Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Quarter-Master's Work

Wilfred Hammond [Z1360/2/5]

Thursday 7th June 1917: Sergeant Wilfred Hammond of the King’s Royal Rifles has written home from the Front describing his work as an acting quartermaster:
“At present I am doing Quarter-“blokes” work having taken our Company Quarter-Master Sergeant’s. place while he is on leave. As you probably do not know anything about this item, I will try to explain the work. A CQMS is the man responsible for the supply of everything a soldier needs from a needle and cotton down (or rather up) to the daily rations. Naturally the latter is the chief concern, dealing with a Company of men and wen the Company is in the line the Quarter-master puts the rations into sand-bags and escorts them up to the trenches to the boys. At present my rations go up on pack mules and this frequently causes fun when the said mules play the fool and start stunting about with a pile of rations converting them into Dromedaries.”
 He also recounts an “peculiar incident” in which he was involved:
“I had just stepped out of a trench onto a road when a single horseman was coming down the road at a good pace. When just against me he did a peculiar motion and off came his tin hat. I didn’t look at the man and horse but trotted back for his tin had, and having got it and turned round, I couldn’t see the rider but the horse seemed to have changed shape somewhat. With that rapidity so worthy of the Derwent Duffs I yelled “Are you all right” when through the moonlit air came back “No, I b— well ain’t!” Upon investigating I found the rider hanging upside down under the horse’s stomach with one foot through the stirrup. I grip him and heave him on to the horse’s back and obviously I heave him on with his back to the horse’s head.”
Wilfred Hammond previously worked for the Bedford Borough Electric Light Department, but left to join the army while he was still under military age. He has been in France since Empire Day 1916, and in September last year he was awarded the Military Medal for great presence of mind in action when he took charge of a Lewis gun against the enemy, although this was not work for which he was trained. He anticipates that he will be back in action again soon: “Everything here is quite alright at present but I think we shall see some fun shortly. Mark time on that!”

Sources: Hammond family papers [Z1360/1/59]; Bedfordshire Standard, 22nd June 1917

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