|The Rushden Echo, 17th December 1915, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Family of Fighters
Lance-Corpl. George West - and Pte. William Dickens
Home From The Trenches - Through Famous Battles
Private William Dickens (Rushden), 2nd Battalion Northants Regt., came home on Saturday night for a few days’ leave. He came straight out of the trenches, having been there ten months. His cousin Lce-Corpl. George West (Rushden), 2nd Scottish Rifles, also came home from the trenches on Monday night, and a “Rushden Echo” representative was afforded a short interview with the two soldiers.
Private Dickens, who is a son of Mrs. J. S. Dickens, Irchester-road, Rushden, said he had met his cousin several times while at the front, as they both belonged to the same division. They both went through the big battle on May 9th, but they were in reserve at the Battle of Loos.
Neither of them seemed inclined to talk about their experiences, evidently feeling that it was best to forget them during their short holiday at home.
“You might mention,” said Private Dickens, “that the 2nd Northants are the only original ‘Steelbacks,’ though other Northants Regts. are given that name. You might also say that Private F. O. Long, son of Mr. and Mrs. Long, Beaconsfield-place, Rushden, and Lance-Corpl. Marlow, of Rushden, were both wounded a short time ago. Marlow was wounded in the head.
Lance-Corpl. West, referring to the Battle for Hill 60, said that when he first saw Hill 60 it was only a slight mound, but after the battle it was a still slighter mound. In fact, it was not there at all. It had all been blown up. Hill 60 had proved a good hiding-place for the British artillery.
“The guns were dug in on our side of the hill,” said Lance-Corpl. West, “and were therefore completely hidden from the enemy. Besides that, at night-time the hill would effectively screen the flash of light from the guns.”
Private Dickens and Lance-Corpl. West, have, in their own words, “a whole regiment of fighting relatives.” “In fact” said Lance-Corpl. West, “our family is holding the whole front in France!”
Private Dickens’s father, Driver J. S. Dickens, of the A.S.C., has also been spending a few days’ leave in Rushden. Private Dickens’s fighting cousins include Corpl. Harry West, 1st Norfolks, of Rushden, who has been missing since Sept. 14th; Private W. Stokes, Lewis Stokes, Steve Stokes, Jock Burton and Jim Sulley, all of the Notts and Derby Regt; Privates Tom, William and Charles Murdin, in the London Regt, two of whom have been wounded. Corpl. Sam West, another cousin in the 19th Hussars, and a brother of Corpl. Harry West was killed on May 13th.