Forgot to say.. Total number of views now 8471 from 78 countries
MK News have today published a article on the diary with links to their web site. A nice piece of jounalism for which I am indebted to Chris Kight. Thanks Chris ! Take a look…Here are the two links:
It is now some time since my last post. The number of visitors has continued to grow and I am pleased to report that the web site has now had over 8000 visits from 70 countries. I spent this lunchtime at the studio of BBC Three Counties radio taking part in a discussion with Nick Coffer which has given the site a further boost. Please visit it and if you google Nick Coffer diary you can listen to the broadcast. I think the Beeb in the person of Nick and Alice, his producer did a first class job for which I am most grateful
About a week after this I was clamouring to get out of hospital, but of course doctor would not hear of this. However I did get out a fortnight earlier than arranged and went home on sick furlough for 6 weeks, every day of which I enjoyed – It nearly broke my heart to have to return to the realities of army life again and this time with a new Corps too. I had been transferred whilst on sick furlough to the Royal Engineers as a Telegraphist and only got the confirmation of my transfer a couple of Days before I was due to rejoin the Irish Guards at Warley Barracks, Essex. Instead rejoined the RE at Aldershot
And so we come to the end of Leo’s diary. It is difficult to be sure of his movements after this as the records of the Royal Engineers were largely destroyed during the second world war. There is however a clue. In a pocket at the back of the diary are two newspaper cuttings (shown below). Both show the disposition of troops on the Somme in 1916 so it could well be that he saw service there.
Did he survive the war ? Yes, but sadly, only just. In March 1919 he died of blood poisoning having pricked his thumb on a rose. This information was given to me by his family and is borne out by the death certificate. Since documents in the possesion of his family show that he visited his wife and children who were “seriously ill with flu” in hospital it is quite possible that the “Spanish Flu” was a contributory factor. Having survived so much it seem so sad that he should have died in this way. He lies in a military grave in Bedford Cemetery (picture below)
I would like to express my thank to all of you who have followed Leo’s journey with me. It has taken a hundred years, but he has at least been heard. ) This site has now recieved over 5000 visits from 48 countries)
Rest in Peace Leo along with the countless friends you lost and thank you for sharing at least a part of your journey with us.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
It is my hope that we can find out more about Leo’s war. we have seen that he was re enlisted in the Royal Engineers as a signaller ( service number 33982) If we could find out which unit he was attached to then we could learn more about where he served. If anyone has any ideas which would help us to build a more complete picture I would be most grateful for your comments. I intend to keep this web page active for the indefinate future and will check regularly and post any further developments. Thank you.
I ate a hearty breakfast that morning , talking in between bites. I felt so happy and could not seem to talk fast enough. I really cannot explain how happy I was – One of the first things I did when I saw the doctor that morning ( I firmly believe it was his treatment (Galvanic) that had pulled me through ) was to thank him and his able sisters and nurses for the pains they had taken over me.
The way I recovered my speech and hearing is rather a mystery both to myself and all who were connected with my case. The evening before should not have heard a gun go off by my bedside and the following morning at 6 am. I was awakened by the noise of my breakfast being placed on my bedside table . I opened my eyes and without an effort on my part said “Good morning Nurse “ Oh ! the surprise on that nurses face (and mine too ) She nearly had a fit and left the remainder of the bed patients breakfasts while she went and told sister. In a very few moments sister arrived and the laughing and merriment at my recovery was fully established.
At this point, as Leo starts to recover I thought it would be nice for all of you following this blog to see this man that we have come to know… So here he is (centre) seated by the side of his nurse whilst convalescing We do not know where or when exactly that the photograph was taken, but to me at least his face shows something of what he has been through as we have been priviliged to follow him over the last few months.
Sisters and nurses were all so good to me – Recovered my speech on the 21st January Oh! Shall I ever forget the joy I felt, when I found I could both speak and hear again. It was one of the happiest days of my life. When my wife came up that afternoon she got such a surprise to hear my voice and see me laughing . I was talking to Nurse as she walked in the ward. Had such a lot to talk about too. It was eight in the evening before my wife left for home, but she left a different woman and as happy as a sandboy and so was I
About midnight sister came and took her away. She stayed in the hospital that night and was with me soon after nine in the morning again. This time with a slate and pencil, on the slate I answered and asked a thousand and one questions. This seemed to cheer my wife up a bit and she went home in the afternoon, but came up each day and stayed hours with me. I do think this was very kind of the hospital and I appreciated it a very great deal.
Arrived in England (Southampton) on New Years Eve about noon and that evening arrived in London and taken to St Bartholomews Hospital , London. Was treated with the greatest kindness by everybody, the people of the British Red Cross in my opinion could not have been kinder, they did all they could for me and went to my home in Hampstead and Brought my wife to St Barts that very evening in a car to see me. It would be about 10 o clock when she saw me – Oh, what a meeting. I was ever so pleased to see her and though I could not speak, my eyes told her how happy I was to see her again. She was very cut up at my condition and cried bitterly most of the time.
Some little time after she gave me an injection with a tiny syringe, presume it was morphia for I felt myself dropping off to sleep – Slept ‘til about 9 in the morning but on waking the pain returned as bad as ever. Was given food in the shape of hot milk, Brand’s Essence etc. but nothing solid. Don’t believe I could have eaten anything had I been allowed to – Was seen by the medical officer about noon, but what he said I do not Know. Sister appeared to be giving my history to him. Was marked for England the following day and left Boulogne on the morning of 30th December on a stretcher and put on board the Hospital ship “St David”. Still little or no improvement in my condition.