Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell


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The kilted regiments also included regiments raised in England such as the London Scottish and the Liverpool Scottish. Some Canadian Regiments also wore the kilt for the same reason: they were recruited from Scottish emigrants and wanted to identify themselves as Scots. The Germans used the nickname "ladies from Hell" as an insult but the Scots took it as a compliment: it marked them out as a force to be reckoned with - aggressive soldiers who inspired fear in the enemy. Some historians have even compared this attitude to the Glasgow airport worker who attacked terrorist bombers in Read this article from the The Sunday Times.

Historian Professor Tom Devine also says He makes two claims Scottish regiments all of them, not just the kilted regiments were used in a "spearhead role". Another term for this is "shock troops". The consequences of this was that Scottish casualties were huge. It is implied that Scottish casualties must have been higher than casualties of other British and Empire troops. What does the evidence say? Scottish regiments certainly made very important contributions to major battles on the western front.

The Battle of the Somme, as it happened on July 1, 1916

You can find out about Loos and the Somme on other pages of this blog. This death on an industrial scale was bad enough, but even worse for sheer horror was the detritus it left behind. Stuart Cloete, a writer from South Africa, was a British public schoolboy commissioned, aged 17, at the start of the war and, two years later, witnessed sights on the Somme no teenager should ever see.

Burial was often impossible. Then, when the gas escaped, the bodies dried up like mummies and were frozen in their death positions These rats were very large and quite fearless, their familiarity with the dead having made them contemptuous of the living. One night one fell on my face in a dugout and bit me.

Under fire: Troops learned to put up with constant bombardment, and unrelenting experience of death. I once fell and put my hand right through the belly of a man.


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It was days before I got the smell out of my nails. As you lifted a body by the arms and leg, the torso detached. Everyone lent a hand in this gruesome task. I was not particularly afraid of being killed.

There seems to be a natural instinct when fighting to lean forward, to protect them. And yet there were also times when he escaped the trenches for a short spell of leave and rode his horse over green fields a few miles behind the lines. It was a period of summer hayfields, singing birds and flowers on the one hand, and of mud, blood and the stink of dead bodies on the other, with nothing to separate these two worlds but a few hours of marching time In the field: A memorial statue in Ypres, Belgium, the scene of much fighting, is lit by the sunset.

He was astonished by the quiet courage around him.

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Word would be passed on, echoing down the line. Men with stomach wounds moaned. Otherwise there was silence. Human dignity was often shattered as the wounds and sicknesses of war took their terrible toll. So I took him by one arm and another pal got hold of him by the other, and we dragged him to the latrine. We tried to keep the flies off him and to turn him round - put his backside towards the trench. But he simply rolled into the trench, half-sideways, head first in the slime.

He drowned in his own excrement. In my company there are only 10 men left. The distance was shrouded by rain and mist, from out of which the boom of gunfire came distant and muffled. It was the sounds of the battlefield that stuck in the memory of novelist Ford Madox Ford. Home: Soldiers spent months - if not years - mostly hunkered down in trenches like these. The war, he was discovering, made him impervious to normal emotions. When he saw a thousand casualties on stretchers coming away from the front line he felt depressed - not for them but for himself, because he would have to go back into the hell from which they had come.

Nurse Sarah MacNaughton saw similar lines of wounded arriving at her field hospital. They fall asleep even while their wounds are being dressed. Others lie very stiff and straight, and all look very thin and haggard. Leslie Holden was one such casualty, lying in a hospital bed in France and writing home to his family in Australia. Yet amid the carnage, what grew was an intense sense of comradeship that kept men fighting when everything inside them screamed out to run and get away.

Guy Chapman wrote lyrically about returning with his regiment from a brief respite out of the front line, spirits astonishingly high considering the major offensive they knew awaited them.

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We are content to live in the moment, to feel the warm sun, to enjoy the strength of our bodies, and to be lulled by the rhythmical momentum with which we march. At the halts they lay in the long wet grass and gossiped, enormously at ease. The whistle blew. They jumped for their equipment. Hump your pack and get a move on, the next hour, man, will bring you three miles nearer to your death. Craters: Fighters advancing on enemy positions often took shelter in holes such as these left by enemy shells. You are not even a pawn. There was also courage, of the sort displayed by year-old Lieutenant Tom Adlam on the Somme.

The trench we had to capture was yards away and we got halfway before the machine guns started up and we dived into shell holes. His commanding officer wanted to call off the operation and pull back, but Adlam pressed on. And they did just that, following the lead of a popular officer. The captured trench was full of abandoned German grenades, one of which Adlam tossed in the direction of the enemy.

They came to a crossroads, from which one trench led to the Schwaben Redoubt, a massive complex of machine-gun emplacements and dug-outs at the heart of the German defensive line on the Somme. They could have turned back, having achieved their initial objective and more. But Adlam insisted that he and his men would stay and take part in the attack on the redoubt. Told dirty stories and made crude remarks.

Outside the redoubt there was a huge crater about 50 feet across and lined with Germans popping away at us. So I got hold of the old bombs again and started bombing them out. Then we charged, all my men coming on behind very gallantly.

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Hope in Hell - Canada's History

I could throw with both arms so I carried on using my left one until the CO came up and told me to stop. Unassuming men like Adlam, a school teacher in civilian life, were the heart and soul of the World War I fighting forces. Whatever the right and wrongs of that terrible conflict years ago, they were just doing their duty as they saw it, reluctant heroes perhaps but heroes nonetheless.

What their sacrifice achieved many of us still find baffling. For some, killing another human being was no easy matter, even when, as so often in hand-to-hand battles as one side or the other went over the top, it was him or you. I felt the fear of death in that fraction of a second when I realised that he was after my life, exactly as I was after his. I pushed his rifle away and ran my bayonet through his chest. He fell and I thrust again.

Ladies from Hell

Blood came out of his mouth and he died. I nearly vomited. My knees were shaking. Many of my comrades were absolutely undisturbed. They were ordinary men like me. A boy who wore the uniform of another nation and spoke another language, but who had a father and mother and a family.

Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell
Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell Letters from the Trenches by one of the Ladies from Hell

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