My father, war hero
PUBLISHED: 16:47 05 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 16 August 2010
AS the country prepares to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War, which resulted in the death of 20 million people, one pensioner reflects on his own father s contribution at the age of just 19 . . . WHEN war broke out in 1914, Alan A Do
AS the country prepares to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War, which resulted in the death of 20 million people, one pensioner reflects on his own father's contribution at the age of just 19 . . .
WHEN war broke out in 1914, Alan A Doble from Beckenham signed up immediately.
Aged just 19, he joined the East Surrey Regiment and spent three years fighting in the trenches in France.
But on his 21st birthday, February 14 1917, while trying to capture a German machine-gun nest he was wounded by scalding shrapnel to the legs and was invalidated from the military.
His son and WWII veteran Clive Doble, 83, said: "He still carried the pieces of shrapnel in his leg until he died, aged 82, in my house on the same day - February 14 - in 1977. It gave him trouble all his life.
"I used to wonder about him about his wounds and his time in the war. Whenever I would ask about his leg, he didn't say too much. He would say 'oh, that's just something I got in WWI.' Maybe he wanted to forget. But I found a cutting when I was going through my mother's belongings about it.
"Six thousand soldiers were dying every day and a lot more injured. You can't imagine it can you?" A newspaper article at the time, entitled 'Roll of honour' read: "Second Lieutenant Alan A Doble was wounded on 14 February during one of the recent attacks on the Ancre strongholds...His wounds were caused by a bomb thrown at him and his men when entering a German dug out...they gained the position and feel very gratified in knowing that its gain contributed to the recent retreat of the enemy. He is now in a London Hospital and his wounds are making good progress".
Ironically, it was because of his injury that Alan met the love of his life, Constance, who was a volunteer nurse at Kings College Hospital, Camberwell.
Mr Doble said: "My mother and her sister, Marjorie were both very pretty and were known in the area as the Camberwell beauties. They both met wounded soldiers at the hospital, fell in love and married them."
November 11 is a poignant day for veterans and their families of all wars but it is particularly memorable for Mr Doble for another reason.
On Armistice Day 1944, a flying Buzz Bomb, known as a Doodlebug, demolished the Doble family home in Copers Cope Road, Beckenham where they had lived since 1918.
Mr Doble said: "I was at university in Cambridge when I got a telegram saying 'House demolished. All safe.' In the middle of the night a Buzz Bomb had hit the back of the house and our lovely home was reduced to a pile of rubble.
"Mummy and my sister Gillian were in the cellar under a pile of rubble, literally entombed. Fortunately daddy and some rescue workers arrived minutes later and cleared a hole through the rubble, hauling them to safety. We so very nearly lost them."
So on Tuesday, Mr Doble will be marking the occasion by saluting British soldiers from all wars and remembering the house where he spent his childhood.
He said: "These people gave up everything they had for their country. They put other people and their country first.
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