Contributed by: Robert Chaplin, on 2008-11-06
|Year of Birth||1899|
|Year of Death||1961|
|Regiment||Royal Army Medical Corps|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Croydon, Surrey|
A stretcher bearer just eighteen years old.
My father was a stretcher bearer in the R.A.M.C. but would not tell me of his experiences at Passchendaele in October, 1917 until I was a young adult. Below the Ridge, two German blockhouses were captured and used one as a field dressing station and the other as a base for stretcher bearers. The injured were carried to to the blockhouse, broken bodies lifted from the mud that covered their wounds. Some could not be reached before the all embracing mud enveloped them and they drowned. Men screamed in agony Men cried for lost comrades. Men sat sat shell shocked and silent. No heroics here. No glory of war. The stretcher bearers went back and forth. "It was muddy." "It was wet". "It was bloody." And he wept. I made a personal pilgrimage to Passchendaele many years later and at that time I felt very close to my father who had departed this life some time earlier. And I too wept.