Hos­pi­tal Trains

This England - - Nelson's Column -

Sir: “For­got­ten First World War Rail­way Sto­ries” (“Cor­nu­copia”, Au­tumn 2016) was of great in­ter­est. My late fa­ther, Oliver Say, the third son of a fur­ni­ture mover in Glouces­ter, had an in­volve­ment with this sub­ject. His two older broth­ers worked in the fam­ily re­movals busi­ness, but af­ter they en­listed at the start of the war, my grand­fa­ther, William, was left short of a work­force. As a re­sult he ap­plied for — and was granted — per­mis­sion for my 11-year-old fa­ther to leave school to work for him.

At that time the main way of haulage was by horse and wag­gon and as my fa­ther later re­counted to me, there were many oc­ca­sions when grand­fa­ther would wake him at 2am and they would hitch up the horses to the trailer. They would then go to Glouces­ter Sta­tion to meet the hos­pi­tal trains com­ing in from the Front. From the sta­tion, the in­jured sol­diers were con­veyed on the horse-drawn trailer to the lo­cal hos­pi­tal. This was of­ten in the win­ter in dread­ful, freez­ing cold weather. He never de­scribed to me what in­juries he saw that the sol­diers had sus­tained, but he al­ways said of them, “Poor men”. — DON­ALD


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