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

Letter from Corporal A. H. S. Southwell, C Co., 6th KSLI.

[Bridgnorth Journal, 9th October, 1915]

Corporal A. H. S. Southwell, C Co., 6th K.S.L.I. (son of Mr. W. Lascelles Southwell, Fairfield, Bridgnorth), writes under date of Friday, the 1st inst, from the Front:

"We made an attack here last Saturday morning [25th Sept.]; my platoon was helping the Royal Engineers, carrying their wire, hurdles, tools, etc., with the second line. We were in a communication trench just behind the firing line when the battle started. A mine went up as a signal for the artillery to commence firing. In about five minutes it was one cloud of smoke and fire, and the Germans started to shell back, trying to find our batteries and also the reserve trenches - shells of every kind were falling all round us, 'Jack Johnsons,' huge shrapnel, etc.

The first line consisted of the Black Watch, Gurkas, etc., and they took five lines of the enemy's trenches, but were forced to retire owing to the terrible bomb and artillery fire. The Rifle Brigade, who are attached to ours, were terribly cut up.

The whole object of the attack was not for us to get on so much as to draw the German guns and reserve to enable the French to advance, and in this respect it was a great success; in other words, we had to make the sacrifice and after it to retire, in consequence of which my platoon did not have to go over our parapets.

After we had been in the communication trench three hours we moved into the firing line, in readiness to go over if necessary. Dead men were lying all over the place and shells bursting in every direction. One huge one burst on the top of the parapet ten yards from where five of us were, and blew the sandbags to pieces, covering us with black mud and dirt. Later on a man next but one to me had his haversack hit with a piece of shrapnel, which broke everything in it. Another piece hit the sandbags and dropped on the back of the fellow next to me, without hurting him; and I have got the piece.

Here follows a list of the Shropshires' killed and wounded but the numbers have been censored.

A 'Jack Johnson' killed a number of our wounded men and a doctor at the first dressing station in the lines. The next night we had to go and hold a trench some little way off, it had been raining on and off ever since the attack began, with the trenches a foot deep in mud, and there were still dead men all over the place - it was an awfully gruesome sight.

We came out the next morning and had one day off, and then were sent back again to the trenches for four or five days in the pouring rain. We have never been dry since Saturday; one pair of socks rotted on my feet. We can only get surface water to drink; no bread - only biscuits, bully, etc. As for the mud, we are plastered all over, and we cannot get a shave or a wash. However, I am all right, only tired and done up. The nights have been very cold in our wet clothes; it is rather better today. We can see any amount of dead men in front but cannot get out to them."

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.