Awful sights on the battlefield

Private A. G. Clarke (7203) R.A.M.C., 1st General Southern Hospital, University, Barnbrook, Birmingham, writes as "an old townsman" to give his experience whilst at the front. He says:

I was attached to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, and on leaving England we had, as we expected, a great reception on arriving at Havre. Our next move was to the rest camp, where we fully enjoyed our rest. Then came the train journey up the country, which was very tiring to the troops, who were packed like sardines, and the journey lasted three days.

We landed with a pouring rain to greet us, and then marched to our first French billets, which were not at all comfortable, but sleep was the main thing. Our cookers would make tea and soup for us whenever a chance came, and we were very thankful for it. Biscuits and bully beef we had plenty of.

Then came the journey on foot to the front, and it was wonderful how the troops stood the long marches as they did. The time came when we had no shelter from rain or cold, and as no fires were allowed to enable us to make tea we drank our cold water - that is if we had any.

We soon heard the guns going off, and that gave us an idea we were nearer the enemy, and our fellows were very anxious to entrench to get off their feet a little. No sooner had they entrenched than shells came from all directions, cutting up our men in numbers. It was an awful sight to pass over the field after the battle, seeing the dead lie in all directions, and hearing the groaning of wounded.

I was sent out afterwards to search for wounded and I was just finishing a poor fellow with treatment when a shell burst behind me, a piece of it catching my foot and badly wounding it. I then crawled a few yards slowly to what I thought would be a place of safety, but the Germans evidently saw us wounded move, as more "Jack Johnsons" came over us, but poor shots this time. We then found it much better to lay as if dead, as outposts of the Germans would wander near us and eventually pass by.

Nightfall came, and so those of us who could walk a bit made off to the Field Ambulance, where we were glad to get proper attention. I rendered first aid to many of our fellows whilst in the thick of it. The Germans evidently don't like us attending to our wounded, but thank God our Red Cross is doing as much as it is.

My foot is going on splendidly, but I am afraid I shall not do again what I have done by our gallant fellows.

[The Luton News, October 15th, 1915]