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Rushden Echo and Argus, 6th December 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins
Pte. H. T. Gates

Pte Bert Gates Pte. H. T. Gates, 8th East Surreys, younger son of Mr. and Mrs. H. S. Gates, of Wellingborough-road, Rushden, arrived home last week from Alsace-Lorraine, where he had been in captivity since March 23rd this year. He was in the 18th Division, the name of which will be known for generations to come for the splendid way in which they carried out their order received on the third day of the retirement to "hold on to the last man, and not to give way on any account." The terrible sacrifice made by the 18th Division enabled the artillery to be got back to safety. Pte. Gates was taken prisoner with a few others who were not killed. For three days, with no food at all, he was compelled to assist in carrying German and British wounded (on poles and ground sheets) to Metz. Arriving there, all the prisoners were stripped of anything which the Germans wanted, such as field dressing, articles of rubber, printed matter, etc., and were then made to load shells. From that time they were given to divide between 20 men a loaf of "bread" a sample of which he brought home. It is hard and heavy, the colour of the earth, and obviously contains a large amount of saw-dust. As a change from loading shells the prisoners were compelled to work on constructing railways and roads for the German advance to Paris, working from early morning till dark on one slice of "bread" only.

The Germans told our men that they would be in Paris within a few days, but the accounts given by later prisoners revealed the fact that the German plans had gone wrong. When our men asked for more food the Germans would reply:

"You cannot have more food until your Navy raises the blockade." Even the German soldiers had to send some of their coarse rations home to keep their relatives from hunger. Pte. Gates says that even the day before the Armistice, Alsatians and Austrians deserted from German Army, threw down their arms, and wore the revolutionist colours. He was one of about 500 who started to march to the French lines, over 100 of whom perished on the journey, which took three days, and it was only the thought of freedom and home that sustained the remainder. Pte. Gates is rapidly recovering from the effects of his unenviable adventures.

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