Children will be learning a lot about Armistice 100 and why it is important that we ‘never forget’.
2018 marks the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War in which over 9 million soldiers were killed and another 21 million wounded.
Over a million soldiers were killed in the Battle of the Somme alone including about 30,000 in just one day.
The Great War began on the 28th July 1914 and lasted until 11th November 1918.
Image: Private Henry Bagshaw
The following poem is dedicated to Private Henry Orritt Bagshaw (49995) who died on 23rd December 1921 aged 37 years from complications associated with being gassed in the Battle of the Somme. It was written by my daughter Maisy as a tribute to her great, great grandfather and inspired by Trench Warfare by Roger Stevens.
Maisy’s poem won 2nd place in the Royal British Legion poetry competition and is also featured in The Sun newspaper. The capital letters in the poem spell THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME.
She recited this poem as part of the Grand Vigil at the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery in Arras, France on 10.11.18 as part of a school trip. The Arras-Pays d’Artois Tourist Office represented this Great Vigil by lighting up more than 270 WW1 military cemeteries spread out across its territory.
She also recited the poem at Thiepval, today 11.11.18
Image: Communauté Urbaine d’Arras
My great, great garndfatHer and war hero
You served as a field nursE in the 54th Field Ambulance Corps
Leaving your Beloved Alice and children behind
You entered the unknown And a crucible of fear
The men in the Trenches needed to be rescued
And you were The man sent by God
To save the Lives of the of the helpless wounded
First on the scene giving Emergency first aid
The horrors Of war unimaginable
Your experiences unFathomable, traumatic and profound
Broken bodies and broken minds Terrorised your loving soul
You had an empatHetic heart and resilient mind
Active throughout thE war despite a personal tragedy
GaSsed on the 4th July 1916
With pain all Over your body you never gave up
Finally deMobilised in 1919
Reunited with your faMily once again
Always in our hEarts and never forgotten – we thank you.
By Maisy Dabell aged 11 years
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
— NGHS Junior School (@NGHSJuniors) November 11, 2018
Private Henry Bagshaw died three years after the Armistice from “heart disease and other complaints” brought on by being gassed during the Battle of the Somme. He was born and brought up in Burbage, Derbyshire and worked on his father’s farm.
In 1910 he moved to Greetham with his wife Alice and their four children. A fifth was born later. Henry worked on a farm before joining up with his friend Walter Brown also from Greetham, both in the Royal Army Medical Corps, in January 1915. The pair had consecutive army numbers. Walter would later die as well.
Henry became an Army Trained Nurse with a Field Ambulance Unit and saw action before the Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916. On 4 July he was gassed and while recovering in hospital wrote to his family saying he had “pain all over my body and my throat is very sore.” He recovered sufficiently to return to his unit until being demobilised in 1919.
But he was not well and could only take on light work. The family moved to Little Casterton where he worked at Tolethorpe Hall. By October 1919 he was in Stamford Hospital where he died on 23 December. He is buried in the churchyard at Little Casterton and his name is inscribed on Greetham’s new Roll of Honour inside the church.
Thanks to Greetham and the Great War by David and Paul Bland for remembering the part played by Henry and others.
Henry was gassed at the Battle of the Somme and incredibly managed to fight on for another two years helping the injured and fallen.
A poet who manages to capture this horror is the celebrated poet Wilfred Owen. He wrote ‘Dulce et decorum est’
‘Dulce et decorum est’
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.