12th Nov. 1914: WALSALL OBSERVER – ‘TERRIERS’ HARD TRAINING AT LUTON

From Our Own Correspondent: IKY BOULTON with 1/5th S. STAFFS in LUTON to the Editor, WALSALL OBSERVER. Published 14th Nov. 1914.

Nov 1914 Still in Luton PressLUTON, Thursday Night.

Still at Luton!  This will no doubt surprise many Walsall people who were led to believe from the rumours current in Walsall that we should by this time be in France or Mesopotamia, or Timbuctoo, or any other of the innumerable and unlikely places to which the said rumour was to send us.  As I have indicated several times in my previous articles these rumours are mostly purely bunkum. No one knows quite where they come from.  Like ‘Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ “I ‘spect they growed”.

I am sorry to labour this point, but because a short time ago we had orders to be READY to move at two hours notice, the unwise spent at least half a day’s pay in telegrams, and, I am afraid, caused much unnecessary fluttering in maternal breasts. 

Therefore I ask all readers of the “Observer” to treat such rumours as to our movements with suspicion.  I did not say the 5th South will never leave Luton.  It is certain, so much as anything can be certain in these times, that before many weeks are past we shall, as part of the North Midlands Division, be taking part in the fight against the modern Hun.

The Training we are undergoing now is Training, which surely no Territorials have ever before been through.

On Monday part of the Battalion was at the butts between three and four miles from billets. There are sixty targets on each of the two ranges.  Those who were not firing or marking (I will say nothing of marking as if I wrote my impressions, I am sure that neither the Censor nor the Editor would pass them) did a little diversion of 20 odd  miles.  Three months ago the same marching order would have caused more fatigue in marching from The Bridge to the Station (1) than it did on Monday.

Such is Training.  Many are the jokes heard as to how we should miss our pack when the War has rolled away. One of my brilliant brained friends swears he will carry a typewriter for a time for fear he should be rising like an airship when the weight of  the full kit no longer keeps him down.  In this regard fancies differ. Personally, I am undecided between a linotype and a rotary on which this paper is printed.

Still the effect of the Training is clearly seen in the unconcerned manner in which we carry our by no means light burden. Tomorrow we shall have another little joint, about as far as Lichfield and back (2). Some of you men “waiting to be fetched”, as the boys in khaki so pithily put it, try and walk half way, say to Brownhills and back (3), and then you might perhaps realise that it is not only musketry that makes the effective soldier.

It is no use waiting until things are at their blackest.

The old country will win through all right” I can hear you saying.

We have no doubt of that. But what are you doing?  Some of you of course are engaged on military contracts. These cannot and must not come. But are there not others?

You of military age, physically, fit who have not joined ought to hear some of the comments when the men return here from leave.  “I met so and so in Park Street yesterday still in civvies”. “I thought he had more pluck”.  This is a typical remark.  There is a widespread idea that the War will not last long.  Perhaps it will not.  But why not trust the greatest military expert of the day and when Lord Kitchener asks for recruits why not answer his call?  Your King and Country needs you.

The able-bodied civilian of today, with no pressing business reasons for staying at home, and some of us are not making money out of this war – is he worthy the name of “Briton” if when the war is ended he cannot say:

I was not with the first to go. But I went, thank God, I went‘.                            ________________________

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB 2009

Bridge Street, Walsall 4th Sept 1914.

Hard-hitting Recruitment here! 

Pte ISAAC (Iky/ Ikee) BOULTON, 8831, ‘A’ Coy, 1/5th S.Staffs, enlisted between Pte Sydney Hibbett, 8830 and Pte Bertie Hibbett, 8832 on 4th September, 1914.   Regimental Records: (T to E) Transferred to England, ( injured?)18.5.1915. Further Information Unconfirmed: 1911 Census: Isaac Boulton,18 yrs, nephew of Rachel Dakes (widow), born Smallthorne, Staffordshire. Pupil Teacher with Walsall County Council. England  & Wales Deaths: Isaac A. Boulton. Age 24, Jan- March,1918, Walsall. Parents possibly Joseph H. Boulton (Beer Retailer, 5, Rolling Mill St. Walsall) and Elizabeth Agnes Boulton.  Questions: QMS Old Boy? Did he die of his injuries? No CWWG entry.

(1)  Volunteer’s March to Station: 4th Sept. 1914 – less than a quarter-mile. (2) Walsall to Lichfield & back-18 miles approx. (3) Brownhills: village 6 miles from Walsall, edge of Cannock Chase (where Staffordshire Hoard discovered in 2009) – i.e. a March of 12 miles.

NB: Walsall Observer  14th Nov. also reported on election of J.N.Cotterell as Mayor cf  Letter 9th Nov.

NEXT POST: 25th Nov. 1914: PC to Basil from Sydney.

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