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Remembered Today:

Siegfried Sassoon, Location of 1917 Medical Board


Fattyowls

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I'm trying to locate the venue and establish the date of the medical board that sent Sassoon to Craiglockhart, at which Robert Graves spoke on his behalf. I've checked in my copy of "Goodbye to All That" and it doesn't seem to mention where and when. I'm always a little wary of using it as a source given the author's warnings of it's accuracy. I think the venue was Liverpool with the most likely place the Royal Welsh's barracks at Litherland and the date was 20th July 1917, but I can't confirm that.

 

Can any of the Sassoon fraternity mark my card as they say?

 

Pete.

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Pete

 

Although a fictional account, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer is normally pretty sound on the basic facts. The episode surrounding the medical board has Sherston (Sassoon) dodging a Board in Crewe and generally being awkward until given an ultimatum of Board or a lunatic asylum, and is summoned to 'Clitherland' where it takes place.

 

David

 

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Pete

 

There are times when I can be very dim. The book I am currently reading is Sassoon's diaries 1915-18. It was actually sitting here next to me as I typed the previous post. A quick check confirms both the location and the date 20th July. The Board ordered him to report to Craiglockhart where he arrived on 23rd July

 

David

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Frank Richards' comments on Sassoon:

"The following morning one hundred bombers of the Battalion under the command of Mr. Sassoon were sent to the Cameronians to assist in a bombing attack on the Hindenburg Trench on our right. A considerable part of it was captured but it was lost again during the day when the enemy made a counter attack. During the operations Mr. Sassoon was shot through the shoulder. Late in the day I was conversing with the old soldier and one of the few survivors of old B company who had taken part in the bombing raid. He said, "God strike me pink, Dick, it would have done your eyes good to have seen young Sassoon in that bombing stunt. He put me in mind of Mr. Fletcher. It was a bloody treat to see the way he took the lead. He was the best officer I have seen in the line or out since Mr. Fletcher, and it's wicked how the good officers get killed or wounded and the rotten ones are still left crawling about. If he don't get the Victoria Cross for this stunt I'm a bloody Dutchman; he thoroughly earned it this morning." This was the universal opinion of everyone who had taken part in the stunt, but the only decoration Mr. Sassoon received was a decorated shoulder where the bullet went through. He hadn't been long with the Battalion, but long enough to win the respect of every man that knew him."

 

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I know it's off topic but 'Mr Fletcher' is worth researching as well. He was another of those ridiculously talented Edwardian young men who prompt you to think what might have been had they lived.

 

I think the action Richards was describing here is the one for which the CO said he wasn't sure whether to recommend Sassoon for a VC or court martial him

 

David

Edited by David Ridgus
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Hart-Davis's edition of the diaries says that none survive between 4 July and December 1917. He recreates a timeline of events from letters

 

David

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1 minute ago, David Ridgus said:

Hart-Davis's edition of the diaries says that none survive between 4 July and December 1917. He recreates a timeline of events from letters

 

David

 

Yes just had a look and that part seems to be missing. His service record would surely have the details. Some parts of it here Click

 

Mike

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SJ, David, NF and Mike, I am indeted, endebted, indebt really grateful. I was wondering if it had been convened somewhere in the city centre but Litherland Camp makes perfect sense (and is walking distance from Owls Towers, although I wouldn't want to walk it at this time of night). I will be passing the site tomorrow probably as the site of the tar works just on the other side of the road is now a big Tesco and I'm fresh out of victuals.

 

I'm writing about a man called James Roy who was reserve left half for Everton when they won the wartime championship in 1914-15. He was killed on 23rd April 1917 somewhere in the vicinity of Tunnel trench where Sassoon was wounded a week or so later. As Sassoon wrote of it I thought I would weave in Graves, Sassoon and the son of the stationmaster at Woodside just over the water from Litherland. As for all of your contributions; every little helps.

 

Pete.

 

 

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Pete

 

According to his diary Sassoon was wounded on 16 April 1917 a week before your man's death in the action Richards described above.

 

David

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Pete-Fattyowls-  When the officers' service files came out at Kew a while back, some of the more informative ones were publicised in the Press-epecially Sasson. Thus, might I suggest a look at his officer file at Kew??  My experience of these files is that the stuff is largely financial (committee of settlement,etc),usually with application -BUT also the medical board reports-They must have been one of the minor series picked up after the real "officer files" went up with the other "burnt documents" 

     I seem to remember that Sassoon's letter saying he didn't want to have a bit part in the war is there-But have you looked for the medical boards in his file???

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13 minutes ago, David Ridgus said:

Pete

 

According to his diary Sassoon was wounded on 16 April 1917 a week before your man's death in the action Richards described above.

 

David

 

Thanks matey; I may be able to work Richards into the narrative, which would be a Good Thing. James Roy was killed in trench fighting which must have been very similar to that which Richards describes; at some disputed barricade as Alan Seeger put it. One of the interesting things about James Roy is that he is one of those soldiers who hardly leaves any trace; no service record, a family photograph in the uniform of a different regiment to the one he was serving with when he was killed and finally no known grave. My friend John whose wife Jane is James' grand niece has researched him in detail and it's a bit like trying to detect neutrinos. To make up I am researching his football career in a bit of detail at the moment.

 

Pete.

 

Edited by Fattyowls
tiny typo
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GUEST that is sound advice but I am facing a deadline and kan't get to Kew sadly. I will try and lay hands on one of the Sassoon biographies however and see if any of them covers the medical side. There is a danger that what I am writing becomes more and more about Graves, Sassoon and Owen and less about James Roy, my real subject. It's a tricky balance for an amateur scribbler like myself to strike.

 

Pete.

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When is your deadline?

