Attraction On we went as if in a dream (Multi Media Box 3)

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“ … on we went as if in a dream ..’

Captain Walter Boys: (his last letter home to his mother, published in the Maryborough Chronicle after his death at Pozieres): Dear all at home. That I am alive to have a chance of writing to you all once again is a miracle. I have had an experience I never again wish to have.
My company was ordered into the attack on the night of July 28-29. It was a big attack and we had to charge 700 yards. I cannot explain the feeling I had for about 12 hours before the charge. I had sole command of my portion of the attack with 250 men. I had to march on a compass bearing for 3 miles before I got to the debouching point, through a perfect hell of fire.

I moved to the attack at 7.20pm, as soon as I began to move I lost all my nervousness and felt very sure of success. I would like to give you full details of the battle which was the biggest and fiercest battle yet fought in the whole war, even worse than Verdun they say.

I went with the first line myself and my word my men fought well. They fell around me like flies but on we went as if in a dream, while the smell of powder and 4in guns, bombs etc, nearly turned my head. I reached the German barb-wire with some of my men, but could not get through and the Hun brought his maxim guns on to us, and we were forced to retire.

I gave the order to retire much against my will, and what remained of my men got back that night, but I had to see all my men from the German lines before I could leave and when day broke I found myself about 30 yards from his trench. What I did was to lie still and imagine I was dead from 4am on one day to 12.10am on the following day – 20 hours and 10 minutes. I had no water and it was very hot and there (were) hundreds of dead and wounded lying all round me.

It seemed years that 20 hours. The Germans came out and bound up our wounded and passed me for dead and eventually I managed to crawl to our own lines under cover of night. I was almost off my head.

During the 20 hours I was out I had to be under a most terrific bombardment but somehow God watched over me and I got through all right. I received several small scratches but none serious. The doctor says I can go to hospital but I am going to hang on. They have given me a staff job on the 5th brigade for the next battle.

Poor Vic Warry was killed beside me. He fought splendidly and was right on top of the Germans when he went down. I nearly went mad when I saw him fall. Poor Vic, he died at the head of his men like a soldier.

I am writing to Mrs Warry when I get settled a bit, but I would like you to tell them I was beside him when he fell and he was as brave as could be.
When I look back on what I have gone through it makes me shudder, but I feel sure many prayers are being sent up for me, otherwise I should never have pulled through.

I am too upset to write any more just now but I will write you a long letter when we go back to rest. I hope you are well and happy. Don’t forget to pray for me as it’s absolute hell here. Anyhow, I have had the honour of being in the biggest battle in history.
– M.C., Maryborough WB&B Historical Society, Letters from the Front Line.
(Walter Boys was killed during the extreme bombardment on August 5 and 6, dying after midnight after being hit in the head by shrapnel.)

Sgt J. Pollock: I am still living and kicking, still unfit for action but I will soon be in again. I forgot to mention that Capt. Boys is missing. The last we saw of him he was lying over near the German lines, hit in the back, but I think he is dead. He led in like a Briton too. Lt Warry got hit too but I haven’t heard any more about him. – M.C., Maryborough WB&B Historical Society, Letters from the Front Line.

Victor Warry (author unknown): The following letter has been received by Mrs R. S. Warry: Dear Mrs Warry, I wish to offer you my deepest sympathy in the loss you have sustained through the death of your brave son Vic. We were the best of pals and I feel his loss very keenly. Vic died a true soldier’s death, and went under while rallying his men right in front of the enemy’s barbed wire entanglements. Had he come through alright he would have been recommended for the Military Cross. It all happened in an attack we made on the German trenches on the night of the 28th of July. He was one of the officers selected to remain behind. When he was informed of this, he begged to be allowed to go into the charge, and asked us to try and manage it for him, and volunteered to take the place of a married man of his company. As he was most anxious to lead his men he was allowed to go. The NCOs and men of Vic’s company who lived through that charge speak very highly of the bravery he displayed. For the rank and file to speak of their officer in that strain is, I think, the highest praise an officer can earn. He was a good officer – one of the best, always cheerful, and his men thought a tremendous lot of him. His pal, Capt. Boys, came through the first charge but died from wounds on the second charge on 4th of August. It was a shell that killed poor Vic. Death was instantaneous.
– M.C., Maryborough WB&B Historical Society, Letters from the Front Line.