The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page -

Ba­si­cally, a quar­ter of the Peter­bor­ough elec­torate voted . . . we have a city coun­cil rep­re­sent­ing a mi­nor­ity of the Peter­bor­ough public.

His­to­rian Paul Ken­dall, from Kent, un­earthed doc­u­ments fea­tur­ing city sol­dier John Sten­nett’s tes­ti­mony about his time on the Western front.

He was born in Peter­bor­ough on Jan­uary 28, 1891 and en­listed in the 1st Northamp­ton­shire Reg­i­ment as a ca­reer sol­dier at the out­break of war.

The sol­dier was wounded at the Bat­tle of Aisne, in the in­fa­mous white-flag treach­ery when the Ger­mans pre­tended to sur­ren­der be­fore open­ing fire.

Writ­ing af­ter the war in doc­u­ments now kept at the Im­pe­rial War Mu­seum, he said: “Dur­ing this I re­ceived 14 wounds com­menc­ing at the spine, shat­ter­ing my right shoul­der.

“The sen­sa­tion was a shell had burst very close and I thought a piece of brick had hit me in the back of the neck of course I was knocked down.

“The fire was too heavy for me to try and get to the dress­ing sta­tion.

“I laid still for about 20 min­utes then thought I would try and get back.

“I just man­aged to get up but was promptly sent down again with an­other in my back.

“This put me out for the count. The next I re­mem­ber was be­ing dressed by the MO in a cave just be­hind the fir­ing line.

“I re­mained in this cave un­til dark and was then moved to a vil­lage a few miles away.

“Dur­ing the en­counter Cap­tain RB Parker was killed.”

John was one of the lucky sur­vivors and was sent back to Bri­tain to re­cover from his wounds.

While he was home he met and mar­ried his wife in Northamp­ton, still wear­ing his sling while re­cov­er­ing.

He was trans­ferred to the Army Ser­vice Corps and served in Me­sopotamia, now Iraq, un­til the early 1920s.

He left the Army af­ter hav­ing reached the rank of sergeant and re­turned to his fam­ily who lived in Northamp­ton.

He worked for an un­der­taker as a driver, be­fore mov­ing on to drive buses and died in 1965.

Mr Ken­dall’s book, Aisne 1914: The Dawn of Trench War­fare, is the first ded­i­cated to the turn­ing point in the First World War.

It charts John’s reg­i­ment’s march across Europe in the race to the sea.

In Au­gust 1914, John and his reg­i­ment walked for three weeks from Mons be­fore tak­ing part in the Bat­tle of the Marne.

They then con­tin­ued on to the River Aisne where, ex­hausted af­ter their 160-mile trek, they again fought the Ger­mans.

It was one of ear­li­est bat­tles in the war and would have been the first time many of the men wit­nessed the Ger­man’s heavy weaponry.

Mr Ken­dall said: “This was where the Western front was born and mod­ern war­fare was born.”

His book, pub­lished by the His­tory Press, is out this week and is avail­able from Water­stones and other book­shops as well as at www.ama­zon.co.uk TRENCH HERO: John Sten­nett.

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