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Harrogate Herald - 18th April 1917

Driver G Milnes, of the Overseas Battery, writes : 

May I first thank you very much for your kindness in sending me the Harrogate paper so regularly to my brother and myself, and I must say it is well appreciated. At the same time I have a very sad announcement for you to put into your next edition, this being the death of a very old friend of mine, Herbert S Whitehead, who you will remember was the youngest son of John Whitehead, one of Harrogate's leading architects some six or seven years ago. I am sorry I cannot inform you of the exact place, as you are well aware that we are not allowed to mention the name of the front we are holding. However, it happened on Sunday, April 8th, 1917, and by this time probably the English papers will be full of another big advance, also a very important hill taken by the Canadians; in fact, I may the strongest that Fritz held on the Western Front. Our division of artillery were directly opposite this point. The day before the attack being Sunday, Fritz commenced to shell the battery position, and having no dugouts to go into, we built a narrow trench running in rear of the guns to go into in case Fritz discovered our position. That is, of course, provided we had no orders for firing, at which time gunners cannot leave the guns on any consideration. As it happened, at this time we had no orders to fire, so thinking they would be safer in the trench, the gunners clambered in and were somewhat crowded, when Fritz landed a 5.9 right into the trench, just between, Bert and a fellow called Longworthy being killed both instantly. Longworthy and Whitehead were, I think, without doubt the two finest and well-respected boys we had in the battery. The former received a piece of shell about as big as my fist through his back and coming out at his chest; while Bert, although not touched by any of the splinters, got completely buried, and the weight of the falling earth and rock broke his spine. Seven others were wounded at the same time, but only one was at all serious. Although Mrs Whitehead will be heart-broken at receiving the news of her son's death, she would not on any account have stood in the way of him doing his bit; and will be proud to know that on more than one occasion he has shown great bravery by keeping up a steady fire against a heavy bombardment of the battery position. We have suffered very few casualties since coming to France, and it is pretty hard for us to realise the death of two such well-loved comrades as Whitehead and Longworthy. However, seeing that we have gained considerably mote than our objective, with some 7,000 prisoners, we will be pulling out on to some quiet front for a well-earned rest, and with God's help the war will be over before we see another front like this.


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