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Remembered Today:

Letter Survivor Hill 60 Gas Attack Discussion


RichardJPrice

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Graham Price was a motorcycle dispatch rider attatched to 4th Division HQ, so what was he doing at Hill 60, was he just unlucky to be there? What section was wiped out and which field Hospital was he in?

Dear old Mother and dad,

Don’t get winding up when you see the address. I am quite out of danger now and am going on well and shall be out before long. I have had a marvellous escape. They asphyxiated the whole lot of us on hill 60. I am the only man of my sections left alive to tell the tale. A more hellish diabolical form of torturing human beings to death has never yet been paralleled. The Spanish inquisition even was not versed in such scientific torture as this. A whole line of trenches had to be abandoned: we crawled over trenches and dragged and pulled each other along, in the meantime they gave us all the shrapnel and lead they could pump into us. It was a lucky man that met his death by a bullet as it put an end to his agony. It was a green coloured gas pumped into the trenches and hangs there like a fog. It kills everything even to a blade of grass, one puff of it sends your brass buttons as black as coal. The only thing that saved me was a very violent vomiting. It was a very funny thing but this happened about an hour after I got your letter with the pads in. We had already been dished out with them and every day we have them soaked with some stuff but they offer very little protection.

Some brave chap must have picked me up as I remember nothing until late in the evening when I found myself lying in the open in a big garden with about 200 others having oxygen pumped into us. The same night we were motored down to the station and put in hospital trains arriving here very early in the morning. I am being well look after so don’t worry and to prove that I am doing well my temperature is normal. We lost hill 60 over the job but we have completely retaken it again, isn’t it great. About a month ago we gave them 7 tons of dynamite and blew a whole lot of them up, so by this time I hope they are getting quite used to the climate “good luck to them”. Roll on; when they let me out of this I have made a solemn oath that I will spare none that I get within bayonet thrust of. I long to get back again and I am as happy there with the boys as a pig in dirt. I have got a very solemn bed chum next to me, does not seem to appreciate the war at all. I don’t know what religion he belongs to but I should think one, where laughing is out of the calendar. I told him he would be dead in 3 days if he did’nt buck himself up. When I get out of this I shall have to get re-equipped as I have lost everything, even my hat and have only got what I stand in. I expect by this time you have sent letters to the regiment for me but send them here and I will let you know as soon as possible when I leave; which I hope won’t be long as I am beginning to boil up again and if they keep me here much longer I shall boil over.

Now I want to impress it on you that there is no need to worry about me but keep your pluck up as before. I can’t be too grateful to think I am still spared to have another scrap. I am going to hold my thanks giving service at the next bayonet charge we make, blyme, I won’t half gets my own back. Well dear old mother you must forgive me for all this but I can’t help, I fairly itch to get stuck into them again. Oh! By-the-way ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The Germans have by now had my razor, tobacco and all sorts of little trinkets out of my haversack and pack. The little red book you gave me was in there too, I expect you hope by its perusal it will do him much good (so do I). Anyhow it may be an indirect way of spreading the gospel to heathen nations. I sincerely hope the old bloke will get blown from this kingdom to another before the light dawns on his “Kultured” brain.

With very best love to your dear old self also dear old dad, hoping by now this cold is quite gone.

Cheer O.

Graham

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It certainly is interesting.

The attack that Price describes is almost certainly that of 5 May 1915 when the Germans captured and held the summit of Hill 60 following a chlorine gas attack. They had previously attempted capturing the hill on 1 May but were repulsed. The British did not re-capture the hill after 5 May (despite Price’s statement to the contrary) until 1917.

I don’t know why he would be at Hill 60 if he was serving in 4th Division (you are obviously aware that it was held by 5th Division).

Casualties from the 1 May attack were taken to Bailleul, so I would expect the others also to have been taken there. See this thread

Simon

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I have a few other interesting letters if any one on the forum is interested including the Christmas truce, not sure though if they are of any historic value.

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