Soldier – Smith A. – With the R.A.M.C.

January 1916

With the. R.A.M.C.

Denaby Man’s Experiences

PrivateA. Smith (R.A.M.C.), 16, Melton Street, Denaby, writes to us from the front as follows:

“We have many had experiences here, even in the R.A.M.C., as far as a field ambulance is concerned. Of course many people have the idea that the R.A.M.C. is never near the firing line, so first of all let me have a word with these people. In the first place I may tell them that the casualties in the R.A.M.C. are just as large for field ambulance as those of the infantry; that is of course taking the number engaged into consideration. That is roughly a proportion of one ambulance man to 35 infantrymen.

I do not say this to boast that we are in the same danger as infantry, but at times were subject to practically all the bombardment, and I can safely say that many men have perished in the dressing stations or temporary hospitals. Many have lost their lives through sniping. I myself have had not one but many narrow escapes from their bullets. The shells as they burst make the place hell upon Earth. All these things the RAMC had to contend with and as a rule they do it cheerfully. You hear more complaints about the mud than the bullets and shells.


But this war still has a humorous side. I remember for of us were bringing a wounded comrade down a communication trench on a stretcher when a huge shell burst immediately in front of us. Of course we all fell purely from instinct, as it is law here to fall flat when a shell bursts near; but to our dismay one of our members was hit, and we were all too awestruck at first look at him for fear we should see his head blown off. I remember one of my friends remarking, “poor devil” as we plucked up courage to examine the one who had fallen, only to find that a piece of soft clay had been hurled with some force by the explosion of the shell, and had struck our friend full in the face. Of course, by this time we had laid out a perfect hospital ready to dress the man etc. It only served to make the incident more laughable.


I was in charge of a wounded soldier who was brought into my ward after the battle of Loos; he was very badly wounded. He lay for some time and I took no notice of him, thinking he was comfortably asleep. At last teatime came round. I offered my soldier his hot tea, buthe smiled and shook his head. After this I paid more attention to him. He was a lad of 18, belonging to the Gloucester’s. In a little while he asked for a drink of water. I gave him one and then he asked me to write to his mother, telling her not to worry. “Poor mother,” he said “she will be upset.” I told him not to worry, he would soon be in England, he only smiled and said very softly, “no, I’m done for, I know it.” I told him to buck up. “Tell mother,” he said, “I was see her up there,” as he pointed upwards. He died that night. I can tell you the tears rolled down my cheeks, hardened as I have become amid such scenes.