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  • Claire Jordan

A Magnificent Fight

A small tribute to a brave man.

William Logan was born in Edinburgh and his Mum, as his Next of Kin, still lived there, so he seems to have emigrated to Canada alone, in search of adventure and a different life.

He’d probably not been in Quebec very long when War came, but he’d spent four years before he’d crossed the Atlantic with the Black Watch and the way forward must have seemed obvious to him.

He was a 26 year old carpenter when he became one of the first to volunteer on 24th September 1914 at Valcartier.

He was 5’5” and had a lot of tattoos, including a thistle adorning his left hand, keeping home always with him.

In France on 7th July 1915, William was on sentry duty in a front-line trench at Plug Street near Armentieres when he was shot in the head.

The bullet entered the right front region of his skull, fractured the bone as it went and lodged in his head.

But indomitable William Logan did not lose consciousness.

A first-aid dressing was applied and then he walked two miles (I will say that again: he walked two miles) to the nearest Casualty Clearing Station, where they operated on him.

They removed the bone fragments from the area and drained it but no one it seems tried to get the bullet out.

He was evacuated back along the chain to England and reached the the big Canadian medical camp at Shorncliffe, near Folkestone, in September 1915, by which time he had a cerebral hernia, described in his medical notes as: "a bulging mass" protruding from the hole in his head, which was "pulsating, synchronised with heartbeat."

Despite all this, the medical officer notes: "patient is bright, answers promptly and intelligently and is free from confusion." Bless his heart.

But by the turn of the year, things aren’t looking so good, and on 26th January 1916, it is noted that his Next of Kin, his wife Isabella (he'd married her on 6th January 1915 in between landing in Britain with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and embarking for France soon after), has changed her address; she's come down from Edinburgh and is lodging with one Mrs Smith at 196 Risborough Lane, Cheriton - this is just about the closest civilian house to the Moore Barracks Hospital.

I even wonder if the brand new Mrs Logan got out of the train, marched as fast as she could towards her man, picked out the closest private house to William’s hospital bed, and then straightening her hat, knocked on the front door with her suitcase under her arm, and asked humbly if she might rent a room.

So one can only hope they let Isabella stay with him as the end approached.

William Logan held on until 1.30am on 1st April, when pneumonia took the decision out of his hands.

He put up a magnificent fight against what was surely always going to overwhelm him in the end, and he is still loved and remembered for his courage and sacrifice.

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