Memories of the trenches - and of mustard gas

Rouser 2012
Rouser 2012

MEMORIES of World War One were brought home with local precision when Lewes man Andy McBean recently visited the battlefronts at Ypres and elsewhere. There, he met a Belgian called Karel Cambien who was studying the lives of some of those servicemen.

When Andy said he was from Lewes, Karel sent him the following material on Arthur Ernest Pelling, based on an interview with his daughter Frances:

Mr Pelling was born on October 1, 1899, in Glynde. He lived in the Trevor Arms. He joined the army in 1917 at the age of 18. He was wounded twice before being gassed in September, 1918.

He never spoke about the war to his daughter, or other members of the family. He died on December 29, 1970. He had poor health throughout his later life, caused by the effect of mustard gas.

Added Frances: ‘I nursed him through his final days. The last time he laughed was when my children told him they had been throwing snowballs and had hit me! During the last night of consciousness, his breathing was difficult; he thought I was his mother visiting him in France, and tried to explain what soldiers suffered during the war.

‘He was angry that the politicians allowed World War Two to happen.

Every Armistice Day he would switch off the television, muttering:


‘My mother had German parents and she had stones thrown at her at the beginning of World War One - even though her two oldest brothers were in the British army.’

All very sad.

l Pictured, archive photograph of soldiers advancing into position through the poison gas clouds.