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Too Short to be a Gunner

John Richard Green

Too Short to be a Gunner

£7.99

ISBN 9781781322451

Published Aug 2014

Paperback
216 x140mm (102 pages)

I was then sworn in to fight for my King and Country. I was too short to be a Gunner so it had to be Driver John Richard Green No. 246 Territorial, later No. 645222 of the Royal Field Artillery.

Like many teenage boys, John Richard (Jack) Green joined the rush to war in August 1914. Unlike many others, he returned four-and-a-half years later. Jack’s initial ambition to be a gunner was thwarted by his lack of height. Instead Jack drove a gun limber, supplying the front with ammunition, a fortunate choice for the son of a Hansom cab proprietor who had grown up with horses.

Jack went on to see action in Ypres, Poperinghe, the Somme. He survived injury, underwent court-martial, and endured field punishment for making a horse bleed when retreating under fire. By 1916 Jack’s patriotic fervour is replaced by disillusion and a fierce comradeship: ‘we volunteers… had lost faith in our Generals who we never saw… and only lived for our pals and horses’.

In 1919 Jack is greeted not with a hero’s welcome, but with a grudging offer of his old job back for a reduced wage. A hundred years on Jack’s story provides a unique insight into an ordinary soldier’s war, of his transformation from innocence through experience, from unquestioning patriot to staunch trade unionist, from boy to man.

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