Spalding soldier’s miracle escape in 1916

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A Spalding man escaped death by a miracle on the battlefields of France a hundred years ago.

Pte John Measures, son of Mr J H Measures, who lived in The Crescent, Spalding, had been at the front several months with a machine gun section.

However, he had been forced out of action with shell shock when he contacted his family in 1916.

He wrote: “I escaped by a miracle, as six other men who were sleeping in the bottom of a trench with me were killed. I am not injured in any way, except my nerves are badly shaken.”

Pte Measures was knocked out while resting in an old German trench with his fellow soldiers .

He wrote: “Six of our men were absolutely blown to pieces, and eight or nine more wounded. I was pretty badly shaken, but was saved by the fact that I happened to be standing just on the edge of the group among which the shell burst.

“The man next to me was hit in 14 places. I think he collected my share as well.

“I tried to stop in the line, but directly I came up again I got shaky.”

John said when they left the trench they had to cross open ground, and he continued: “I must have been more dazed than I thought , for I lost my way and got into a village, or rather the remains of the village.

“I must have been blown over by another shell but I have no clear recollection of what happened during the next hours. I know at one time I was right up in the firing line again, where I was sent back with another fellow about as bad as myself, but I lost him somewhere. The ground was one mass of shell holes and it was absolutely impossible to tell whether you were on the road, in the wood, or in the village.”