Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

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THE WELSH AT YPRES. SOME POINTS OF DIFFERENCE IN TWO NARRATIVES TO Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Wales H owes not a little. He has always been generous in his references to the nation, and we do not forget the verse in A Baiiad of the Ranks wherein he says that well we know That Taffy is hard as nails. But, in the history of the war from his pen, now appearing serially in the i. Strand Magazine," he does the Welsh less than justice, unconsciously one is cer- tain, and at points his narrative of the part they played in the First Bittle of lpres conflicts seriously with another record which was drawn up ty Mr. Willis Bund, the distinguished Clerk of the Wor- cestershire County Council, from official evidence and the statements of men who were in the fight. There came a point in the battle when disaster appeared to hover over the British Army. French has himself said that, be- tween 2 and 3 o'clock on October 31st, 1914, was" the most critical moment of this battle." The Jst Division had been driven in. It was," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle says, one of the decisive moments of the world's history, for if the Germans at that period had seized the Channel ports, it is difficult to say how disastrous the result might have been. both to France and to the British Empire." At that f decisive moment, we have believed, the courage of the 2nd Welsh Regiment and the dash of the 2nd Worcesters saved the fortunes of the day. The recapture of Gheluvelt, the feat performed by the Wor- cestcrs, French' declared to be fraught with momentous consequences. Gheluvelt, then, will live in history ais one of the decisive engagements of the war. To whom was it-due? Mr. Willis Bund describes the heroic manner in which the Welsh held their trenches in the hollow road to the east of the village. Holding back by their tire the mass of Germans with whom they were still en- gaged, the Welsh were covering the flank of the 2nd Division and checking the German advance. They had been told to hold the post to the last. Wjhen the enemy surrounded the Surreys and drove off the Scots, the Welsh held on. Wliru the enemy carried Gheluvelt, and the I' British line gave way, the Welsh re- mained firing. When orders were given to begin the retreat, the Welsh still re- mained. They were cut off from the rest of the line. "Could help be sent them so as to enable them to reap the reward of their heroic persistency? On the answer, says Mr. Bund, depended not merely the fate of the Welsh, but of the British sue- cess. The need brought the men. The WoroesterlS-just four companies of the 2nd battalion, 600 men—were ordered to advance to the support of the Welsii. They went forward through the heavy fire, losing men wifh every yard, but they formed up at last to the left of the Welsh. More than that, they stormed the village, carrying it with the bayonet. The Ger- man flank attacks ceased. Their offensive died away. The road to the sea was closed. We turn to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's history of the eventful afternoon. His tributes to the Welsh go to our heart. He tells us of the sacrifices of the South Wales Borderers between Langomar''k and Poelcapelle on October 25; of the: manner in which the 2nd Welsh beat off the attacks of the 22nd; of the erJfilading I the 1st Welsh Fusiliers on the 30th and their heavy losses. But here the narrative I differs from Mr. Bund's. Sir Arthur deals with the defence of the 2nd Welsh on the Menin road, where he said it stood with I the atth Battery (R.F.A.) Both the bat- talion and the battery fought desperately in a most exposed situation. The Welsh Regiment were driven out of their trenches by a terrific sliell-fil-e follow-eci by an infantry attack. They lost during the day nearly six hundred men. Finally after being pushed back, holding every possible point, they formed up in the open in a thin skirmishing line to cover the battery." Coming to the heroic incident of the Worcesters' charge, he speaks or the gap between Gheluvelt and the trenches occupied by—the South Wales Borderers (not the Welsh Regiment as Mr. Bund deposed). And of the gallant de- fence so vividly described by the latter, he writes thus: On that (lank ( General Haig's loft] the troops had uot joined in the retirement, and including the South Wales Borderers of the Third Brigade, were still in their original trenches being just north of the swathe that had been cut in the British line. It is the Borderers, Sir Arthur says the Worcesters joined. Who is right? T'he point is of some importance to Wales, for these were operations which we see now had a momentous effect upon the British victory. Mr. Bund seizes upon the defence of the Welsh Regiment and the ad- vance of the Worcesters as the deciding points of the battle. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle makes the Borderers (? the Welsh Regiment) play a subsidiary part. Pro- bably the Welsh, says the historian of the Worcesters, could not have held on much longer, but for the Worcesters, and but for the Welsh holding on, the Worces- ters' charge would never have been exe- cuted. But for the Welsh the Germans would have pressed on through the gap the v had hackcd in the British line, and would most likely have reached Ypres. But for the Worcesters' charge the Welsh would have been cut off. The Allies must have retreated, the Kaiser would have had his wish and been able to gain the Channel ports; to use his own words, they would have carried out an attack of vital impor- tance to the successful issue of the war." Let us hope that. in a. matter of such en- thralling interest to Wales. Sir Arthur and Mr. Bund will clear up what appears to be a discrepancy. J. D. W. I



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