Injured Serviceman Saved After Two Painful Days

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Slowenien, Nova Gorica, France Bevk Bibliothek, 28. March 2012
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Schloss Sonderburg

Injured Serviceman Saved After Two Painful Days

A British soldier who was left for dead after being shot through both legs on the Somme had his life saved by Allied troops who took shelter in the same trench.
John Stafford was just 20 yards from the Germans when he was wounded during the symbolic battle of 1916, which resulted in 420,000 British casualties, including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone.

His daughter, Joan Almond, 85, told the WW1 roadshow at Preston, that had it not been for Allied soldiers finding her father two days after he was shot, he would have died.

“Although at the time he was unconscious, they managed to get him back across ‘death valley’ as they called it, where he was actually seen by medics,” she said.

“He was covered with a sheet, having had a label tied to him on which a doctor had written ‘maggots’.

“Thankfully medical staff were able to save his most badly injured leg. However, it did end up 3.5 inches shorter than his other one and he had to wear a surgical boot for the rest of his life.

“Although he couldn’t return to the frontline after his injuries, he was employed by the Army in a civilian capacity at their records’ office in Fullwood Barracks, Preston.”

But the war took its toll on John, said Joan, who brought in a typed copy of her father’s recollection of the conflict.

“Dad was a very nice man, a gentle man – a wonderful man,” she said. “But looking back I think the war must have haunted him a lot, especially when you read his account. My mother used to encourage him to write down his experiences and this seemed to have a calming influence. I also remember him always asking us children to read him fairy tales.”

During WW2, the Army took over the barracks, causing all civilian personnel to be moved to other record offices. For John this meant working in London through the Blitz, before being moved to Leicester and Edinburgh.

“During my early teen years I saw very little of my father,” recalled Joan. “But later he was awarded the MBE for his services – which made us all very proud.”
By Jackie Storer 

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