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Who do you think you are - Hugh Dennis

LUCID100's memory of 1st January 1917 - 1st January 1919

Recently after watching the Hugh Dennis episode of 'Who do you think you are' my mother told me her father was in the same WW1 battle in Ypres as the grandfather of Hugh.
My Grandfather, James William Bird, was in the Lincolnshire regiment as a Vickers gunner(Possibly the Sherwood Foresters) but he was unlucky to be captured by the Germans but not as unlucky as some..
Some German soldiers wanted to execute him on the spot but their officer protected his life by drawing his pistol threatening to kill any of his own soldiers who tried to do so.
He was taken to a prisoner of war camp and was used as a medical orderly for some time in very a stressful and hopeless situation but he eventually escaped and made his way back to England helped by the Resistance.
A while after he arrived home injured and weak he received a letter from the King commending him on his escape and bravery the letter also showing compassion and sympathy for his suffering. I think later he also received a medal for his efforts.
Similar to Hugh's Grandfathers he never really spoke of the horrific details of his time there but did tell my Grandmother later in his life a few less graphic tales this one included.
I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering he went through and how it affected him in his later life but I remember him as a loving, kind, strong and talented man who doted on his children and Grandchildren.
He died in 1976 two years after Hugh's Grandfather and was greatly missed by everyone who knew him. I even now think of him quite often and what a great man he was.

John Evans

Also on 1st January 1917...

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  • Radio 1
  • BBC London
  • Radio 4 Today Programme
  • Life 2 Live
  • BBC Leeds
  • BBC World Service
  • Radio 4 - Writing the Century
  • BBC Wales


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