The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A cushy blighty

World War I Hospital (though not Walter's Clopton War Hospital)

In the middle of 2nd Ypres, Spring 1915, fortune smiled on Walter in the guise of a foot wound that proved serious enough to get him back to England. He'd been wounded in the leg at Le Cateau, but it wasn't serious enough to get him home. Walter describes what happens:

When our regiment were relieved from our trenches in Ypres, we went into billets for a rest. There was plenty of work to do though. We were unloading boxes of ammunition from a lorry, and one fell on my right foot which caused me to be sent to the Field Casualty Centre. I had my boot cut off, and my big toe was in a very bad state. I was sent to England to the Clopton War Hospital near Stratford on Avon. It was situated in vast countryside away from all the town life. I had an operation, and a part of my big toe was amputated, but it soon began to heal, and I was able to get about again. As I got stronger I was able to stroll around the grounds and in the meadows surrounding the Hospital.

One day, I went out with another patient called Joe Dennett. We went mushrooming, and while doing so, we came across a rabbit which had got caught in a wire snare. It was quite dead. We took the wire from off its neck and took our “find” to the Matron, together with the mushrooms. She didn’t shew any signs of pleasure over our enterprise, but she relieved us of our load, and then told us to get our shoes cleaned and change into slippers, which we had to wear in the Ward.

I've had a hard time finding specific information about Clopton War Hospital near Stratford and it's role during the war. I think it is now an apartment house or condominiums. Anyone know where I can find out more about how the war hospitals worked?
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posted by MaryB @ 7:06 AM  


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