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The Tragic Futility of World War I
as experienced by Betty Walley's family.

Jack Biddle
Warwickshire Regiment

First fiancé of Beatrice Quaife
Betty Walley's mother.


"I wish you would get a mouthful of this lovely sea air! I feel as fresh as a bull-frog!! Will write again as soon as poss. in France. We can all see it from here! We started at 1.0 am, after a gorgeous feed and arrived at London Kings Cross I think at 4. am where we marched through to Victoria. I fell asleep at Victoria, where I've met all the old E company "wanglers" from Chisledon going out!! and woke up here. We sail about 1.30 so have 4 hours left. Am sitting in a hotel on the front. The sea looks dead calm so hope to escape mal de mer! Just had a A1 breakfast given me. Think we'll stick at France."

Jack Biddle died in Flanders,
3rd battle of Ypres, 23 or 29th April 1917
Buried ARRAS, Fauberg d'Amiens


A poignant postcard written at Folkstone prior to embarkation for France.


David Mitchell Smart
Father of Betty Walley

B. 1897 Cape Town.

Served in South African Corps of Signals.


Took part in campaign against Germans in German West Africa (Now Namibia)





Abe Halford Walley
Father-in-law of Betty Walley

Born 1898 Manchester, but grew up in Crewe
Served in the Machine Gun Corps.
? South Lancashire Regiment.

Gassed at Passchendaele
Became a locomotive engine driver in Crewe.
Died of lung cancer about 1951.
Father of Brian Walley


Machine-gunned a group of Portuguese Allies, mistaking them for Germans as they had similar helmets.

This was classed as "friendly fire". It happened a lot.
The French admitted to losing 75,000 men due to friendly fire. Mostly due to artillery and errors with the "creeping barrage" where soldiers advanced towards the enemy whilst still under shell bombarment.

The British said little about friendly fire but see here.
It was known that a few officers died, shot by their own troops..
See here for more details.

 

 

British soldiers in familiar helemets.

German soldiers with "coal scuttle" helemets.


Above, below and and right,
Portugese soldiers with German-like helemets
But eventually, the Portugese were given British helemets.

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