WHAT YOU’RE SAYING...
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.