Monday, February 09, 2009

George Pointing

George Pointing and his brother William Pointing both have surviving papers at the National Archives and so I've updated George's page on the Chailey 1914-1918 site for now.

George was a 19 year old shop assistant working for Sainsbury's in the City of London when he joined the Sussex Yeomanry in 1915. He received a bullet in his left knee in March 1918 which finished his war and left him in hospitals in England for six months. Nevertheless, by 1920, doctors found that he had "recovered" and he was awarded a gratuity of five pounds with "no grounds for further awards".

The service papers in the WO 363 and WO 364 series are full of reports similar to those in George's file and you wonder how many men endured years of pain and discomfort and received no further recompense from their country. I recall interviewing First World War veterans over sixty years after the conflict had ended and the majority of these men were still discomforted by wounds incurred in on the Western Front.

Harold Shephard, of the 1/5th Leicesters was one of those men I interviewed. He'd joined the 5th Leicesters a couple of years before the war and saw service with the battalion until invalided out. In his eighties when I met him, he told me how in recent years he'd been in and out of hospital with breathing problems and how he had explained to the doctor that he thought it was as a result of being gassed on the Somme in 1916. "Oh, you don't want to worry about that my lad" the doctor told him, "that's more than sixty years ago."

"That may be so" replied Harold (who always gave the impression of somebody not to be trifled with), "but, I've got it, and you ain't."

You can read the full transcript of my interview with Harold Shephard on my World War 1 Veterans blog. Here's the link.

FIFTH LEICESTERSHIRE. A Record of the 1/5th Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment, TF, during the War 1914-1919

I'd be interested to know whether Harold Shephard gets a mention in the book above. Perhaps I should click on the link and buy it. This is what the Naval & Military Press say about it:

"This battalion history is based essentially on the War Diary supplemented by contributions from various battalion members. It is a far more detailed one than that of the 1/4th. The battalion, which had its HQ in Loughborough, was also in the Lincoln and Leicester Brigade of the 46th (N Midland) Division. It arrived in France on 28 February 1915 and the first few months were spent in the Armentieres sector and the Salient before moving south to the Loos battlefield. During the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt, which decimated the 1/4th, the battalion was fortunately in reserve; it was a day that caused 46th Division the highest number of casualties of any day of the war - 3,583.

"There is plenty of meat in this history, detailed accounts of actions and events in and out of the trenches, names of officers and other ranks, list of honours and awards - but again no index. There was a moment of excitement when the division was was ordered to Egypt and began to move at the end of December 1915. The battalion (with 1/4th Battalion) embarked at Marseille on 21 January 1916 in the Cunarder Andania, described as a ‘floating palace,’ only to be told the next morning to disembark; the powers that be had changed their minds and the division went back to the trenches. In the fighting at the approaches to the St Quentin Canal, 2Lt J.C Barrett won the VC for gallantry during the battalion attack on Pontruet on 24 September 1918. By the end of the war the battalion had suffered 440 dead of whom 25 were officers. A good history!"

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