ARCHIVES INDEX (new window)Memoirs of World War I
Richard Irving Dacre R.A.M.C.
Part 8 - WOUNDED & SICK - JUNE 1917

Towards the end of June 1917 we were holding the line near Bourcies opposite Cambrai, right up against the Hindenburg line, which looked like a very broad ribbon of rusty wire.

Cambrai was burning and everything was very quiet. We sent out a patrol one night and our fellows suddenly got the wind up and came running back for no reason at all. We missed one man, whom we discovered next night dead, with a bullet through his brain and the maggots at the wound.

Head Quarters were situated in a chalk-pit with dug-outs on the Boche side. I had not been feeling very well for a few days and I took my temperature and found it was 100. As I was aching in my legs I concluded that I had Trench fever.

We were to be relieved that night by the 2nd Royal Scots. Their C.O. was rather late turning up and dawn was just breaking when I was relieved.  

It was always the rule that officers never went anywhere by themselves, but that night I had sent Skinner, my servant, on to get me a bath. I remember getting out of the chalk-pit, crossing the road and trying to think where I should go. There was a track leading to the rear of Velu where we had to make for and I determined to go across the open, because everything was quiet except for a few gas shells.

Almost immediately after determining on my direction I remember the whizz of a shell and the splash just in front of me which the shell made on impact. It must have gone between my legs. I can remember no more until I regained consciousness two days later in a Field Ambulance where a fellow student of mine at the B.R.I., a man called Sammy Marle, was the first man I saw.

He told me that I had been picked up by an Australian Sergeant and brought to a Dressing Station. I think he had been looking for something else and found me alive. The next day I was sent to Casualty Clearing, I think No. 9 Australian C.C.S.

I had lost my glasses in the bother. I complained of having a wound in the back and when they looked they found my glasses next to my skin. As luck would have it they must have fallen inside my shirt in front. It had been very hot and I had everything open at the neck.

The next day again I found that my legs and eyes were very sore with the gas and blistered. Again my temperature stayed up and again I was moved to Lady Murray's Hospital - the Golf House D - Le Treport, where I remained a month. I was very ill at this time and lost weight considerably. However, I was at last sent to the Hospital Ship and over the sea to Dover, whence by Hospital Train to Charing Cross and then to the Prince of Wales Hospital, the Great Central Hotel, Marylebone, London.

Later I was sent to recuperate at Branksome Gate, Bournemouth. I found out later that I had been posted as missing, believed killed. Fortunately I was able to get a letter home quite soon after I was admitted to Hospital and my people had no anxiety.

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