Private James Conway

Private James Conway

On 8 January 1915, the West Lothian Courier printed a letter that Private James Conway, 2nd Battalion Royal Scots, wrote to his parents, who reside at the Holmes, Uphall. In it he describes the gallant charge made by the Royal Scots on 14th December. 

Just a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and kicking and keeping well; hoping you are all in the best of health. You will be wanting to know about the gallant charge we made, so here goes.

On the 14th inst., we were told to be ready for the trenches at 4 o’clock in the morning.  We got up and marched about two miles, and on reaching the trenches we relieved the Liverpool Scottish, a Territorial regiment which is doing well out here. We stayed there until about 6 o’clock, when our gallant Captain Bruce told us that the artillery would start to shell a small wood at 1.15 am. Prompt to time they started to shell, and they did not forget it either. It was just like hell opened up; the like-of has never been known before.

We sat in trenches until about a quarter to eight, when our Captain gave us the word to charge. Up we got out of the trenches and across the field, almost up to the knees in mud. When about 30 yards from the German trenches, our Captain got a bullet through the head, and he died immediately. Poor Captain! We were very sorry to lose him, but on we went and took the Hun’s trenches at the point of the bayonet. Altogether we captured two officers, 60 men and two maxim guns, and we have managed to keep the ground we have gained, for very little helps in the Great War. In fact it is not war, it is pure murder.

We got great praise for our gallant charge, although I must say we lost a few officers and men ourselves, but someone has to go. We never know when our own time will come. We just walk about with our lives in our hands, so to speak, but I hope it will be all over soon. I wish you all at home a Happy New Year, and lang may yer lum reek and yet pot bile.

©West Lothian Local History Library

bayonet charge
Bayonet practice. Internet Archive Book images on Flickr.