|The Rushden Echo, 13th August, 1915, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Soldier and The Turks
Falling Foul of “King Sol” - But beating the Enemy every time.
The “Beautiful” Palm Groves and the Mosquitoes
Driver P. W. Long (Rushden), of the 63rd Battery, R.F.A., with the B.I.E.F., son of Mr. C. S. Long, of Rushden, sends us the following interesting letter:-
“It has been some weeks since I last attempted to convey to you some idea of the situation here. Since that date I have fallen foul of a very powerful enemy, King Sol to wit. Notwithstanding the sun-helmet, neck-shade, spine protector, and green glasses that each Britisher in this force wears, it is no uncommon sight to see our chums ‘bowled out’ by the sun.
“We have been at it again and, as usual, carried the day. Somehow we seem to beat the Turks every time, no matter how great the number. I am proud to say that my battery was the first to be in action in the Persian Gulf, at the Battle Qain, Nov. 17th, 1914, and was very successful in driving the enemy out of it. Since that day we have never been in a fight unless we have come out victorious.
“When we receive a paper containing photos of this country we are highly amused by the beautiful palm groves as they appear in a picture. My word, if the people of England could only see it as it is here! Those palm groves are all in a sticky swamp, intersected with deep ditches for irrigating purposes. Those same ditches have been the cause of much inconvenience to our infantry when pursuing the enemy. Not only that, they are huge breeding places for the ‘skeeto’ (mosquito), which harass our existence here terribly. You will notice I said ‘existence,’ and that is all it is here. I could not say ‘life’ with honesty. You may think that I am exaggerating but, believe me, sir, the truth about this force will never be published. Of course, the climatic conditions leave much to be desired and cause us untold agony. We have ceased to look forward for recognition for our services from England. When I get home I shall have many things to exhibit and tales to tell of this ‘God-forsaken hole,’ to use a vulgar, but to us, very familiar term.
“I will close by wishing the good old ‘Rushden Echo’ as much success as it has already achieved.”
|The Rushden Echo, 26th November 1915, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Our Enemy The Turk - The Hottest Action Since Shaiba
Rushden Soldier’s Weird Experience - A Night to be Remembered
Preparing For The Final Thrashing of The Turks to End the Operations in Mesopotamia
Mr. P. W. Long (son of Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Long, of Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden), of the R.F.A., with the British Indian Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia, writes to us under date Oct, 9th:-
“Since I wrote to you last we have again beaten our enemy. When we left Amara we advanced by way of the river Tigris to a camp within a few miles of the Turk’s position. It was there that the Secretary of State for India and General Townsend sent us messages of thanks and praise for all the fighting we had done. ‘We had’ they wrote ‘carried out with great success five general engagements and carried everything before us.’ They assured us of the nation’s gratitude, etc., and hoped that the coming fight would finish, as all others had finished, successful. Well, to continue, on Sept. 26th, we came into a position covering the advance of our infantry. On the 27th we did a little bombarding, and at night advanced all along our front, right in the face of a very formidable position occupied by our enemy the Turk. On the 28th we went through the hottest action that had been fought since Shaiba. For 15 hours we were under continuous and heavy shell fire. It is really marvellous how we escaped so lightly. All round the guns were huge holes made by 40lb shells, which, had they hit direct, would have smashed the gun and detachment as well. One shell took away the wheel, another buried two gunners, and so the day continued, narrow escapes being laughed at. But night fell and except for rifle fire all was silent.
“Here I must tell you of a little adventure that befell me. Just as the sun had set, my team and another were told off to go back to the column for ammunition; we were accompanied by one N.C.O. We arrived there safely by following the river, but that road would have been impossible to traverse with a load, so we were compelled to return across the desert.
“By now it was pitch dark, and we had not been on the way ten minutes before we were hopelessly lost. We could hear the firing in the distance, but our way was barred in every direction but the rear by impassable ‘nulahs’ (ditches), which stretch across the desert from the river. It was imperative that we should re-join our battery that night, so we waited for the moon to rise. In half-an-hour we could see a lot better, and the N.C.O. and I set off on foot to find the road. After a deal of circling we hit the trail, as it were, and started off to find our teams, but we found, before we had gone far, that this was not as easy as it appeared. We had lost the teams. Telling the N.C.O. to wait on the road, I set off towards a black patch which looked like the teams. When I reached there it was to find, not our horses, but an officer and laden transport carts, bound for the firing line, but, like ourselves, lost. I put him on to the right road, and went in search of our own teams, which I eventually found. We were all right now, and we all felt very much relieved, I can assure you. But when we reached the place where we had left the battery, we found that they had gone.
“Here was a fine stew to be in. To our front, and very close, the enemy were playing continual rifle fire, and we had the desert behind us. We had seen quite sufficient desert for one night, so we determined to remain there until morning. Imagining all sorts of things, we made our horses secure and got ready for a few hours’ sleep. But no, we had not finished yet. I saw two native infantry men coming towards us, so I halted them and talked to them in their own language. I ascertained the exact position of our battery. We harnessed up and hooked into the waggons, and off we went again, hoping, as we got mounted, that we had at last found our lines. We reached them without further mishap and that concludes what might have been for us a very dangerous predicament, but what was in reality a very uncomfortable six hours.
