The Minute Book
Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Prison Life in Germany (1917)
Topic: The RCR

Wounded L.A. Boy Writes Mother of Prison Life in Germany (1917)

Struck Down by Shrapnel While Leading Charge in 'No Man's Land'
Serving With Canadians
Acting a Sergeant Major When Taken Prisoner in Battle

Los Angeles Herald, Number 96, 21 February 1917

Young Preston gave his address as No. 477741, Sergeant Preston, Royal Canadian Regiment, British prisoner of war, Wahn Rhld, Germany.

A Los Angeles mother today read of how her son was wounded in a charge over "no man’s land in France and captured by the Germans.

The news was contained in a letter writen by the boy in a German prison camp.

The mother is Mrs. E. Preston of 201 Lakeshore terrace. The boy is Norman Preston. The letter was dated January 1, 1917 It read:

My Dear Mother: I hope you received my first card so that you will be able to write to me all the sooner.

"We made the charge at 4:50 a. m. on the morning of the 8th and about half an hour later I had about half the calf of my left leg blown off. I don’t know what did it and I wasn’t in much pain.

"It was rather unfortunate that I got it when I did. I was acting sergeant major of my company and it is quite possible I should have been confirmed if I had come out O.K.

"I crawled to a dugout which had fallen into our hands and a German doctor and his orderlies were still working in it attending to the wounded.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Wound Was Dressed

They treated me very well indeed. I stayed in there about two hours, when the Germans came over and recaptured the place and I was taken to another dressing station and so on to a succession of hospitals.

"Fortunately I was out of my head for seven days so I didn’t feel the effect of the operation of taking the shrapnel and bullets out of my leg.

As luck would have it, nothing had touched the bone and I am now well on the road to recovery. I can walk with a very slight limp and I expect if nothing unforeseen occurs to walk as well as ever in another month’s time.

"The leg healed wonderfully well. I think I have been fortunate in coming out of the fray with what I did. I saw some awful sights. Men with limbs blown off, men blinded, men lying in every conceivable position dead and wounded, friend and foe alike.

The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Wants a New Pipe

"I am glad to say that my regiment upheld its name as usual. "I lost my pipe in the charge. In fact I lost everything when I was captured. All I had when I got here was a shirt. Of course, I was carried in on a stretcher.

"Now, mother dear, you will have no cause to worry for you know how it all happened and I am whole except for a dent in my leg, which, of course, will be permanent. Otherwise I am O.K. I wish that you or Arthur (his brother) would send me a pipe like the one home for remembrance. If you send one get a straight stem, black mouthpiece. They are the best.

"Well, mother, I am being treated well here, and being a sergeant I don't have to do manual labor when I go into camp.


"P. S.—Write as soon as you can and tell Arthur to do the same. Well, mother dear, keep a good heart and write often. I remain your loving son. — Norman.

Young Preston gave his address as No. 477741, Sergeant Preston, Royal Canadian Regiment, British prisoner of war, Wahn Rhld, Germany.

elipsis graphic

Listed in Ted Wigney's Guests of the Kaiser:

Preston, Norman Henry Geo., 477771; Sgt; RCR; POW Oct. 8/16;
Rel. Dec. 18/18; SOS Halifax July 18/19; died Victoria Mar. 5/66

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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