How cruel is fate? This week’s edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser from 100 years ago reports on the deaths of three soldiers who all died in different circumstances.
Private C Clements, a former Market Harborough man, was killed just moments after returning to the Gallipoli frontline in Turkey following a spell in hospital for a bayonet wound.
During a ‘gallant charge on a Turkish position’ Private Clements was bayoneted in the foot but made a ‘splendid recovery’ after treatment in a hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, and was able to return to the fighting line.
“All the boys were just greeting him on his return from hospital when a Turkish shell dropped in the trench and killed him,” says a report in the Harborough Mail’s forerunner, The Market Harborough Advertiser.
Private Clements, who had a wife and child, had most recently been living in Manchester but had previously worked at the Harboro Rubber Co and lived in School Lane, Market Harborough.
Another Harborough soldier, who was only 18 year old, died of wounds suffered in action. Private Bernard Carroll, a member of the Market Harborough Company of Territorials, was the only one of a group of men to be seriously wounded when they came under heavy machine gun fire.
The platoon commander, in a letter to Private Carroll’s parents who lived in Logan Street, Harborough, said: “He was carrying rations to the trenches when the party came under fire of an enemy’s maxim. Several other fellows in the platoon were hit, mostly slightly.”
It appears Private Carroll’s decision to attempt to pick up some ration bags which had been thrown down was the fateful action that led to him being shot in the stomach.
Private Carroll was formerly an altar boy at the town’s Catholic Church.
The newspaper this week also reports on the death of a third Harborough soldier – who died of appendicitis.
Lance-Corporal C Jennings, who left a wife and a six-month-old baby in their matrimonial home in Clarence Street, Harborough, was being treated in a French hospital when he died.
The 23-year-old, who was a prominent member of the Market Harborough Parish Church Choir and a former employee at a hosiery factory, had actually been operated on for appendicitis at Leicester Royal Infirmary just a few months before serving in the war.
Once Lance-Corporal Jennings recovered he was sent to France but had only been there for two months.
The newspaper said: “Although he did not fall on the field of battle, Lance-Corporal Jennings died a soldier’s death for he gave his life while serving his country.”
There is also news of two other Harborough soldiers being wounded in action.
Private Ernest Flude, of East Street in the town, had received ‘a slight wound to the left knee’.
He says: “I don’t think I shall be sent to England with it. We have been having some awful times with the Germans lately. They have even tried to set fire to us in the trenches.”
And Private G Cotton, whose parents lived in Hearth Street, Harborough, had been wounded in the shoulder and leg.
However, he seemed upbeat. “I had some narrow shaves last time in, but a miss is as good as a mile, so all’s well that ends well.”
Former Harborough Mail editor (1992-1996) John Dilley is compiling a real-time blog looking at the Mail’s forerunner, The Market Harborough Advertiser, during the 1914/15 war years while also looking at national newspaper coverage from The Daily Telegraph during the same week 100 years ago.
Follow the blog every Monday by visiting http://newspapersandthegreatwar.wordpress.com.