Friday, 28 April 2017

100 Years

If events 10 years ago today had played out slightly differently, you wouldn't be reading this post.

On the morning of April 28th, 1917, my paternal grandfather - born on 5th November, so always went by Guy - was injured at Gavrelle, Arras. He was 18, having added two years to his age in order to volunteer early in 1915 and follow his older brother into the military. There was little incentive to check records too closely in those days. He was with the Royal Marines.  
In the early hours of the 28th at 4.25 the attack started and little more was ever heard from 1 RM, piecing together the course of the attack involves much reading around. Many Marines were therefore shot down quickly and the attack began to falter badly. At 7:15 the first news of 1 RM was received at headquarters and that was that a wounded marine of the 4th wave said that the wire was very strong but the others had gone on. No official news was coming back from 1 RM only information from the wounded, the information was then out of date. The truth was 1 RM was now basically wiped out with remnants holding its jumping off trench, isolated pockets of men were trapped behind the German counter attack.
My Grandpa was one of those men.

After lying for several hours wounded in the mud, he was finally rescued that night. He lost an eye, and had serious injuries to his leg / knee, but ended up leading a 'normal' life before dying at the age of 88 in 1987. 

Sadly I missed his funeral as I was in Turkey at the time, and my family had no way of contacting me, but I have his War Medals which mean a lot to me.

His older brother was killed the following April in Belgium. 

It's hard to imagine what some people went through back then. Pondering genuine life and death matters helps to keep things in perspective. Losing a bet or a football match is incredibly trivial in the whole scheme of things.

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