French military honour for Holbeach soldier in 1916

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A brave Holbeach soldier had been awarded a French military honour in 1916.

Driver mechanic John Hedqvist, of Barrington Gate, who was serving with the 1st Northants, was awarded the French Medaille Militaire for his attention to wounded men under fire.

One of the soldiers he rescued had written about the experience.

He said they had gone “over the top” at noon, heading for the German trenches about 400 yards away.

The soldier wrote: “I saw the poor fellows falling all around me until we got within 40 yards of the German trenches.

“Then all of a sudden a crash, and a sting in my leg bowled me over. There I lay in awful agony for about an hour, and then the pain went off and my leg became numbed with cold, for which I was very thankful.

“The bombardment and continuous hail of bullets kept on until dark, when the Huns grew a little quiet.

“It was the most perilous time of my life, and I thanked God I was left alive. I lay from one o’clock Tuesday until midnight Friday before I was brought in.”

It was only when the wounded soldier attempted to crawl back to his line that his movements were spotted.

It was at this point that John Hedqvist, under cover of darkness, went out and removed the soldier’s equipment and cut off his putties and trousers from the wounded leg. He then bound it and stood the soldier up.

The soldier continued: “He put me on his back and ran for his life into our first-line trench.”

John then went back and tried to bring in two of the Cameron Highlanders “but they in their endeavours to crawl into our trench had crawled into the German trenches”.