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1916: Cuckfield soldier tells parents "I will send you the shrapnel that pierced my throat"

Updated: Mar 25


Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 25 January 1916


NEWS FROM PRIVATE P. GANDER. 


Mr. and Mrs. Peter Gander, of No. 6 Glebe Road, Cuckfield, have received the following letter, dated 10th January, from their son, who is in hospital at Rouen:- 


Comrades watch as a soldier gets some sleep, Thievpal, France, during WWI(National Library of Scotland; Flickr.com/The Commons)

"Just a few lines to let you know I have been wounded, and from the address you can see I am in hospital a few miles from the firing line. I cannot say yet whether I shall get to England. 


This is how I got wounded:- 


My Platoon was attached, to 'C' Company, and we were digging a new reserve trench when the enemy commenced shelling us. I was almost lying on the bottom of the trench when I was hit in the neck by a piece of ground shrapnel. I started to find the stretcher bearers, and as I was walking down the trench one of our officers stopped me and asked me what was up. I told him, so he re-bandaged me up and gave me a drink of rum as I was feeling a bit run down, having lost so much blood. 


He took me to the dressing station, and later I had to walk to the field ambulance—a distance of some four miles. There I had a nice pot of tea and was put to bed, for which I was very thankful, as we had been up in the trenches three days. Later I was sent where I now am. 


I have to undergo an operation to get a bullet extracted from my throat. It will not be serious as it is only between the skin and wind-pipe. I was hit on the left side, and the doctor said I had had a narrow escape. Something seemed to tell me when we shifted that I would get hit or damaged in the trenches.” 


On the 13th inst. Private Gander wrote another letter home stating: "I have got through my operation all right, and am feeling A1 now I have lost the bullet from my throat. I have the bullet, and if I cannot get home I will send it on to you to keep, and a few more as well. When you see it you will have some idea of the kind of things we have to dodge all day and night, and you never know where they are going to settle. The doctors and nurses said it was a marvellous escape. If it had been a rifle bullet instead of shrapnel I should have been 'pushing up the daisies' by now "


Jill Harwood writes:- Peter Gander married Winifred Stevens at Cuckfield on Boxing Day 1918, and by 1921 were living in Hurstpierpoint where he was a cowman. By 1939 they were in Dorking where he was a foreman in a timber yard. They had two sons, he died in 1978.

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