Archives: Soldier escaped with his life but lost arm

Nostalgia - from The Standard's archives
Nostalgia - from The Standard's archives

100 years ago... 1915

A soldier gave a dramatic account of the front line of the First World War in which he escaped with his life – but lost an arm.

Writing home to his family, Noel Chester said: “The bombardment started at 12 o’clock and lasted two hours and was the most infernal noise you could imagine. “I really felt sorry for the Germans. At 2 o’clock, over the boys went, and didn’t they go grandly. The Guards said they had never seen a finer charge, so straight and unbroken was the line.

“Joe Foster was just to my left and he pulled me upon the parapet, and we started across. We jumped our first trench, and got through our wire, and the next thing we met was the German wire. You couldn’t see far for smoke.

“As we got to the wire of the second German line, a bullet whizzed past and knocked my respirator sideways.

“We charged again and I caught my trousers in the wire and went down.

“I think Joe must have gone on a bit here, as I didn’t see him again. No sooner had I got to my feet, when something hit my left arm. It felt like a ton weight.

“I saw at once that I could go no further. I dropped my rifle and crawled back to our first line trenches.”

Noel had to have his arm amputated.