leave on
Sunday and said he will bring back any parcel
for me, so will you ask Mum if she will pack my
small V.P. Kodak and my tennis shoes[2] up and
forward them to me care of Captain C.H. Pugh
4. Cleveland Park Avenue. Walthamstowe. Essex. Eng.
also some “Kolners” tooth paste, he, he will have 10 days
in England, so if you could post immediately on receipt
of this he ought to get them in time. What an extraordinary
thing the back tyre bursting like that, as far as I remember
I mended the last puncture, which occurred in Salisbury,
I picked up a horseshoe nail and I certainly remember
examining the [cover?] carefully. I am very glad to think
you are riding her, it will do her good, better than the
engine standing idle in a fixed position for a long
time.

Very glad to hear Dick is progressing favourably
and will be out of it for a time at least, the
climate must be rotten out there for wounds to heal
properly, wish he could come home for a spell, that
business ought to soon be finished.[3]

Haven’t heard from Theo for along time, hope he is
O.K.[4] I’m glad you liked Vera,[5] wish I had seen her
while I was at home, perhaps I will be able to next
time I get to Blighty. I can imagine how you felt
about [Mr?] Pain, fancy Mrs. leaving him all alone, but
he ought to get away himself for a spell. We are having
a lot of war weather out here, mud is thick as usual,
I often wonder if France is always like this, one doesn’t
seem to get so much mud in England. Must send this
up now, I have a tremendous lot of work on hand.
Dearest love to you both.

Your affectionate son

Reg.

 

[1] Captain Cyril Hunwick Pugh, 28th Battalion, AIF from Perth, Western Australia. A 23 year old clerk when he enlisted on 8 September 1914, he embarked for overseas as a 2nd Lt with A Company from Fremantle on 29 June 1915 aboard HMAT Ascanius. He served at Gallipoli where he was promoted to Lt on 1 December 1915 and on the Western Front where he was promoted to Capt on 12 March 1917. Capt Pugh returned to Australia on 1 June 1919.

[2] tennis shoes – During this period, the Battalion were also engaged in sports against other battalions in the 7th Brigade , with cricket and tennis.(Browning, p223)

[3]’Dick’, AR Gill – Reg’s younger half brother was attached to 1/2 Kings African Rifles (seconded from the Hampshire Regiment) and had been wounded in April 1917 at Yangwani.

[4] ‘Theo’, GT Gill – serving with the 2/6 Gurkha Rifles in Mesopotamia in 1916 and then as an instructor at the Young Officers’ School at Sabathu in the Simla Hills 

[5] ‘Vera’ – Annie Vera Chapman served in the war as a V.A.D. nurse at Bevan Hospital, Sandgate, Kent. Vera married Reg’s brother Theo (GTG) in St.Thomas’s Cathedral, Bombay on 30 December 1918.

Vera’s brother Lieutenant Lawrence Vaughan Champman was serving with the 2nd Rifle Brigade. He was killed, aged 28, on 25 September 1915 in a bomb explosion holding a captured trench for four hours in spite of counter attacks. Before the war Lawrence had been a solicitor. He had been a prizeman, medalist and exhibitioner at King’s College London University. He is commemorated on the Ploegsteert memorial, King’s College Chapel, Sunbury-on-Thames War Memorial and at St. Mary the Virgin, Sunbury-on-Thames.

“Chapman, Lieutenant Lawrence Vaughan B.A., LLB, of the 2nd Rifle Brigade, killed in Flanders was a son of Mr. L. Chapman, of Sunbury-on-Thames, and grandson of the late Rev. I. M. Chapman M.A., Fellow of Balliol and rector of Tendring, Essex. He was educated at King’s College School and the University of London; of the latter he was a prizeman, medallist and exhibitioner, taking his degree in both arts and law with honours. After serving his articles he passed the solicitors articles with honours and was appointed by Sir H. Holden a member of the legal staff of the City and Midland Bank. He was gazetted from the Reserve of Officers to the Rifle Brigade on May 5, 1914, and left for the front on May 13, 1915. He was promoted lieutenant in July last.” The Times 4 October 1915 (source: Kings College Memorial List)

 

 

 

 

 

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