Brighten tribute to his troops


Glowing tributes are paid to the fighting qualities of both officers and men by Lieut-Col Edgar Brighten, the Commanding Officer the 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, in a letter written to his wife while the regiment were in the middle of the fight which started at one o'clock on Sunday, August 15th.

Lieut-Col Edgar Brighten"Up to now I am all right," wrote Col Brighten, "and as I have had shells on me for practically three days running, I ought to pull through by the help of God, but we have had a hell of a time. I can never describe to you on paper what we have been through, but the Regiment has done well, splendidly.

"We've got the ammunition, and I have sent it up to Shoosmith, who knows how to kills the Turks with it. He has done top-hole, fought his gun splendidly, although most of his men are knocked out.

"What cuts me up is to think about our losses. They are all of them a gallant lot. Poor Brian Cumberland is dead leading his Company most gallantly. I got him last night, and he is buried about 20 yards from this dug-out. Chirnside and Yarde, both gallant boys, are slightly wounded but still doing their whack, but I hope to relieve them tonight for 24 hours.

"Day is hit, but not seriously. Rawlins got through the first day but got hit yesterday. He will be all right, though. Hill and Younghusband have backed me up fine. Baker, the gallant little fellow, led his Company side by side with Cumberland, but he is hit.

"As for the men, what are left of them are full of fight and confidence."

Lieut-Col Brighten's next letter was to Mr Hugh Cumberland at The Lynchet, Hart Hill, Luton, following the death of his son, Capt Brian Cumberland. "Cheer up, old man," he wrote, "he did his duty most magnificently and couldn't have died more gallantly."

The letter, written at 9.15 am on August 17th, continued: "We are still in the thick of this battle, which stared at 1 pm on Sunday, August 15th, and in case I don't get through myself I am trying to get this to you to tell you about him. He was leading his Company gallantly, and was shot through the head. He did not die at once, but about half-an-hour afterwards. This is only hearsay, as I have not yet found the man who spoke to him last.

"We work all night clearing up after the day, and I got his body last night and he is buried now within 20 yards on my dug-out. His Company, with Baker's, were in the front line and they went clean through the Turks supported by the other two Companies.

"The Battalion did magnificently, but I have lost at least 12 officers and God knows how many men. They say that fighting in France is child's play to this, and how any of us are alive at all beats me. I have had at least one shrapnel on top of me regularly for the last three days."

[Luton Reporter: Monday, September 6th, 1915]