Monday, 7 December 2015

Sunshine and Tears

Frank Moore enlisted with the Cheshire Yeomanry in August 1914. Moving from camp at Eccleston near Chester, the Yeomanry arrived in Norfolk in September 1914 to take up coastal defence duties. This time was also occupied with training and Frank unfortunately had a fall from his horse, which hospitalised him for a short time. Whilst recuperating he was interviewed by the Chester Chronicle who published on 24 October 1914 Frank's description of life in camp in Norfolk. In a follow-up letter he wrote somewhat graphically about his experience in the Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge.

Chester Chronicle - Saturday 07 November 1914




Trooper F. B. Moore, of the Crescent, Northwich, who is attached to the Cheshire Yeomanry, and has been invalided home consequent upon accident sustained under circumstances described in a recent issue of "The Chronicle," has written for us the following interesting impressions of life in a present-day military hospital. He says;

"At 7 a.m. breakfast is served, consisting two eggs per man, with bread and butter and tea. Afterwards some of the men make their beds, and the nurses do it for these who are too badly wounded to do their own.

"The hospital orderlies wash up the plates, etc., but are helped considerably by those men who are nearly better. The nurses then begin the dressings. This was my most unpleasant experience. Several men had been so badly hit that they could hardly bear being touched. Yet the nurses had to keep with the good work all the time the poor fellows were screaming. One man had a hole the back of thigh. I saw it myself, and I could have put two fists it easily. He was


bursting behind him. Had to dressed every hour, and it was Iike a murder each time. We ate our meals while it took place. Occasionally some one muttered 'Poor devil,' or 'He’s going through it,' but, as rule, we ate silently.

"After dinner, some of the people of Cambridge who owned cars would call at the hospital and take a number out each day for a drive. Each sister of each ward would select a few, and they paraded at 2-30. It was very amusing see us arrayed in the hospital clothes of saxe blue, with all kinds, of coloured dressing gowns put over them.

"I would like to mention that the doctors are very kind and spare no pains to make each man thoroughly fit and well. I myself saw a man who had the flesh blown from his leg from the knee to the thigh. His life was given up, and for the short time he was expected to live he had everything asked for. His slightest wish was law. The doctors and nurses between them managed to save his life, but thought the limb would have to be amputated because of gangrene. However, this evil was overcome and his life and leg were saved, and the man is doing famously. His name is Conway, ward 3B. This is only one instance of many marvellous cures. I have seen men there wounded in all manner places. One had bullet which had entered


another had a bullet through his left ribs and out at the right shoulder. Many were in the legs, and one man had each lip divided by a piece of shell. I also saw a piece shell casing roughly about 2 inches square taken out man’s back.

"From my own knowledge and asking each man, I know all these cases are doing splendidly. I watched them improving each day. You would notice a man walk better, another would have a little less bandaging on him, and so on.

"I now come to the arrival of 150 wounded Belgians. These poor fellows had been through it from Liege till the fall of Antwerp. I got the hats from two of them, and a prominent Northwich tradesman has them in his window. Several of them could speak French, and I was able to have a little chat with them. One, a gunner, told that he had found his wife and three children murdered. They met their deaths in the burning and sacking of Louvain, and he himself found their mutilated bodies. Another one with tears in his eyes and in the saddest of voices said, "There is


Others had had sleep for days, and told they did not want to sleep. I was struck by the restless look of some of them. They seemed to be at it again their mind’s eye. You could see that their thoughts were miles away. They are mostly very strongly-built men, and I venture to think that when they do get their own back they’ll get it four-fold.

"When the Belgians arrived, we, still in our blue suits, greeted them with a few good old British cheers. We lit cigarettes for them and put them in their mouths, and it was grand to see the look of satisfaction on taking the first whiff. I would that the young fellows who are hanging back could have seen them. It would have stirred their small spark of patriotism into a burning flame, with strong desire to help them to get back what they have lost.

"These Belgians think the world of the British soldier, and it was great to see them fraternising round the beds, laughing at the funny attempts explanation, the gesticulations, etc."

Reference is made in the above to the sacking of Louvain. Over five days, commencing 25 August 1914, the town was destroyed by German troops.
"The official Press Bureau issued the following statement on Saturday: Yesterday it was announced that the Belgian town of Louvain, with its Hotel de Ville, its churches, University, Library, and other famous buildings, had been utterly destroyed by the soldiers of the Kaiser. The excuse for this unpardonable act of barbarity and vandalism that a discomfited band of German troops returning to Louvain were fired upon by the people of the town, who had been disarmed a week earlier. The truth is that the Germans, making for the town in disorder, were fired upon by their friends in occupation of Louvain, a mistake no means rare in war." Western Daily Press - Monday 31 August 1914

The Illustrated War News – Wednesday 09 September 1914
German "Thoroughness" Shown In Ruined Louvain!
The Rue De La Station After The Work Of The Vandals Was Done

An idea of the completeness of the destruction wrought by the German "Vandals" in Louvain may be gathered from this photograph of one of its principal streets. How the fell work was done has been described by the well-known American writer, Mr. Richard Harding Davis, who arrived at Louvain by rail on the fatal day and spent two hours there. "The soldiers themselves," he writes, "told us the story through the windows of the railway carriage. They wanted to talk about it. They were all like men who had been through an orgy . . . But the work of destruction itself was done with perfect system. They began at the heart of the city, and they worked down to the outskirts, taking street by street and house by house."

The report by Richard Harding Davis referred to above can be found on the following link:
The Sacking of Louvain

The following item provides a vivid personal account
from someone who escaped from the town.

Western Daily Press - Monday 31 August 1914

A Fugitive's Story

German Ferociousness

Citizens Used as Shields


The Roosendaal correspondent of the 'Handelsblad,' yesterday spoke to a fugitive from Louvain, a cigar manufacturer, who gave a vivid description of his experiences.

On Monday evening, he said, firing suddenly resounded the streets. I didn't know the meaning of it. Some declared that German troops fired upon each other, but the German insisted that the shots came from the inhabitants, killing several soldiers.

"All night heavy field guns bombarded the town, destroying many houses. We sought shelter cellars.

"At daybreak we prepared for flight, and hastily packed our valuables and speeded to the station. There we had to part, the men on one side, and the women and children on the other.


"Near the monument to General Van de Weyer, on the station square, we could see the dead bodies of six citizens who had been shot. The town was now one flaming mass.

"At last, escorted by German soldiers, we walked to Campenhout, where we witnessed the shooting of seven priests. Altogether we were 73 men, handcuffed like criminals. We were locked in the church, and had to lie on the cold floor. Fresh prisoners arrived at intervals.

"Outside we could hear the cries and lamentations of the women and children. Inside the imprisoned priest gave us absolution. When we left, the church in Campenhout was burning fiercely. We were told we would be free, but must return to Louvain.


"On returning, we were once more taken prisoners and driven in front of German soldiers across country, and without rest or food, and were used as a cover for the troops at a short distance from the Belgian outposts."

The refugee got permission to go his own way. He arrived at Malines, and thence went by military train to Antwerp. He was not aware of the whereabouts of his wife and children. He was stripped of his valuables.

The fugitive added that the Burgomaster and a number of notables were also shot, but he did not see it himself. The town is completely cut off from communication.

In the July 1928 edition of 'Current History' magazine (published by the New York Times), two articles are published on the sack of Louvain. They present “The Case for the Germans” and “The Belgian Rejoinder”. [Link to PDF].

No comments:

Post a Comment