1914 PAGE 2
THE ASHTON TERRITORIALS, the 9th BATTALION of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT.
EGYPT - 1914.
Headlines of the Reporter 3rd October 1914.
The Ashton Territorials who volunteered for foreign service left the camp at Bury on Thursday, the 10th September, sailing from Southampton, arrived at their destination on Friday last week. They have been stationed at Cairo.
From October onwards, the men of the 9th Battalion in Egypt were put through a very strenuous training regime. Acclimatisation and the physical fitness of the men was paramount. Sports such as Cricket, Football, Rugby and Boxing became favourite past times for the men, and many proved that they had hidden talent, such as Pte. TITUS CROPPER, whose father was the Landlord of the King William IV pub in Ashton. Titus became the Battalion Boxing Champion.
Back in Ashton, a recruiting campaign ensued. Headlines appeared in the Ashton Reporter on October 10th 1914.
At the Armoury in Ashton, local men and boys queued to join the Ashton Battalion Reserves. This Battalion would become known as the 2nd/9th Battalion.
Published in the Reporter 17th October 1914.
During the week another 130 recruits have been added to the new Ashton Territorial Battalion, making a total of about 450. Recruits are being enrolled as fast as the staff at the Armoury can deal with them. The Ashton Territorials who have gone on service in Egypt are having the time of their lives. They are in Cairo, and an Ashton Private writes that "It makes him laugh to think how the poor chaps are running round in the mills in Ashton, and cursing the bad spinning, while he himself, amid the brilliant sunshine and gay scenes, scarcely knows how to pass the hours of day." The fresh air out there, he adds, is making a man of him.
Published in the Reporter 17th October 1914.
A LETTER FROM EGYPT.
How the Men are Enjoying Life in Egypt.
An interesting letter has been received from Private 1718 DAVID THORP, descriptive of the enjoyable life of the Territorials in Egypt. Writing to a Stalybridge friend, he says: - " I am pleased to write to you once again, now that we have arrived at our destination, which is a grand place. The people here seem queer to us, but, of course, they are a different class of people altogether to us. I wish you could have come with us, as it would have suited you to see these people in the streets. The sun is scorching all through the day, and we are almost like blacks now, and they call it winter, so I don't know what it is going to be like in summer. The barracks that we are in is a large one, having four wings to it. We have nothing to grumble about. The buildings are simply grand out here; everything seems new, and there is no smoke in the air like there is at home. We can get English papers, but they cost us twice as much. The thing that is puzzling us most is the money, the commonest coin being a piastre, which is 2½d. in our money. I will bring some of these coins home with me, and then you will be able to see what they are like. We have all been provided with light suits and helmets, and we had plenty of fun out of them when we put them on for the first time. We have not been allowed out of barracks yet, but we are expecting being free soon, and then we shall be able to see the sights and habits of Egypt better. We have seen three funerals since we arrived here, and they looked more like picnic parties, for the mourners ride on donkeys, and they all seem to be laughing and singing, whilst two of them carry the coffin. There are scores of camels passing in the streets with loads on their backs, and it does not seem strange to see them now, as it did at the first. The river Nile runs past one side of the barracks, and it is a grand sight to see the boats floating up and down. The houses around here are all surrounded with trees, and the streets are wide and clean. There are plenty of white people here, but most of those are French. The railway that we travelled on from Alexandria to Cairo was a treat, as we went through several streets on the journey, and we could almost touch the walls of the houses with our hands. We have done very little work up to now; in fact it made blisters come on my hands when I cut some bread, so you can tell how soft they are getting through want of use. This fresh air is making a man of me, and I feel different altogether to what I did when I was shut up all the day in the mill. If you are working full time, you are welcome to it, for I am not ready for it yet, as I am quite satisfied with my present job, and it makes me laugh to think how you poor chaps are running round and cursing the bad spinning, whilst I don't know how to pass the hours of the day over. When you write back to me just let me know how Hurst is going on this season, as I should like to know, for I have missed them very much, and I should like to get back in time to see them play a game or two before the close of the season."
The 1/9th Battalion c.1914.
Published in the Reporter 24th October 1914.
CAPTURED A SPY.
Dukinfield Man's Fine Prize Near Cairo.
