Pte Wilford Figgitt writes home from the Western Front, July 1915

Wilford Figgitt of Broadway, who served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the Western Front from May 1915, regularly wrote letters home with news from the trenches. In July 1915 he wrote:

We have had a pretty rough time during the last week and that a few men; sixty out of one company were killed or wounded. Last Wednesday I had a job carrying rations up to the Royal Scots in the middle of an attack, and shall not forget it in a hurry. The shells fell like hail and the bullets whistled like hell. The sights I shall never forget, for there were piles of dead and wounded to walk over, some with their heads blown off. We had a bit of amusement on Saturday. Our artillery and French started shelling the German trenches and you could see nothing but smoke and sandbags flying up in the air. It just pleased the Canadians, and they started throwing ladders over the top of their trenches to make believe they were going to attack, and as soon as the Germans showed their heads over theirs they opened on them with machine guns and yelled themselves hoarse. The time before when we got in their trenches we found a German boy, not more than thirteen years old, red-haired and wearing big jack-boots. He had probably been sent to throw bombs at us and got shot. I could tell you heaps more, but haven’t any paper to write on.

Pte Wilford Figgitt, son of Wilford John and Tryphena Figgitt, of Church Street, Broadway, was killed in action, aged 23, on 25th September 1915. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France, and the Broadway War Memorial on the green in the village where he grew up.   Debbie Williamson Broadway Remembers

First World War Poetry: The Call by F. Willey Turner

The Call

What are you doing today, men?
What are you doing today?
While the bay’nets glint and the cannons speak,
And a callous foe hunts down the weak,
What are you doing today?

There is a time for work, men!
And there is a time for play;
A time for the bat, the club, and the ball,
For the loud huzza by the well-won goal,
But that time is not for today.

Our tars are keeping the seas, men!
And our brave boys are away
Where the wintry moon with reek is dim,
And the shrapnel bursts in the trenches grim,
The trenches were they lay.

Right stern is the task in hand, men!
For the battle line is wide,
And they call to their brothers across the seas,
To fling off dull sloth and selfish case,
And stand by their valiant side.

And the call in in our hearts, men!
The hearts of the pure and strong,
The bugle blast that none may slight,
That right is right, and might as right
Doth ever stand for wrong.

File up and take your place, men!
In the war ranks of the free
For the love of our wave-girt isle,
The babe’s caress and the woman’s smile,
And the God of liberty.

The Call by F. Willey Turner was published in the Evesham Journal newspaper in January 1915 at a time when the War Office was calling for men to enlist in the war effort.

Broadway Remembers
October 2013

Christmas Truce 1914 by Pte Charlie Pratt, Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Earlier today I came across the following letter, dated 27th December 1914, from Private Charlie Pratt of Naunton Beauchamp,  which was published in the Evesham Journal on 16th January 1915. His letter recounts his experiences of the 1914 Christmas Truce in the trenches on the Western Front in the First World War.

“Just a few lines to give you a brief account of my Christmas out here; under the circumstances it was excellent, and altogether a surprise. Had it not been for the absence of your two dear faces it would have been the most pleasant Christmas I ever knew. About seven o’clock on Christmas Eve we were thunderstruck to see the lonely figure of a German officer standing half-way between our trenches and theirs. He flashed a torch, and in good English said: ‘Will any officer or man come forward and have a drink with me? We have plenty of lager beer, and this is Christmas time. Please, who will come?’ At first no one would attempt to go, but he assured us that it would be perfectly safe and that nobody would be shot. Then one of our sergeants climbed over the trench and went rather cautiously towards him. The German sent up a star shell, which lit the place up lovely, and then for the first time we saw friend and foe shaking hands, drinking each other’s health and exchanging cigarettes. At that all our fellows were out of their trenches, and went half-way to meet the Germans who were coming towards them. They kept assuring us that none of their side would fire until Christmas was over, and then the order was passed along for us not to fire. After a nice time with them we wished them goodnight and returned to our trenches. Then their band struck up and gave us a few selections, which we appreciated very much. Everything was quiet after that, nothing to be heard save the rumbling of big guns away on our left. All of a sudden a cornet player commenced the old melody ‘Home, sweet home’ playing it beautifully, and when he finished claps and cheers rose from each side. No wonder that the next day, Christmas Day, both sides joined each other again, and remained with each other all day, exchanging food, tobacco, badges etc. A football match was arranged, only we could not find a pitch to play on, as all the ground for miles around had been torn up by shells some of the holes big enough to bury a team of horses. The Germans are very confident of victory, and say the war will end about Easter. But wait till they know the truth; what a take-back for them.”

Broadway Remembers
www.warmem.broadwaymanor.co.uk