Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Seventy Two Degrees?

Yes that is what it was outside today! It was 70 in Chicago yesterday! It is supposed to be in the 20's in Chicago at this time of the year I think.

Yesterday and today one of the big stories was about a New York policeman who bought a pair of shoes for a shoeless, homeless man. I thought I would tell you about my Grandfather.

In fact if you go back about 7 or 8 posts and read one entitled a visit to the dentist or something, you will see a bit about my grandfather. By coincidence I had posted this story about boots.

Anyway, my Grandfather - Thomas Howard Nethercott - was in the First World War. He was in the mudddy trenches and fields of France, and in the blazing hot deserts of North Africa, and on the demon beaches of Gallipoi, in Turkey. And doubtless in other horrific, nightmare places too.

In France he was up to his knees in mud and snow, he had his appendix removed, "With a Rusty Bayonet", as he once told me. I'm sure an exaggeration. I think. He was gassed with mustard gas and lost his sense of smell and taste. Definitely not an exaggeration.

In North Africa he told me about the heat, and the smell, and the sand in everything and everywhere. And the flies. He said that when he had a jam sandwich it would immediately be covered in flies. He said you had to hold the sandwich in one hand and pass your other hand across the sandwich knocking off as many flies as possible and then quickly put the sandwich into your mouth. You always got some flies with the sandwich. The trick apparently was to get as few flies as possible. It was not possible to get none.

In Gallipoli. Well you have to read about Gallipoli for yourself, it would be useless for me to try to tell you about it. You definitely would not believe me. This story was told to me by his son after he, my Grandfather, had died. He carried a spare pair of boots with him. I don't know where he got them. He once told me that his boots rotted off of his feet in the trenches of France and the only way to get another pair was to kill a German and take his. "I had to kill 10 Germans." he said, "Before I found a pair that fit me." Another exaggeration, at least, I am sure. So, I did not know where he got his spare boots. Probably from a dead mate or soemething. I'm sure a spare pair of boots were a necessity - walking around in mud filled trenches, rough, hot, stony deserts and running out of the sea and up the machine gun raked beaches of Gallipoli. He probably needed a lot of spare underpants too I would think! Anyway after they took Gallipoli they had a lot of prisoners. One of the prisoners had no shoes. My grandfather gave him his spare pair of boots.

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