Monday, 20 February 2017

Will Sidney's War - September 1918 - Treading the Boards!


It is now September 1918 and, unsurprisingly Will Sidney is still 'in the Dock', thinking of his dearest Ethel, desperate to get better so he can get home to get married.
"1 Sunday - Still in Dock. Thinking of Ethel. God bless her. Church @ 11.30. New Chaplain. No letters from anybody"
"2 Monday - Still in Dock. My neck still a little sore. Writ to Ethel. No letters from anyone."
"3 Tuesday - My neck feeling better, but sore & tender. A letter from Dora. Answered it."
"4 Wednesday - My neck turning septic. Had to have hot forments on every 4 hours. Very painful & sore."
"5 Thursday - Still painful. Thinking of Ethel. God bless her. I wish I was with her. Writ to her & Chuck Vogel, American soldier with Italian army."
"6 Friday - My neck very sore, one continuous ache. I can't understand it @ all. Thinking of Darling Ethel."
"7 Saturday - God bless her. I wish my neck was better so as I could have my leave to marry her. I simply worship her with all my heart & soul." 
The following week sees Will moved from the 38th to the 29th Stationary Hospital, where things don't sound too cheerful ...
 "8 Sunday - Moved from Genoa to Turino to the 29th Stationary Hospital. Writ to Ethel & Ma."
"9 Monday - The sister is worse than awful. The OC is a Bully (a Prison MO in pre-war times). MO no visit." 
"10 - Tuesday - No letters from anybody. Thinking of Darling Ethel. Wondering if she has heard from York."
"11 Wednesday - A letter from Darling Ethel. Answered it. Pleased to hear she has received it from York."
"12 Thursday - Still in the 29 Sta Hos. My shoulder still painful. Received the Registered from my Darling Ethel, with the money & heather in."
"13 Friday - Answered her loving letter."
"14 Saturday - Still in Hospital."
During this week's diary entries Will refers to Ethel having sent him some heather. In his 1919 diary, we found this and wonder, could it possible be the heather that Ethel sent to him in 1918 ...
We also found this postcard in Will's things and it is marked on the back, by Will, as being the way to the 29 Sta Hospital, which is where he was transferred to on 8 September 1918 ...

From Will's diary for the following week we get the impression that he is seriously fed up ...
All Will has to say for the whole week is ...
"My neck still stiff & sore. No improvement whatever. Thinking of Darling Ethel. Worrying is she is worse."
Interestingly Will makes no mention of his activities on the Saturday, where it seems he took the role of Major Brown in the 29 Stationary Hospital B Sections production. It seems that Will sang in the production at items 9 & 19 - 'Michigan' and 'Good-bye-ee."

We were totally fascinated with this original typed programme that we found, be it very flimsy ...
The following week, Will still appears to be pretty hacked off ...
Again, Will doesn't have much to say ...
"Rotten old Major & Matron. Hoping Ethel is getting well again."
 He did manage to send a postcard to Ethel, which we have found, date stamped 25 September 1918 ...
Will writes on the reverse of the card ...
"E ... I am sending you a picture that I happened to see the other day. I will try & send you some more. I am just about the same. Hoping you are a lot better by now. Remember me to all ... I am yours ... W"
... and on the Friday night there was another production by B Section of the 29 Stationary Hospital. This time Will played the role of Private Jolliboy, but it seems there was no solo singing performance this time ...
I'm not quite sure how to interpret Will's last entries in his diary for September, but it looks like Will's feelings about the 29th Stationary Hospital were more in kin with a prison than a holiday camp, in spite of his regular Friday nights treading the boards.
So, how much longer does Will have to stay in the 29th? You will find out more in my next post, so please ... do keep reading.

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