Thursday, 18 February 2016

Death of a Stretcher Bearer

Friday 18th February 1916: Mr and Mrs George Bodsworth of 28 Old Road, Linslade have received the following letter from a comrade of their son Private Percy Bodsworth in the 1st/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry:
It is with great regret and with my deepest sympathy that I have to inform you of the death of Percy. He was killed yesterday, February 10th, by a large shell, while performing his duties as a stretcher bearer, and I and all his chums consider that he died a hero's death in that he gave his own life in the attempt to render aid to his wounded comrades. It appears that a large shell fell on a dugout containing a machine gun crew, knocking it in, and wounding some and burying all. The stretcher bearers, of whom Percy was one, immediately ran down to the dug out to render aid to the wounded. Percy must have been leading, for when he got there another shell burst in the same trench, killing Percy at once and shattering the nerves of his mate who was following him. I don't think Percy could have felt any pain as he appeared to have been so close to the shell that it was practically impossible for anything but instantaneous death to have taken place. Percy was very well known amongst the company, and all are very sorry to lose him. Even though it must be a terrible hard blow to you and exceedingly difficult to realise, yet we who have worked and fought with him for the past ten months would assure you in all sincerity that we are proud of him, as we know you will be later on.[1]
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 22nd February 1916

[1] Percy Thomas Bodsworth was just 20 years old when he was killed. He is buried in Hebuterne Military Cemetery. 

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