I’m posting the First World War memoirs of my grandfather-in-law, Sampson J. Goodfellow, a few pages at a time…
We finally reached St. Pol which was on the outskirts of our territory, and then reached Aubigny which was our railhead and parked at Tolloy, which was our Headquarters for three months before the start of the Vimy Battle. We then moved to Olhain which was our Headquarters for the Vimy Battle, and did we work! Out on the road at 5 and 6:00 a.m. and back at 10 and 11:00 p.m.
Being on the spare board, I never got a day off. When someone was sick, I took his truck and his orders.
The winter of 1916 was a terrible winter.
We had a Saurer Truck in our Column, nearly all the rest, at that time, were Daimler sleeve valve types, and they would not start in the morning, the old Saurer would start if you looked at it.
The Saurer Truck would pull one Daimler, then we would have two trucks. These would start two more, until we had all the trucks moving. Some of the Daimler trucks had a pocket in the head that would not drain when we drained the engines and the heads would crack. New heads were rushed to us and we changed them very quickly. Later we got anti-freeze and stopped draining the engines.
One day when we were short of trucks, Senior took the Thorncroft and I took the Saurer to Aubigney for goods. When Senior was cranking his car, he broke his wrist. I took him to the hospital and then he was sent to Blighty.
I was always the willing horse and sure enough I got double fatigue and bronchitis.
An 18-pound Artillery Regiment had arrived from India and was stationed in our Village of Olhain. They had a medical officer so I dragged myself over to him but all I got was a calling down for not being washed and smart like the Artillery soldier. I told him if I could dress like them I would not come to see him. He gave me a pink pill which did no good. The next day, I went back again, got another calling down and another colored pill. The next day, I dragged myself over again, got a calling down again and another colored pill. The 4th time I thought I was going to die and went over to him, practically on my hands and knees. As I was crossing the street, Michael, our Quebec French Sergeant, shouted at me to go out on a Daimler Truck alone. I looked at him through my bleary eyes, and got in the truck with the orders.
All that day Officers would come up to me and tell me I was sick.
I drove to our park, got out of the truck and collapsed. The no-good Corporal passed and I said to him, “Take me to the O.C.”
He said, “You’re going to the Hospita1.”
They got me an ambulance and away I went. By this time, I was vomiting blood. The doctor at the Advanced Hospital was on duty and he looked after me. He was a young doctor from Winnipeg. Within a week he came and interviewed me and I told him the whole story.
He said, “The devil, they can’t do that to our boys.”
The accommodation in the hospital was of the roughest. It was a large tent with little wooden horses six inches high, straw kits and blankets top and bottom. There was very little male help.
On one side of me was a Salvation Army Soldier, and all I got from him was, was I “saved”?
On the other side was an automobile racing driver. All he talked about was his racing against Barney Oldfield. But he did me a favour; he told the Sally to shut up and let the youngster have some peace.
The Doctor on one of his rounds said, “Goodfellow, I am going to keep you
here for a month. You need a rest and you’re going to get it.
I progressed very rapidly and one day the Doctor came to me and said, “I will let you go now. You are O.K. and I am being transferred to a large hospital.”
I thanked him for his kindness.
The boys from the 3rd came up with a truck to get me, but they gave me bad news which they had been keeping back. My Mother had died in Toronto. It was a terrible blow to me, and I thought over what she had said when I left Toronto. (I will never see you again.)
The boys had collected my food parcels, that had come from Regina, Toronto and England, so when they got me to our park at Olhain, they decided to have a party. It was some party, and I was lucky to get a small piece of cake.