From today’s vantage point, it’s hard to grasp the incredible scale and brutality of the First World War. It’s difficult to empathise with those who lived through it and the devastating effect of the war on individuals and on whole societies.
You have to think through issues that confronted medical professionals, issues that were unprecedented, and encountered on a completely unexpected scale, like facial disfigurement or the loss of limbs. These posed new and dreadful challenges for those who suffered from them and for those who treated them.
Here is a glimpse into the consequences of War for one man who was billeted in Cuckfield before set out for France and the horrors of battle....
Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 28 October 1919
A BLINDED P.O.R.
Many local people, and especially those at Whiteman’s Green, where he was billeted, will remember Rifleman Prettejohns, of the Post Office Rifles.
During the war he lost his right leg, his left was shattered, and he was totally blinded. While at St. Dunstan’s an attachment sprang up between him and his nurse, and they were afterwards married, and he also became adept at basket work.
He was the only one of the rank and file of the Post Office Rifles to be blinded in the war and ex-Sergeant. Carr, of the same Battalion, is proposing to hold an exhibition and sale of work executed by the blinded hero in Cuckfield in a fortnight’s time.