Some exciting experiences have befallen a Luton lad who is doing his bit at the Front. Pte Percy Sibley, whose home is at 3 Peach Street, Luton, joined the Royal Field Artillery in September and was out at the Front in March.
One one occasion, while he was digging with his comrades, the bullets were flying about so thickly that if one put up his shovel it was sure to get hit by a bullet.
One of his few grievances was that, being an artilleryman, he had few chances to get his brother a German bullet as a souvenir, but at last he got the chance and gives the history of it as follows:
"They asked for a few volunteers to go and dig a trench only 30 yards from the Germans. We had got part of it done when our sergeant's spade struck something, and on digging a little farther we found it was a dead German. I should think it must have been buried there the first day of the war and we haven't got over it yet.
"We all put our respirators on, and then commenced a rush to dig up his head to see if he had a helmet, but no luck. We got a few bullets off him, and put him under decently again with a cross over his head."
Tommy is never at a loss for sport and if he wants to fish the chances are ten to one that he will fish. Driver Sibley relates that some of the members of his battery are having some sport in the way of fishing in a 'Jack Johnson' hole, with a piece of string and wire. They pull them out up to six inches long, but, he adds, "of course we had to put them in first".
There are also opportunities for sport of a different character, for the writer says, 'In the dug-out where we sleep there are hundreds of rats, and they seem to take a delight in walking over your face at night."
Speaking of the use of poisonous gas by the Germans, he says: "We have just been served out with those respirators to stop the gas effects. It's simply awful how the Germans are using that. I was at a large town a day or two back where they were bringing the men in. It's a terrible scene and makes you feel a bit rotten, I can tell you.
"We are still in the thick of it, and yet out chaps had time to play the third battery at cricket this afternoon, the first afternoon we have had off since being in France. It didn't seem possible to think we were in the fighting line playing there until the shells started dropping pretty near all of a sudden."
[Bedfordshire Advertiser, July 9th, 1915]