From the Telegraph :
... the companies reached their objective with a combined strength of 40, plus 30 wounded; the Gurkhas were pinned down, also with heavy casualties, and there was little food or water. As the only medic present, and with no resources but a first aid haversack containing some bandages, a bit of morphia and scissors, Lance-Corporal Hazle became, in effect, the regimental medical officer, according to his regiment's history.
Working in cramped conditions under constant mortar fire and artillery bombardment, as the empty canisters from smoke bombs caused further casualties as they fell among them, Hazle fearlessly exposed himself to continual fire over six days, dressing wounds, and carrying out an amputation.
He was a stretcher bearer, not a qualified medic. And that was "Nutty" Hazle's second DCM. The first was awarded for continuing to treat wounded of the 5th Indian Division despite having half his face shot away.
Picture from the Times obit.
There's a line in Solzhenitsyn's novel August 1914, in which the author regrets that so few photographs exist of the conscripts. I paraphrase :
"There are no photographs of them, and this is all the more regrettable because since then the composition of our nation has changed, faces have changed and no lens will ever rediscover those honest, trusting eyes, those placid, bearded faces, those relaxed and unselfish expressions. Our whole national character has changed since then."
The Brits of 1939 weren't at all like Russian peasants. But I know what he meant, and feel the same regret at the passing of the last heroic generation of Britons, none of whom would ever have described themselves as such.
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