This week's prompt shows the kitchen of a hospital train in the First World War
"I had to assist the wounded at a dressing station and stuck to it for about 40 hours. It's blooming hard work being a stretcher bearer in the field."
These were the words of my great uncle George Danson, written three weeks before he was killed on the Somme.
|One of the many embroidered cards sent from Flanders by her sons |
to my widowed great grandmother, Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.
George Danson was the youngest of eight sons (surviving infancy) of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. Born in 1894, he was followed three years later by the birth of an only daughter Jennie. The photographs and memorabilia here come from Jennie's collection.
George (above) was the favourite uncle of my mother and aunt, and they had fond memories of him, perhaps because he was nearest to them in age and took on the role of the big brother. I can see why in the photograph of him above. George worked on W.H. Smith bookstalls at different railway stations in Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
George joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1916 and I was lucky enough to trace his service record on www.ancestry.co.uk as many were destroyed in the Second World War. On his enlistment, George's medical report stated he was 5'3" tall, weighed 109 lbs. (under 8 stone), with size 34 1/2 chest and he wore glasses - so a slight figure to be a stretcher bearer in the turmoil of war.
Also amongst the family papers were two letters written on headed paper of the British Expeditionary Force. A letter of 19th March 1916 to his eldest brother Robert said "I will tell you one thing it is no easy job the army life today and I am of the opinion as most of the chaps are here they won't be sorry when it is all over."
A photograph, sent to his mother, of George's grave.
It conveys in a stark way the reality of war amid the mud and blood that George must have experienced - and contrasts with the pristine white
of the more lasting memorials that we recognise today.
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