IDRIS CUMPSTONE'S WAR STORY IN THE WELSH REGIMENT MUSEUM, CARDIFF CASTLE
HIS OWN ACCOUNT
March 6th 1918 and we were occupying a point in the Palestine Campaign knows as Dodd's Hill. We had relieved a London Regiment here a few days previously. On this particular night we were ordered to attack the Turks who were holding a position facing us, known as Lemon Hill. Towards midnight we had crept within bayonet charging distance when the Turks discovered us. They opened fire and then fled. Our losses, one stretcher bearer killed. At daybreak on March 7th we moved forward to the next hill. Another company had passed through and we were lying in close support. The day was fairly quiet, machine gun and rifle fire was coming in from the flanks, yet I was not very happy. We had come a long way from Gaza, Beirsheba, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and with the Turks at breaking point and the 7th March being my twentieth birthday I wonder!!!!
The light began to fade and then it came, just as I was beginning to feel safe - the bullet entered my shoulder and I sank to my knees. There was a cry for a stretcher bearer, I felt faint but held on, then I was whisked away quickly to safety under a rock. My breathing by this time was particularly bad and I was coughing up blood. There was no exit to the bullet. I drank all the water my pals had issued to them, and who visited me during the hours of darkness. I now had to wait to be picked up by the R.A.M.C. from the advanced field dressing station.
Towards midnight I saw approaching my shelter and to this day I cannot understand why these three R.A.M.C. men carried a lamp. They put me on a stretcher, but I had to sit up in order to breathe and spit up blood. How the Turks did not see the reflection from the lamp I still question myself. The Whiz Bangs kept following us. The bearers would put me down and dive for shelter. It was a nightmare journey which took hours, winding in and out of the hills. At day break we arrived at the dressing station. I was given an anti-tetanus injection and continued my journey by mule cart to Jerusalem.
The hospital turned out to be an Italian School and was manned by R.A.M.C. Staff. 'Do it yourself' was the rule there and I had to crawl around as best I could. My wound was dressed and healing in a week or so. A doctor who arrived there made enquiries as to how I felt and said he had no equipment to hand and I was to let him know when I felt I could make the journey to Lud or Lydda as it is now called. In the meantime I was dosed with Morphia tablets.
Towards the end of the month I decided to try the journey to Lud. The roads were very rough and I found it very painful, but in a few days we landed at the 15th General Hospital in Alexandria and there I was given an x-ray to locate the bullet. This was found by a Captain Wright who drew a diagram of my left shoulder. People seemed very interested in me, wanting to know how I felt and so on. Later Matron visited me with similar enquiries and asked for the address of my mother as she intended writing to her. Soon afterwards I learned that the bullet had lodged in my heart. The diagram drawn by the Captain was sheer bluff.