Pte. 1497 JAMES W.CHATBURN of Dukinfield writing from Cairo says, " I am one of the 50 men picked for guarding the largest wireless station in the world, about forty miles from Cairo. There are plenty of camels, monkeys and lots of wild animals here, and during the night, whilst on guard, you can hear all kinds of noises. We are divided into two sections, that makes us on guard every other night. I had the pleasure of capturing a German Spy, and escorted him to the Consul in Cairo. He was a fine man, about six foot. When I first saw him, he was drawing the plans of the wireless station, which I found on him. When searched he also had with him a khaki suit and a soft black hat. He said he was looking for work. They knew him at Cairo, and he was wanted for another case of importance".
Published in the Reporter 31st October 1914.
SHOT ARMED ARAB.
A smart bit of work by a Dukinfield lad who was on guard at the Ashton Territorial Barracks in Cairo, is recorded by Private 1637 HERBERT FISH, of the 9th Battalion. Writing to his father and mother, Mr & Mrs. J.W. Fish, of 72, Astley Street, from Cairo, he says: - "I am very glad to say I am still keeping in good health and good spirits. We have been able to see a bit more of Cairo since I last wrote. It is a fine place. You can spend days looking at the shops and big hotels. Last night (Sunday) I was on guard at the main barrack gates. I did my first post all right. The next time on was from 12pm to 2am. About 1.30am I heard footsteps so I challenged. He did not answer me after I had challenged him three times, so I fired at him and shot him through the neck. We brought him into the guard room to see who he was. He had a revolver in his hand, so it was lucky I fired when I did or else you might not have seen Bert again. Anyway, I am keeping the empty cartridge as a reminder of when I did guard at Kasr-el-Nil. He was an Arab. Today I had to go in front of the Colonel to give my evidence. The Colonel said that I did the right thing. Had I not done so, he said, I should possibly have lost my own life and endangered others. The Brigadier-General said I was a very smart guard, and knew my duty. Not so bad, is it? I have been to see the Pyramids and Sphinx. They are fine things. Some of the stones are as big as our houses at home. Inside the base of the Pyramids are dozens of bazaars and shops. We do our marching at night instead of in the day time. We set out at eight o'clock and get back at eleven o'clock. It is simply fine. Talk about seeing life, it is not in it. If I had missed my chance of coming out here I should never have forgiven myself."
A letter sent from the Kasr-el-Nil Barracks, Cairo, by Lieut. Colonel D.H.WADE, Commanding Officer of the 9th Battalion was published in the Ashton Reporter on October 31st 1914, he says, " There are about 1500 troops in the barracks. The Officers quarters are fair, and so would the mens be if it were not for the bugs. Work is principally done before 10am. We fall in at 5.45am, we also have parades later in the day, but we have to keep the men in the shade. So far we have been sweltered in our thick clothing. Food is good, and the vegetables particularly so. The men are allowed out of barracks after 6.30pm and must return by 10pm".
Published in the Herald 31st October 1914.
FIRST PHOTO OF AN ASHTON TERRITORIAL TO BE SENT FROM EGYPT.
Pte. BERNARD RAWLINGS, a member of the Ashton Battalion of the Territorials is now in Cairo, and he has already sent his portrait. In his last letter to his mother he wrote :- " We are stationed at the finest barracks in Egypt, built on the River Nile. Every night we go down to the river to see the Mohammedans pray. It is not very far from the great Sphinx and the Pyramids." His brother, ERNEST RAWLINGS is a member of the new Ashton Battalion of Territorials. He is now training and hopes soon to leave the town with the Battalion. Mrs Rawlings son-in-law, Mr. Arthur W. Hampson, is also an ex-soldier, and he went through the Boer War.
An article published in the Reporter on October 31st, Pte. 1725 WILFRED COLCLOUGH, 9th Battalion, E Company, writes to his parents of Arlington St. from Cairo, " We are all in mess rooms, 18 men to a mess. We all have proper beds, and the food is excellent, we have had as much as we could eat at every meal, and we have had no need to spend any money outside the barracks. Everything you require you can get inside the barracks, even to shirts, towels and soap etc. We are allowed out of the barracks each evening, but we must return by 10pm. With it being our first Sunday here, we have just finished Church Parade. I think we are allowed out after 2pm, so we are going to see the Sphinx and the Pyramids. We are about a mile from the centre of the City. The weather here is boiling hot through the day and then it suddenly goes very cold and very dark at night. The water supply is very good and we use as much as we want". He goes on to say about a death en-route to Egypt, " A lad named JOHN BRIDGE (Pte. 1705) from Penny Meadow died of pneumonia, (24.9.1914) we buried him at sea and the Last Post was sounded".