Village Web Site Forum

Andrew Monkhouse
Hanoi, Vietnam
Saturday, April 16, 2011 12:46
Sutton's 'Old Warriors'
Robin, I very much enjoyed reading your ‘Old Warriors’ article on some of Sutton’s ‘served and returned’ WW1 soldiers. In fact I’ve read it a few times since it was posted a few days ago. It certainly paints a somber picture of life in the trenches.

As I have mentioned before in a different thread, I don’t think anyone could have possibly come back unscathed from the Great War. Physical and psychological scars would have been life long and serving in the Great War itself would have been horrific beyond all comprehension. It is hard for us in this day and age to appreciate the true gravity of what these servicemen had to go through, not forgetting the families and loved ones who could only hope and pray that the telegram delivery boy was not about to knock on their front door.

241 men from Sutton served and returned according to records at Northallerton and it is great to see a photo of 3 of them enjoying a pint. It was somewhat fortuitous that Reg Ellison defied the army surgeon’s clinical judgment to have his leg amputated!

Interesting too that Ralph Whiteoak handed back his Corporal stripes at his own request in 1917 for reasons unknown. I will make some inquires elsewhere into potential reasons why this sort of thing happened and will respond back later.

A nicely written and informative narrative Robin, well done.
Andrew Monkhouse
Hanoi, Vietnam
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 04:37
I posted an inquiry on Great War Forum as to some of the common reasons why a Non-commissioned Officer would surrender his stripes and revert back to PTE status.

One responder mentioned his Great Uncle who:

“during WW1 was in the 8th Black Watch, was raised to L/Cpl following his training during June- September 1915. He was put in charge of a section and soon found himself on maneuvers or in camp, having to tend to his section, making sure they did the duties they were supposed to, mounted guard like they were supposed to and filling in lots of reports and forms. This meant considerably less sleep than the Privates were getting. Fed up to the eye-teeth, he tried to hand back his stripe. He got hauled over the coals by his captain and told to get on with it, as he was qualified for the job and if he handed in his stripe, he'd soon get another!!”

Another person said:

“The commonest reason for surrendering stripes is because the new NCO finds that he has lost or thinks he has lost his pals. Life with responsibility is very different and the new NCO must adjust to living in a different world very quickly. One cannot be a leader and a pal. True friendship usually includes respect but respect doesn't always include true friendship”

Ralph Whiteoak may well have had entirely different reasons of course. We will never know!

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