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voltaire60

MYOPIA AND THE SOMME

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voltaire60

 

     No,colleagues, not another rant about British generalship-of the "butchers and bunglers" variety-This really IS about myopia.

 

       I have several  local casualties whose surviving service records show that they wore glasses eg Bertram Fussell, London Scottish (write-up on GWF)- glasses listed in Soldiers Effects,  Captain D.B. Tuck, 16th Middlesex (Public Schools) - medical report on enlistment in service file at Kew-  and Captain C.S.Pearce-  East Surreys- killed in the same charge with Billy Nevill and the footballs on 1st July 1916.(School roll of honour online)  Also, Captain W.A.Macdoinald, AOD ex London Scottish

    The photographs I have of Pearce in uniform show him wearing glasses raise a question-   Did soldiers wear glasses in action???????     Was there any rule (KRs,etc) about  doing/not doing so?  Different  for officers and ORs?   Genuinely perplexed by this. I must have missed the Official History on Opthalmology.  But it would be good to know-personally, I cannot recollect any description in literature of this  (OK, there must be loads about John Kipling) nor of seeing any newsreel or still pics. of frontline soldiers with specs.

 

 

 

 

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Gardenerbill

In 'My boy Jack' the story of Rudyard Kipling's so, it claims that Kipling pulled strings to get his so, who had defective eyesight, into the army and Jack is portrayed going into battle wearing spectacles.

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Moonraker

Short sight, spectacles and, of course, Jack Kipling have been discussed before (in some cases a long time ago), though perhaps not in the context of the Somme.

 

 
This one  looks interesting, with further links that may or may not duplicate the above.
 
Somewhere or other, there's a query from me asking at what level short-sightedness was acceptable for a front-line soldier, but I can't recall getting an answer in terms of dioptres.
 
Moonraker

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voltaire60

 

17 minutes ago, Moonraker said:

Short sight, spectacles and, of course, Jack Kipling have been discussed before (in some cases a long time ago), though perhaps not in the context of the Somme.

 

 
This one  looks interesting, with further links that may or may not duplicate the above.
 
Somewhere or other, there's a query from me asking at what level short-sightedness was acceptable for a front-line soldier, but I can't recall getting an answer in terms of dioptres.
 
Moonraker

 

     Thanks MR-  I am still rather in the dark about this matter (Pardon the pun).   Particularly for officers-map reading, reading orders etc.  Should be something very definitive about it from AC or the like (and hopefully not just John Kipling) 

    I must congratulate you  for doing what you have commented on another hread-being around long enough to have a memory of subjects raised in threads long past. Perhaps you could forsake your Wiltshire-allusion moniker and change it to "Old Parr" . Just a thought. :wub:

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Moonraker

Very kind. My long- and medium-term memory remains good, but short-term ... (I wondered if a WWII film on Talking Pictures would be any good, looked it up on IMDB and found that I'd reviewed it last year. Watched it again last night, could barely remember a scene.)

 

IIRC Anthony Eden was another WWI officer who was short-sighted at that time. Decades later, when he was PM, he refused to wear his glasses to read what was then a sort of autocue when addressing the nation on TV. (About Suez??) Caused a panic among the studio staff, I can't recall how the matter was resolved. (So much for boasting about my long-term memory.)

 

Moonraker

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kenf48

The general requirement for Medical Category A was, must be able to 'see to shoot' which was a useful skill.

 

On a more serious note, Medical History Volume 1 p.136 notes:- 

 

"Another result of the extension of recruiting to all classes of the community was to introduce into the army  men whose vision was lower than the standard accepted previous to the war, .....Thus in February 1917 the vision of a man passed into into Category A, which formerly had to be one fourth of normal vision in both eyes without glasses was only required to reach that standard in one eye, provided the the vision in the other eye could be corrected to one half normal vision with the aid of glasses." It goes on, "The issue of spectacles was authorised long before this  in an instruction in March 1915 in which every man proceeding overseas, whose eyesight would be improved by glasses was to be provided with two pairs of spectacles;" 

 

As with everything else the standards for officers in 1914 may have been different, appointment being more dependent on the school.

 

I believe pre-war physical and medical requirements were initially applied but these were soon reduced, in October 1914 opticians were advertising eye tests and spectacle for potential recruits.  Chris has a page on the LLT https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/enlisting-into-the-army/instructions-for-the-physical-examination-of-recruits/

frustratingly the instructions merely state 'up to the required standard'.

 

Ken

 

 

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Moonraker
3 minutes ago, kenf48 said:

.....Thus in February 1917 the vision of a man passed into into Category A, which formerly had to be one fourth of normal vision in both eyes without glasses was only required to reach that standard in one eye, provided the the vision in the other eye could be corrected to one half normal vision with the aid of glasses ..."

Interesting, not sure how that translates into dioptres? Seems to be a very low standard for a fighting man.

 

Moonraker

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Uncle George

The author Charles Barry describes his attempt to enlist in the British Army in 1914, at the British Embassy in St Petersburg (in his 1939 autobiography ‘Unsought Adventure’):

 

 

 

 

E9FBEE21-116C-4C91-8224-E9F15F3D6FCC.jpeg

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voltaire60

Thank you MR- I find the problem with Talking Pictures is easily resolved-Don't worry about memory loss- it was on and it will be on again. And if your memory says the film is a little familiar then the reason for that_it is. God, the British made some awful,awful films. The current round  from Merton Studios would have trouble getting into the boot fair held at Merton Abbey Mills.

 

    But I digress....

 

Ken- Spot on what I wanted.  Seeing well enough to shoot -Hmm-  it would be hard to find any army that did not take men on that basis.  I was unaware about the issue of spectacles. All very helpful

 

   UG-  The Charles Barry anecdote is good- "chest like an overgrown greyhound"-lovely phrase.

    May I recommend, on the matter of eyesight, the memoirs of Lt Gen Adrian Carton De Wiart? Yes, he of the glass eye and eyepatch, one armed. Not to be confused with Nelson. The description of how he fooled an eye test, which is in the Max Hastings "Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes"  is a delight. Always worth dipping into.

Edited by voltaire60

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