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  • Claire Jordan

"Almost Like A Voice from the Dead"

Thinking today of Harry, a Leeds-born chap who emigrated to Canada with his wife Maria but joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force to come back and fight for both his countries.

A cheerful, kindly fellow, after four months of the sort of pain and terror it’s hard to imagine, he lost his valiant battle to stay here, with his wife Maria at his side in what would later become Orpington Hospital, on this day, 14th December 1916.

Two days later, the news reached his adopted city across the Atlantic and the Toronto Star ran the following piece:

‘“They nearly finished me,” wrote Pte H.R. Jackson to a Toronto friend a few weeks ago. He was then in the Ontario Military Hospital at Orpington, paralyzed from a point just below the breast downwards and with a wound in his back as big as his two fists.

Today, he is reported dead of wounds.

Almost like a voice from the dead is the letter which tells how he met his fate on the battlefield.

“I had not been many weeks in the trenches when I got slightly wounded in the head and I retired to a hospital in France,” he said.

“A week in bed (that was lovely) and a week convalescent and I took the train back to Ypres to join the boys again.

All went well until we relieved the 60th at Hill 60. The second night there, I got put out of business.

I got a bullet through my left ribs and it struck the spine, paralyzing me. It has left me practically dead, except my chest and arms.”

That was August 17th.

By slow stages he was taken back to England and for weeks, he lay with a rubber ring under his back to relieve pressure on his terrible wound.

He expressed the hope that he might some time could around all right again and said that he could still smile.

Pte Jackson was 40 years of age when he enlisted here in the 74th Battalion, an Englishman by birth, and had been in Canada about four years….

Mrs Jackson followed her husband to England and has been to see him at Orpington.’

Dear Harry, you are Not Forgotten.

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