Friday, 13 November 2015

Arlesey Man Returns After 5 Year Absence

High Street, Arlesey c.1915 [Z1130/2/22]

Saturday 13th November 1915: Private William Pike of the West Riding Regiment returned home to High Street, Arlesey last week for the first time in five years. He enlisted eight years ago and was posted in Dublin when the war broke out. He was immediately sent to Le Havre and first saw action at Mons on 23rd August 1914. After the retreat form Mons he took part in the battles of the Marne, the Aisne, La Bassé and the first battle of Ypres, where he saw some of the fiercest fighting. He was at the attack on Hill 60 and witnessed the assault by some 600 British guns; after the hill was blown up he picked up the base of a 17 inch shell, which weighed 90lbs. At the second battle of Ypres he says “shells were dropping all around us and all the buildings were destroyed and we never expected to get away alive. It was here we saw some of the terrible effects of the gas, which came along in great clouds and which put many of the men in terrible agony”. In his fifteen months at the Front Private Pike has not received a scratch.[1] He is now on his way back to France after enjoying eight days leave in Arlesey. Fortunately he is now based in a quieter area and in a much more comfortable position than a year ago.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle, 13th November 1915

[1] William Pike's army service record shows that he survived the war unscathed.

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