South Holland man turns warrior in First World War

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A local “warrior” with the 1st Lincolns wrote to the Free Press from the 1st Southern General Hospital at Birmingham where he was recovering from wounds.

Pte J Pearson’s account gives a flavour of the horrors the men were experiencing – and the contrast with home.

He recounts how his battalion relieved the Cheshire Regiment of their trenches at Ypres.

He said: “When we got up there it was pitch dark. So we fixed our bayonets and away we went as quiet as we could and all of a sudden we happened on a German patrol – six of them and an officer. We went for them with cold steel. They shouted ‘Mercy English. mercy English’. We gave them mercy – we killed every one. I had the pleasure of killing one; it was a sensation.

“So when we found out where the German trenches were we retired back 50 yards and dug some fresh trenches. They put me on outpost duty to keep my eyes open on the right of our battalion, close to the dead Huns that we had killed. I was out about two hours when an officer brought the relief, but the chap who relieved me was not there five minutes before he got shot. I was digging and helping to make the trench when my mate next to me got a bullet through his arm and leg, and two or three of us carried him to the stretchers. We lost 81 that night digging trenches.”

Pte Pearson’s action was cut short by a bullet to his arm.

However, the men fighting so bravely at the front could not be allowed to “do exactly as they like at home” as the local policeman told Long Sutton magistrates as they dealt with Sutton Bridge soldiers charged with being drunk and disorderly.