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Sergt. Thomas J. Long

Pte T J LongRushden Echo, 28th May 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Man in Canada — Waiting to go to the Front
“Thousands of Aliens in Toronto – Waiting to Strike at Canada”
Pte T J Long, son of Mr and Mrs S C Long, of 1, Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden, sends us the following interesting letter:-

Queen’s Own Rifles
John Street
Pump Station
Toronto
Canada

Dear Sir, —I thought I would just like to send a few lines for your valuable paper, which I look forward to every week. First of all I must explain that I belong to the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, and have been anxious to get to the front, but fate willed otherwise, for the time being, but I am proud to say our regiment is supplying a good share to the Contingents we are sending, and I quite think that shortly the whole of our regiment will be ordered to the front.

At present I am attached to a unit picked out for guarding the various civic works. You would scarcely credit it, but there are thousands of aliens right here in Toronto who are waiting for an opportunity to strike at Canada, and as you know America is teeming with Germans, all ready to take arms.

It has been a severe winter this year. The thermometer sometimes reached 20 below zero, and to make thing worse we are stationed on the shores of Lake Ontario, and during this winter it has been so cold we could only stop outdoors one hour instead of the usual two. The enclosed photo, which was taken when the glass stood at 52 degrees of frost, gives you a good idea of our dress during cold weather, but for all that some of our fellows got their appendages frozen. I was very fortunate, merely sustaining a frozen moustache very frequently.

I have been reading the “Rushden Echo” with great pride and pleasure lately, and delighted to see that fellows from my home town have given such splendid showing in this great world war.

Sergt. T. J. LongRushden Echo, 11th August 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins

Former Rushden Gymnast with the Canadian Contingent
Mr. T. J. Long as N.C.O. – Rapid Promotions in a Crack Regiment
Sergt. T. J. Long, of the 95th battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Long, of Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden, is at home on final leave before going to the fighting area, after two years and five months in Canada. He enlisted just after the outbreak of war in the Queen’s Own Rifles, Toronto, and instead of being shipped over to England straightaway, as he expected, he was detailed to an important wireless station in Canada for garrison duty, and there he remained for six months. He was then sent to Capuskasin to guard an internment camp of alien prisoners. After a time he succeeded in getting transferred to his present battalion, and about a month after his transference he received his corporal’s stripes, and six weeks later he was promoted sergeant, and after four months of hard work he was shipped over to England, reaching the home shores on June 8th. Since that time he has had six weeks’ hard training in all branches of the military art at Shorncliffe.

The battalion to which Sergt. Long belongs is one of the crack regiments sent from Canada has been given the distinction of remaining and being trained as a unit in this country. All other Canadian contingents have been split up on reaching these shores. They expect to go to the front as a unit.

In regard to the voyage over, Sergt. Long told an representative of the "Rushden Echo" that as soon as they left Halifax harbour they were all ordered to put on lifebelts, and these were kept handy and only taken off when they retires for the night, until Liverpool was reached.  Nothing exciting happened until their ship was rounding the north coast of Ireland.

Then early one morning, a tiny speck was noticed on the horizon. The guns the boat carried were at once manned and got into position. The excitement ran high. All the troops on the decks at once trained their eyes on the distant object to try and ascertain what it was. After a time another object was noticed in the distance, but subsequently the excitement, which had reached fever heat, calmed down, and ended up with a tremendous cheer, as what had been thought to be enemy craft turned out to be a couple of British destroyers that had come out to escort the transport through the danger zone.

At Liverpool docks the troops met with a great ovation from the crowd that had assembled on the quay.

Before leaving England Sergt. Long was a member of the Rushden Corps of the St. John Ambulance Association, and he was also associated with the Rushden Independent Wesleyan Gymnasium Class. The training he received with both of these organisations has been very useful to him.

Sergt. Major McInerney, of the Leicester Regt., who married Sergt. Long’s eldest sister, has just returned to his regt. after having been wounded early this year in Mesopotamia. He was one of the expedition that made a plucky but ineffectual attempt to relieve the besieged troops at Kut-el-Amara. He has now returned to Mesopotamia, and his wife, who before her marriage was Miss Maud Long, is now in England, and at present is staying with her parents in Rushden for a short holiday. She has her family with her, two little girls, one of whom was born in India.

Rushden Echo, Friday 14th September 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Canadian in Hospital
The Capture of Hill 70 - Advance Under Gas-Shell Bombardment
A Never-to-be-Forgotten Experience - Sergeant T Long’s Leg Shattered
A vivid description of the taking of Hill 70 is given by Sergt T J Long, of the Canadians, son of Mr and Mrs C S Long, of Rushden, in a letter to the Editor of the “Rushden Echo.”