On 02/04/2017 at 23:19, Fattyowls said:

GUEST, that is sound advice but I am facing a deadline and kan't get to Kew sadly. I will try and lay hands on one of the Sassoon biographies however and see if any of them covers the medical side. There is a danger that what I am writing becomes more and more about Graves, Sassoon and Owen and less about James Roy, my real subject. It's a tricky balance for an amateur scribbler like myself to strike.

 

Pete.

 

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When is your deadline?

 

About the 16th April; I want to mark 100 years since James Roy's death on the 23rd  by getting my article to the webmaster of one of Everton's fansites a week before. I've got another footballer who was killed at Bois Grenier on 2nd May 1917 so I'm going to have to write his account in parallel. It will keep me out of mischief.

 

Pete.

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 Pete/Fattowls- I should be able to get across to Kew this week. Quite happy to zap the file for you and end details up. Probably Sat.

    For some reason,his file has not been digitised

 

Reference: WO 339/51440
Description:

SASSOON S

Date: [1914-1922]
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department 122091
Legal status:

Public Record(s)

 

Edited by Guest
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 Pete/Fattowls- I should be able to get across to Kew this week. Quite happy to zap the file for you and end details up. Probably Sat.

 

Monsieur V, thank you for such a generous offer, but don't make a special journey across the great metropolis. I have spent enough time on public transport though the East End (Liverpool St out to Brentwood and back) to know it is not an insignificant effort. I've got enough to go on with Sassoon to weave him in, it's the location in the original query that was the key, it is somewhere that my readership (well reader actually) might be familiar with (I think he goes to that branch of Tesco).

 

Pete.

 

 

 

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  I am going anyway!!  Always happy to have extra items on shopping list..Not a problem-I'll do it anyway!!

      Brentwood??  Some low area used by Ford as a warehouse for spares, I believe

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  I am going anyway!!  Always happy to have extra items on shopping list..Not a problem-I'll do it anyway!!

      Brentwood??  Some low area used by Ford as a warehouse for spares, I believe

You are a prince amongst men as they probably don't say down your way anymore. Brentwood has achieved a bit of notoriety since I used to go to visit my aunt who lived there; reality TV has a lot to answer for. What will it be; Central line to Notting Hill Gate and then District to Kew Gardens?

 

Pete.

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 Nope- Straight down the Victoria Line to the District- then round to Kew Gardens. 65 minutes door to door. There is a slight chance I can do it on Wednesday-though Sat. is usual-sit on Tube and do The Times Jumbo Cryptic.

    I can't guarantee the stuff is there-but I do remember clearly that Sassoon's medical records were featured when the officers' files were opened up.

    

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According to this website Click the medical board took place on the 19th July at Crewe. The dates look about right to me?

 

" they gave him a railway warrant so that he could travel at the Army’s expense to Crewe to appear before a medical board. He tore up the warrant. Then, when it seemed that all hope of compromise was lost, Sassoon was visited on 18 July by his friend and fellow poet, Robert Graves, who was desperate to save him from the consequences of his “characteristic devilment” and told him, untruthfully, that there was no prospect of his going to prison: it was the medical board or a mental hospital. The board convened the next day. "

 

Mike

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On 4/2/2017 at 21:16, Fattyowls said:

I'm trying to locate the venue and establish the date of the medical board that sent Sassoon to Craiglockhart, at which Robert Graves spoke on his behalf. I've checked in my copy of "Goodbye to All That" and it doesn't seem to mention where and when. I'm always a little wary of using it as a source given the author's warnings of it's accuracy. I think the venue was Liverpool with the most likely place the Royal Welsh's barracks at Litherland and the date was 20th July 1917, but I can't confirm that.

 

Can any of the Sassoon fraternity mark my card as they say?

 

Pete.

 

    Right then- Read through  Sassoon's officer file at Kew this afternoon.  I have the sequence of his medical boards for 1917.

     You are almost there- I will leave you to work out the topography of Liverpool.

 

His medical board was held on 20th July 1917 (Report,signed by MO, Army Form A45) at the Exchange Hotel, Liverpool. . Board was ordered by GOC,Western Command.

    There is nothing about his being ordered to Craiglockhart but the file contains the formal note of arrival there dated 23rd July 1917

     I have a not very good image on my not very good mobile if you wish it- can download it tomorrow an send it up to you

 

    He had had previous medical boards at Prince of Wales Hospital (Officers Command Depot) -wherever that is- on 6th June  and another one before that at 4th London General Hospital on 10th May 1917. The results of that were:

   Unfit GS   10 weeks

   Unfilt Home Service  8 weeks

   Unfit Light Duties  6 weeks

 

     On 26th May he was classified Unfit GS/HS but Fit for Light Duties  -I month's covalescence-Recommendation, 3 weeks  leave

Through this time, Sasson was on leave anyway- from 20th April 1917 to 27th June 1917)

 

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I think the hotel was contained within the frontage which still remains at the disused Exchange Station on Tithebarn Street.

 

Image result for exchange station liverpool

 

Image result for "Exchange Hotel" Liverpool.

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    Right then- Read through  Sassoon's officer file at Kew this afternoon.  I have the sequence of his medical boards for 1917.

     You are almost there- I will leave you to work out the topography of Liverpool.

This is above and beyond the call of duty, thank you. That tells me everything I need for the time being, and thanks also to IPT for the photographs. The building is now offices but was the terminus of the Liverpool, Crosby and Southport line which ran out to Seaforth and Litherland station which was about a five minute walk from the RWF camp there. From Exchange Sassoon could also get up to Formby and out to the dunes, although the coastline has receded a long way in the last 100 years. Growing up Exchange station was the one I always got the train into. The trains now go into an underground station built about 50 yards in front of the original Exchange.

 

Excellent work, thanks again,

 

Pete.

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