Regiment: 2nd Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Address: 3 Mann Street, Hastings
Other Info: Wounded at the Aisne on 14th September 1914. The first wounded soldier received at East Sussex Hospital. Additional name information from the Lives of the First World War website.
An article in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer dated 3rd October 1914 reads: “Private T. Mepham, 2nd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, writing home says: I will try and write a few of my experiences since I left Hastings. As you know I went to Preston and there we got allocated and equipped and ready for the front. We then went to Aldershot where we did some stiff route marching. After three or four days of this we went to the Front (I don’t mean at Hastings) embarking at Southampton and arriving at Le Harvre the following day, where we idled the day away on the quay side and in the evening we were marched to our camp where we remained until the next afternoon, then we entrained and took a journey in some cattle trucks to a place named Louvain, about 36 hours ride.
We were told off billets (lodgings) about 20 of us in a hay loft. At this place we stopped four days, doing route marching the best part of the time, one day was allotted to rest, which consisted of washing our underwear, as we had no change it was necessary. We waited until the sun dried our sheets before we could put our equipment on. So the officers had us on parade with rifles only for fire discipline.
Four days ended we made tracts to where ?. Well, when we found at at last our destination it was Mons. We had just marched on to the outskirts of Mons and as we thought billeted for the night footsore and weary, but not downhearted.
After an hour we head the road of Artillery guns; and looking to see the meaning we could just see the Germans’ Artillery under our Artillery fire. For about an hour we watched an Artillery duel, and then our order came, move on, and we moved on, closer to our enemy. We laid alongside a road all night (about 4 hours). Just before it became daylight we altered our position and got in front of the Germans where we dug ourselves in.
I have very little to say about Mons and we were continually changing our positions owing to German aeroplanes. Then we got the order to retire and we retired for days until we we within 50 miles of Paris. We had a few scraps on the way and narrow shaves (but only one worthy of note).
My Company was ordered to guard the cross roads (about one mile from our Battalion) until the Guards Brigade relieved us, but we were too late. The Munsters were there before us. In the morning we heard that they had been cut up, leaving about 100 to tell the tale. We should not have known that we were again advancing but for the mile stones. Then trouble started, fighting every day. Of these little scraps I could tell you every one if my chum was here with his diary. If he comes out all right I shall get a copy from him.
This game was carried on until the 10th when we got fairly in with the Germans. It was about 10 o’clock am. that we advanced under fire until we got about 200 yards from them and then we had to go a bit cautious up to a ridge about 50 yards. Then we got it hot (by a grave mistake), it was raining, not unusually, and we had our oil sheets out to cover us, to keep us as dry as possible, but we very soon cast them off as it had drawn our own Artillery and the French’s fire on us. Well, we were in the mess for two hours, rifle bullets dropping like rain and three Artillery fires directed on us.
It was only Providence that brought us out alive and a number was wounded and several killed. Our commanding officer got hit and died a few hours after. By this time the Germans were off again and Tommy chasing them as usual until we came to the Aisne where the big battle is being fought now. As it was late in the evening we rested for the night and about 3 am. we went to a hill just by and we were on here the whole of the day fighting.
Next day we advanced and on this occasion it was more than hot. The Germans put in some good Artillery fire and made us very cautious as we may but you cannot prevent them from hitting. This is where I got caught. My chum who happened to be next to me helped me out of the firing line which was very difficult work dodging shot and shell. Eventually we go back to the village and there he left me to rejoin. We were not in this house more than 15 minutes before the Germans started shelling it. Out we go the best way we could and find another shelter. We found one and got nicely settled in when the Germans again drove us out.
We then got into a temporary hospital, Union Jack and Red Cross flying. Here we thought we were safe – we were till the morning and then, while waiting for the ambulance, shells came first and then the ambulance arrived but there was not enough room for the all so we had to wait for the second ambulance. As the first ambulance was being loaded shells became more frequent and one knocked the Orderly’s head off as he was lifting a fellow into the ambulance and one knocked another one low.
Left in the hospital were about six of us and about four officers, not one of us could help ourselves bar crawling. It got so hot it was like a living hell; shots and shells. Shots came through the windows and the roof tumbling in on us through shells. Eventually we got the ambulance and were taken about four miles away where we stayed another night in an open shed.
We left there the next day in motor wagons, a nasty jolting ride about six hours, where we got into the ambulance train and went onto St. Avare. There we got the boat ‘Carisbrooke Castle’ and we were not sorry to have our wounds dressed and a comfortable bed to lie on.
All though this six or seven weeks we did not get a square meal, in fact, we often had to go without rations and live on the fruit the Germans did not have time to have. Now I am lying on a nice hard bed trying to think of the best plan to get home and have a little comfort or to get into one of the hospitals there in Hastings and be somewhere near those I hold most dear. God bless us”.
Published: October 1914
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