Our boys were reported dead

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
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One hundred years ago this week, news began to arrive that many men from the area had either been wounded or killed in action during World War 1.

Pte. M Smith, of Swineshead, wrote a letter from his hospital bed in the American Women’s War Hospital, Paignton, South Devon, having been seriously injured in the battle of Aisne.

He said: “I expect you know that I am wounded. I got it from a “Jack Johnson” and the chap in front of me was killed outright - I don’t think he even gave a murmur. They shelled us terribly in the morning and at night they tried to reach our trenches but they were beaten back again, and again, through the peppering our chaps gave them.

“After lying in water and sludge all night I was taken to a field hospital, wet and starved through. Then they cut off my trousers and gave me a blanket and I soon forgot that I had been cold.

“I have been under the X-ray three times and they have discovered the bit of shell - it is along side the thigh bone, near the hip.”

The shell was later extracted after a painful operation, while two other men from Swineshead - Pte. Wright and Pte. Matthew Smith - of the Welsh Fusiliers were also injured in battle and moved to English hospitals. A further two men from Swineshead - Pte. James Moore and Pte. H. Stevenson - were also killed in battle.

Pte. A Brown of the 2nd Lincolns, from Surfleet, was also killed in action. Pte. Brown had joined the army one Sunday afternoon when the recruiting officer was in Gosberton.

After a time, he went to India where he stayed for eight years, and he then went out to South Africa at the outbreak of the war there. He was wounded twice and after the war he was in hospital with enteric fever (Typhoid). He was then put on the reserve, but his family heard very little from him.

It was not known precisely where Pte. Brown died but it was thought that he might have been killed by a bursting shell whilst the men were advancing at the battle of Aisne.

He had two brothers who were in France at the time. James was in the 2nd Lincolns and George was in the transport section. His brother, Herbert had also been wounded and another brother, Bertram, was a territorial in the 4th Lincoln regiment.