Personal Stories from the 1914-18 War

W. DYER

From Mrs Warriner's writings:

"I was living at the Brake Farm when I enlisted. I joined the R.F.A. on the 20th January 1915, being eighteen years old; was sent to Portsmouth and in the following May was transferred with 600 others to the 3rd Batt. Wiltshire Regt. and was stationed at Weymouth. In the early part of October of the same year I was drafted to the 5th Batt., 13th Division, which was at the Dardanelles.

"We landed at Suvla Bay a fortnight after leaving England and were there until the evacuation; we left for Port Said and were issued with new clothes expecting to come back to England, but instead we embarked for Mesopotamia and landed at Basra; after staying there a few days we went up the River Tigris, passing the Garden of Eden and landing again a few miles behind the line.

"On April 5th 19l6 we attacked the Turks; our ambition was to relieve General Townsend at Kut-el-Amara: we drove the Turks back to another position which they had ready. We were advancing over ground which was completely level and our regiment was about 200 yards off the Turks trench when we had orders to dig ourselves in, an order which was quickly obeyed as the enemy was firing at us from three directions. We were relieved after dark and went back a few miles where we had some tea and biscuits; the first meal since four o'clock that morning.

"The next morning our rations for the day was half a pint of flour and a handful of dates each; I made some pancakes with mine and fried them in my canteen lid. That night we went up to the trenches again; our relief had driven the Turks back to a very strong position called San-i-Yat. We attacked them early next morning but we were in a marsh, the water being waist deep in places. We were compelled to retire after heavy losses. At night we were relieved again and marched back to the other side of the river for a few daysí rest. Instead of getting a rest we were told to get ready to move and again we went up to the trenches. Owing to heavy rain the country was so flooded that we were unable to get to Kut in time to relieve Townsend.

"On the night of February 2nd 1917 we marched about ten miles to cut the Turks off, but when it got light we found we had gone too far and the Turks started shelling us. A shell hit the ground under my feet and exploded, tearing the soles clean off my boots and breaking every bone in both my feet. I was carried back to the dressing station, which took from seven a.m. till five p.m. I went from one hospital to another until I got to Amara; I was there a month and had one operation, and I was told I should never be able to walk again. I went to Basra next and from there to Cumballa War Hospital, Bombay. I remained there until August when I could walk with crutches after being in bed six months.

"Being unfit for active service I was transferred to the East Yorks garrison battalion stationed at Lucknow. I gained promotion in that regiment and finished up a Sergeant, returning to England on the twentieth December 1919."