Friday, July 23, 2010

A little bit of WWI

A couple of months ago I got hold of my grandfathers service record from WWI which I thought was interesting, well at least it was interesting to me. Being that he was from Denbigh in North Wales he, maybe not unsurprisingly, joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1916, and so it begins:

Enlisted April 16th 1916 at Wrexham.

Training at Park Hall, Oswestry.

Draft for France August 1916. Southampton to Le Harve Base camp France.

Drafted to 1st battalion R W F. 22nd Brigade, 7th Division

Posted to “D” Company, 14th Platoon, Lewis Gun Detachment.

Promoted L/Cpl January 1917

Promoted Full corporal June 1917

Promoted Sergeant October 1917

Home leave from France 12th – 22nd October 1917.

Division sent to Italy November 1917

Acting CQMS November 1917

Wounded July 25th 1918

Hospital in Stockport and Knutsford September – November 11th 1918.

Discharged 3rd January 1919 from 3rd Battalion RWF, Limerick, Eire

According to the RWF Regimental Record the month of July 1918 was a 'peaceful' month, I guess that depends from whose perspective you are looking. The RWF moved to the Asiago Plateau in northern Italy, entering the front line near Roncalto on the 20th July relieving the 1st Staffordshire Regiment.

Five days later my grandfather was shot whilst on a patrol. According to my Grandfather they had to move through a cutting, he warned the senior officer that he thought there were Austrians ahead and that they should turn back but he was overruled, they moved on and he was hit in the head, the war ended for him in that moment, though he wouldn't see home for another six months.

I never noticed any effect from his being shot, but by then he was quite old and I was probably too young to notice anyway, my grandmother is said to have remarked he came back a very changed man, he certainly turned his back on the family business, which was eventually closed down, my father says that because of the injury he basically never really worked again and lived his life on his war pension. He lived into his eighties, passing away in 1980.

I was surprised that he had 10 days home leave in 1917, I somehow imagined that once you went to war that was it until it was all over, though 10 days leave in 3 years isn't much and it must haven taken a couple of days to get home anyway!! Was he really discharged from Hospital the day the war ended or was that some administrative thing? I actually saw the hospital he stayed at in Stockport, we lived on the outskirts of Stockport in my teens and recall my Dad showing me the building one time. Even more surprising was his being discharged in Limerick, no idea why, again I imagined he would have been discharged in Wrexham which was still a fair way from Denbigh, but closer than Ireland!

WWI is an era I have never really had an interest in gaming, though not because of any family sensitivities, more the idea of playing on a table of mud with almost all your troops wiped out without moving doesn't fit my description of fun. However I have recently bought two "large skirmish" sized early war armies from Renegade. The first few months of the war were markedly different, more maneuver, more traditional engagement, more fun!! Now when I eventually get them painted up I might do some WWI scenarios, don't hold your breath though, as I paint very slowly.

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