Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering Enos Welsh

It's a bit late on Remembrance Day to be posting this, but I still think it's appropriate to bring this up. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my great-grandfather fought in World War I. Last year I was discussing this with my father and then he mailed me this thing he had been sent several years ago. My great-grandfather made a prisoner of war statement after he was released and it was placed in the National Archives of Canada.

Reading it always gives me a chill. It was so close to everything changing. The chaos that comes from the creation of families over generations all nearly undone in one act, by one one bullet. Now when you think about that, multiplied by all the men who died during that war, you can only imagine how much more different the world would be today.

Anyway, this is what my great-grandfather, Enos Welsh, wrote about his time in World War 1 in his Prisoner of War statement.

Pte. Enos Welsh
Age on Enlistment 19 years, 9 months
Occupation: fisherman
Enlisted May 11, 1916, proceeded overseas September 27th, 1916.
Company in France - "A" Company

We landed at Rouen Dec. 1st, 1916, and after two weeks of training was drafted to the "Firing Line" on the River Somme. Took part in several raids near Chateau, marched to Arras on 13th April and on the 14th attacked the Germans at Monchy-le-Preux. At 5 am was wounded in the thigh, and a few minutes later was shot in the head by a German Officer and became unconscious for about three hours, was then captured as a prisoner by the German Red Cross and taken to an Advanced Dressing Station.

My wounds were dressed with my own field bandages and I was treated fairly well. Was then taken on a rubber sheet and carried to the nearest village where I lay on the sheet from 4pm to 8pm without food, drink or attendance of any kind. Was taken by box car and carried to another village and placed in a little chapel, used as a hospital. I was then inoculated by a doctor at 11pm, was take to Douai in a Field Ambulance arriving there at 3am. April 15th I then entered a hospital where they robbed me of everything I possessed and placed me in a bed without sheets. This hospital was in charge of Russian prisoners who were acting as orderlies. At 10am, April 15th I was operated on by three doctors without chloroform and suffered severely, they only laughed at my suffering.

I was then taken back to bed and was given a little barley water, the first food after being captured, was there till the 18th April without having my wounds dressed. From there I was taken on a hospital train and carried to Osnabruck (Germany), where my sounds were attended to and I was given paper bandages to put on them. Here I received a little more food. Was in hospital for four more months and was very badly treated - no nurses in attendance.

In August 1917 I was sent to Hammel and put in a prison camp where I received very little food till the Red Cross parcels arrived from England. My wounds were still giving trouble and were seldom attended to. After two weeks I was ordered to work but refused, as I was unable to work. I was then placed in a dungeon for four days without food or clothing. I was ordered to work, which I tried to perform. I worked on a small railway for four days and was then laid up for a month. Received very bad treatment from the sentries.

On December 7th, 1917 was sent back to Hammel and was marked for Manheim to be examined by neutral doctors. I was then sent to Chateau Dix (Switzerland) arriving there on Dec. 28th, 1917. Was three months in Switzerland. Arrived in England on the 24th, March 1918 and was there about two weeks and on Empire Day, May 24th, 1918 I arrived at St. John's.

Last Five
1. Manhattan - Kings of Leon
2. American idiot - Green Day*
3. Clever not beautiful - Hawksley Workman
4. One flight down - Norah Jones
5. Then end of all rivers (live) - Bruce Cockburn


Clare said...

I often ponder the very idea of how lucky I was that my grandfather survived the Great War, for I owe my very existence to that fact. And it was often just a matter of seconds or inches where a man lived or died. Combatants died at the average rate of almost 6000 a day for almost 4 1/2 years. Staggering to think about.

Do you mind if I share your G-Grandfather's account with a forum that I belong to that discusses the Great War?

In Iqaluit said...

Oh my. How terrible the wounds and treatment but how amazing what others did for what they believed and to have some of what he experienced captured in print.

And it makes me feel awfully spoiled and ungrateful. I don't want to be. I am glad that we use November 11th to remember.

Megan said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing this.

Dups said...

Craig, sincerely, thank you so much for sharing that. Thank you very much.


Alan W. Davidson said...

And rightly so that his thoughts and comments should be placed in the National Archives. Great post, thanks for sharing that.

Craig Westcott said...

Craig, it looks like you're not the first writer in your line. Your grandfather's account shares some very telling details. Accounts like this should be posted on storyboards at The Rooms.
I hope all is well in the Great White North.
Craig Westcott.

towniebastard said...

Thanks for the kind words, one and all. Oh, and Clare, of course you can use this on your forum.