Wednesday 10 December 2014


Thursday 10th December 1914: Patrolling is a dangerous but necessary task, as we stated on 26th November 1914. The commander of the 1st Battalion reports to us today that he has lost five more men, two killed and three wounded, whilst on patrol.

The patrol made their way into no man’s land under cover of darkness to see what could be learned of the state of the German trenches and to see if any prisoners could be taken. Men take as little equipment as possible on such patrols as stealth and speed of movement are the essence. They rub their faces with boot blacking or mud to prevent themselves being seen and will take small, easily handled weapons such as revolvers, or silent weapons such bayonets, knives or even clubs, perhaps augmented with a twist or two of barbed wire, rather than the more cumbersome rifles.

Unfortunately the Germans were vigilant. Some movement was seen or some small noise was heard. They fired on our men with the result mentioned above. The two dead men – Private Albert Crawley from Arlesey and Corporal Frederick Laird from Bower Street, Bedford were left where they fell and it is likely they will go unburied for some time, indeed, they will probably never receive a proper burial but simply rot into the surface of no man’s land, or be buried or their remains scattered by the action of a shell during some future bombardment.

We are sorry to be so graphic with the above description, but feel that people at home need to understand exactly the conditions our brave boys at the front are up against. It is to be hoped that those who go unburied in this war will be commemorated in some way when the final victory comes. [1]

Source: X550/2/5

[1] Both Private Crawley and Corporal Laird are, indeed, commemorated on the Menin Gate.

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