Wounded Three Times - Ran with Bombs

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And Sang “John Peel” All The Time.

Here is a typical story told by a private wounded in the “push” area, a tall thin man of a north-country regiment, wounded in arm and thigh and hand, to a DAILY MAIL correspondent:-

Aye, it were half-past seven when we started sir. “Twas in a kind of a bit of wood ye know, sir. The third line like, we was, B and C Company being afore us. Ye see we could see them movin’ in the open like, past the wood till the fire caught ‘em ‘an they went down like grass.
I was beside the Colonel in the front trench. I carried bombs, ye see. The Colonel he was to go wi’ the first line after us. But when he sees the second line cut down that way an’ our time come, ‘oh damn!” says he just like that, and he ups an’ over the parapet. ‘Come on me lads’ he said like that; an’ just at that moment was hit and kind o’ staggered, an afore I could get to him he fell backward into the trench again. I doubt it killed him. But we had to go on. I had me bombs. We was singing ‘John Peel’ like mad, all but the two or three near, who saw the Colonel, an’ cheerin’ fit to raise the dead.
I got a bullet in me arm here directly I was on the parapet, an somehow it made me stumble like, and I fell. But I went on as quick as I could, me havin’ the bombs ye see. But ye’d have wondered to hear how our lads were singin’ and cheerin’ like at a football match. Aye, twas a pity I lost me rifle an bayonet an’ me cap an’ all when I fell then. But I had the bombs, ye see. I knew well we’d need the bombs.
Wonderful thick them bullets flew, to be sure. It was just past their first line I got this one in my hand. A bit sore-like that was, but not so very bad but what got on all right till this third one got me here, and I fell in a shell hole near the second line. The pity was I could ha’ used me bombs like, aye I could from there, but I was afeard o’ killin’ our own lads. But lance-corporal he took ‘em on from me ‘an I lay a long while.
Near along evening time I could see our stretcher-bearers comin’ out behind an’ hoppin’ back wi’ a wounded man when they could. But them boches is dirty devils. They saw the stretchers, an every time the bearers showed up they turned a gun on ‘em an’ they swep’ the ground very low to kill off the wounded. They got all our stretcher-bearers that way after a bit, just one after another as they tried to work. They’ve no decency like, the Germans.
So I kind o’ humped myself along, as ye might say. But they fired when they saw a move, an’ then I got into a trench an’ they couldn’t see me crawl. I came to where the dead lay blockin’ the way an’ I didn’t like to crawl on top o’ they. But I saw they was Huns, ‘an outside ye see the bullets come pretty thick, so I crawled on ‘em till I found I was on one of our own lads. I couldn’t crawl on them an’ I got out again, an’ then I don’t seem to mind much after.
Twas after dark I got in, an’ the M.O. at the dressin’ station said ‘You’re all right, lad,’ like that, an’ he gave me a cigarette. Aye, an’ a stretcher-bearer helped me out through the wood. I reckon ‘twas their machine guns checked us like. But them behind us got through with some of ours what was left. Our boys is all right, ye see; they’re not afeard o’ the boche, not at all.
Workington Star and Harrington Guardian, Published 7 July 1916.
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