12 hours trapped bleeding in a cellar


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Among the Luton lads wounded in the "Push" in France and Flanders is Pte Arthur R. Edwards, 8133, 17th Manchester Regiment. He had been in Manchester for some years when he enlisted, but prior to going to Cottonopolis he was at Vyse, Sons and Co Ltd, Luton. He was employed in straw trade by Messrs Wilson, Bothamley and Co, of Manchester, and was therefore constantly in touch with Luton.

He is 23 and single and is a brother of Mr Will Edwards, newsagent and vendor of The Luton News and Saturday Telegraph and "programme boy" at the Town football ground. Writing to his brother from St Mark's Ward, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Chatham, Pte Edwards says:

"Just a few lines to put that dear old head and heart of yours at ease, for I know that you will be worrying as to how I am. I am thankful to be able to say that I am fairly well - not a great deal of pain.

"I have a bullet wound right through my right leg, about eight inches above the knee. It has made rather a nasty wound to look at, for it seems to have been an explosive bullet. I have a rubber tube right through my leg. Thank God it did not catch the bone. All my bones are as before - that's what I think, anyway.

"I suppose you got my field card all right to say that I was wounded. As you see, I have managed to get to dear old England with it. I landed this morning. I would have liked to have been a bit nearer, but hadn't a chance. Anyhow, I am sure we ought to be thankful to be alive.

"It's marvellous how I kept my reason. Awful! Awful! All the boys dead all around me...but how they did it! Grand! We had to go and take a village nearly a mile and a half away. I was among the first 50 in. The village was Montauban.

"Well, the 17th Manchesters did it. I was shot when right through at the other side of the village, about 2.30 on Saturday afternoon. For the next 12 hours I lay in a bit of a cellar, shells dropping all around. I was nearly buried alive and my right leg was bleeding fearfully, and no one to take me away.

"At about 2 o'clock on Sunday morning, I decided to try and get back to our lines. Anyhow, I won't trouble you with how I did it. God! One and a half miles with a hole through the leg. Anyway, here we are, as merry as a cricket and very little pain, really, so don't worry."

Pte Edwards' brother, Horace, was serving with the 1/5th Beds Regiment in Egypt.

[The Saturday Telegraph: July 8th, 1916. Illustration: Wikipedia]