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
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.
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.
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.
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