Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, who died during the two World Wars.

Letter from Private John Oliver, D Co., 5th K.S.L.I.

[Bridgnorth Journal, 2nd October, 1915]

Mr Chas. Oliver of 33 St. John's Street, has received the following interesting letter from his son, 11200 Private John Oliver, D Co., 5th K.S.L.I., referring to the recent great fight on the Western front, the letter being dated Sept. 27th, 1915:-

"Just a few lines to tell you that Charley, George, and me are all in the 'pink', but it is a miracle we are alive to tell the tale. We went to the trenches to make this attack last Thursday night, and made it on Saturday morning [Sept. 25th] at about five o'clock. We took the trenches, but could only hold them for about five hours; the Germans had sent up reinforcements by train in thousands, so were repulsed by them counter-attacking.

I have seen some sights since I have been out here, but this one is the worst that I have witnessed, the poor men lying dead in hundreds. Our battalion went in over 500 strong, and came back about 300, so you can tell they gave us some stick. The --- and ---- lost two companies in less than two hours. Ours could not account where they went; whether they were killed or taken prisoners. They came out with two officers and 180 men, and the ---- with one officer and 90 men, but you will read the fully [sic] account of this lot in the papers.

Mr. Beaumont, my officer, got killed on the 24th inst. He was having his dinner just outside his dug-out when a shell burst over us, and a piece hit him on the top of the head and knocked his brains out, also wounding another officer and four men. I was sat next to Mr. Beaumont, and yet I escaped, but it was luck. Poor Harry Johnson and Alf Bowen got killed, but the other Bridgnorth lads are well, though it is luck that there are any of us left to come back.

Our general sent us word down on Sunday night and congratulated us on the way we worked and had done all that was asked of us to do, for the attack was to draw the Germans from other parts of the line while the French made their attack at other parts of the line, and that they had been successful. I can tell you we did not half suffer for it."

This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.