Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Bletsoe Man Suffers Severe Frostbite

St Mary's Church, Bletsoe c.1905 [Z1306/18/9]

Wednesday 8th March 1916: Private W. Wildman of Bletsoe [1]  has written to Miss B. Wildman from Lancashire where he is hospitalised with severely frostbitten feet sustained in Serbia. It seems the “active” part of his war lasted only two weeks and he is unlikely to return to the front. He says:

“I left England on November 6th, and it took us 12 days to go across, and I wasn’t sorry when we landed. I stayed at Salonika a week, and then marched off to Serbia. We lay out in the open every night, and the ground was covered with snow; Serbia is all mountains. On December 2nd I got frostbitten and had to be carried away on a stretcher, and they had to cut my boots off me. My feet were as black as coal. Then I went to Alexandria in Egypt. I landed there on Christmas Eve, and I had a jolly good time. I was there till January 22, then I set sail for England. It took us nine days to come home; I was laughing when I landed on English soil again. We had another night travelling on the hospital train, and went down to Lancashire. I am in a very nice hospital now. It is the biggest hospital in England; there are about 3,000 beds in it, and there is a large theatre, big enough to hold 1,000. It is better than going to town theatres; on Saturdays they have pictures I have to go on a wheel chair. I have lost one big toe already, the nurse cut it off with scissors last Wednesday. It feels a lot better off. I have seen a lot of young chaps with all their toes off, and some with their feet off. I shall be here for three months at the least, but I shall not go out to the front again. I think I have had my share of it.”

Source: Bedfordshire Times, 10th March 1916

[1] Probably William, son of John James and Martha Wildman of Bletsoe, born 1896.

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