Festubert 1915 - 5th Sussex in Action

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, May 9, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    This was one of the first reports of the Battle of Aubers Ridge printed in the Eastbourne Gazette in May 1915.

    It really captures the terror of it all, especially the first taste of action for the 5th Battalion -

    5th Sussex in Action

    Territorial’s Mown Down by Machine Guns

    Heavy Losses in Killed and Wounded.

    Private G. Cottingham, whose parents reside at 98, Latimer Road, wrote on May 29,

    “I suppose you heard we made a bayonet charge on the 9th. It was the biggest fight of the war. I lay in the open from 5.30 till half-past-three in the afternoon. I was the only one left of our little lot that went over. My mates fell like skittles.

    The machine guns of the Germans were so well hidden that our artillery could not find them. We went in with the 2nd Sussex and when we returned they called us the “Iron 5th”. The last words I heard our captain say were “Now lads, another two minutes and England expects. You know the rest.” The he said “Come on B!” (Company). He was the first to go down.

    In the evening our sergeant and four of us (all we could find of B Company) volunteered to go back and fetch the wounded. When we got out the Germans sent up three flares at a time and then opened up rapid fire. We were obliged to get under cover, but we brought in a lot of our wounded and some belonging to other regiments. We rejoined the battalion the next morning.

    It was wicked the way the Germans fire explosive bullets. Our sergeant was hit by one as he was lying wounded and it set him on alight. My chum, who was lying next to him, put out the flame. Afterwards my chum was killed and I was left alone.”

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