Grover, Walter Ernest (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 10441
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 210, Number Of Items 7
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British private served with 2nd Bn Sussex Regt on Western Front and in Germany, 1916-1919

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Folkestone, 1897-1915: education; reactions to Boer War, 1899-1901; work with railway station newspaper kiosks; brothers' wartime military service; work as mail sorter with Post Office; background to enlistment under Derby Scheme, 15/5/1916; mother's activities cooking for soldiers in billets; parents' reactions to family war service. Periods with 3rd East Kent Yeomanry Depot at Canterbury and Crowborough Camp, 5/1916-8/1916: nature of training; contrasts with infantry; volunteering for draft. Period at Infantry Training Depot at Etaples, 8/1916: journey out; bayonet training; question of relevance of training; gas masks; opinion of instructors; conditions of service; reports of post-war mutiny,1918; reputation of Somme area; move to Albert, 8/1916. Recollections of operations and conditions of service with 2nd Bn Royal Sussex Regt in Somme area, 8/1916-2/1917: warning not to use common ruse to indicate location in letters to GB; war damage in Albert; stories illustrating discipline in regular unit; developing pride in unit; lack of experience. REEL 2 Continues: march up to Mametz Wood; nature of ground conditions; story of German shell fire during carrying party up to High Wood; temporary graves; gas sentry duty; account of attack on Wood Lane Trench, High Wood, 9/9/1916, equipment carried, advance under fire across No Man's Land, hold ups, German corpses; casualties and story illustrating unfair system of awarding medals; successful attack supported by tanks on Eaucourt l'Abbaye in Flers sector, 26/9/1916; German sniping; casualties from German enfilade fire; introduction of creeping barrage technique; effects of German fire during attack on Wood Lane Trench, 9/9/1916; casualties; rest period, 10/1916; lice problem; effects of winter conditions; trench feet problem. REEL 3 Continues: carrying parties and wiring parties during periods in support lines; question of wanting 'Blighty wound'; problems in staying awake on sentry duty; attack of impetigo in groin area; muddy conditions and question of 'spit and polish'; aerial warfare and view of German aircraft shooting down observation balloon; conditions of service in transport; story illustrating state of morale; reads poem on death of battalion postman delivering mail from GB prior to attack on Wood Lane Trench, 9/9/1916. Recollections of operations on Western Front, 5/1917-6/1917: move to Messines sector, 5/1917; story of sergeant losing false teeth bathing in pond; reserve role during attack on Messines, 6/6/1917; move to Nieuport area; isolation of units across Nieuport Canal following German attack, 26/7/1917; training for abandoned combined operations landing on Ostend based at Clippon Camp, 8/1918-10/1917; relationship with sailors; training on scaling mock up sea wall; acting as life guard; question of German awareness of possible attack. REEL 4 Continues: Recollections of operations in Ypres area, 10/1917-4/1918: GB leave and rejoining unit in Poelcapelle sector; outpost nature of front line; muddy ground conditions and story of getting lost acting as guide to ration party; situation; water supply; rat problem; vulnerability of German pillboxes; story of close escape from German shellfire; latrines; reads poem illustrating duty on burial party; state of morale; reaction to news of Russian revolution; question of French mutiny, 1917; question of shell shock; question of personal morale including fear of stomach wound, self inflicted wounds and religion; move to Bethune area, 3/1918. REEL 5 Continues: move to Bethune area, 3/1918. Recollections of German offensive in Cambrin sector, 9/4/1917: situation following retreat of neighbouring Portuguese troops; German barrage; close escape from minenwerfer shell; story of stretchering wounded soldier back for medical attention and subsequent award of Military Medal; attitudes towards medals; German gas shells; situation. Aspects of attack on Hindenburg Line in Somme area, 8/1918: successful attack supported by Whippet Tanks; German POWs; development of open warfare conditions; German booby traps; declining physique of German troops; question of casualties; special friend. Aspects of attack on Sambre Canal, 4/11/1918: open nature of fighting; difficulty and casualties whilst crossing dyke in front of canal; capture of loch; close escape from German machine gun fire; question of use of bayonet; attitude to German troops. REEL 6 Continues: attitude to German troops; souvenirs; poem illustrating personal morale during attack as end of war approached. Recollections of GB leave, 11/1918: train journey; baths and delousing; Armistice Day celebrations, 11/11/1918; question of date of Remembrance Day; reads poem reflecting on casualties immediately before Armistice; rejoining unit. Recollections of period in Cologne area, Germany, 1918-1919: prior march with band through Belgium; relationship with German civilians; duties; gym activities; German methods of overcoming shortages; duties as officer's servant for commandant of POW camp; floating swimming bath on Rhine; attitude of German POW officers. REEL 7 Continues: political situation; sauerkraut. Various aspects of operations on Western Front, 1916-1918: minor injury from bomb dropped on billets; toe bruised by shrapnel; state of health and question of malingering; rum ration and story illustrating effects of double ration; story of playing cards and soldier's grenade ruse to steal stakes; recreations including gambling, concert party and marching songs; question of letter and parcel contact with GB; cigarette smoking and ration; opinion of Portuguese and Australian troops; importance of Regular Army, 1914. Effects of war service and background to post-war work as upholsterer.

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