Another of the remarkable testimonies tucked away in the archives at The Hive, Worcester, is this cutting from Page 5 of the Berrow's Journal of Saturday, December 5, 1914. 

It reveals the thoughts of Private Edgar Foster Oliver, of Old Hill, in the Black Country. An extract is used in the documentary.

Oliver lived in Pitford Street, Old Hill, and was a reservist reported in the Birmingham Daily Mail of Monday, December 21, 1914, to have been invalided home with frostbite and rheumatism. 

He was medically discharged on July 22, 1915, and died – in his native Old Hill – in March, 1967.

A 2nd Worcester's appeal for recruits

Private EF Oliver, of the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, who is now in hospital suffering from frostbite, has forwarded to a friend at Dudley a long letter containing a description of the battle at Ypres, and a strong recruiting appeal.

"The fighting in the battle of the Aisne," he states, "was tame compared with with that at Ypres. On two of the days on which we held a position it rained incessantly, and on another there was a heavy hailstorm.

"The trench was a foot deep with water and mud, which turned to ice during the night. We were drenched to the skin, plastered with mud and frozen to the bone. During the day the Germans made several attacks, all of which were repelled with terrible losses to the enemy.

"We were certainty taken to the limit of human endurance. We set the rest rolling at Ypres with three bayonet charges in eight days. A bayonet charge is not good for your health, but the Germans had to be stopped.

"I was within a few yards of General French when the Regiment was formed up to hear his words of praise. The Commander-in-Chief told us that he had to thank the 2nd Worcesters in particular for saving the line under a terrible artillery fire and against enormous odds at a critical moment, and that two honours would be added to the regimental colours, one for saving the line, and the other for a brilliant bayonet charge.

"We ran into hell itself," he continues, "but we were kept up by the thought that the freedom of the old country depends upon the work of the British soldiers.

"I do wish our young men at home would realise the position. If more men are not forthcoming to fulfil the task set for the British, then conscription must come, and that would be a disgrace for a country whose aim has always been freedom for her people, but it will be laid at the feet of the single young men who are at home shirking their responsibility by refusing to respond to the call of their country.

"I am afraid our young men have not realised how near invasion has been. It's no use thinking the fighting could be done then. The first shot fired then would result in the massacre of our women and children. Now is the time for our young men to show their mettle."

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Gheluvelt: The documentary

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The visit you ought to make

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