1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Ernest Whitehead

Contributed by: Mike Whitehead, on 2008-11-09

Ernest Whitehead
Rank
First Name Ernest
Surname Whitehead
Year of Birth 1889
Year of Death 1975
Regiment Sherwood Foresters
Place of Wartime Residence Newark, Nottinghamshire

Ernest's Story

My father, who was a farm labourer, enlisted on 22nd October 1914 and served with the 1/8th Sherwood Foresters in France from 6th June 1915 to 25th April 1916. He returned to the UK after losing his right arm just above the elbow. He would never talk about that time and I don't even know the circumstances in which he was wounded. Reading a contemporary history of the 1/8th Battalion, I can find no significant engagement around the few days preceding his return to the UK. It is interesting that, until I unearthed it, even my mother didn't know that it was the second time he had been wounded. After a period in Roehampton Hospital and discharge he became a Postman in October 1919, a job he held down until he was retired at 60 in 1949.

He would never talk about his experiences, so I never knew how he lost his arm

He is the only disabled Postman I have ever come across and wondered how he came to get the job in the first place. One would have thought that two hands were essential for a postman. One of his detachable hands was in the form of a sprung device in which he could hold the letters. He had this and a hook for holding things like a spade when gardening and an artificial hand with a sprung thumb.

A visit to the Post Office Archive Office in London revealed that following WW1 there was positive discrimination in the Civil Service in favour of disabled ex-servicemen.

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