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22 Oct 1917: Wounded in the Battle of Pozières - the Somme: WW1 Letter home
My great grandfather's letter above explains how he was wounded in the Battle of Pozières in the Somme Valley
This letter was written from Tidworth, England, by my great grandfather Reginald Trevor (click here for background information) to his mother in Australia. It was written some time after his wounding in the Battle of Pozières, in the Somme Valley.
He was wounded by an exploding shell and exposed to gas. He suffered temporary paralysis in his legs but was able to drag himself to a dressing station where he became unconscious for 24 hours and was sent to hospital.
His mother received a telegram (pictured) notifying her of his being wounded and was understandably extremely anxious to find out more information about her son. The correspondence between Victoria Barracks, the Australian Imperial Force Headquarters in London and his mother appear here in chronological order for viewing.
For more information about the Battle of Pozières, visit the Australian War Memorial Website.
22nd October 1917
My Dear Mother,
I received your letter the other day, that makes two that I have received lately from you.
You ask me to tell you something about my experiences at the front, I am afraid that I am a very poor hand at describing anything at all to be able to give you a full description of all the little things that have happened to me since I left Australia. Perhaps when I am home again and I get in a reminiscent sort of mood I may be able to tell you something.
I am afraid I did not do very much in the Pozieres stunt, I was detailed with a fatigue party to carry over picks, shovels etc. and to set to work consolidating the position. The first stunt, the one that I was in, started at about half past eleven on Saturday night July the 25th, and I “charged” with two picks, two shovels, some sand-bags and a pocket full of bombs.
Just before the fun commenced my party got in a chalk pit to wait until the first wave went over so that we could follow them, you see we had to follow each wave as far as they went and do the digging for them to make their position as strong as possible, well while we were in this chalk pit the guns started at full speed and I never heard so much noise in my life before. I am not exaggerating when I say that there was so much noise that I could not hear anything.
It was just a long continued roar with deafening effect. The gentle Hun sent over all manner of material in the way of iron-ware, some of the poor lads that were with me got their share I am sorry to say and I got a few whiffs of gas out of a gas-shell that came our way, but I did not feel the bad effects until about twenty four hours after.
Well, we followed them up, first, second and third wave until we got as far as we could go and I was not sorry as my little burden was getting a bit wearisome, and I had lost a lot of my mates. We started out, my party I mean, a hundred strong and next morning there were three chaps with me in the front line. To sum the whole thing up as far as I can see a charge is a stream of men going forward and another coming back wounded.
I was quite all right in the front line, plenty of work and not too much danger as the Hun was shelling the first line that we took and we were well in advance of that. If I had not been persuaded to go back for water and deliver a couple of messages. While I was dodging around trying to find the people to hand over these messages, a shell got me and as you know the concussion paralysed my legs and I had to pull myself for some considerable distance over the ground with my hands until I got to a dressing station where I promptly went to sleep for about twenty hours as I had not had any sleep since the night before and not too much then and felt pretty exhausted.
I saw in an Australian paper that they had moving pictures of the Pozieres stunt, but it could not have been the one that I was in, the first, because as I said before, it happened at night, and it was pretty well over by morning, of course there were some more charges around there a few days later, but I was well away by then.
Life is very much the same here, eat, sleep and work, just about sums up the life I live, with very little leave in between. I am expecting to be moved to London shortly so the conditions will be a bit better I expect. Anyway, I will be able to see my little girl a bit more often than I do now. I am very glad you like her mother, she is really a charming girl, and when you see her I am sure you will complement me on my choice. I think I would have to go a long way to find a better one.
I am sending you a medal that the Germans struck in honour of the sinking of the “Eusitania” for a curiosity. I suppose this will reach you about Christmas time so I will take the opportunity to wish you all at home “A happy Christmas and a happy new year.
So with best love to all at home,
I remain your loving son,
For easier navigation I have listed each letter in chronological order:
- Rediscovering my great grandfather, Reginald Trevor: Letters home from World War 1
- 3rd Dec 1916: WW1 Letter: Life in Perham Downs camp - England
- 18th April 1917: WW1 Letter: Stretcher bearers, ships and shell shock
- 14th Oct 1917: WW1 letter: The tedium of 'home service' in England
- 22 Oct 1917: Wounded in the Battle of Pozières - the Somme: WW1 Letter home (current page)
For background information about Reginald Trevor, please click here.