We’re so happy to share this book with you today. Please read on for more info about Lucky Jack: Memoirs of a World War 1 POW by Susan Bavey!
Publication Date: November 19th, 2021
Genre: WWI Biographies/ History
“One of the perils of being a sniper during the First World War was the likelihood of a grenade going off right next to you and burying you alive”.
Meet Jack Rogers. Born in 1894, he once locked eyes with Queen Victoria and was one of the first travellers on London’s ‘Tube’. An early car owner, he had many escapades on his days out to Brighton, including a time when his brakes failed and he had to drive through central London without them!
His skills as an entertainer earned him popularity throughout his life, and kept him out of the deadly mines while a prisoner during the First World War. At the tender age of 103 Jack earned the title of ‘The World’s Oldest Columnist’ as he began dictating his life’s exploits to a reporter from the local newspaper.
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CHAPTER 37 – A N A S T Y B I R T H D A Y S U R P R I S E
On my 24th birthday, March 21st, 1918, at around 5.00 a.m. a terrific noise began – the German barrage had started. You could hear nothing but gunfire. It shattered my eardrum. Eight of us, all snipers, including my mate Charlie, were in the extra trench, which had been dug by the Royal Engineers. We had been in the trench since the previous night. It was quite some way beyond our frontline and we had been given orders to keep it defended at all costs. Suddenly the Germans started pouring out from their trenches. As German soldiers were shot down they were replaced by others. They advanced towards our front by hiding in small pockets, which they had weakened by constant bombing, not in a straight line as we had expected. They were shelling heavily to the left and right of us, but somehow, miraculously, not on us. Waves of German soldiers flowed past us, just yards in front of us we could see a group of fifty soldiers and another group the same distance behind us, but luckily they didn’t come anywhere near us, as we hid, terrified, in our trench,
watching them. The British soldiers were in full retreat and from our slit in the ground, all we could see was the backs of the German soldiers, as they continued forging ahead. We stayed in our trench like that, surrounded by all of our equipment and everything we owned. We had expected to be in the thick of the fighting and instead there we were hiding in a small trench. At around 11 a.m, a group of Prussian soldiers appeared, part of the ‘mopping up’ party sent to finish off or round up any survivors who had been missed the first time the soldiers went through. They threw some ‘tater mashers’ (hand grenades) into the trench, which luckily missed me, and then came rushing down into our trench. By some good fortune, neither Charlie nor I were killed. We decided we had no choice but to put our hands up and surrender under the circumstances. By now, it was 11.30 a.m. and we had managed to hold the trench since 5.00 a.m. We were terrified and completely exhausted from the adrenaline and extreme emotion. Frank Richards had been hit by a piece of tin between his neck and shoulders and he was bleeding and holding his head. One of the Prussian Guards was a big, fierce looking man with a moustache. He jumped into the trench next to me, with his bayonet fixed and pointed at my stomach. I was convinced my last hour had come. I was absolutely terrified. I said “Goodbye” and waited for his deadly thrust. Instead of thrusting his bayonet into me I heard him say softly, almost gently, “Zigaretten, Kamerad?” He wanted cigarettes.
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About the Author
Sue Bavey is an English Mum of two, living in Massachusetts since 2003 with her husband, kids, a cat named Midnight, a bunny named Nutmeg, a leopard gecko named Ziggy Stardust and occasional frogs and salamanders.
“Lucky Jack is the first book I have written and is my grandfather, Henry John Rogers’ biography. Grandad lived with us when I was born, until we moved when I was six years old. Then he came back to live with us in my teenage years and we were very close. He was my father’s father, but my Mum diligently collected the newspaper columns he dictated to a local reporter, and kept them in scrapbooks in her attic, where they gathered dust and yellowed over time. A few years ago I moved my Mum into an apartment and found all the scrapbooks in the process. I wanted to get all of those stories into a book for my kids to read. That was the germ of an idea which – thanks to my having time during Covid lockdown – has now resulted in the life story of my grandfather, Jack Rogers being written.”
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