I see from my notes that I interviewed Frank Gearing at his home in Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex in June 1987. My aunt, who knew of my First World War interest and was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, put me in touch with Frank. A meeting was arranged, I took my tape recorder along, and started listening.
What followed turned into fifteen pages of typescript which I'm going to publish in its entirety over three separate posts.
Frank Gearing was both lucid and interesting but, with the passage of seventy years, can be forgiven for getting some of the dates muddled. I've not corrected his narrative but his service papers do survive and from these we can see that he attested (as he said) at Southwark on 13th October 1916 when he was still 17 years old, and was called up in April 1917. He subsequently served overseas between December 1917 and 14th December 1919. It was not until January 1920 that he was demobbed. I'll leave the rest to Mr Gearing:
I still didn't know what was happening but I had put in my pay book by this time, "Nursing Orderly". Now, the training given to the RAMC – from my experience - was disgraceful. All I'd had in those months in the RAMC in the way of any training at all was one lecture by a doctor telling us the main bones of our body; anatomy. Couldn't have cared less: I never had any more lectures or anything. We were given a book, (every RAMC man had what we called a green book, a manual) which was a very good First Aid book, or a little bit more than First Aid, a bit more advanced. But if you didn't have any brain at all it didn't mean a thing to you because you hadn't been told what these terms and names of parts of the body and the circulation and all that was all about, you just had to teach yourself.
Read Part 3 Here.
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