Sergt Long, who is in the County of Middlesex War Hospital near St Albans, writes:-

Once more I am able to write and tell you about a successful attack in which I took part, but narrowly escaped with my life. On the night of August 14th we moved out of our billets, loaded up in the usual battle array, and started across country for our assembly position. That night all roads leading to Hill 70 were crowded with troops moving up, and many a joke was passed from one battalion to another regarding the thrashing in store for Fritz on the morrow.

When about half-way to our position, the enemy suddenly “opened up” a heavy bombardment with gas shells, covering the country in the rear of our lines. The order was immediately given to don gas masks. As long as I live I will never forget that journey. In the first place, it was muddy and slippery, and pitch dark. Then to crown it all, each man was carrying nearly 100lbs. load, consisting of bombs, shovels, sandbags, ammunition, rations, etc., etc. Well, after crawling along for two hours, we managed to get clear of the affected area, and to everybody’s great relief the air was found to be clear, and gas masks could be put away.

We reached our position just before dawn, and took up our proper formation. In the early part of the battle we were to support the attack, which meant “standing to,” and taking all the shelling Fritz always gives to the support lines.

At dawn our artillery came to life, and as usual, lived up to its splendid reputation. Fritz did not shell our position as much as we expected, he seemed to have his hands full up in front. Very soon prisoners began to scurry towards us, then a few of our own wounded, who were able to tell us that all was going well, but that Fritz was putting up a stiff fight in some parts, and by this time had got his artillery in working order, which of course, made the task heavy. However, by noon all our objectives were taken, and this hill, which had been the scene of some hard fighting in the early days, was ours.

At dusk we received orders to move up to reinforce the front line. We got there all right, but had to go through about three heavy barrages. Fortunately, we did not get many casualties in doing so. That night we worked hard to make some sort of a trench. At daylight Fritz started to snipe, and it was a case of duck and run in low parts of the trench. About noon I was crossing overland a few yards, in order to visit one of my posts, when I received a terrific blow on the lower left leg. I rolled in the trench, and one glance at my leg showed me it was not an ordinary bullet which had struck me. I yelled for a stretcher-bearer, who soon revealed a shattered leg. I have a feint recollection of being bound up and put on a stretcher. I then lost consciousness, and for 24 hours remember nothing. I “came to” in a hospital, and was surprised to find I still possessed two legs. After spending a week in France, I was shipped to England. I am going on fairly well, but expect to be hors-de-combat for some considerable time.

The Rushden Echo, 24th November, 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Germans Cower and Moan - Like a Whipped Terrier
One British Tommy Worth Six Huns - Four English Shells to one of Fritz’s
Sergt. T. J. Long (son of Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Long, of Rushden), formerly a shop assistant in High-street, Rushden, who afterwards went to Canada and enlisted when the war broke out, writes:

“After a week’s training at the base here I, with a company of the 95 Bn. joined our new Battalion, the 4th Canadians, 1st Div. I am now a Sergt. In B. Coy., and have with me a number of my old boys. A few days ago we received our “baptism of fire.” I will detail, as far as the censor will permit, what occurred during our spell in the trenches on the……… We left our billet at dusk and after a few hours’ winding in and out, across old trenches, and ploughed-up fields, we came up to the front line trench, which was occupied by the……..Bn, whom we had come to relieve.

“All this time we had been under shell fire, and every now and then ‘Fritz’s’ star shells would shoot up and reveal everything, but we reached our trench in safety. It is a strange sensation with shells flying overhead both ways, but I noticed that for every one ‘Fritz’ sent over, we sent four. For a time we new fellows ducked every time we heard a whiz, but we soon got over that, and strolled about quite at ease. After a night of comparative quiet, we received the word at dawn to stand to, and prepare to attack. I took a look at my section to see if all were ready. Not a word was spoken, but the look on the men’s faces told they were ready for anything. Upon a given signal we leapt over the parapet. What occurred then can only be imagined. After getting through wire, dodging shells, stumbling through shell holes, and the blinding smoke, I found myself on the brink of the Hun trench.

“We met with but little opposition. As soon as we were about to use our bayonet up went Fritz’s hand, ‘Kamerad!’ he screamed. We took a bunch of prisoners and sent them back to our own lines.

“I witnessed a very amusing sight just after we had occupied the Hun trench. I happened to look back and saw one of our boys chasing a bunch of Germans across No Man’s Land, at the point of the bayonet. They were terror-stricken, and shouting ‘Kamerad’ at the top of their voices. We then set about and built up our captured trench. In one of their dug-outs we found wine, cigars, etc., and it was a common sight all the morning seeing our boys busy cleaning their rifles and smoking Fritz’s cigars, I have just smoked my last one – they were good. I procured a few souvenirs, which I sent home.

