Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page

Mr. L. Perkins B.Sc.
In uniform
Mr. L. Perkins B.Sc.

The Rushden Echo, 20th July, 1917, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden Officer’s Near Squeak
The Great Mine Explosion - A Vivid Word Picture
“I Do Not Believe in War, But I Do Believe in Killing Prussianism”

  A Rushden officer in the Army – a member of the Rushden Urban Council, and a well-known schoolmaster – in the course of a letter home, says:-

  This morning I took a busman’s holiday and went beyond the old German trenches to look at the wrecks.  It is most difficult to walk across the country, as the ground is so torn by our shells.  I saw – well plenty.  There is no Wytschaete village at all.  Even the cellars have been blown out.  Two buildings only have any vestige of walls.  You may have read in the papers of the destruction caused, but these things require seeing to get a true picture.  I did not descend the dug-outs that still exist in some places.  I expect there are too many old Germans therein buried.

  Fritz was busy, and shells were screaming overhead, so it reminded me of last Autumn.  I saw the biggest of the craters today.  I don’t wonder the Hun made a poor fight after those terrible explosions and the bombardment.  But we’ve got to go on until the Hun is smashed.  I don’t believe in war, but I do believe in killing Prussianism.

  I had a nice run out in a car this morning to a place about twelve miles “back,” and a pleasant return journey after lunch.  The view from the top of the hill was very fine.  I could see the sand dunes of the Flemish coast.

  Yesterday I had a near squeak of getting what is called a “blighty” one.  I was near a certain railway siding – just been there five minutes – when there was a whizz and a bang.  A big cloud of earth rose at a distance of 30 yards and showers fell.  The shell had penetrated the soft earth and so the bits flew upwards and cleared us.  That shell did make folks scatter.  It is a wonder no one was hit – just bits of earth and mud fled around – perhaps there may have been some bits of iron, but they did no damage so far as I could see.  It is not healthy just there, though I have been many a time and have never had a visitor like that just then.

  In another letter the writer, dealing with the recent raid on London, says:-

  It seems a monstrous affair to put bombs into a school and to kill and maim the little ones.  Such events as these make our men furious and certainly cannot tend towards making them merciful.  The pity of it is that the vengeance may be wrought on men who are ignorant of such monstrosities.  It is never brought home to the instigators of such diabolical proceedings.

  I told you I had been to see the craters.  In a village I will call Cross-gates, there was not a bit of roof in a single house.  In another village I entered the ruins of a large school.  It was shattered to bits.  Yet on the road I saw some little children playing outside a cottage.  Not 50 yards away the next cottage was in absolute ruins.  I expect the family has returned to their little home since the great bombardment of June 7th.  You never heard such a noise, I’m sure.   Nothing could have lived in the parts I visited near the craters.  The ground has been churned up by our shells.  No wonder the Huns retired.  There must have been thousands killed and buried during that day.  This made the task of the Infantry much lighter.  There was not much to be seen of Petit Bois and Grand Bois.  The stumps reminded me of Gommercourt Wood.  All this, of course, you may have read in the papers, but I’ve seen it, and so can get a better idea of the desolation caused.

  The ground between, however, is no longer covered with growing crops.  The “wood” is like a forest of bare poles.  The ground is torn by shells.  Instead of the quarries, you see a few craters.  Houses all gone, heaps of brick remain.  Trenches now disused cut across our path.  Road in dreadful state, but being repaired.  Church flattened over windmill in ruins.  Then you may get some idea of the country round about.  Horses and mules by the thousand, but not running about the fields.  No cattle.  No carts, except the military wagons, etc.  Along the road hundreds of motor lorries and horse wagons.  Gangs of men moving shells.  You can’t get all this at a cinema show, though you may get a good idea.

  I saw two old men trying to clear out the fallen bricks from their roofless cottages.  They will have a chance to get home now that the Hun has been pushed back a bit.  Occasionally a shell drops in the area, but the chances are we shall not be hit.  Of course, some find a mark, but the risk is not so great as before.

Rushden Echo, 14th June 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

Wounded - We are sorry to learn that Lieut. L. Perkins, B.Sc., formerly headmaster of the Newton-road School, Rushden, is in hospital at Bristol, suffering from the effects of poison gas. We are pleased to report that he is making satisfactory progress towards recovery. He was brought to England just a month after he had returned to France from sick leave. We understand that it is unlikely that he will again be sent back to the line.
The Rushden Echo Friday 29th August 1919, transcribed by Susan Manton

Lieut. Leonard Perkins - demobilised

After four year and four months of splendid service rendered to the country in the Army, mainly as an officer, Lieut. Leonard Perkins, B.SC. has been demobilised. Mr. Perkins joined the Artists Rifles on April 7th 1915, and was training troops at Halton until September 1916 when he went overseas as a second Lieutenant with the Royal Berks. Lieut. Perkins fought with the Berkshires at the Somme. In December 1916 he was appointed ammunition officer for the Army Corps being graded First Class Officer Lieutenant at the Corps Headquarters. Mr. Perkins was in Flanders some of the time and was at Noyon when the Germans made their great advance 18 months ago. He saw a great deal of the fighting as the British retreated across Marne. The long continued strain of exacting duties in Flanders and France resulted in Mr. Perkins suffering from a breakdown in health and he was ordered by the Medical Officer to return home on sick leave and after a spell of rest he was appointed on June 18, 1918, Officer Commanding Territorial Force Depot at Northampton until his demobilisation on August 19, 1919. Staff Lieut. Perkins was mentioned in despatches in December, 1917 for his valuable work in connection with the Messines explosion.

Mr. Perkins is placed on the Territorial Force Reserve, as is the case with other officers and men who are demobilised, and is not totally discharged from the army. He will resume his duties as headmaster of the Newton Road Council Schools after the summer holidays and will also restart the evening continuation classes. It is Mr. Perkins’ intention to start a “Citizenship” class for young men, in which an excellent course of lectures and studies combined will be run.



Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the War index
Click here to e-mail us