March 1915

Flag Days

Citizens Contribute a Sum of £2648
There have already been three flag days in Dundee, but none of such widespread appeal as that of Saturday. For no matter how keen the sympathy, and its greatest critic could not label Dundee unsympathetic, it is only human nature to feel most for the sufferings and heartbreaks at one’s own door. And certainly Dundee has its share at present.Working under dreary conditions, the seller yet laboured constantly and were rewarded by good business. As the day waned one met members of every class wearing various flags. An the mother out shopping with her young children, no matter the number, was more than once seen decorating everyone of her mites with one or more tiny banners.

The sum drawn amounted to £561 10s bringing the total of the three flag days organised by the Boys’ Brigade to £2648. 

When Big Guns Boomed

What are the men of the 4th doing?
What have they seen?
Where are they?
Answers to those questions are given in the following letters, written under date 4th inst, by a member of the city battalion:-

“I’m sleepy, and my ‘tootsies’ feel as if they’ll drop off at any minute, but before I settle down in the straw of this shell-torn inn I must write you a line to let you know of my progress. We’ve just finished a twelve-mile march from out last halting place, so if my letter is a poor one you’ll forgive me.

“That walk, though it was accomplished at rather a forced rate, was easily the most interesting in my experience – indeed, I should think, in the experience of all who took part in it. From the start the British batteries all around emptied themselves at frequent intervals the reports gradually growing louder and nearer, until a big gun discharged its messenger of death within 25 yards of the marching columns. We jumped rather, I admit, because the roar was so tremendous and the flash so blinding as to suggest immediately the bursting of an enemy’s shell close at hand. But quickly the firing lost its fearsome effect, and, as one of our chaps said “grew positively monotonous, eh? The batteries are all cleverly hidden by brushwood, so that not even the enemy planes can spot them. On that day we saw a couple of British monoplanes fly high over the German trenches, followed by a shell from an anti-aircraft gun which seemed to pass very near to them indeed. The second machine dipped alarmingly as the shell burst in mid-air, looking at first as if it had been crippled, but it resumed the journey almost immediately and at great speed.

Ankle-Deep in Mud
“How I wish the people of Dundee could have heard their own battalion singing and jesting as they trudged ankle-deep in watery mud along the heavy miles of the way. At each village and hamlet especially the ‘coeur joyeuse’ make itself evident, the strains of ‘Tipperary’, ‘Hello, Hello!’, ‘Sing us a Song of Bonnie Scotland’ and endless other songs sending the villagers into raptures, and evoking cries of ‘Stick it, Jock! and ‘Good old Black Watch!’ from other regiments billeted about the place. The rests were few and very short, and the pack, heavy enough at the start seemed to weigh a ton about half-roads, and ten tons towards the end! 

“Now we are in a deserted village, the name of which I can’t disclose, but which has been noticed a great deal in the news. There are, perhaps, half a dozen civilian inhabitants left in it; all the others have fled. An elderly couple and their daughter of 17 still conduct business in their ‘estaminet’, thank goodness, and it is possible to get good bread, good café-au-lair, fairly decent vin blanc and bad beer.

“Though there is desolation in the village itself, the peasants not a mile away work as if nothing is amiss. Every second house here is in ruins, a gaunt skeleton of a building, windowless and half-roofless, with gaping holes in the walls and doors blown in by shrapnel. The church, quite a little cathedral, presents a picture that makes the blood boil. The steel pinnacle of the spire, hit by German shell, crashed to the ground below, and buried its nose a foot or so in the gravel walk leading through the graveyard. The stain glass windows, evidently ones of great beauty, are smashed almost to atoms. Head of the Saints, carved in the stone above the portals lie in pitiful pieces below. Gravestones and wreaths have been rudely torn up. A shell has buried itself in the earth not three feet from the fresh-filled grave of a young British Second Lieutenant. Yet amid all this hellish havoc, an exquisite life-size Crucifix stands untouched in the very path of the shells.

“You people at home have the idea that trench fighting is very terrible and dangerous. It isn’t. The English soldiers here say they prefer the trenches to rest camps. In the dug-outs you do very little except sleep, or if ordered, remain awake and alert for any attempted advance of the foe. Very few rifle shots are fired at all; the action is mostly be artillery and the trenches are excellently screened from this. A regiment stationed here has been out for four months, and has lost only 15 men and 100 wounded. They go into the trenches again and again without suffering a single casualty. Now as you know, conditions are infinitely better than at the start of the war, and after a ten day spell of the trenches, in and out – a battalion may get 15-18 days rest at a base. Everything possible is done for the comfort of the men in the dug-outs; they are equipped with fur jackets, top-boots and waterproof sheets to sleep on. Here the trenches are quite dry., which can’t be said of their likes many miles away. 

Dundee War Victim

The second British soldier to die from wounds in a Dundee institution is Pte. James Gaffney, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, whose death has taken place at the King’s Cross Hospital.

Pte Gaffney was a native of Dundee and 29 years of age. He went out to the front with his regiment at the commencement of the war, and he sustained his injuries in the closing stages of the memorial retreat from Mons. He resided with two of his sisters at 38, Carnegie Street, Dundee.

To Patriotic Cyclists

Whether serving in the Army, as a member of
Volunteer Defence Corps, or as Special Constables
Give your country of your best by fitting
Which give the minimum of trouble
from breakdown, puncture or skidding.

Grand Concert in Aid of War Relief Funds

Grand Concert and Dansante,
Under the patronage of the Dundee School Board
In Gilfillan Hall
Wednesday 10th March
Commencing at 7.15 p.m.
Doors open at 6.45 p.m.
Miss Edith Sives,
Mr J.R. Rollo,
Mr D. McMahon.
Elocutionist:- Miss K. Ferguson
Accompanied for songs, Miss Edith Hunter.
Tickets 6d and 1s. Children half-price.

Railway Men and War Bonus

At a meeting of Dundee Branch of the Railwaymen’s Union held in the Foresters’ Hall on Sunday, the members expressed satisfaction at the attitude of the Scottish Companies in coming in line with the English Companies and granting a war bonus, but regretted that the shopmen (fitters, &c) did not share in the benefit. As the shopmen are practically the only section of the railway workers who do not receive the bonus, a resolution was passed authorising the Executive to continue negotiations with the North British Railway on behalf of the Dundee shopmen.

Widows Fund

The Editor wishes to thank the Caledonian Club of Philadelphia for a donation of £18 5s 1d towards the Fund for helping widows and children of Scottish soldiers and sailors. The Editor handed the money to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families’ Association.