The Great War Interviews - 8. John Willis Palmer
John Willis Palmer, a Signaller with the Royal Field Artillery, recalls how the mud and fatigue at Passchendaele broke his spirit.
18-year-old shop assistant John enlisted into the army in 1911, and became a Gunner with the Royal Field Artillery. In August 1914 he was appointed Acting Bombardier and posted to France, where the realities of mud, fatigue and death began to break his spirit. His account is tinged with the hopelessness and cowardice felt by many men who did not feel mentally or physically capable of the endless advances and retreats over a few feet of pock-marked ground. During a time when John contemplated self-inflicting wounds to remove himself from the situation, he was injured by a nearby shell burst. Having sustained severe wounds to his back and shoulders, he returned to England.