Wing, William John (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 13290
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 105, Number Of Items 4
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British private with 1/1st Bn Hertfordshire Regt on Western Front, 1914-1918

Content description

REEL 1: Background in Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, 1893-1914: education; employment as farm labourer. Aspects of period with Territorial Army in GB, 1911-1914: story of enlistment with Hertfordshire Regt at Royston and description of training; effects of army reforms and cuts, 1912; memory of celebrations at end of Boer War, 1902; reaction to outbreak of war and mobilization, 8/1914; description of further training including musketry; training with horses and as driver; importance of horse transport; memory of loading horses onto troopship; reaction to news of retreat from Mons; description of journey to France and arrival at Le Havre, 10/1914. Recollections of operations as private with 1/1st Bn Hertfordshire Regt on Western Front, 1914-1918: description of role with horses during First Battle of Ypres, Belgium; problem of lack of protection against head wounds and gas; description of role during Battle of Neuve Chappelle, 1915; memory of shelling and advancing infantry blown up by mines. REEL 2 Continues: memory of refugees on French/Belgian border; opinion of German Army; story of Prussian Guards officer; memory of visit to front by Prince of Wales; memory of Christmas 1914 and receiving Queen Mary's Christmas box; description of role during Battle of Loos, 9/1915; opening bombardment; casualties; question of role of cavalry; memory of the Bengal Lancers and casualties; opinion of medical services; description of cemeteries; description of gas attack in Ypres area and question of protection, 4/1915; opinion of Generals French and Haig; reaction to death of horses; description of preparations for Somme offensive, 1916; description of dugouts; opinion of rations; rum and cigarette rations; washing and sanitary facilities; problem of lice and delousing procedures; communications with home; relations with officers; description of role during Battle of the Somme, 7/1916; memory of infantry going over the top; casualties; memory of opening bombardment. REEL 3 Continues: further description of role during Battle of the Somme; delivery of rations and ammunition at night; memory of German bombing raids at night; question of German preparations for war; description of living conditions on Somme during winter; story of home leave; question of casualties from Meldreth area; opinion of American troops; description of role during Third Battle of Ypres, 1917; description of conditions and problem of mud; use of wooden tracks and memory of shelling; story of delivering ammunition in daylight; comments on Third Battle of Ypres; story of German offensive in St Quentin, 3/1918; description of retreat and loss of supplies and equipment; question of morale; memory of Armistice and celebrations, 11/1918; relations with French civilians; question of survival and death of friends. REEL 4 Continues: attitude to being one of the 'Old Contemptibles'; question of being awarded Mons Star; demobilization, 1919. Aspects of post-war life and employment: question of finding employment; memory of Mons services; reflections on period of military service and importance of comradeship.

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