From ‘Forgotten Voices of the Great War’ by Max Arthur
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle
Trooper Walter Becklade
5th Cavalry Brigade
I was wounded in the battle and taken to a casualty clearing station. I was beside a fellow who had got his arms bandaged up – I’d simply got my right arm bandaged. He was trying to light his pipe but couldn’t get on very well so I offered to fill and light it for him. But when I’d lit it I suddenly realised he had nowhere to put it, as he’d had his lower jaw blown away. So I smoked the pipe and he smelt the tobacco, that was all the poor chap could have.
Corporal Alan Bray
We took up position near Kemmel Hill. It was foggy and the attack was delayed two hours, which didn’t do our spirits much good.Then the time came for us to go over. We had to run forward about fifty yards up some planks over our own front line trenches, and then across a meadow where it was almost impossible to run, we could only stagger along. As we were going over the planks about half of us were knocked out – either killed or wounded and going across the meadow there were a lot more killed.
When we finally stopped to lay down, trying to get what shelter we could from the tremendous rifle fire which was coming over , a sergeant just in front of us jumped up and said ‘Come on men, be British’. So we jumped up and run again and followed him. He ran about six yards and then he went down too.
Well, then there were about a dozen of us left and we ran on another 20 yards towards the German trenches. Those trenches were literally packed – the men were standing four deep, firing machine guns and rifles straight at us, and the only shelter we could see was a road which ran up at right angles to the trench with a bank on the left-hand side. We managed to reach this bank but found ourselves looking straight up at the German trenches while they were firing straight down, gradually picking us off. Eventually there was only myself and another chap that weren’t hit.