Family tell how mirror helped save soldier’s life from deadly bullet
THE FAMILY of a soldier have revealed for the first time how he cheated death when a German bullet was deflected away from his heart – by a shaving mirror.
Thomas Marston was carrying the steel mirror in his shirt pocket when he suffered a direct hit in the chest during a fierce firefight in the summer of 1918.
While the mirror did not stop the bullet passing through his body and out the other side, his family believe the mirror, which was a gift, saved his life. The treasured item is engraved with the message ‘best of luck for 1918 from the readers of the Sheffield Telegraph’ and still bears the bullet hole.
For the Sheffield soldier’s family, it is both a memento of his remarkably close shave and a tangible reminder of the horrors endured by troops during the war. Thomas’ great-great-granddaughter Mica Joynes, a 27-yearold hairdresser, said: “It’s an amazing story and it’s nice to have this as a memento of what he did during the war.
“I think it’s important to remember the sacrifices of those who served during the wars.
“If you go to other countries, they make such a fuss of their armed forces, but we just don’t.”
Lee Betts, Thomas’ greatgrandson, said the mirror had fascinated him since he was a boy,
I remember hearing the story as a boy and being amazed. Roger Betts, grandson of Thomas Marston.
adding: “We’re all very proud and thankful of my great-grandfather and his trusty old mirror.”
Thomas’ grandson Roger Betts recalls his sense of wonderment as a young boy upon hearing the tale from his grandmother Florence after asking her about the damaged mirror he saw stashed in a cupboard.
Mr Marston had been one of thousands of men to receive one of the polished steel mirrors from the Sheffield Telegraph , a gift he ‘prized’ and had carried with him since the day it was presented.
The heirloom and the story behind it have been shared with subsequent generations, but until now the details had been hazy – not helped by Thomas’ reluctance to talk about his wartime exploits. Roger told how his grandfather, who worked for British Steel and had four children, made the most of his remarkable reprieve – surviving until his early 70s and leading a ‘happy-go-lucky’ existence.
Mr Betts added: “I remember hearing the story as a boy and being amazed by how this mirror, which he used when shaving in the trenches, had saved his life.”
CLOSE SHAVE: Mica Joynes and Lee Betts with the steel shaving mirror which they believe saved Thomas Marston’s life.