Sound: nearly getting killed at Battle of the Somme

A veteran describes nearly getting killed during the Battle of the Somme.


We went into action with the first tanks that ever went into action in war. Ten o’clock that night, half of them were dead or wounded. I was lucky; I was blown up in the Somme. We were going in one night used to go in single file, you had to keep your eye on the bloke in front of you went into the trenches to relieve them.

You know we only had the light of the flares. The stretcher-bearers and the machine-gunners, they gathered I was at the end of the line. I got hold of a bag of rations, and my cobber was the last man in the 10th Company. And I stepped out of the line to go back with him. We were going to have a feed when we’d got to the trenches, you see. And the stretcher-bearers and the machine-gunners stopped in a group there, and while we were standing there, he [the Germans] put a bloody shell clean in the middle of them. Well, there was one fella standing, half covered me. I felt the heat and the blast on me face, and I think that poor devil got anything that’s coming my way. But she just lifted me off my feet and put me, well, near as, I s’pose, to that wall, on the broad of me back, but I never got a mark, and I never got any concussion ’cause I was in the open.

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