Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Collecting the wounded at night

This letter was published in the Eastbourne Gazette early in October 1914. Captain Arthur Habgood conveys the terrifying circumstances of evacuating the wounded.

During the war he gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Royal Army Medical Corps (Special Reserve).

Collecting the wounded at night

R.A.M.C . At work under shell-fire.

Dr. Arthur Habgood (son of Dr. Henry Habgood Stafford House, Upperton, Eastbourne) Captain in the R.A.M.C., Special Reserve and attached to No. 9 Field Ambulance, 3rd Division, has been on service with the British Expeditionary Force since August 18.

Writing home recently from the field of battle, Captain Habgood says: -

“My dear Father – This is a great hurry, as a Red Cross car is waiting to take it into Paris.

We are at present in billets and are very busy day and night, evacuating wounded and sick - about 1,500 in three days – so you will see we are very busy. Am quite well, but have had a pretty rough time.

A big battle is starting, and we have had a little lull in the fighting. For the past four days we have had to collect the wounded at night, in a town across a river, and have had to cross on a temporary pontoon by night, under shell fire all the time.

Have had some narrow escapes – Shrapnel shrieking by at night is very unpleasant.

This town is in ruins and dead horses etc. lying all about the roads, makes it very disagreeable.

Many thanks to you all for the letters and parcels, which I was glad to get. What we are hard up for is cigarettes. Have had none for three weeks. A pipe would also be a blessing. I am at present smoking an old cast-off one belonging to my major. Papers and magazines would be interesting, also letters. The letters coming from home are not opened. We all long for England. The officers say that South Africa was a picnic to this war. Which is day and night without intermission.

I am much thinner, but a good dinner will soon alter that. We only had two posts since I left England. There is no harm in telling you now that we sailed to Rouen. No Typhoid yet!

Good-bye for the present.

Your affectionate son,


(Lt.-Col. Arthur Henry Habgood is the son of Dr. Henry Habgood.2 He married Vera Chetwynd-Stapylton, daughter of Edward Chetwynd-Stapylton and Beatrice Mary Cowie, on 27 September 1924.
He was registered as a Licentiate, Royal College of Physicians, London (L.R.C.P.). He graduated with a Diploma of Public Health (D.P.H.). He was registered as a Member, Royal College of Surgeons (M.R.C.S.). He graduated with a Master of Arts (M.A.). He graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.). He was decorated with the award of Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.). He gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Royal Army Medical Corps (Special Reserve). He graduated with a Bachelor of Surgery (B.Ch.). He lived in 1976 at
Mellstock, Skippetts Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England.)

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