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Driver Tom Coleman

 
 

Harrogate Herald - 31st January 1917

Letters

Driver T Coleman writes : 

Just a few lines to thank you for the papers and parcel which I received quite safe. They came as a great surprise, and I am very much obliged to you. I am going on well, but the weather is very cold out here. It is freezing now, and it is bad getting about with the horses. You would think they are on roller-skates. It is much better, however, than the mud; we were up to our knees in it before the frost. It makes you shudder to think what it will be like after. I was up the line yesterday. We were about two hundred yards away when a big shell came right on us. It was a dud though. The officer told us to walk a few minutes to see if he shortened or lengthened the range, and the next minute another one came over and burst right on a wagon that was unloading, killing the three drivers and three horses. The wagon went up in the air in bits. It was a good job we were not down there five minutes sooner or we should have got it instead. I think our luck is in. There are a great many heavy guns round here. They keep Fritz from digging himself in. I think he must lose his temper very often. Some parts of the line round here are just like a pepper box. There is hardly a square yard of ground between the shell holes. I had a fine experience the other night. We were halfway up when a bombardment of ours started. It was pitch dark. The flashes from the guns almost blinded us, and the row they made caused our ears to sing for a good while after. I would not care to have been on the other side of the line. It only lasted a quarter of an hour, but it was a fine sight from this side. We cannot do much now on account of the bad weather, but you cane bet he will get it hot this Spring. Everything looks like it round here. I hope you will continue sending the paper. We get very little to read, and it is nice to hear about the old town and its doings. Thanking you once again.

 

Harrogate Herald - 28th March 1917

W H Breare letter

I have just had Tom Coleman's good mother in to see me to tell me that her son had not received the Herald for two, or perhaps three weeks. I assured her that he would receive them, and probably all in a lump, as you are receiving your letters now. Coleman, she told me, was helping by working on munitions in France, just for a short time. He asks for a mouth organ. I am going to try and get him one, though they are very difficult to obtain in Harrogate. For instance, a lady called this morning to ask if I knew where she could get one for a friend at the Front. It so happened that I had one, and let her have it. She was good enough to leave me 5s to buy another or two if the money will cover it. I shall have to get them, I am afraid, out of the town, but when I do I will remember Coleman.

 

Harrogate Herald - 9th May 1917

Letters

Driver T Coleman says : 

The Herald goes astray now and again, and no wonder. We are always moving about. I think we are a flying division; we are in at all the big bombardments. When we have done here the artillery goes to the next place that wants strafing. By the time they have settled down we follow up and cover them, so you see we have a double move. I won't be sorry when we get away from here. It is not half warm. We have to take pack horses with ammunition to an advanced battery. The Germans were using the same road about a month ago, and they don't half plonk them into it. Now it is one mass of shell holes, broken limbers, watering carts and dead horses. We waited two hours last night till he got tired. When we got unpacked we came back a lot quicker than we went, and we wasted no time going. The last camp we were in got shelled out twice. Fritz sent one right in amongst the horses, killing three and wounding a lot. Then the drivers ran to get the rest off the lines, and he sent another as they were coming away right between three drivers and five horses, killing two men and wounding the other. The five horses never got a scratch. It was very lucky there were no more killed. The day before we were in a wood. We watered the horses at a well in the village close by. Fritz had it dated, because there were some of our heavies in action in it, but he missed the guns and hit the well. I was thankful he did hit it. We have to move near another watering place. The same night he knocked spots off the village and sent "75" shells in the wood we were in but a few hours before. We heard them all going over our heads. We had found water not far away; that was Good Friday. I remember that day all right. We got our own back on Easter Monday. It was a great sight to see the bombardment. We had no right to be there when it started. We had been stuck in the track all night. Two waggons tried to pass over a little trench bridge, and it gave way, and they both went over. We got to the guns just before 5.30, and that was the time it started, so we were caught in it. My head was like a musical box for a good while after. There were thousands of guns firing together. I think they were seeing which could get rid of the most rounds in the shortest time, but they caught the Germans napping all right. Wishing you and the good old paper every success.

 

Harrogate Herald - 19th September 1917

W H Breare letter

I interrupted my dinner that day so that I shouldn't turn away three soldiers from the Front on leave who had called to see me. It was a merry trio I conducted to my office, in order to make a few notes. First was driver Tom Coleman, RFA, son of Mr & Mrs Martin Coleman, who had been 18 months out. I always enquire what Harrogate and district lads they have in their crowd, because I know you like to read of men you know or have heard of. The only man that Coleman had with him was Hirst. This was some little time ago, and he is not with him now. I think you will recognise Hirst when I mention that he is known as "Chippies". Coleman has gone through all right so far without a wound or sickness. His last brush was at Arras, Oppy Wood. His lot when he came away were out for a rest. Before the war Coleman was a fishmonger with Arnott, of Commercial Street. With Coleman was his brother, Driver Martin Coleman of the RFA, who has not yet gone out but is up Catterick way. This lad seemed to enjoy the prospect of going out to meet you chaps.

 

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