Ben Price & Tom Yoxall

By September 3, 2015 at 7:16 pm0 Comments

Ben Price Grandfather of Nicky Yoxall and Tom Yoxall Grandfather of Harry Yoxall Pitminster.

Tom Yoxall, son of a butcher from Shepherd’s Bush signs on with the 2/3rd (territorial) London Yeomanry, then still a mounted regiment. By March 1915 he is serving in France moving next to a regular battalion, the 3rd County of London, and then to the Leinsters: a nominally Irish regiment but by now largely made up of Canadian volunteers.

yoxhall2Tom is recalled for officer training, quite possibly just because he had managed to survive for so long, and in January 1918 he is back in the trenches as a second lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers. Shortly afterwards he is machine gunned leading his section out of a trench, and obstinately refusing to die he is sent back to a long hospital stay in Birmingham.

Ben Price from Gloucester had hoped to join the Gloucestershire regiment, but instead was sent to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. This is the account he sent to his wife of his duties as the NCO in charge of an ammunition dump on the beach. The “lighter” he describes was an early form of landing craft.

I embarked on a lighter called “K1” and we were towed by a destroyer until 5 minutes from the land. We thought it would be a surprise but the ships met a perfect hail of bullets – the men on deck were told to lie down but several were hit – and then full speed for the shore, over the side and the boys were up to their waists in water and were soon giving it to the Turks with their bayonets. They were not allowed to fire a shot until daybreak.

At length dawn broke and revealed us to the Turkish guns and then it was hell with a vengeance. A whole battery of guns smothered us with shells, shrapnel and high explosive beside the hail of bullets. One poor fellow got hit with shrapnel right through the head. The captain found it impossible to move the boat, and then a shell came and hit the boat full on one end, filling the hold with fumes and pitching us about. At this the crew got out – unknown to the coxswain and myself – and we found ourselves all alone on a burning ship with all that ammunition. I was the last to get off and fortunately a boat picked me up from the water.

During the next days and nights people were constantly coming for ammunition and just as constantly another convoy came and filled my dump up. At 2.00 on 21st all our ships and land batteries started up together. The guns set the grass around the salt lake alight and covered the hills with smoke and it seemed impossible for anyone to live under it. But when our fellows attacked they were met as usual by Mr Turk. At 3.00 one of our brigades and the Yeomanry were ordered to advance. They suffered terribly and at night with the grass burning and the guns thundering it made an awful sight. When I realised that a lot of our fellows were lying wounded in the burning grass it seemed terrible.

Our dugout was composed of boxes of ammunition that saved us from shrapnel several times though I shudder to think what would have happened if a high explosive shell had happened to drop in the middle, as just outside were hundreds of rounds of field gun ammunition. It would not have been safe within three miles, let alone three yards.

About the Author:

This Taunton WW1 borough wide project has been bought to the community by Creative Innovation Centre CIC, Taunton (also known as CICCIC). With support from Heritage Lottery Fund and many other partners we are proud to work with all in the community to produce this website and other project related activities.

 

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