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Corporal "Bert" March

 
 

Harrogate Herald - 6th February 1918

Chats with the Wounded

Corporal "Bert" March, of the Army Service Corps , is in the St George's Convalescent Home from the effects of shell shock. He was a taxi-driver up to joining the Colours in April, 1916, and worked for Mr Robinson at the Victoria Garage. His home is in Regent Terrace, Harrogate. Corporal March has had the remarkable experience of practically recovering his speech in the London air raid last week. Corporal March first went to Dublin and arrived towards the end of the rebellion there, seeing Sackville Street in flames. After his Irish experience he went to France. This was in July last year. He was in th4e Nieuport sector. He was in charge of five motor lorries. He was detailed for certain work which necessitated taking the lorroies down a road within range of the enemy's guns. They could only take one lorry at a time. He was working two lorries in this way, leaving the other three higher up the road, when a German aeroplane came over and spotted the leading lorry. Fritz was evidently under the belief that the lorry was taking up ammunition to one of the batteries, and he flew back to the enemy lines, and in about ten minutes the Germans began shelling the road. There was a strong dugout in which they took shelter, and stayed there till half-past seven at night. The enemy, who had ranged four guns on the road, kept up a bombardment. The men in the dugout were without food and eventually Corporal March went back to the officer in charge for further orders. These he got, and while he was moving up again to carry them out the Germans sent over a 12in shell, which fell in the sand dunes. Fortunately, by March it dropped on the far side of this particular sand dune, or he certainly would have gone west. As luck would have it, it struck the other side and blew the sand dune up, and March with it. March contrived to pick himself up and returned to the officer's dugout and there became unconscious, and when he came to himself he found he had lost his voice. He was in a casualty clearing station in France. This was heavily shelled whilst he was there, and on one occasion nine of the wounded were killed and forty wounded. Corporal March was each night removed from his marquee and placed out of reach of the bombs, and brought back to the marquee each morning. He was eventually removed to Boulogne and was in hospital there about three weeks. When brought over to this country he went into hospital in London, and was there a fortnight before he was moved to the outskirts and placed in the Princess Christian's Hospital, where he underwent the electric treatment. Though there were signs of the voice coming back he could not articulate. He returned to the London hospital, and was there during the present raid. In his nervous state, Corporal March, when the sound of the bombs and the guns firing were heard and the concussions felt, sought shelter under the bed, while one of his pals lay on the bed just to help steady his nerves. After the said Corporal March returned to his bed and slept for about an hour, and when he woke up it was to find that his speech had almost fully returned to him. He had expected that his speech would be much worse from the shock of the raid, but it proved a counter experience to the first shock, and his speech had improved wonderfully. He was sent on to Harrogate with the intention of going into the Heatherdene Hospital, but was diverted to the Convalescent Home, and the next morning he visited his family, and was able to converse with them with nothing worse than a slight impediment in his speech. He has suffered with his head and back, but is nicely improving in this respect also. He expects that the electric treatment will be renewed at Harrogate. While he was in France he met, among others, Harman, who was in the fish business in Harrogate, and had a talk of a quarter of an hour's duration with him on one of the Belgium roads.

[H&S photo]

 

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