Friday, 11 November 2011

For Danny, who everyone loved.

Daniel George Hill, Lance Corporal in the Argyll and Southern Highlanders was taking a break from his duties manning the machine gun, and enjoying a peaceful cigarette. 

It was a calm moment, a rare event during the first battle of the Somme.

Then a mortar bomb landed feet from him and the huge explosion threw him into the supporting wall of the trench shattering his right arm.

Danny was incapacitated briefly. Then he got very annoyed. With his right arm broken, he stood and taking a hand grenade from his pocket with his left hand he drew the pin with his teeth.

He stood on the trench step and threw the grenade, at which point a bullet passed through his out-stretched left hand.

Danny’s battle wasn’t over. The bullet ensured he lost the use of two of his fingers and the battle medical team, being what it was, he had his broken arm amputated.

Danny was sent home to Northern Ireland on 100% disability pension and like many disabled veterans struggled to find work.

He was eventually successful, however the sad fact was that his employers rewarded his bravery by deducting his disability pension from his pay.

Danny was a great man and struggled and won many battles in his life brought on by the most horrific battle of them all.

His integrity had meant that many years later, when his wife urged him to stay at home because he wasn’t feeling well, he refused.
As a wages clerk he wanted to make sure the men all got paid for Christmas.

As he walked home he collapsed from a heart attack and died.

I never met my Grandad, he died before I was born but the stories of him lived on and I'm retelling one of them here with grateful thanks, to him and to all those who died and all who survived.

Lest we forget.