Spalding families hear of horrors of war

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German forces were using jets of flame against our men at the front, it was reported in 1915.

Readers heard about much of the action from letters home, and this was frequently shared in these newspapers.

A hundred years ago Signaller C W Sylvester, of Donington, who was with the 5th Lincolns, was writing home to Mr G W Marsh, who also lived in the village.

He began: “Since I last wrote to you we have been moved to what is perhaps the hottest part of our line. You no doubt read in the papers of the recent attack of Germans when they used jets of flame. At the time we were very close to the actual place.”

The men in the trenches could see “bursting shells and then suddenly the sky was lurid with fire”.

Gaining a temporary footing in the Allied line, the Germans “immediately in front of us opened a rapid fire with rifles and machines guns”, he wrote.

“Our lads” got their own back a day or two later when they made a counter-attack on the German lines.

The signaller wrote: “This was preceded by a fierce artillery bombardment. Never in my life have I seen such a sight. Our shells were falling with deadly accuracy and with the regular rhythm of a peal of bells, only it sounded like successive claps of thunder, there being only about a second’s interval between each.”

At a given time to the minute the guns changed from the German first line to the second.

Then, the signaller wrote, “our men were over the parapets in a flash, and in a very few minutes were occupying the German trenches.

“Since then the enemy have not made any serious counter-attacks, so our men are in possession of all the captured lines.

“You would be surprised to see the variety of missiles that are thrown from trench to trench.”