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Address: 2 Tunwell Street, Eccleshill
Rank: Pte
Rolls of Honour:
Regiment: 2 West Yorkshire
Jesse Marshall
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We first hear of Jesse Marshall on 19 March 1915 when the Shipley Times & Express mentioned him in connection with another soldier: “Pte Jesse Marshall of 2 Tunwell Street, Eccleshill, who is attached to the 1st West Yorkshire Regt, writing from the firing line, says he was sorry to learn through the Times & Express of the death of Pte Charles Styles (link below) who was one of the soldiers who had ‘gone through the mill’ properly. “By the way, Pte Marshall volunteered for service in South Africa and fought under General Buller in the Natal Campaign. “He came through without a scratch and in addition to receiving the medal and several bars, was presented with a scroll of honour by the officers of the volunteer battalion on his return home. “The scroll is signed by the officers of the regiment and bears the names of the places in which Pte Marshall took part in engagements.” Jesse’s record of escaping without a scratch lasted only a few weeks because on 12 March we read: “Jesse Marshall from Eccleshill was recovering in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley near Southampton when he wrote home to a friend. Badly damaged ‘I am going on fine, much better than ever I expected,’ he wrote. ‘My thigh is badly damaged but under the most skilful treatment it is doing wonders. ‘There are a lot of Lancashire fellows laid in here and three Burnley chaps are in my ward so you may guess we are having some
fine sport. The nurses are splendid and are at it from daylight to dark. ‘I think myself lucky to have got through as well as I have, for I might easily have been wounded in the head and in that case I should still have been in France along with thousands more, never to return. ‘As I have lain here in bed quite comfortable and have thought of the poor lads in France, I have shuddered to think of it for only those who have gone through it know what the hardships really are. Cold wet trenches ‘I have had thirteen weeks in the cold, wet trenches and the sensation is far from pleasant. But there is a Yorkshire saying “Tha can get used to owt.” ‘My opinion of the Germans is this that they are not worth talking about. Their day of retribution will come and God help them when it does. I would dearly love to be in at the kill. ‘It is terrible to think of the lives that have already been lost but there is sure to be some long list of casualties before the war is finished. Those who are comfortable at home and read the papers cannot dream of the horrors of this war. ‘I am living in hopes of coming home by Easter and then I can chat with you about my experiences at the front.’ A month later he was home and telling of his experiences at the front:
“Pte Jess Marshall hobbled into the Old Mill yard, Eccleshill, on Saturday morning to have a word with his former workmates. He was looking extremely well in spite of his wounds. On his breast he wore the two ribbons for his services in the South African war. “He had arrived home late the night before from a private hospital in Hampshire. He concurs with what many British soldiers have said ‘that the Germans have a great dislike for the British bayonet.’ “In one charge in which he took part, they got right amongst the Huns and gave the enemy a far bigger dose of ‘cold steel’ than they were able to relish and captured many prisoners. “During the thirteen weeks he was in the trenches he only saw 10 German aeroplanes but the aviators of the Allies were over the German positions every day. Snipers “He describes the Germans as ‘poor shots’ but the German snipers, he says, are the pick of the hostile army. If there is the least chance at all of sending a shot home they are alert enough to do it. “He was at dinner one day with his comrades and had just been speaking to one of them when a shot came and killed his chum on the spot. The poor chap never spoke – never even groaned – he just dropped down dead. “Once he was with a reconnoitring party and on coming to a haystack
he happened to place his hand against it and it gave way. On a thorough search being made they found inside a German sniper who got his deserts. “The interior of the haystack had been cut out in zig-zag fashion and being in an elevated position, commanded an excellent view of the British trenches. They also discovered an abundant supply of food and ammunition inside. Treachery “Pte Marshall received his wounds through German treachery. After one stiff engagement, the Germans were allowed to tend their wounded and carry back their dead without a shot being fired. “The British expected being allowed to do the same thing and Marshall was amongst those who was willing to fetch them in. “They got well towards where their wounded lay when the Germans opened machine gun fire upon them and he was ‘bowled over’ with two wounds in the upper part of his right leg. Crawl back “It was about 9 a.m. when he fell and he had to wait until 7 p.m. in the evening before he could crawl back to the trenches and have the wounds attended to. “As he lay on the ground the bullets of friends and foes passed over him and when he tried to make himself more comfortable, the Germans tried to dispatch him. “He was eventually sent down the line and became an inmate of Netley Hospital. On becoming convalescent he was sent with others to Westcliffe War Hospital at Hythe where they received every attention.”
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