Pontypool soldier's memoirs of First World War
8:01am Wednesday 30th April 2014 in News
A VIVID and moving account written by a Pontypool soldier during the First World War could soon be published if a historian can trace any surviving relatives.
Author and publisher, Richard Frame, of Langstone, discovered the notes made by Private Charles Heare at South Wales Borderers Museum in Brecon, and is now hoping to gain permission from his relatives to publish them in a book, with proceeds going towards the museum.
Mr Frame said: “It seems Private Heare made rapid notes whilst in action and then wrote them up into a comprehensive record during rest periods. A photocopy of the resulting manuscript which reads like a book is now at South Wales Borderers Museum in Brecon."
"“We know that Mr Heare had children and grand-children some of whom survive. I would very much like to contact them for permission to publish Private Heare’s experiences as a book the proceeds to go to the regimental museum at Brecon.
“Usually it is the officers whose memoirs come down to us across the century. Here we have a Gwent man whose clear, compassionate eye took in the poetic joys of peaceful moments as well as the slaughter of the battlefields."
He said his words are 'illuminating' and provide a vivid and moving description of life and death during the Great War.
“Private Charles Heare from Pontypool was asked to do what no soldier or any human being should be asked to do – put a bullet through the head of a comrade," he said.
He added: "It was at the opening of the Battle of the Somme in July, 1916 that Heare was faced with his terrible dilemma. As he advanced into battle Heare – who had been told not to stop for any reason whatsoever – passed a soldier screaming in agony after his arms and legs had been blown off.
“When he had reached his objective Heare reported what he had seen and was told to back and help the man, the coded meaning being that he should put him out of his misery."
“When he went back the man was still alive and screaming. Heare pointed his rifle at the back of the man’s head, shaking as he prepared to pull the trigger but the man gasped and died thus saving Heare a gruesome duty.”
Little is known about Heare’s subsequent life although a picture exists of him shaking hands with Edward VIII during his visit to South Wales in 1936. A couple of subsequent mentions in the Pontypool Free Press are the only other records of Heare’s passing other than in his own word.”
If you are a relative of Private Heare's you can get in touch with Kath Skellon on 01633 777212.
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