Margaret Carrigan visited the museum on a recent drop-in day, to tell the story of her father, 38026 Private George W Kidson of C Company, 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.
He enlisted in Richmond in May 1916 – but was told to return home until his call up papers arrived, which they duly did on 5th September 1916. George spent two weeks at the Depot in Richmond and then went to Hartlepool for training. One memorable incident during the night of 29th November occurred when George was on guard duty – a German Zeppelin was brought down.
The war really began for George when he arrived at Canada Trench near Ypres – he recalled, “In the trenches each night we were told what to do, I was told to stand on the Fire Step. While I was there at night about 7 Germans walked past me, so near they could have picked me up, if they had seen me. I said to the Serg, “should I fire?”, he said no – not to give the position away.”
Later in the year he saw action at Polygon Wood. “On Sunday 30th September we were rushed back, where a German prisoner gave himself up. He told us that the Germans were coming the next day – October 1st. I shall always remember Polygon Wood. Come they did on the Monday. Our Platoon were firing for all they were worth. My rifle was muddy, and the bolt would not work, so I took out my oil bottle and passed it on. Man to man oil was passed each oiling their rifle bolts. We were then driven back with machine gun fire.”
After a spell in Italy, bolstering our allies against Austrian attacks, the 9th battalion were sent to the Somme to take part in the advance which eventually led to the signing of the Armistice. It was during this period that George was awarded the Military Medal following the rescue of Major Hunneybun. “I had to go out of the trench and crawl towards the Major. The bullets were flying so thick we could not stand so I put the Major on a groundsheet and me and my pal tried to drag him away. That chap got killed and I got a bullet through my coat collar which just missed the back of my head. I was very lucky.”
George Kidson died on 23rd December, 1995 aged 98 years.
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