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Henry Hewitt (1889-1939)

Washington born miner served with 10th DLI

Henry Hewitt wrote home and his letter was published in the Chester le Street Chronicle on 1 October 1915. The letter had obviously been censored as the dashes in the article show. The transcript is below:

Private H. Hewitt, 10th D.L.I., writing to Mr. W. Bulmer, Pitfield Street, Sacriston, says: –
I am in the pink of condition. I saw a letter from M. Gascoigne saying he hoped you would keep his place on the team. I don’t know which season he means for, but my honest opinion is hat we shall be out here for a season or two yet. I saw some of the Sacriston 8th D.L.I., Terrier chaps but Gascoigne had not arrived in camp with his transport, or I should liked to have seen him for old time’s sake. They are now a bit further down the line and are having it a bit easier than they have been having. We were in the sand trenches as they took over at —, and we went further up to —. Hell’s Hole is what I call it. If anybody had told me I should have to go through and see the things that our Battalion has gone through I should have told him he was a — liar. I have seen sights that I shall never forget if I live to be a hundred. At first, just after we came over to France we thought it was awful to see about two or three of our chaps being knocked over, but now it is nothing to see a hundred or so “going west.” In one of the trenches our chaps were holding on the left of us some of the Royal Engineers sapped right to the German trenches and blew to —. It will give you a bit of an idea what sort of stuff our chaps are used to, when I tell you that it blew up 300 yards of trench, and when our chaps made the charge there were only nine prisoners. The others must have all “gone west.” Well, at that time I thought it was bad enough, but the — and — of last month took the cake. At two o’clock in the morning we were resting, as we had just been relieved from the trenches. We were ordered to stand to reinforce another brigade. We stood to until 12:30 midday, and were just going to sit down to dinner when we were ordered to move further up. We got off by one o’clock and our dinner went that day. We had a stiff march before us. The first place we stopped at was –. We had a drink of tea and rested until dusk, when we moved on again. We arrived at our destination at 11 o’clock. Things were then pretty quiet, so we started to make improvements in the support trenches. But we had just got started to dig when up went a thousand lights —-. We then recieved the order to reinforce, and we hopped over our parapet and got into a wood. I thought my time had come — and we lost a lot of men. J. Loxley and I are two of the lucky ones. I shall not forget the sight we witnessed the next morning. We got as many men buried and as many wounded ones carried out as possible. The next night our artillery recieved information that the Germans were coming up to reinforce their fighting line to make another bid for –. They came up in thousands, in masses eight deep, so one artillery got started, and cleared the d— lot of them out. This rather vexed Fritz and they started to bombard us again but we had improved our positions tremendously, so we lost very few men that night. The next night we were relieved, and went out to some dugouts, and we thought were going to have a good time of it. But we were disappointed. Every night we had to go out and either bury the dead or dig fresh trenches. We have been told that the regiment that took over our trenches have advanced three trenches, which is not so bad. I have seen my brother Jack out here, and he has a decent time, but I have not seen my brother Kit though he was in the battalion that took the three lines of trenches.

Henry was wounded in the shoulder and leg not long after this letter appeared in the Chester le Street Chronicle. He was returned to England in November 1915 and was transferred into the reserve just over a year later. He was W class reserve, which meant that he could be recalled to the army but was no longer under army discipline, until January 1917. He was then transferred to P class reserve, ‘whose services are deemed to be temporarily of more value to the country in civil life rather than in the Army’.

Civil Parish: Ouston

Birth date: 1888

Death date: 1939

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Darlings Buildings, Sacriston (1901 census)
Ladysmith Terrace, Craghead (lodger, 1911 census)
29 North Street, Ouston, Birtley (1914 army service record)

Employment: Coal miner, hand putter (1911 census)

Family: Parents: Thomas Hewitt, Margaret Hewitt
Siblings: John Hewitt (referred to as Jack in article), Lizzie Hewitt, Christopher Hewitt (referred to as Kit), Joseph Hewitt (1901 census)
Wife: Beatrice Russ (married 1912)

Military service:

Attested: 10 August 1914
Disembarked: 21 May 1915
Home: 26 November 1915
Reserve W: 21 December 1916
Reserve P: 11 January 1917
10th Durham Light Infantry

Medal(s): 1914/15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal
Silver War Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Sacriston Heritage Group | Durham County Record Office

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