Lane, Clifford James (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 7257
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 320, Number Of Items 11
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British NCO served with 1st Bn Hertfordshire Regt in GB and on Western Front, 1913-1918; served with 7th and 2nd Bns Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regt on Western Front, 1918

Content description

REEL 1 Background 1894-1914: father's work as builder; work with Post Office; background to recruitment with 1st Bn Hertfordshire Regt, 1913; reactions to outbreak of war, 4/8/1914. Recollections of periods at Waltham Abbey, Rougham and Bury St Edmunds, 8/1914-11/1914: relieving 1st Bn Rifle Bde guarding Royal Gunpowder Factory; special mobilisation payment; gambling; nature of training and lack of night exercise; volunteering for overseas service. Journey out to Ypres area, Belgium, 5/11/1914: suicide; inspection by French; use of London buses; rum issue. Recollections of period on Western Front, 11/1914-12/1914: first experience of shellfire at Vlamertinghe; introduction to trenches; reactions to casualty; digging reserve positions. REEL 2 Continues: prior rifle training in GB; state of morale; move into dugouts in Nonne Boschen; rifle fire crescendos; casualties through men walking in areas observed by Germans; visit to regimental aid post of 1st Bn King's Liverpool Regt; search for snipers in woods; taking over front line rifle pit positions; fatigue; story illustrating inadequate communications before possible German attack; superiority of German artillery; moves; relief by noisy French troops. Recollections of rest period at Meteren, 12/1914: soldiers dropping out from fatigue during march out of line; billets and relationship with French owners; food rations. REEL 3 Continues: relationship with officers. Recollections of period in Bethune area, 1914-1915: story illustrating officer's determination to prevent looting; casualties patrolling in No Man's Land; occupying saphead in stream bed, 25/12/1914; question of Christmas celebrations and rejection of friendly German overtures , 25/12/1914; comparison of British and German approach to wet conditions in trenches; comparison of German stick bombs and British jam tin hand grenades. REEL 4 Continues: sings marching song parodies of 'Tipperary' and 'Sons of the Sea'; Robert Graves' service in 2nd Div; German attack at Givenchy marking Kaiser's birthday and fears of repeat; songs; rest period billets in Bethune; divisional concert party at Givenchy; ban on football; soldiers attitude to war; reserve role during Battle of Neuve Chapelle, 10/3/1915. Recollections of service on Western Front, 1914-1918: story of soldiers cutting rings from German corpses; story of isolated incident of Germans POWs being shot by British troops; willingness of German POWs to volunteer for stretcher bearing duty; story illustrating inexperience of US troops whilst guarding German POWs, 1918; ignorance of British civilians of nature of war on Western Front; unique perspective of infantry. REEL 5 Continues: question of contact with padres; story of witnessing sergeant major's loss of nerve during German bombardment and consequent absence of promotion beyond lance corporal; special friend and importance of comradeship; problem of rats in barn billets; lice problem; trench feet and use of whale oil; question of washing and shaving; latrines; swearing habits; pay; drinking habits; gambling; boredom; letters; question of relationship with girlfriend; parcels; story illustrating winter conditions in Ypres area, 1916-1917. REEL 6 Continues: personal morale and question of 'Blighty' wounds; infected wounds illustrated by wound received in Ypres area, 31/7/1917; increasing desire for 'Blighty wound'; question of self inflicted wounds; question of shell shock cases; reactions to announcements of men executed for cowardice; awareness of method of avoiding participation in attacks; view of soldiers undergoing Field Punishment No 1; story of being confined to barracks for late drinking in estaminet; story illustrating decline in quality of officers when forced to take command of party of men coming out of line after officer's loss of nerve during German shelling in St Jean sector; privileged position of officers; question of applying for commission, 1917; absence of mutinous conduct. REEL 7 Continues: leave periods in GB including state of uniform and civilian ignorance of conditions on Western Front; treatment for attack of pneumonia and willingness to return to active service, 1916; question of difference between volunteers and later drafts; minimal training required for trench warfare; German initial superiority in sniping activities and story illustrating successful introduction of telescopic sights for sniping squad. Recollections of period in Bethune area, 1914-1916: nature and effects of constant mining activity in Givenchy sector; minenwerfers; British catapult grenade launcher; rifle grenades; water supply. REEL 8 Continues: Recollections of Battle of Festubert, 9/5/1915-19/5/1915: view of 7th Div units before and after initial attack; German POWs; sharpening bayonets; account of unsuccessful attack supporting Irish Guards on Le Touret at 16.00, 19/5/1915. Recollections of Battle of Somme, 8/1916-10/1916, initial period in reserve; gas masks; German defences at Thiepval; capture of Schwaben Redoubt, 14/10/1916; escorting German POWs. Movements, 11/1916-6/1917: winter in Ypres area; rest period at Wormhoudt; story of soldiers drunk on spirits. Recollections attack towards St Julian, Ypres area, 31/7/1917: moving up; casualties during advance to Steenbeek; story of being wounded during attack on German pillbox; return to front line with German POW; hospitalisation. REEL 9 Continues: Aspects of service on Western Front, 1915-1918: German gas attack at Ypres, 4/1915; question of wearing gas masks; failure of attempt to use gas in Givenchy sector during Battle of Loos, 9/1915, including carrying up gas cylinders, premature explosions of 18pdr shells and cancellation of planned attack; use of gas shells against gun positions; German aircraft contact patrols, 31/7/1917; aircraft crash; nature of air war; opinion of colonial troops; opinion of policy of separate regular, territorial and Kitchener divisions; question of French military situation in 1916-1917; question of awareness of events on Eastern Front; communications problems during attacks. Recollections of period with 7th and 2nd Bns Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regt on Western Front, 1918: story of attack in Le Cateau sector, 10/1918, including shooting of Germans attempting to surrender, evidence of decline in German morale and casualties from fire from British machine guns. REEL 10 Continues: reaction to posting to 7th Bn Bedfordshire Regt subsequently used as draft to reinforce 2nd Bn Bedfordshire Regt, 5/1918; promotion to corporal; hospitalisation with severely cut knee on German barbed wire during attack, 7/1918; continual advances; story illustrating inexperience of US troops whilst guarding German POWs; state of morale and question of effect of arrival of US troops and Soviet revolution; British senior officers dislike of policy of quiet sectors; story of acclimatisation to presence of German corpses at Schwaben Redoubt, 1916; personal morale; superiority of German dugouts; drinking shell hole water; question of ineffectual nature of espionage; question of VD problem; opinion of strategic background of Battles of Third Ypres and Cambrai; story of soldier's refusal of reserved occupation position. REEL 11 Continues: Medical treatment and convalescence in GB, 1917-1918. Recollections of period with 7th and 2nd Bns Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regt on Western Front, 11/1918: platoon's period of quarantine due to case of infectious disease; contact with French civilian; reactions to Armistice, 11/11/1918; refusal of compassionate leave to attend father's funeral; role clearing unexploded shells and reprimand for refusing to obey orders; dangers from unexploded shells during visit to battlefields in 1920; nature of battlefield terrain. Demobilisation and post-war career: career with Post Office; background to award of MBE; question of effect of war experiences; career with Post Office; question of war pension; unique perspective of infantry in front line.

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