The Field Hospital
This is the first or last memory of my War experience, depending on how you look at it. It is a memory of my last day as Jamie Evans, but it is also the earliest memory I had of the war in my present time. The question comes as to whether it was a memory I brought with me over the flow of time, or is it something I REMEMBERED. There is a difference you see, this set of images was imprinted on my mind before I was two years old I know this because we left our farm when I was 2 , and I could have described it to you in detail then, had I been able to talk. How many two year olds know what a War hospital is, let alone understand what went on therein the words of the time
This is the first memory I wrote down, years ago when I was 16, I have typed it up exactly as I worded it then.
A field hospital ward: white, with ten iron beds, five set each side of the room. An aisle running between the rows end with an exterior door, there are windows with square panes each side of that. The door opens on a track that leads to a horrific scene one of many at this time
It is day light, about 10: 30 am. Looking round, somethings not right. Bandages over wounds that should have been dirty yellow, appear, although spattered with blood or pus, white. Too clean Memory had polished this scene of misery until it shone bright.And the room is silent. It should not have been Then
The soldier in the third bed along on the right hand side has his head bound. He lies straight, in sheets that are also too white, topped by a grey blanket tucked in tight. A nurse bustling by half stops to speak to him, but she cant cheer him now. Suddenly, a feeling that has been rising for a time rises strong within him, he is scared, nervous, he is dying And then, I feel as if I'm watching from above, no longer part of that body. And you know the saying about seeing your life backwards? Well, believe me: it happens-or at least the most recent stuff is replayed. I don't know what was on my mind as I lay in that bed, but now, my mind, at least, takes me outside
I see an injured soldier being brought in. carried by four men, over the ridge of an old support trench, lined by war-trimmed trees. I cannot see the wounded mans face clearly. I dont need to. He has one of those over-white bandages binding his head; a squarish red patch was soaking through on the left hand side. He lay in the same position as on the bed and after a rest, the bearers took him across the road before the entrance to the grounds of the low house that was being used to house the treatment of soldiers. It even had a fairly intact garden yesterday, I mean, before every thing looked this immaculate.
This soldier, about twenty years of age dark haired and wiry, is not even old enough to grow a proper thick moustache. But he has taken part in the preparation for the Great Push, the fabled Battle of The Somme 1916, maybe even the offensive itself, who could remember with a wound like that? I will, because that soldier is me.