Memories of a Norfolk First World War ambulance driver

Herbert Frederick Faux with his family in 1935. Norwich Picture: Christine Peach

Herbert Frederick Faux with his family in 1935. Norwich Picture: Christine Peach - Credit: Archant

The First World War memories of a Norfolk man who served in the 1/2nd East Anglian Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps, Sabrina Johnson reports

On July 29, 1915 following four months of training, Norwich man, Herbert Frederick Faux and his comrades in the 1/2nd East Anglian Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corps left England on SS Manitou.

He recalled: 'We had no fixed idea as to our destination but most of us had come to the conclusion that we were bound for Egypt. 'Needless to say there were crowds of people thronging the quays cheering us and wishing us God's speed.'

After more than two weeks at sea on their way to Lemnos, the base for the Dardanelles the East Anglian's arrived at the front: 'We awoke in the early morning to hear the booming of distant artillery fire and saw shells bursting over distant hills. These hills appeared to us to be absolutely void of life and to our surprise when we arrived there we found it was swarmed with troops and transport.

'We were taken off the transport ship and landed at Suvla Bay in small rowing boats. We had not been there more than half an hour before we had our baptism of shellfire and we had to move under the shelter of the hillside.'

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The following day on the night of August 17, Private Faux had his first experience of collecting the wounded from the trenches: 'The distance to the trenches would be about 4 miles. About half a mile from the trenches we would form a temporary dressing station for receiving the wounded as they came from the trenches. The job we had of carrying these poor wounded fellows is nearly beyond description...

'On the 18th of August we lost our first man. This man was carrying a patient to the clearing station a quarter of a mile distant. When nearly there the Turks opened fire on the ASC stores and one of the shells hit the poor fellow killing him almost immediately.'

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A target for the Turkish forces, Private Faux himself had a couple of close calls when visiting the stores: 'I remember going for stores one morning and had reached the ASC and was sitting with a Sergeant on a box of currants. I was then given my portion of stores to carry back and had only left the box about a minute when a high explosive shell came hurtling through the air.

'Thad only just time to get under cover and when I came out again I found that the shell had hit the box I had been sitting on smashing it to atoms,

'On Saturday, August 21, I witnessed a sight I shall ever remember. This was the battle of the Salt Lake. The artillery commenced to open fire at 3pm in the afternoon and kept up a bombardment till the early hours of Sunday morning. Several places were set on fire and it was in this battle that the village Anfanta Plain was destroyed. Needless to say hundreds of poor fellows, both Turks and British, perished.'

On November 5, after almost three months bringing casualties back from the trenches Private Faux was admitted to hospital with a temperature of 105 degrees, but was still not safe from the shelling: 'Two nights in succession while I laid in Hospital we were shelled by 9in, high Explosives from Chanak. Unfortunately for us we were just at the tail end of the range and the shells were dropping all round us.'

On November 9th, he left the Gallipoli Peninsular on a hospital ship: 'I am not in the distance ashamed to own that I was jolly glad when I saw the Gallipoli Peninsular fading.

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