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Just over two weeks after setting off for the Front, Richard Whincup sent home his first impressions. The Vicar of Windhill, Rev R Whincup, who recently proceeded to Belgium to act as Chaplain to the regiment which he has for some years been associated with in that capacity – the 6th West Yorkshire (Bradford Territorials) – has through the medium of the Windhill Church Magazine addressed to his “dear friends and parishioners” a very interesting account of his first impressions at the Front. War Zone Although the rev gentleman, like our fighting men themselves, is unable to state his exact address, the following quotation from his letter leaves no doubt that he is in the actual war zone. “The first sensation of shells going overhead did not seem to cause me much alarm; they pass, at times well up in the air, into a town about a mile away. “But judging by the number of shells which the Germans waste in this useless manner, one begins to thing that they must have a large amount of time on their hands which they can only occupy by senseless ‘potting’ at certain objects. “Of course if a few of these ‘useless’ shells happened to fall a bit shorter or get out of their course somewhat, I might sing a different song. “Everything considered, I seem to
be as safe as can be reasonably expected so near the scene of active operations, especially seeing that various people whom I casually met en-route endeavoured to cheer me up with the assertion that I was going to a ‘a hot spot.’ “So far, I do not seem to have felt the heat of it to any great extent. But the sound of firing at the Front during the night has a distinctly depressing effect on one at first; the fact of being somewhere in the rear in more or less safe quarters and hearing one’s own kith and kin being shot down is very far from an exhilarating business. Cheerfulness “In my case I feel that I have very much to be thankful for and my heart goes out in deepest feeling for all those who have to go into the actual thick of it. I shall probably have to pay the trenches occasional visits in due course.” Mr Whincup goes on to speak of the wonderful cheerfulness of the men who come down from the trenches to a Rest Camp situated near where he is staying. “The very sight of them fills one with an intense desire to do so much for them and yet one seems to be able to do so little. “How deeply they wish the whole thing was over! And yet how keen
they are not to yield one scrap until the Germans have been well thrashed!! Concertina “It has been such a joy to meet some of our Windhill men out here. Private Ruddock, of Leeds Road, accompanied the hymns at the first service I took and he did it excellently, considering he had only a concertina to play on. “Sgt Leahy (of well-known fame) met me on the first day of my arrival and greeted me with a beaming smile which I much appreciated.” Mr Whincup says the open-air life seems to agree with him very well indeed and he already feels better in health for the change. The distant booming of guns and the noise of flying shells has not affected his nerves so far but, as he puts it, there is plenty of time in front of him for all that kind of thing and he dare not boast. There are plenty of doctors at hand, amongst them Mr Basil Hughes, the well-known Bradford surgeon. “People out here seem to know far less about the war than many of the wiseacres at home. For the most part we appear to be kept in ignorance of what is actually going on. “The great thing here is to merely
do one’s duty as it presents itself and leave the rest in the hands of higher authorities.” There’s a personal touch in Mr Whincup’s letter which will appeal especially to those who themselves have had to master the difficulties of the military toilet. Here it is: “As regards my own adventures so far, they have been very varied. At first I found the greatest difficulty in putting on puttees. Being an officer I had been told that I must try and put them on as correctly and neatly as possible and set the men a good example in this respect. Malignant spirit “At first I found this to be a most arduous business. The puttees seemed as if they had fully made up their minds not to go on in the way in which I wanted them; they played me all sorts of tricks. “Eventually I decided that they were an evil thing, specially designed by some malignant spirit for the encouragement of bad language in the British Army, especially on the part of all those who had been accustomed to have people wait on them in various capacities. “I hope that it is needless to say that I successfully resisted the intentions of this malignant spirit and I don’t think that I shall be much further troubled in this respect because I am gradually finding that even puttees are not so very difficult to put on correctly after all.”
“The sound of firing at the Front during the night has a distinctly depressing effect on one at first; the fact of being somewhere in the rear in more or less safe quarters and hearing one’s own kith and kin being shot down is very far from an exhilarating business.” More about Richard Whincup More about Richard Whincup More about Richard Whincup
First impressions: Wasteful Germans and warm welcome from Windhill lads