Stretcher bearer

At the start of 1918 Portland quarry worker Jim Sansom had been a stretcherbearer in the heat of Egypt for two years. He writes: “Twenty of our fellows got typhus and four died in January but after isolation and rest we were marching back to the front by early Spring”

James was born in 1895 into a Portland Baptist family. At the age of 17 he want to work in Pearce's Quarry with his father and brothers as one of the family crews where sons learned their father's trades.

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Among the bullets...

March 07, 1918 James Sansom: Three miles from the front line. We stay here till the evening of the 8th when we stretcher bearers start for the reserve lines to form an ADS [Advanced Dressing Station]

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General Allenby

By the end of March 1918, stretcher bearer James Sansom and the troops on the front line in Palestine reach the Jerusalem to Nablus road, having taken Jerusalem from the Turks at the end of 1917.

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Night Attack

March 29th 1918: Stretcher bearer James Sansom of 230th Field Ambulance is in the line on the Jerusalem to Nablus Road with 74th division. A night attack on Amman is being launched in a few hours

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Camped on hillside

April 1st 1918 We come out of the line now for another rest and have a camp on a hillside amongst beautiful natural scenery. Except for the sound of the guns and an occasional enemy aeroplane or two we nearly forget there is a war on

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on the move - no camels

James Sansom: April 8th 1918 Too good to last long, we move again today on a 4 days march to Ludd which is the rail-head, a distance of 40 miles by road. We have no camels now but horse transport.

April 12th 1918 We stay 2 days at Ludd, the country found here is glorious with orange groves and other fruit trees, although the nature of the country is sand.

April 15th 1918 We get on cattle trucks here to train for Kantara which we reach at midnight after 16 hours in the trucks. We march to our camp about five miles away and settle down

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Kantara

James Sansom: April 15th 1918 We get on cattle trucks here to train for Kantara which we reach at midnight after 16 hours in the trucks. We march to our camp about five miles away and settle down

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Swimming in Suez Canal

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Leaving for Alex

April 28th 1918 James Sansom: We leave Kantara for Alexandria docks where we arrive on the 29th. [picture of troops arriving at Kantara in 1918 by Pryce Evans of the 4th Welsh Regiment, is from @ww1imagesegypt]

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Setting sail

April 29, 1918 Arrive at Alex and board the liner “Malwa”. Tomorrow we sail for Marseille.

April 30, 1918 We leave Alex with six other ships taking the whole 74th division. We have an escort of 6 torpedo boats, two seaplanes and a balloon.

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Entrain for N.France

May 8th 1918 We march to the railway station [in Marseilles] and entrain for N. France. We spend three days and nights in the train passing through some beautiful country.

May 12th 1918 We eventually arrive at the town of Noyelles [8 days on a ship from Alex and 3 entrain] from where we march to the village of Le Titre where we go in billets and barns etc. It's the first time we have lived in any building excepting a Monastery for three years

Notes: It's taken Portland quarryman 12 days to get from Alexandria to northern France and a very different war from the sand and camels of Egypt. After three years living under canvas he's billeted in a building at last.

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Air raids

James Sansom: May 21st 1918 Several air raids over the past few days - including a particularly bad one today, causing several casualties.

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Villers Sir Simon

June 3rd 1918 We have left Le Titre and after various moves and marchings, arrived at Villers Sir Simon, another village where I and several more have the good fortune to be billeted in a farm. We get a good many raids here also.

June 30th 1918 After several weeks here at Villers Sir Simon, we move again to Givenchy

July 4th 1918 After two days in Givenchy we move entrain to another village Estree Blanche where we remain for a while. We are in a camp which was used for German PoW and we have the epidemic amongst us that is raging all over the country

July 20th 1918 We march to Berquette on the Merville front and go in the front line for the first time in France. We get plenty of football practice here and good food

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Home Leave

James Sansom - August 9th 1918 I leave Berquette to go on leave to Blighty after an absence of three and a half years. I arrive at Calais on the 9th and sleep there for the night. Of course there is a big enemy air raid but fortunately few casualties

August 10th 1918 I embark for England after having breakfast at Calais and have a fine trip across, reaching home [Portland, Dorset] at midnight.

30th August 1918 After an enjoyable 14 days back home on Portland, I have had a miserable time returning, not feeling very jolly till I reached the unit on the 28th. After a couple of days messing about we move entrain today for Lillers.

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