At 11 am on 11th November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of World War One. 98 years ago, my Grandfather was in the thick of it.
Turkey signed an armistice at the end of October 1918, Austria-Hungary followed on 3rd November. The German Kaiser abdicated on 9th November, 1918 and on 11th November, 1918 an armistice was signed and the war was over.
Between nine and 13 million people perished in this war. Many still have no resting place.
My Grandfather was injured twice in World War One, fighting on the British side. On Sunday, 7th of April, 1918 at 4am, they were roused and told that they would be recapturing the Hangard wood from the Germans at 445am and “we were given the hint that no prisoners were wanted”. They ended up going at 430am and “encountered some particularly severe fighting” when they entered the wood: “a lively hail of rifle and machine gun fire”. Grandfather got to 15 metres from the German line when he grabbed a Mills Grenade and held it by his teeth ready to pull the pin.
At that point, my grandfather felt a “wallop…got it fair through both thighs”. Dropping his equipment, he staggered back to the rear of the British line. He lay for a few hours until found by “a pal…nearly cried when he saw the state I was in”
The field staff all believed he was going to die and attempted to make his last hours as comfortable as possible. Astonishingly. he fought back to life despite having lost a huge amount of blood. He was transported back to England and when the Armistice was signed, was recovering at a military camp called Sutton Veny. He was just 24.
Today we remember all who died in wars. I also hope and pray humanity can find a way of resolving issues that does not involve sending our best and youngest to die.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
In April 2018, I will retrace the steps of my Grandfather by hiking along the Western Front in France. I would like to be at the exact spot he was injured, 100 years on.