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Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale

30th October 1917

Walter: Bad news coming from the Italian Front. The Austrians have broken through. Was speaking to George Stone about it this morning. He said it’s because of the defeat at Caporetto last week and now Cadorna and his men are falling back fast.

To find out more about the Battle of Caporetto, visit https://goo.gl/UAgaaF

26th October 1917

Mary: Edward, Walter, I’m sending you each a set of these. Your father says they’re the business.

Walter: Thanks, Ma. We get army issue drawers but I could definitely do with a fresh set. I’ll have to be careful they don’t get swapped if I go through delousing!

Ed: Thanks Ma!

To see British military kit through the ages, including the First World War, visit https://goo.gl/Yj7Dge

24th October 1917

Rose: Hopefully a chance for a proper rest tonight as the fighting seems to have quietened down. I feel like I haven’t slept properly for months. Not just because of the endless casualties but because of the dreadful noise. We were moved to a new CCS closer to the line here in Belgium as an experiment to see if we could keep more men alive if they were treated sooner. Lots of resistance from people who argued that women shouldn’t be this far up but we stuck it, despite being a target for the German bombers and having the Allied artillery so close that every blast shook the ground. After a while there hardly seemed any point in going to bed… Still, I hope we managed to improve the survival rate. The endless funerals would suggest otherwise. For a while I got so used to my patients dying that I stopped reacting, I just thought of it as one more medical failure.

Walter: Glad things have settled down a bit for you. We’re in the line nearer Nieuport now, which is mostly held by the Belgians in case (as they put it) we British ‘forget’ to go home when the war’s over… A bit of enemy shelling as we’re within range of Fritz’s heavy artillery but mostly quiet.

Jamie: Get some rest and don’t be so hard on yourself. You do so much good – think of all the men who’ve made it through under your care. Me included.

To find out more about nursing in the war, including a real nurse in Rose’s position, visit https://goo.gl/sdfs7o

23rd October 1917

Walter: John mate, you were on the Broke, weren’t you? Do you reckon you’ll be in this film? Hope you healed up alright in the end.

John: Good to hear from you Walt. I’m doing alright thanks. Mended up but with a terrific scar. All my lot are excited to see the film…

To see footage from the film, visit https://goo.gl/7krSzu

20th October 1917

Walter: Managed to get hold of a newspaper while I was supervising trench repairs and it was full of stories about spies. First Bolo Pasha, the French bloke they think joined forces with the enemy to fund a peace campaign, he’s on trial, and now ‘Mata Hari’ has been executed.

To read more about Mata Hari, visit: https://goo.gl/45UEPj

18th October 1917

Mary: I know I keep going on about it, but it’s such a trial to get food now. I daren’t think how many hours of my life I’m wasting standing in queues for a measly bit of whatever the shops can spare. We’re hungry all day and night and anything I do get I end up giving most of to Thomas, seeing as he has to go out to work. Not that getting all the hard graft done around the house is any easier. We’re both skinny as rakes. So is everyone. 10-15 large food ships are being sunk on their way here every week and there’s no tea to be got anywhere. Over the weekend some shops who had a tiny bit left were selling it for 4 shillings a pound! No butter neither, though needless to say Margaret next door seems to have got hold of some. If her husband is one of these ‘butter profiteers’ they’re on about in the newspaper then I shall have something to say about it.

Walter: This sounds miserable, Ma. I hope you’re alright. Maybe the government needs to organise something official so everyone gets their fair share. That’s the one good thing about army food, I suppose. All the men get the same amount.

Lily: It’s the same all over. Every shop I go past on my motorbicycle rounds has a queue out the door. And the lack of tea is somehow the worst of it! Even if you haven’t had much to eat you can get by if you’ve got a hot cuppa.

Mabel: Have you tried cocoa instead? Rowntree’s are trying to make the most of the tea shortage…

17th October 1917

Fred: Things have been hard lately. Don’t really like to talk about it but what with no sleep and a baby and a job and my nerves still suffering, I’ve not been on top form. Thought I’d do well to get out of the house this evening so I took a chance and went to see if our mate Bert was down the old drill hall at St John’s Hill, him being caretaker now. It was odd seeing the place again but I was in luck – Bert was just locking up. Nearly didn’t recognise him, but it was just that he’s put on a bit of weight since our army days. He seemed surprised to see me too, but pleased. So we went for a pint and a chat. Him with his missing ear and me with my shakes. What a pair. Great to see him though. Would’ve been good to see you and all, Walt! Seemed odd not to have the three of us together.

