I met and interviewed Jack Rose at his home in Chelmsford on the 9th December 1981. Born in July 1897 at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, by the time he attested as an 18-year-old under the provisions of the Derby Scheme in December 1915, Jack was living in Thetford, Norfolk and working as a telegraphist for the Post Office. I also found him on the 1911 census staying with his father (a licensed victualler), mother and sister at the Ship Hotel, Burnham on Crouch.
Thankfully, Jack's papers survive in WO 364 and in answer to question 9 on his attestation paper (Are you willing to be enlisted for General Service?) the following response was written: "Not joining under Group Scheme by command of Postmaster General, but coming under Director of Army Signals for Home Defence." The response was obviously not heeded as Jack was in France by 1917.
The transcript below is all that survives from my meeting with Jack Rose and I have added to this (in square parantheses) where additional information from his surviving papers adds to the picture. Jack Rose died on the 10th October 1985 aged 88. His two brothers, who joined the army in 1914, both survived the Great War.
"It was while I was at Nieuport in 1917 that I got gassed. We were in a dug-out under an old café in the town of Nieuport which was used as an infantry observation post and one chap failed to pull the gas blanket over the entrance. Well, we all got a dose of mustard gas that burnt all the skin off your fingers and affected your eyes. I was blind for three days and spent pounds on my eyes when I came out of the army but they’ve never been the same.
[Jack's papers note a spell in hospital between the 26th October 1917 and 3rd November 1917. In 1921, by now living at the Lion and Lamb Hotel at 25 Duke Street, Chelmsford, he submitted a claim for a pension as a result of conjunctivitis resulting from his gassing. He gave his regiment as "Royal Engineers, 2nd Army Signal Company. The claim was rejected. The watermarked but undated photo, copyright of The Francis Frith Collection, shows the Lion and Lamb Commercial Hotel in Duke Street, Chelmsford.]
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