“The morning after the fight, we found the Turks could stand no more of it, and had fled during the night, so we occupied their position, which was mined, and prepared to pursue them. My battery was picked out for this and we embarked our guns on board river steamers, and the horses were put on barges alongside. It would take too long to describe that run up the river, but I will mention we took a place named --------, and another named -------, on our way. Owing to great difficulty in navigating the enemy out distanced us and have taken up another position. We are preparing to give them a final thrashing, which will end the operations in Mesopotamia. We have been told by our Generals, who have good cause to be proud of the fact, that the forces under their command have never suffered defeat. No other force engaged in any sphere of this large struggle can say the same.”
|The Rushden Echo, 7th January 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Soldier Family - All Over The World
An Astonishing Record - Driver P. W. Long - With the Persian Gulf Force
What They have to Contend with - Out of The Limelight
Driver P. W. Long (son of Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Long, of Rushden), 63rd Battery, R.F.A., with the British Indian Force in the Persian Gulf, sends us the following interesting letter:
“I received with great pleasure the copies of the “Rushden Echo,” and I take this opportunity to thank you most heartily for them. The paper is very acceptable at all times, but is more so out here in the desert, where a book or paper is regarded as a curio. I would also like to inform your readers that one of my letters in your paper was instrumental in moving the people of Leicester to take an interest in our welfare. Also I received a letter from Warwickshire from someone who had read a letter of mine in the “Rushden Echo.” These kind hearted people have sent on to me parcels for distribution among the battery. When I receive them it will give me the greatest pleasure to do so, and if anyone in Rushden and district care to adopt the same attitude towards us, rest assured of our heart-felt thanks. We are fighting out of the limelight, very much so, and it seems as if the various funds for providing necessaries for men at the front have entirely overlooked us. If we were in a Christian country or a civilized one, we should be able to buy all we want, but we are not, and it makes all the difference.
“Well, I see that most of my acquaintances have been ‘through it’ in France, nearly every letter in the “Rushden Echo” was from someone I knew. It appears, too, that soldiers are the order of the day in Rushden. Two years this August there were only three of us to represent the army in Rushden. I bet it is a different fixture this year.
“I was deeply interested in those paragraphs of the four brothers Hodson, and also noted that you were curious to know of a record to beat theirs. I do not know whether ours will beat it, but I think it will be of interest to those of your readers who know us.
“When England declared war my brother Fred was on the high seas somewhere, being, of course, a Navy man. Frank was in Alexandria, Egypt, with the Steelbacks. I was in Cawnpore, India, being roasted alive. My brother in the Navy proceeded to West Africa, and afterwards to German East Africa, where he is engaged in alternately blockading and bombarding the coast line and defences. Frank went with his regiment to Winchester, presumably to re-equip, and then on to France. As for myself, my battery proceeded to Bombay, en route for France, but on the eve of departure a horse contracted a contagious disease and we were isolated at Kirkee. In due time we received a new battery of horses and joined the convoy to the Persian Gulf. Since I landed some ten months ago, I have been in action in Persia, Arabia and Turkey in Asia. Then I have a brother in Toronto, Canada, who is eagerly awaiting the next contingent from that country. Then last, but not least, I have a brother in the National Volunteer Defence Corps who is not yet old enough to enlist.
“Altogether I think the Long family is doing its share to make things easier for the next generation. When I come to write these things, I come to the conclusion that between us our family have seen a good deal of the world. The eldest one, my sister Maud, has lived and suffered in India. The next, Edgar, was with the St John Ambulance during the South African campaign, for which he received two medals with clasps. He afterwards emigrated to Canada. Albert, the next, took a position in Cape Town, S.A. Fred, as a sailor, has seen the greater part of the world. Frank has soldiered in Malta and Egypt, while Tom is now in Canada. I have been in India, Persia, Arabia and Turkey.
“I must apologise, Mr. Editor, for taking up so much of your valuable space [Don’t apologise. – Editor] with that bit of family history, but I am naturally proud of our record, and like it to be known.
“You have no doubt heard of the fine victory we had here in the region of Amara, when we captured that town. Guns, gunboats, troop ships, rifles, equipment, stores and men fell into our hands in that little ‘do.’ The Hants Terrier Artillery made their name, with a finely directed fire by their five inch howitzers. You will probably read in a few weeks of another splendid victory here, but meantime remember that everything has been accomplished under adverse circumstances and by a fever-stricken force, who have never suffered defeat here yet. Even the invincible war correspondents leave us severely alone, hence the absence of flaring headlines and columns of glorious deeds. Well, I have yet to pack my saddle for a shift, so I will again thank you for the papers and wish you and your readers the best of luck.”
[Pte. F. O. Long was reported in last week’s “Rushden Echo” to have been wounded.]
|The Rushden Echo, 26th May 1916, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Rushden Soldier At Kut - No News of Driver P. W. Long - Since Last November
With General Townshend's Force - Taken Prisoner?
Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Long, of 1 Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden, have received no news of their son 67528, Driver P. W. Long, 63rd Battery, R.F.A., since November, 1915, the month in which the siege of General Townshendâs force in Kut-sl-Amara commenced.
The probability is that he was besieged with his comrades in the beleaguered town, and was taken prisoner when General Townshend was compelled to surrender. He has been with the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force since the commencement of the campaign, and at various times has sent interesting letters to the editor of the âRushden Echo,â which have been published in our columns. Mr. and Mrs. Long would be grateful for any news concerning their son.
They have three sons in the regular army - Pte. Frank Long (2nd Northants), who has been wounded, Corpl Thomas J. Long, of the Queen's Own Canadian Rifles, who is on his way home, and Driver P. W. Long, of the 63rd Battery R.F.A., of whom no news has been received, as mentioned above, since November, 1915. Corpl. Arthur Long is a member of the Rushden Company Volunteer Force, and yet another son, Fred, is in the Navy, being leading seaman of HMS Hyacinth. Fred has not been home for three years. A son-in-law, Company-Sergt-Major F. E. McInerney, of the 2nd Leicesters, has been wounded.
|The Rushden Echo, 2nd June 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Soldier at Kut - Driver P.W. Long - A Prisoner of War
News was yesterday received by Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Long, of Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden, that their son, Driver P. W. Long, who was serving with General Townshend's force at Kut-El-Amara, is a prisoner of war. The news was contained in the following letter:-
R.H. and R.F.A. Records, Royal Dockyard Woolwich. — Dear Sir, -- I regret to inform you that I have received notice from the base, Basra, that No. 67528, Driver P. W. Long, who has been serving with Major-General C. V. F. Townshend's force at Kut-El-Amara, is a prisoner of war. I do not know where he is interned but as soon as information comes to hand you will be informed. — Yours Truly, W. C. Cockland, Capt, for Colonel in charge of R.H. and R.F.A. Records.
It is now a very considerable time since any news came to hand from Driver Long, though up to a certain point he wrote home very regularly.
|Rushden Echo, 14th July 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins
In Turkish Hands – Rushden Man a Prisoner of War
Yesterday Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Long, of Rushden, received a postcard yesterday from their son, Driver P. W. Long, of the 63rd Battery, R.F.A., who was captured at Kut with General Townshend’s force. Mr. and Mrs. Long were for a considerable time without news of the son, until they saw from the official report that he was one of the prisoners of war taken by the Turks. It was not until yesterday, however, that Mr. and Mrs. Long heard direct. Drive Long now writes: "June 3rd, 1916—I have been seriously ill. I am getting better, in hospital in Bagdad, a prisoner of war." He adds that the siege of Kut lasted four months, and that it was simply awful.
|The Rushden Echo, 15th December, 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Soldier in Turkey
Driver P. W. Long - A Prisoner of War
Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Long, of Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden, after being many months without news of their son, Driver P. W. Long, have now received a letter from him. He is a prisoner of war in the hands of the Turks. Writing from Adana, he says he is in hospital. He is not sure, he adds, whether his letter will reach home or not, but he trusts it will. He goes on to say: “I would give the world to know how you all are. I am getting on fairly well now. This is my first breakdown since I left Bagdad.” He winds up by saying he has absolutely nothing, which would seem to indicate that the parcels which had been sent to him have not reached him.
|Rushden Echo, 20th April 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins
Rushden Prisoner of War
Driver P W Long – In the Hands of the Turks
After a prolonged and anxious period of waiting, Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Long, of Beaconsfield-terrace, Rushden, have just received another letter from their son, Driver P. Walter Long, 63rd Battery, R.F.A., now a prisoner of war in the hands of the Turks:-
“I shall presume that my past letters have not reached you, as I have not had any answer from you. I am not sure you will get this, so I am not going to write a long letter. I am about to leave the hospital in Adana for our concentration camp; where that is, I cannot tell you at present.
“I am, thanks to American people and Armenian nurses, in a fairly healthy condition, though, of course, nothing like I was before the siege of Kut-el-Amara.
We cannot grumble at the treatment we are getting when we consider in whose hands we are. I shall have many tales to tell you when I am once more among you. God speed the day.”
|The Rushden Argus, 17th January 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins
Marvellous Escape - Rushden Soldier Among The Turks
Driver P.W. Long, son of Mr. and Mrs. Long, of Beaconsfield-place, Rushden, has had spome wonderful experiences in Mesopotamia. Captured by the Turks at Kut, he underwent terrible treatment. He met a comrade in prison, and they were together until their arrival in England. He attempted to escape three times, but unluckily failed, though while among the Arabs during his bid for freedom he obtained information valuable to the War Office, being able to speak Arabic He says he faced death a dozen times, and that out of about 170 men in his battery who were captured by the Turks at Kut only five or six have returned, and out of 2,600 only about 250 have returned. Many died on the roadside in the long marches, and others were killed by their brutal captors.