Knotting Soldier’s Experiences - First Recruit from the Village
Wounded, Gassed, Enteric Fever, Trench Fever, and Influenza
“Kitchener’s first lot,” there can be no doubt, saved the Empire. Among those to whom this honour is due is Pte. Arthur Herbert Smith, of Knotting Green, a pleasant hamlet which has sent its full quota of men to the war. Pte. A. H. Smith, who has just been home on leave from France, and who returned on Monday last, enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment in December 1914, being one of “Kitchener’s first lot,” and he has had three years’ stern service in France. In that period he has been gassed, he has been wounded by shrapnel in the back, he has suffered from enteric fever, then he had an attack of Trench fever, and just lately he has been down with Spanish influenza. In spite of his experiences he is a thoroughly smart, soldierly mankeen and alert, bright and cheerfultypical of thousands of men who volunteered in the early days of the war, when the country sadly needed men. They had to be trained very rapidly, and the training was extremely stiff in its character, but they proved to be a splendid lot of men.
Pte. Smith, who was the first man in the village to join the Colours, has only had two leaves during his three years’ service in France. To a “Rushden Echo” representative he expressed the opinion that the Germans could not hold out much longer. “They will hang out until they are Whacked, and the longer they hold out the more they will be whacked, and they know it, too,” said Pte. Smith. “There is certainly a possibility of the war finishing very quickly, but of the Germans won’t yield now it will probably go on until next Spring. We have got the Yanks coming in by the thousand, and the Germans might say ‘We shall have to give in sooner or later, and we had better give in now.”’ The German casualties at the present time are ten times as many as ours, and our men are bringing down prisoners thousands and thousands thick. In the earlier days I saw many german prisoners who thought that they had already won and who were under the impression that London had been bombarded until it was a mass of ruins, but they don’t think that now. Germany’s 1920 class will not stand their ground today like the Prussian Guards did. We had to meet some good men then, but some of the prisoners we are taking today appear to be starved to death, and they tell us so. Some of them say they have not had a bit of food for three days.
“In the air we are clean masters. If a German observer comes over, there are half-a-dozen of ours after him at once. We are masters, not only in the air, but everywhere. Personally, I think the thickest of the fighting will be over by the end of October: I may be wrong, of course, but I judge by the number of Germans we are knocking over. We are winning all round.”