b'REMEMBRANCEA REMEMBRANCE TALEYou could be forgiven for thinking that the First Worlddisease of the lungs which we now call tuberculosis. War is merely an episode in history; an episodeMy grandpa and his brothers and sister had to go almost as remote as the Romans, or the Six Wives ofand live with the other orphans in the workhouse Henry VIII. Interesting to learn about, but somehowon Hallam Street, which is on the site of Sandwell nothing directly to do with you. It took place over aHospital today. It was a difficult time for the family, but hundred years agono one is alive today who tookwhen he was 13 he was able to leave school and go part in it, and even the oldest super-centenarians into work in a factory. The small wage that he earned our society werent even born when it ended. enabled the siblings to leave the workhouse and go Equally, the numbers often quoted might seemand live with an auntie.unimaginable, and therefore unreal: over 700,000However, as the main breadwinner he needed a British soldiers died between 1914 and 1918. Thebetter job so that his brothers and sister could carry sheer size of the number somehow takes some of theon at school, and in 1913 he joined the army. He significance away from it. Its hard to imagine eightwas a good soldier by all accounts, although his Wembley Stadiums filled to capacity, but thats howarmy records show that he was sometimes fined many people 700,000 is. Or, to put it another way,for swearing, or for being late back to barracks its nearly 5,000 year groups of Year 7s. Its so big itafter a weekends leave. His regiment, the South becomes a blur. Staffordshire Regiment, was deployed to France But now I want us to focus in a little more, to closein 1914, and was sent to the Western Front. My the distance and bring a human face to whatgrandpa was soon transferred to the Royal Army happened over a hundred years ago. I want to tellMedical Corps and spent the next four years as a you a story about a young man who left for Francemedical orderly, helping to care for the constant in 1914, and came back in 1919but more of thatstream of young men disastrously injured by the later. brutal fighting.My grandfather was called Albert William Durrant. HeThey say that army medics are especially brave as they was born in 1895 while Queen Victoria was still on theare the only people on the battlefield with their backs throne, and lived with his family not very far from hereto the enemy. The technological advances in weapons in West Bromwich, in Ault Street, which still existssuch as tanks, machine guns, aeroplanes and chemical today. He had four brothers and a sister, and tookwarfare meant that the injuries seen in the Great War his role as the big brother very seriously. My grandpawere new and terrible. Albert worked at casualty was a proud Staffordshire lad as West Bromwich wasclearing stations just behind the front line where the located in Staffordshire in those days as the countyinjured were triaged and assessed. The shells rained called the West Midlands hadnt been created. Hisdown around him, and he worked to provide emergency favourite hobby was football and he loved to watchmedicine in the most basic of conditions in a tent with his beloved West Brom at the Hawthorns whichno electricity or water. They had basic drugs, had to was opened in 1900. Footballers in those dayswash and reuse bandages, and antibiotics wouldnt be were all amateurs and he dreamt of joining them;developed for at least another thirty years. He learnt but unfortunately, in 1906, disaster struck. Both ofhow to dress wounds, to put splints on broken limbs, his parents died within a year from consumption, aand as the fighting intensified, to amputate arms and legs and deal with the shell-shocked.12'