Edward's Thoughts -
My Time in the Great War

Friday 22 May 2020

Well you still haven't come back to see me yet, it's all very strange and a little unsettling.  I hope you haven't forgotten me?  I feel so lifeless without the usual chatter and sounds that accompany a busy school in the full swing of an academic year.

I heard from the few people still here that a story was posted supposedly from me last week.  Don't know where it came but it was most definitely not me, I was busy sleeping.

Today my thoughts have gone back to quite a dark period of my life, maybe this is a symptom of how I am feeling now.

The time I was thinking about was during the period of the Great War, as it was called I later found out.  It was a very busy time here and I met many different people from many nations.  They had been thrown together to fight against other countries, I don't know the reasons for this.

During this time many of the men brought here suffered terrible injuries inflicted by men from the other countries.  There was much pain and blood to be seen, pictures seared into my memory that even now are difficult to forget.  Men would arrive in ambulances, some able to walk and others on stretchers.  The majority had bloody bandages but some arrived with no sign of bodily injury.  These puzzled me to begin with but eventually I came to realise that these were actually the most frightening of all the men brought here.

They wandered the grounds and building seemingly in a trance speaking to no one and barely eating and drinking.  Not unlike the walking dead.  The worst was at night with these patients not long after falling asleep they would begin to thrash about in their beds and then sit bolt upright screaming and sweating.  They seemed to embody the very meaning of fear.  The nurse rushed to them and tried to comfort them with soft words and reassurances that they were safe.  What terrible things had they seen that caused their brains to go into such a state?

There was a young lad I remember he was only 19 and a very long way from home.  He arrived with shrapnel wounds to his body, the doctors removed a lot of them but some were too deep to be taken out.  Once he had recovered a little he would sit in the garden, whistling a song and talk to me about his life before.  He came from a small place in Australia called Kangaroo Bay where he lived on a farm with his brothers and sisters.  They all had jobs around the farm to help their parents.  The job he enjoyed the most was looking after the family’s small vegetable patch, I guess that’s why he loved to sit under the trees in the garden so much it reminded him a little of home.  He told me that when he returned home he hoped to marry his sweetheart and start a family of his own.  He was hoping to be able to buy a farm of his own.

These were the dreams he had but as happened a lot during the time with millions of young lads far from their homes, often for the first time, they were not to come to fruition.  One day while he was sat talking to me he said he felt unwell and went to find a nurse.  I remember watching him walk away thinking how much older than his 19 years he seemed to be moving.  That night he got a terrible fever which wouldn't go down he suffered like that for days.  The doctors said that a piece of the shrapnel still inside him had caused an infection that was slowly destroying his internal organs.  After a week he passed away silently in his sleep.

He never returned home to his farm or sweetheart.  He is still here and comes to talk to me at times about what the boys are doing and how he has scared them.  If you listen hard in the dead of the night when the school is quiet you can still hear him whistling his song.

The two pictures below are of etchings from around the school