“When things had quietened down I looked around and found we had not suffered very much loss, and all the boys who were wounded were quite happy after they had been attended to, and content that we had gained our object. Some hours later we were relieved and retired to our billets for a rest after all the excitement.

“Our aircraft is wonderful. They are continually over the German lines and it interesting to watch the ‘Boches trying to reach them by shell fire, but the airman sails steadily on, and gets all the information he wants. Our artillery is also splendid, and far in advance of the Huns. Then again a British Tommy is worth six Germans in every way; they cover and moan like a whipped terrier when they find a British bayonet pointed at them with a determined looking British soldier behind it.

“Thanks to our people at home we are getting any amount of smokes. That reminds me of another little incident. During our advance over ‘No Man’s Land’ I found myself in a shell hole with one of my section. He was wiping the sweat from his face, and when he had finished he calmly turned to me and said, ‘Have you got your cigarettes handy, sergeant?’ It certainly sounds unbelievable, but it is the honest truth. Of course, I had forgotten cigarettes and such minor details, but I obliged him and we had a smoke together, and then finished our job. I looked that fellow up later on and found him enjoying a Fritz’s cigar. Yes, as long as the boys get something to smoke they are contented. One of my fellow sergeants was hit, and we laid him in a dugout. As soon as he came to, he asked for a cigarette, and smoked contentedly until he was carried away by the stretcher bearers.”

The Rushden Echo, 1st June 1917, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Out of Hell into Heaven - Rushden Soldier’s Graphic Description of The War
Sergt. T. J. Long and “The Gallant Canadians” - How a Great Victory was Won
Fritz and the British Bayonets - What Became of the Officers’ Cake
The British – Fighting, Gaining, Holding

  Writing to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Long, of Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden, Sergt. T. J. Long, of the Canadians, says he has come through the recent fighting unscathed, and feeling fine.  The only near squeak he had was by a piece of shrapnel which pierced his shoulder strap, tunic and shirt, but did not break the skin.  He says:-

  “At last I can sit down in comfort and pen a few lines.  It is needless for me to explain why I have not written lately.  The papers will be enough.  As you have been reading for some time past, we have been ‘scrapping’ again, with grand results.  I will merely tell you a few little incidents which happened in my own battalion.

  “We left our billets on the ---th, and marched to a set assembly position, headed by our own band.  Every man was in the highest spirits, and a looker-on would have thought we were going to a garden party instead of a long fight.  On reaching our position we had a good feed and rest; then the fun started, the band struck up lively music, and every man joined in, having a good time, consisting of every style of dancing, singing, and games.  It was a great sight, dozens of bands playing and thousands of real British “Tommies” having a real good time, little thinking of the glorious triumphs that were to be gained during the next few days, or what was going to happen to a good many of them.

  “The bands cease, and every man jumps to his equipment and rifle as the “Fall in” is sounded by dozens of bugles.  Now a different demeanour asserts itself amongst the men, they calm down and busy themselves in making a final inspection of their rifles, gas helmets, etc., and of course getting a good supply of tobacco and cigarettes.  We bid good-bye to the band, who promise to meet us when we return.  The battalion is then formed up, and, after an inspection by the O.C., we start off on our journey to the front line.  After a march of an hour or so, during which the men have been singing all the time, we reach a point where silence is ordered, and cigarettes have to be put out.  A few more minutes and we reach our battle position.  By this time dawn is approaching, and every man is on the alert, eager for the fray.  Now our artillery opens up; we cautiously peep over the parapet.  What a sight!  A solid wall of fire is being poured on the enemy’s front line.  Silence is now unnecessary.  The word is shouted “Prepare to advance,” and over we go, leaving behind trenches that have been occupied for two years.  What a state the ground is in; not a square yard but what has been torn by shell fire.  We come to what was once dense barbed wire; now nothing remains but thousands of strands of twisted metal.  A little farther and we come to the old German line, a trench in name only.  The few men who remained at their posts are terribly mutilated.  Not a living man is to be seen, but we know Fritz, and that he is cringing down deep dug-outs.  We leave ‘mopping-up’ parties behind, and go forward, our barrage still waiting for us, resting on Fritz’s second line.

  “It lifts, and onward we go.  Here we meet with a little resistance.  The Boche is awake now, and as soon as the curtain of fire is clear, up he comes like a rabbit out of his hole, but what a poor show he makes when he finds his trench full of British troops, who have commenced to use their bayonets with splendid skill and vigour.  Fritz can’t stand this, and up goes his hands, at the same time using the only bit of English he knows, “Mercy, Kamerad.”  We have no time to waste, so over the top they go, back to our lines, downright glad to be in safe hands, and to get away with their lives.

