Reference: {Private Collection}
Dated 5th June 1915

Letter from Chaplain Pelling, 7th Cav. Bde.
Dear Mrs Evans-Freke

        I promised you that I would write later and give you a few details of the movements of the Leicestershire Yeomanry during these last few weeks. So having half an hour I am going to try and carry out my promise. My Brigade namely 1st, 2nd Life Guards and Leicestershire yeomanry were called up from Billets on Sunday morning May 9th at 09:30 a.m. I was at the time conducting a service with the 2nd Life Guards and had just reached the last hymn when the adjutant appeared with orders from the Brigade - The Colonel gave me a nod and we brought our little service to a speedy close - Another half an hour and we were whisked away in tractor buses up to within a couple of miles from the firing-line. On leaving the Buses we went into wooden huts and afterwards into dug-outs in the ground where we spent the best part of three days - on the second day of our underground existence someone had it that we were for the trenches on the same night. This however proved to be incorrect but nevertheless the Commanding Officers were informed by the G.O.C that the Brigade would take over the trenches on the following evening. We spent the next day making all preparations for going up at nightfall. Respirators, ammunition and all other necessaries being handed out to the various units.

        Evening drew in and we took a scrappy meal of tea and odds an ends, it so happened that I had been with the Leicestershire Yeomanry most of the afternoon and was having tea with Major Martin and his Squadron - there were also present Captain Codrington, Lieut. Thompson, Lieut. Peake, Lieut. Turner and Lieut. Simpkin, while not very long afterwards Colonel Evans-Freke came along with a copy of Divisional orders and general information, and stayed chatting with us for some little time. His conversation was chiefly about the final preparations for going up to the trenches the same night. Seeing as was his want that no stone was unturned and that the interest of each individual officer and man of his regiment was provided for fully.

        There he stood, for he was much to busy to stay more than a few minutes and he chatted away so brightly and full of confidence that his very presence was a source of inspiration to us all.

        Then the order came to start for the march to the trenches. With the exception of two or three casualties incurred in taking over the trenches all went well until the following morning May 13th (Ascension day) when at 04:30 a.m. the Germans opened with a murderous shell-fire of high explosives completely cutting our lines of communications with our own guns and pasting our trenches up and down with a well directed fire. there was nothing for it but to sit and take it till about 09:00 a.m. when the first lull came and the losses could be very **** realised. Amongst the first to fall was Major Ricardo. On hearing the news the Colonel went along to ascertain the nature of the case and on the way was shot in the finger by a sniper. ******* did his regimental ***** warn him to keep down and take cover. His thoughts were for his Second-In-Command and his one ambition to go and give him a word of cheer with never a thought for himself or his own safety. before the Colonel had reached his objective he was shot through the breast and died instantaneously with an expression of satisfaction and peace upon his face. His body was pulled into the nearest trench and there was left until recovered at night. Many were the brave heroes who persisted in Dug-Outs and trenches from the murderous shells, while the picture of major Martin holding with a handful of men the broken line against the ferocious onslaught of the enemy will not quickly be erased from the annals of the Leicestershire yeomanry. For it was he who was last seen piling up the sacks of sand resisting against untold numbers the German advance till he had spent his last drop of blood, rather than give way or yield an inch of ground.

        It is difficult or perhaps **** just to single out one brave man from another for they were all brave - heroes all. They have died that we may live and yet "who dies if England lives"? They have now immortal fame as *** of the Empire and the **** of life as Children of the Heavenly Father.

        When the order came to fix bayonets and charge. What was left of our little band sprang from the trenches like lightning and swept around against the enemy who were using their machine guns with great effect - a slight check - another onward dash and the *** were in retreat.

        The German trenches were our, won by the British cavalry, fighting man for man as infantry.

        And the cost? Well it was dearly won but nothing worth gaining is won without a big price in this dreadful campaign. It was dear because our heroes held their lives to cheap if only their great aim and object could be achieved - and it was achieved, and Leicestershire may be justly proud today of her heroes whose bodies rest beneath an alien sky.

        Their bodies rest - yes but their spirit Cries to the youth of Leicestershire who has not yet come forward to " Come over and help us ". Is it nothing to all ye who pass by?

        These heroes though unknown personally to the majority of young men are *** the *** their friends in the deepest sense of the word share *** themselves as such for "greater love hath no man this that they lay down his life for his friends".

         I must not conclude without giving you some account of the way in which we laid the Colonel to rest after his well fought fight.

        It was shortly after 07:00 a.m. when I sent out with pick and shovel for a corner of a field not very far away. Where were **** off some fifty or sixty graves - one of many wayside cemeteries which often meet the eye of the passer-by. here in the silence only broken by a distant gun. I started to carve out a little *** *** in this peaceful acre. 7 to 8, 8-9, 9- 9:30 and the work was finished. There only remained to add the few brief touches of sympathy and sentiment which make the *** ***, the picking of butter cups and the lining of the sides and the floor of the little grave with yellow flowers.

        Sentiment, yes, but it meant more than that to those of us who knew him.

        Presently the little band of Yeomen came slowly down the road carrying their dead Chief upon their shoulders till a halt was called by the graveside. Suddenly the order rang out from one of the remaining Subalterns now in Command of the Regiment "Slope Arms" and in a flash the men sprang to attention as they saluted their fallen leader. Another moment their late Commanding Officer was exposed to their view. There he lay, calm and resolute with the semblance of a smile still lingering upon his face- the smile which spoke of the great indestructible peace which overwhelmed his spirit at all times and under all conditions.

        The service commenced with the little party of officers and men around the grave and from the beginning to the end the great keynote surrounded the triumphant **** of the life eternal.

        Scare was there one of these stout-hearted Yeoman whose eye was not moistened by a tear for the one whom they had loved and lost a while - the service over the men marched round the grave taking a last glance and saluting for the last time their late Colonel whose very expression spoke of triumph over death.

        So passed a gallant British Officer. one who feared man so little because he feared his God so much.

       We turned away thanking God for such a noble example, steadfast and true within life and death and we uttered a simple prayer from our hearts that we to might be given grace so to follow his good example that with him we might be made partakers in the Heavenly Kingdom

May God the Holy Spirit comfort you strengthen you and give you courage, is the earnest prayer of...

Yours very sincereley
Stewart B Pelling CF
7th Cavalry Brigade