Sunday 17 April 2016

Biggleswade Soldier Wants to be in at the Death

Biggleswade High Street [Z1130/16/21]

Monday 17th April 1916: Sergeant W J Franklin, a Biggleswade man, who was badly wounded at Ypres while serving with the “Brave Bedfords” is now in a Garrison Battalion in Egypt(1) writes as follows to a friend: “Myself and Charlie Brown (another old Bedford) send our best wishes. Things are about the same here, nothing doing, no fighting at all. I don’t think that they will attack Egypt, if they do they will be in for it proper. We shall give them a good reception. Glad the scheme of presentation to Chris Lincoln (another old Bedford who was wounded at Loos) is successful. It shows that the people of Biggleswade appreciate what their fellow townspeople have done. I suppose the old town is quite military now, owing to the Group System. I think the job will soon be finished now but I should like to be in at the death. All the excitement we get here is a sandstorm now and again. It just comes along like a bank of fog travelling at 80 miles and hour and before you can say “When” it is on you. Nice thing, just as you are going to have dinner, just like going in for a good peppering. Charlie is on guard duty, we do 24 hours at a time, but nothing hard to speak of. We are ready again should they want us and we don’t mind when or where it is. I give about three months to finish the war. Germany is about done and I and a good many more expect them to collapse very shortly, financially and be hopelessly beaten”.

“You ought to see the Indian cavalry here. They are a fine body of men. I pity the Turks if they once get round them”.

Source: Biggleswade Chronicle 7th April 1916

(1) All three Bedfordshire Regiment Garrison Battalions were in Asia and so this must have been with a different Regiment. Garrison battalions were made up of men who were not fit for front line duty but could still be useful in policing and other ancillary duties and could fight at a pinch. 

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