Uncensored letter from the Great War

09:24 01 August 2014

The North Devon Gazette is asking readers to share family records and memories of World War One ahead of the centenary this summer.

The North Devon Gazette is asking readers to share family records and memories of World War One ahead of the centenary this summer.

Archant

A true glimpse of life in the trenches after a Devon man’s letter miraculously made it home past the censors.

EXCERPTS from an unusual letter written by Trevor Bird, a 20-year-old officer in the Indian Army, that actually managed to make it to his parents in Guernsey uncensored and gives a true glimpse into life in the trenches.

He survived the war and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He lived until the ripe old age of 102 in Bradninch near Cullompton, but was well known in North Devon, visiting local parishes as a lay preacher after leaving the army.

December 25th 1914

My Dear Father, Christmas Day you see and me still alive, though, by Jove, since the 20th I’ve been having a fairly hairy time.

We were sent out in the middle of the night to a place where the Germans had broken the line and the situation was very critical. We had to make our way up to the trenches through an unpleasantly heavy fire for about two miles.

We were lucky in that we only had two men killed and several wounded. When we finally got under the last cover available we were ordered to make a bayonet attack on the German trenches!

It was a criminal order on the part of the man who ordered it. We had formed up for the attack and were about to move off for what would have been certain death for 90 per cent of us, when we were told the attack was off.

So off we went to trenches instead which were half full of water in which we had to lie. I was in water for 26 hours. Three infantry battalions came up and made the attack and they could not force the position for two days.

They were 2,700 strong and used to the bayonet, whereas we, at most, could produce 500 men and absolute children with the bayonet, having had it about a month, it would have simply resulted in our decimation.

I was relieved and sent to dry myself with my half squadron in a small house behind the firing line. After half an hour (and we still sopping wet) we were sent off to another lot of trenches and at 4pm for a patrol.

The Bosch had made a gap in the wire and I was sent to find the gap. I had to crawl on hands and knees for three quarters of a mile through mud and filth about a foot deep along a ditch at the side of a road. Every time I showed myself ‘ping’ went a bullet.

I finally reached the line of British trenches where, to cap all my troubles, I was arrested as a German spy. It was not until I had been taken before the CO, with a rifle muzzle in the small of my back that I was allowed to depart.

Yesterday (Dec 24th), we did a 25 mile march back to the spot we are at now where we are to have a well earned rest. We might even get leave. Unfortunately the sojourn in the water completely did me in and I have a pair of feet like balloons and an attack of neuritis and a chill.

The doctor wants to shove me on the sick list but I am against that unless they send me home or to the base for a bit.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other North Devon Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by North Devon Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique North Devon Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other News Stories

The Everest Ascent team say they will still be climbing the mountain for Children's Hospice South West.

The Everest Ascent team say they will carry a photo of every British climber killed in the Nepal earthquake to the summit of Mount Everest next year.

Read more
13:01
The new Coach 11 at Woody Bay Station

Lynton & Barnstaple Railway will be able to run a four coach train of original carriages for the first time in 80 years...

Read more
Front row attendants: Lilly-Mai Curley, Summer Pateman, Kaitlyn Grills, Mia Sampson, Kelsey Woodroffe, Bobbi Manning, Amelia Batten and Paige MacDonald Bale. Back row: Charlie Sears Avery (herald); Neve Cox (May Queen); Carrie Lawrence-O'Shear (crowner); Tyler Whittaker (herald). Picture Sarah Howells

Pupils from Great Torrington Bluecoats are looking forward to forming the royal entourage at Torrington May Fair.

Read more
Richard Todd (centre) collects the Paul Lock Memorial Prize from Chris and Gwen Lock.

North Devon District Hospital nurse has won award for paediatric care for children with diabetes.

Read more
The Nepal fundraiser will be held on Croyde beach.

A group of North Devon yoga teachers will be holding a fundraising event on Croyde beach this Monday in aid of the Nepal earthquake crisis.

Read more
Yesterday, 17:35
North Devon Road Runners Jo and Frank Biederman with their medals.

North Devonian pounds the streets of the capital for charity....

Read more
Yesterday, 10:09

The nine-turbine wind farm is set to be operational in North Devon by summer 2016.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:36
The TK Maxx store in Barnstaple. Picture: Sarah Howells

Walls around the building on Joy Street have come down revealing new TK Maxx store building.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:07

Woman claiming to be from the council tried to con elderly Barnstaple man, as police warn people to remain vigilent of fraudsters.

Read more
Sunday, April 26, 2015
The Taw Bridge, Barnstaple

Drivers help talk the man to safety after Sunday afternoon drama on Taw Bridge

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 6°C

Most Read News

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition today E-edition



North Devon's trusted business finder