  “Away we go again, clearing trenches as we go, and sending back large batches of prisoners, who were already waiting to give themselves up.  After a few hundred yards more, a halt is signalled (a village lies in front of us, which requires ‘special treatment’).  Every man takes cover in the numerous shell-holes, and out come pipes and cigarettes.

  “We now ‘take stock’ of ourselves.  By crawling from one shell-hole to another I find that my platoon is ‘all correct,’ and not a casualty – only a few scratches on wire, etc., or torn clothes, but, best of all the men in fine fettle.  Away we go again.

  “Our next objective is a village.  Our artillery is still pounding away at it as we enter the outskirts, not a German in sight, but suddenly we hear a ‘ping,’ the sharp rat-tat-tat-tat.  We duck sharply and hear hundreds of deadly machine-gun bullets swishing over our heads.  Caution is necessary.  Fritz is a good fighter from 500 yards, so we try tactical movements and manage to get close enough to throw bombs with such good effect that the Hun machine gunner bids a speedy farewell to his gun, and beats it down the nearest cellar.  We take charge of the gun – one of the latest pattern – and proceed to interview Fritz at his own home.  There they are, hundreds of them, ugly beggars with their hands up, too.  We have a few minutes to spare, so after we have collected a few souvenirs from them we bundle them out and away they go like ‘whipped mongrels’ back to our line, there to be marched to cages already laid for them.

  “We proceed to investigate.  What do we find?  Every comfort, arm chairs, feather beds, electric light, wines, cigarettes, in fact, every up-to-date convenience.  Fritz had settled down for life, no doubt, but we hadn’t! Oh, no!  We were men in France on a special mission, and we wanted to perform the job and get back home.  We thought of the long dreary months we had spent in muddy trenches while the Boche was having a picnic.  No wonder he resented being ‘pushed.’

  “By this time it was nearing noon, we found out that our belts were getting loose, so we set about laying the table and had a good feed of German sausages, bread, etc. (A man isn’t particular when he is hungry.)

  Here I must relate a very amusing incident.  I was sitting in a fine arm chair (the property of some poor Frenchman, no doubt), enjoying one of Fritz’s cigarettes after lunch, when my platoon officer came down, searching for a haversack he had left on the shelf.  After a few minutes’ inquiry I discovered one of the men (a new one) with the missing haversack opened on his lap, and in his hand a big piece of cake.  I questioned him, and after a gasp of astonishment, he innocently replied that he thought it was German cake.  At that the men standing round burst into laughter, in which the officer soon joined.  The chance of a joke was too good to be missed, and the men were just waiting for the officer to come and claim his cake.  They knew he was a sport and would see the joke.  From now on the new man will be known as ‘Cake.’

  At this juncture a runner enters with the message to ‘move forward,’ and away we go again, refreshed and fed, and ready for anything.  We leave the village behind in charge of another ‘mopping up’ party, and advance over better ground.  Ahead of us is a wood in which guns are known to be hidden.  That wood and those guns are our objective.

  “Now comes the real battle – open warfare, with the Germans trying to organise in this wood.  “Are we downhearted?” No!  Away we go.  What a sight! What a sensation! It is impossible to describe it accurately. The sun was shining, and as I glanced back wave upon wave of Khaki-clad men, with bayonets flashing, were advancing with steady pace, every man ready to do or die.  I would like the mothers, sweethearts, and wives of those men to have seen that sight.  It was glorious.

  “What happened afterwards took only a few minutes to enact.  The Germans put up but feeble resistance, and were captured by the hundred.  The few gunners that remained at their posts were shot down, and the wood and guns were ours – “The Gallant Canadians.”  We had reached our objective with but few casualties, and now proceeded to dig ourselves in.  We then sat tight, and waited for supports.  At dusk we were relieved, and went back a few hundred yards for a few hours’ sleep.

  “We have been at it steadily since the ---- , fighting, gaining, holding.  A few days ago we were relieved and started back over the ground we had gained.  After a tramp of some hours we halted for the night on ground that 48 hours before had belonged to Fritz.  Here we found a good feed awaiting us, shelter all ready, and the band waiting to play us to sleep.  Fires were lighted, the band struck up – sacred hymns this time, finishing with “O God, our help in ages past.” It was to be a never-to-be-forgotten scene.  Every man was silent.  The battle was won, and here for a short time was peace and contentment.  Out of Hell into Heaven.

  “The men turned in that night with a thankful heart.  Dirty, unshaven, ragged, but men in the truest sense of the word.  The next morning we pulled right out, and are now back in a peaceful little village, newly clothed, and well fed, partaking of a well-earned rest.  Needless to say, we have received many congratulatory speeches, and are to-day amongst the proudest soldiers of Britain’s glorious Army, as well we have a right to be.”



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