Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Coolness in a Mine

Wednesday 19th January 1916: the adjutant of the 7th Bedfords tells us that about 6.15 last night the Germans blew up one of the battalion’s mines being dug under the German lines. The enemy kept up a persistent bombardment with trench mortars and rifle grenades until 11pm when they were silenced by our trench mortars and guns.

Thirteen men became casualties from the noxious fumes in the mine and two of them, including Bernard Ashpole from Kempston, have died. The adjutant tells us that there would have been more deaths had it not been for coolness of Corporals Ernest Blanshard and James Ivory who entered mine shaft and removed all the gassed men. One hopes their bravery will be rewarded(1).

Source: X550/8/1

(1) Happily both corporals seem to have survived the war and both received the Distinguished Conduct Medal a short time later

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