Sunday, November 11, 2012

Re-post: Remembering Enos Welsh

I first put this up in 2009. I still think it's one of the best posts I've ever put on this blog, even though I never wrote most of the words in it. So for Remembrance Day I can think of nothing more appropriate to put up on the blog then my great-grandfather's words about what he went through in World War 1.

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.


John, Perth AU said...

Not to seem flippant, but Canada has Australia (and the US) beat when it comes to films reminding people how horrible war is. That scene at the beginning of Paul Gross' "Passchendaele", where he stabs his rifle bayonet between the beautiful eyes of the young German soldier, shows that both the killer and the killed were victims of war. Gross' grandfather had been haunted by that incident his whole life, and Gross was right to use the film to share the suffering his grandfather had undergone. War is horrible to all involved, and people hould never forget that. That's what Rememberence Day is really about.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. Nothing too original to post, but this does come to mind. War is indeed a solitaire experience--endured by everyone. May peace be upon their souls.

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother...


woody said...

So glad you could share this. Maybe younger people will read this to get some idea the horrors of war