Contributed by: Floyd Moody, on 2008-11-09
|Year of Birth||1883|
|Year of Death||1929|
|Place of Wartime Residence||London, Greater London|
In response to the BBC request for anecdotes from the Great War I submit this tale related to me as a boy by my mother. It refers to one of her uncles. It is the story of Edwin Chilcott, a piano maker by trade, who at the age of 32 left his wife and three children and joined the ranks of the 5th London Regiment in 1916. After his training he was sent to fight as an infantryman in mainland Europe. In those days it was trench warfare and he joined the Eastern theatre of war as a private.
The trenches were by no stretch of the imagination comfortable, even in the closing stages of the war so when the inevitable command 'over the top' came he climbed up the slope to face enemy fire and thought 'I am going to die, I know I am so I will at least die in comfort' and with that he cast away most of his kit that all soldiers were issued with and raced towards enemy lines. The irony of it all is that he was wrong, he didn't die and eventually returned to his London home after the war in September 1919, but not after he had been disciplined and made to pay for all the missing kit he had discarded in no mans land that day on his way to the enemy.
When you think of how much kit there must have been strewn all over Europe, left by the dead and captured, the action of his officers was no display sympathy, only the seriousness of war. Although injured, which caused him to be demobbed with a pension, he went on to have another two children before a premature death in the late 1920s caused by injuries received in the war.