Letter from Spalding dispenser brings news of war

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter

News from a Spalding sergeant serving at the front was shared with readers 100 years ago.

Sgt Horace Bland, chief dispenser to the 49th Field Ambulance, 37th Division, RAMC, had written to his brother, Cyril Bland, who lived in Churchgate in Spalding.

Sgt Bland’s knowledge
of French, picked up during travels in France and
Switzerland prior to the war, was proving of use of his division.

The interpreter had not arrived, and so Horace was given a horse and went in advance with the Major to arrange the billeting in two villages.

Even when the interpreter arrived, Horace reports that his CO was so pleased with
his work, he had again sent him on in advance , this time on a cycle “as the horse I had been using was slightly
lame”.

However, this time he discovered there was only one small village and almost all the brigade, including the field ambulance and the officers, had to bivouac in the open fields for the night.

The next day Horace again had to go in advance, and this time managed to secure some large barns on farms where the men could sleep.

He said they had to share them with large rats, and it became a “common occurrence to wake up in the night “to find a rat calmly sleeping or munching one of your iron ration biscuits on your face”.

At that point the men were about ten miles behind the firing line and could hear the guns. He added: “One could not imagine we were short of shells.”

They had erected a field hospital and Horace had “quite a decent little dispensary”.

Horace said: “In spite of the conditions most of us continue in the best of health and are waiting the word ‘Go’, which will start us on our last march to the front.”