Joseph Pickard

BBC History Magazine - - Wwi Eyewitness Accounts - Pe­ter Hart is the oral his­to­rian at the Im­pe­rial War Mu­seum

Join­ing up un­der­age, Joe trained with the 21st Northum­ber­land Fusiliers, serv­ing with them on the western front in 1917 and 1918.

On 31 March, Joe was caught in a fear­some con­cen­tra­tion of Ger­man ar­tillery fire.

I got hit. I re­mem­ber see­ing this big black cloud go up the side of the ditch. When I came to my­self, I was ly­ing back up the road among a lot of dead French­men. I jumped straight up – and went straight down again! I thought: “Well the leg’s away!” I tore the trousers down. The piece of shrap­nel had cut the sci­atic nerve, chipped both hip joints, smashed the left side of the pelvis, three holes in the blad­der.

The blood was run­ning – and I had lost my nose – a right bloody mess. The am­bu­lance took me to an old farm house. They must have ban­daged me there. When I came around it was dark, and I was ly­ing on a stretcher. I didn’t know what was the mat­ter with me and it turned out there was a blan­ket over the top of me – I was left for dead!

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