Memoirs & Diaries - The Best 500 Cockney War Stories - "Lunnon" and Other Stories
Published in London in 1921, The Best 500 Cockney War Stories comprised, in the words of its newspaper publisher (The London Evening News) "a remembering and retelling of those war days when laughter sometimes saved men's reason".
The collection of short memoirs, some 500 in total, is divided into five categories - Action, Lull, Hospital, High Seas and Here and There. This page contains five stories from Hospital, led by "Lunnon".
Other sections within the collection can be accessed using the sidebar to the right.
He was my sergeant-major. Having on one occasion missed death literally by inches, he said coolly: "Them blighters can't 'it 'arf as smart as my missus when she's roused."
I last saw him at Charing Cross Station. We were both casualties. All the way from Dover he had moaned one word - "Lunnon."
At Charing Cross they laid his stretcher beside mine. He was half conscious. Suddenly he revived and called out, his voice boyish and jolly: "Good 'ole Charin' Crawss," and fell back dead.
G. W. R., Norwich, Norfolk
Sparing the M.O.
It was during some open warfare in France. The scene a small room full of badly wounded men; all the remainder have been hurriedly removed, or rather, not brought in here. There are no beds; the men lie on the floor close together.
I rise to stretch my back after dressing one. My foot strikes another foot. A yell of agony - the foot was attached to a badly shattered thigh. An insistent, earnest chorus: "You didn't 'urt him, sir. 'E often makes a noise like that."
I feel a hand take mine, and, looking down, I see it in the grasp of a man with three gaping wounds.
"It wasn't your fault, sir," he says, in a fierce, hoarse whisper.
And then I realise that not a soul in that room but takes it for granted that my mental anguish for my stupidity is greater than his own physical pain, and is doing his best to deaden it for me - one, at any rate, at great cost to himself.
In whose ranks are the world's great gentlemen?
"The Clumsy Fool," Guy's Hospital, E.C.
"Robbery with Violence"
A cockney soldier had his leg shattered. When he came round in hospital the doctors told him they had been obliged to take his leg off.
"Taken my leg off? Blimey! Where is it? Hi, wot yer done wiv it? Fer 'Eaven's sake, find my leg, somebody; it's got seven and a tanner in the stocking."
S. W. Baker, 23 Trinity Road, Bedford
Seven His Lucky Number
SCENE: the plank road outside St. Jean. Stretcher-bearers bringing down a man whose left leg had been blown away below the knee. A man coming up recognises the man on the stretcher, and the following conversation ensues:
"Hello, Bill!" Then, catching sight of the left leg: "Blimey! You ain't 'arf copped it."
The Reply: A faint smile, a right hand feebly pointing to the left sleeve already bearing six gold stripes, and a hoarse voice which said, "Anuvver one, and seven's me lucky number."
S. G. Wallis Norton, Norton House, Peaks Hill, Purley
Blind Man's Buff
The hospital ship Dunluce Castle, on which I was serving, was taking the wounded and sick from Gallipoli. Among the wounded brought on board one evening was a man who was badly hurt about his face. Our M.O. thought the poor chap's eyes were sightless.
Imagine our surprise when, in the morning, finding that his eyes were bandaged, he pulled himself to a sitting posture in bed, turned his head round and cried out, "S'y, boys, who's fer a gime of blind man's buff?"
I am glad to say that the sight of one eye was saved.
F. T. Barley, 24, Station Avenue, Prittlewell, Southend
By 1918 the percentage of women to men working in Britain had risen to 37% from 24% at the start of the war.
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