Walter: Glad Fred and Bert have managed to meet up. Seems a lifetime ago we were all back at the drill hall together as young Terriers. Just boys, really. Those were good times… Best not to think about it too much.

To see the drill hall as it is today, visit https://goo.gl/EYrNAn

12th October 1917

Walter: 250 of us here at Dunkirk have been attached for work to the 25th Tunnelling Company of the Royal Engineers. Not actually in the tunnels, thank goodness, so no felt slippers and rubber-wheeled trolleys for us, but we’ll be on support and security duties. Everyone’s griping again about the tunnellers getting twice our pay…

Find out more, visit https://goo.gl/gYPDiV

11th October 1917

Lily: Fed up today. My good friend Winnie from work has left to join the WAAC to be a cemetery gardener, of all things. I’d love to be going with her. Last I heard they weren’t interested in motorbicycle girls, only motor mechanics, but maybe they’ve changed their minds. Not that I’m any good at gardening either… Wish you were here to talk it through with, Walter.

To find out more about the WAAC visit https://goo.gl/qaaHdy

9th October 1917

Walter: Arrived at Dunkirk Bains, in France. We’re not along the main trench line here, that’s further north at Nieuport in Belgium, but we’re providing defence in case there’s a threat from the sea. If the German troops invade from the water, someone’s got to be there to stop them, haven’t they? After all, whoever has control of the coast could invade Britain… and Germany holds most of the Belgian shoreline as it is. The landscape around here is odd though – we marched past a lot of flooded land. That’s done on purpose as another form of defence. Still, it’s nice to be in a quieter sector, and somehow England doesn’t seem so far away when you can see the Channel.

Lily: It’s nice to know you’re closer. And hopefully safer.

To find out more about defence on the ‘Opal Coast’, visit https://goo.gl/QX7hio

6th October 1917

Walter: On the move today. Glad to be getting away from the recent fighting. Marching to Dunkirk for something a bit different – we’ll be helping with coastal defence. Bit of sea air. So far the march hasn’t been too bad and the lads have mostly kept good formation, not to mention it’s a good chance to get to know George better (my CQMS). He lost a finger at the Somme – could have been a ‘Blighty one’ but he managed to wangle his way back to the battalion. Couldn’t stand to leave the boys in the lurch, as he puts it. Seems a good bloke.

To hear Vesta Tilley singing ‘I’ve a Bit of a Blighty One’ in 1917, visit https://goo.gl/y4cvQN

5th October 1917

Ed: Saddlery inspection today. No chance for mucking about neither, now that I’ve been promoted… Better check everyone’s equipment is in order. Head stall, bridle, saddle (with steel stirrups and D rings polished), reins, spare horse shoes…

Walter: Sounds like Ed’s getting to grips with his new responsibilities. Good for you, Bombardier Carter.

To find out about horse equipment in WWI, visit https://goo.gl/r9EgLL

3rd October 1917

Mary: Five raids in a week… it’s getting exhausting rushing off to the local shelter and back again at all times of the day and night. And to think it’s only a tiny bit of what you’re going through, Walter! How do you stand it? It’s no wonder it sends men mad. We’re getting used to the sight of special constables wearing tin hats like the soldiers though. It makes sense to protect them from shrapnel when they’re up and about looking after us all.

Mrs Wiggins: Here’s an idea – the Huns won’t keep bombing our towns if we retaliate by bombing theirs, will they? The Daily Express says so too. We need reprisals. An eye for an eye.

Evan: Do you honestly think we should bomb civilians? The way it is at the moment, our airmen only aim at military sites. I’m glad of that, even if I don’t agree with the war.

To find out more about air raids and civil defence, visit https://goo.gl/GQnKnj

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Now available as a Paperback and on Kindle
Walter Carter
WW1 Soldier's Tale