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Remembered Today:

"Eric" Frederick Ellis Savell - Dispatch Rider

chris allan

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Hi all,  I'm researching Cpl. then Sgt. Frederick. Ellis. Savell (30354) WO 329 (1890-1953), a dispatch rider who served with the Royal Engineers throughout the Great War.  I would love to find a picture of him or any other reference to him.  He sent letters back from the front which I have included here for those that are interested in this thread.


Herts and Cambs Reporter - Friday 11 Dec 1914


Corporal Frederick E. Savill, more familiarly known as Eric Savell" paid his friends at Barley a visit last Saturday evening. A representative of this Paper happened to spot him as he was driving up from the Railway Station, and greeted him with the word., "Hello ! why they said you were lost.” "No fear", laughed Mr. Savell, What do you mean ?" He was then told that about month after he had left Royston for Bedford the authorities communicated with the recruiting sergeant at Royston saying that they had Mr. Savell’s papers but that the gentleman himself had not turned up. This seemed to highly amuse him, and everyone who is acquainted with Mr. Savell knows he can see the funny side of things as quickly as anyone. 

"Come in and tell me all about it, said our representative." Rightyo,” he replied, What you want to know ?" “Let’s have it from the beginning," replied our representative. 


"Well, let me see, yes it was on Sept. 14th that I went from Royston.  I enlisted as an ordinary "Tommy" in Kitchener's Army.  I went to Hitchin, and there they gave me 19 men to take care of and see that they got to Bedford all right.  Some real beauties they were too, and I had a rare old time.  Some of them were already a bit lively and wanted to make a call at every pub we came to.  It took me all my time to get 'em into barracks, but I managed it at last.  I stayed at Bedford that night.


The following morning I was sent to Chatham (in Kent), arriving there about 5pm.  That night I slept under canvas.  There were only 25 of us in one tent, and to make things worse, two fellows rolled in drunk at 11 o'clock.  We had one blanket apiece.  Mine walked off in the middle of the night and I had to get up and chase it, Keating's Bug Powder doing me good service in effecting a capture.  Next morning we all paraded at 7 am for breakfast, bread and jam - more jam on the table than on the bread - and a mug of tea.  After breakfast about 150 of us were paraded up and taken out and billeted in the town.  I happened lucky and got a good billet, where I stayed six weeks.  I became attached to the 2nd Billeting Company, and eventually I passed out proficient in all the drills, bayonet exercise, squad and company drills and so on.  I was then transferred to the 2nd Provisional Company and went to St. Mary's Barracks.  They put me in the clothes store, where I remained for a week, and from there I went into the Sergt- Major's office as a clerk.


"I put in an application for a transfer as a motor cyclist to a signalling company, and on Sunday Nov 22nd. it came out in orders that I had been transferred to the Reserve Signalling Company as a motor cyclist. They then fitted me up with a new uniform, revolver, haversack, and all the necessary equipment.  Last Tuesday I got my new motor bike, a 31/2 hp Rudge Multi, made especially for the army."


"I was then sent off in the pouring rain on my new mount to Aldershot, a distance of 80 miles, where I went into barracks.  There are 45 of us in one room, all motor cyclists, so I had plenty of good company.  I slept on the coal box.  I have been promoted to Corporal and receive 5s. a day.  When I joined as an ordinary "Tommy" my pay was 1s.  a day.  My work now is chiefly what they call "scheme".  A certain route is given us, we are timed when we start, checked at certain points along the way, and we have to make out reports as to conditions of roads, features of the country and so on.  I expect to go out to the front in a few weeks.  When I get out, my duties will be to take dispatches between headquarters and the fighting line.  It is a risky business, and I am told 90 per cent in it get shot, but I hope to live to see my old home again."


"Yes, I think the life is a very good one, and is making men of a good many.  I have been in excellent health all  the time.  When I was at Chatham I met all sorts and conditions of men, who, if they had not tried the army before, had been tried in the police court.  One chap I was drilling with told me he had just served 12 months in gaol.  It was his third conviction, and he thought the only safe place was in the army.  His last conviction was for stealing £10 so I immediately moved my spare cash from my right hand pocket to my left!"

Herts and Cambs Reporter - Friday 21 May 1915


Cororal F.E. Savell, of Barley, a motor cycle dispatch rider now at the Front, writing to a friend in Royston says - "Thought perhaps, as I have a few spare moments, you would like a few lines from me, to let you know I'm still alive and kicking.  I have now been out here about two months so am getting used to things mid shot and shell.  I see a good bit of the country, having done a motor bike as much as 400 miles in a week, so I see a good bit of what is going on.  The roads in some parts absolutely the limit, in other words "hellish" especially the pave through some of the towns, one minute you are in the saddle, and the other two feet in the air, to say nothing of getting into a ditch occasionally.

One never need suffer from a sluggish liver on my work.  I have not had a pot at the Germans yet, but at the same time have been near enough to one to have a button of his overcoat which is among my collection of souvenirs.  We always carry our revolvers on our journeys as one never knows what will turn up.

My French is getting, of course, tres bon, and when I spring forth some of my sentences on a Frenchman I feel sure by the look on his face, that they are somewhat humorous to him, but a great effort on my part.

I have met out here Ronald Livermore and Osborn, both from Chishall.  It was very nice meeting somebody from your own district.  We met all together one Sunday (their headquarters being where mine are) and had our photograph taken, one of which I am enclosing.  They are both very well I am glad to say.  The weather has been a bit rough out here the last week.  I shall be glad when it turns a bit warmer.  I get frozen at times and wish I could pop over to England and enjoy a good old fashioned wood blazing fire to thaw by.  Please remember me to my friends in Royston.  I get the "Royston Crow" weekly for which I always look forward."

The photograph Corporal Savell refers to is an excellent one of himself and his two friends from Great Chishall, and from the appearance of the trio it looks as if things in general were agreeing with them.

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