Contributed by: Jane Stacey, on 2008-11-07
|Year of Birth||1896|
|Year of Death||1988|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset|
This is a story told by my grandfather, Horry (short for Horatio) Rogers, who, like so many of his generation, lied about his age in order to sign up for the war, and spent most of the four dreadful years at the front. Typically, this funny little story does not relay any of the horrors he must have seen but thank god he came back to be able to tell us this tale.
'I ever so slowly raised my head to find myself staring straight into the eyes of a German soldier'
This is the story as recounted by my 84-year-old mother, his daughter:
At the start of the First World war in 1914 my father was only 18 years of age. It was midnight and the quiet period before one major battle. All was still and the Glorious Gloucesters were waiting in a long trench. Before them was No Man's Land and on the other side, the enemy in another long trench. Noises and voices could be heard from both sides but as yet, no fighting. My father was given the order to go out on patrol to spy on the enemy from a safe distance and report back and this is how he described it: "I was crawling through the long grass, hardly daring to take a breath, eyes peeled, straining to see how far I had gone. Hang on, was that a rustle? I stopped and waited - not a sound. Again I inched forward, heart pounding. There it was again! Once more I froze, heart in my mouth I looked behind me to see if anyone had come with me - utter silence. I was all alone in No Man's Land, heading for the German trenches. Hang on, there it was again, only this time I hadn't moved! Flat on the grass, I ever so slowly raised my head to find myself staring straight into the eyes of a German soldier, also flat on the ground with his head raised! In that instant I took in he was about the same age as me and the scared look on his face mirrored exactly the way I was feeling. Time seemed to stop for a moment. We both knew what we should do, and our eyes seemd to relay hundreds of messages - but just what did we do? At exactly the same moment, we both leapt up, turned heel and ran off in opposite directions!"
My father went on to fight many battles and ended the war as acting Sergeant Major in the Machine Gun Corps. He came home with a shrapnell wound in his neck and went on to marry and have six children. Was my father a great man? He was to me but he never bragged about his time at the front, just this funny little story, told to make us laugh.