Monday, 6 January 2014

Great War British soldier's letter reveals account of attack




BURTONION Arthur Garner was just 22-years-old when he received the order to ‘fix bayonets’ before an attack on a German trench in the First World. Little did he know it at the time, but Arthur, a Private in the 1/6 North Staffordshire Regiment, was about to become one of almost 4,000 casualties in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt on the afternoon of October 13, 1915. Arthur’s story came to light after his 65-year-old grandson, historian Terry Garner, came forward with a letter his grandfather wrote to his parents in Tutbury Road as he recovered from his wounds. The letter, which was published in the Burton Daily Mail two weeks after the attack, revealed the vivid details of the assault which claimed the lives of 63 Burton men. Arthur, it emerged, was one of the lucky ones. After advancing through a maelstrom of shrapnel and small arms fire, Arthur and a gallant band of other men captured their first objective – the German trench known as Big Willy. But here, his luck ran out. In the letter, Arthur revealed how he became one of a mounting list of casualties. He said: “It was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon when we had made a charge and captured a German trench. “We were going to another and I was throwing bombs when a German shot me twice in the leg. “He did not live long afterwards; my mate put him out. I got hit through the right leg. “I think one was an explosive bullet, as it made a tiny hole.” Arthur ended the letter by asking his parents to send woodbines, writing paper, envelopes and stamps. He said: “I expect you wonder what I have done with the writing pad and envelopes you sent. “They are on the battlefield. All I thought of was to get the dressing station with my leg.” Speaking almost a century after his grandfather’s exploits, Terry, a former Molson Coors brewery worker, of Leander Rise, Stapenhill, told the Mail Arthur rarely spoke about his wartime experiences before his death in the 1960s. He is also unsure what happened to Arthur following his rehabilitation as the records were destroyed in the Second World War. Read more HERE