Thomas F Colbran
Regiment: Royal Lancaster Regiment (King’s Own)
Father: Mr J Colbran
Address: Bulverhythe Road, St Leonards
Other Info: At the Front.
An article published in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer on 24th October 1914 reads: “Bandsman Thomas Colbran, the King’s Own Lancashire Regiment, who is well known at Bulverhythe, writing to his aunt Miss Hook, says of the fighting at Mons: ‘I reallt can’t describe it. It was something awful. The Germans let drive at us with their maxim guns off a ridge not 20 yards from us. Although they had the advantage of us and outnumbered us we stuck to them and opened fire straight away. I think was saved us was the bad shooting of the Germans. If we had been in their position and they in ours, I don’t think there would have been many of them left.
We were at it all day until 9.30 at night, and we made several bayonet charges, small parties of thirty and forty charging four times that number. One party met a company of Germans in the village and the German officer asked our Captain in the Kaiser’s name to surrender. Our Captain – a brave man he was – ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge. Just as he said that the Germans opened fire and killed our Captain, and wounded several of our men. All the same the remainder of our party carried out the charge.
You should have heard the Germans turn round and scream like babies. The Germans can’t bear the steel of the English, and they can’t understand our rapid firing with the rifle.’
The writer compares another fight in a village to the Sidney Street affair. He was with three more of his Company, and they got into a house and the first thing they saw was some eggs and bacon the Germans had left. They did not eat it from fear that the Germans might have poisoned it.
The town near the village had been ransacked, and there were hundreds of wine bottles in the road and Mr Colbran says he thinks the Germans must have been ‘absolutely drunk’. He adds ‘You might not believe it, but four Germans surrendered to one of our chaps, and they told us that they were very glad to be English prisoners. There has been a lot like that out here’.
Describing his subsequent experiences in the trenches, Mr Colbran says: ‘They are not starving us. We get plenty to eat, and an ounce of tobacco every week, and rum every night. The only fault is that it is getting rather cold here now night and morning. I am keeping splendid health and can say I’ve been through the worst part, and the hottest at Mons.’
Mr Colbran has a brother on HMS Bulwark and another in the Army in India.”
Published: October 1914 & December 1914
Please use the comments box below if you can provide more information about this person.