Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Signalling Work

Signallers c.1910 [X550/2/84/5]

Thursday 15th April 1915: Sapper Bertram Wheatley of the North Midland Brigade Signal Company has written home to his father, Mr. S. Wheatley, the Secretary of the Biggleswade Licensed Victuallers’ Association describing the work he has been doing at the Front:

“I am in charge of our Divisional wires at the Stafford Brigade Headquarters, and a friend whom I met at Newark is with me. We have two instruments. One goes to the various Brigadiers, and one to Headquarters. We take it in turns to do duty, day and night. Our office is a brick outhouse, attached to a farm house, about 12 yards by 4, with a brick floor. We take it in turns to sleep, in a corner beside our instruments, and have our meals in the same room. We have made ourselves very comfortable, and have a stove for heating. It keeps the place very warm at night. We are fortunate to be put out of range of shell fire. The office, when occupied by another brigade, was situated just up the hill, in a small village, but it became so warm up there that they deemed it advisable to remove it. The village in question – about a mile away – is shelled heavily every day. I came through there on a lorry. It’s the worst place I’ve seen so far. There has been a great number killed there, and many of the houses are blown to pieces, and there are not many houses that have not been damaged. It is unsafe to go in that direction, and especially at night, as the Germans appear to have got the range. A large farm was burned down on Monday, and as several of our wires passed over the buildings our communications in that direction were severed for a time. At night I can hear the heavy guns going as I sit at my work, and if I stand at the door I can see the flashes and star shells lighting up the sky continuously. One of our orderlies came back the other night with bullet holes through the top of his cap. Their work is very dangerous, as they are always dodging the bullets, and they often have to hide themselves when the star shells light up the sky, for fear of being shot by snipers.”

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