Still Don’t Know

Just trying again to figure out what killed me in 1915.  I’ve never been able to figure it out.
I know that the bright lights in the sky were flares, and I’m pretty sure I was outside my trench at night when it happened.  That much is easy.
But I remember being far from the German line, on an earth embankment (perhaps the parados of a sap point?).  The lines at Houplines were at least 150 yards apart, which is a little on the wide side.  Could someone have lobbed a grenade that far? And if it wasn’t a grenade, what was it?
No record of an artillery engagement that night in the regimental diaries and no record of what killed me; only listed as “killed in action.”  The IWM archives don’t have any records after my first enlistment (1902-1914) since I was registered under a different serial when the war broke out; that file was more than likely destroyed in the Blitz, or perhaps misfiled since John Harris was an incredibly common name in 1914.
I have only the most skeletal understanding of my movements with the Shropshires at Ypres and beyond after almost five years of searching; all the rest is fragmentary memories.
There’s another prospect I’ve considered: that this wasn’t the incident that got me.  It’s possible that I survived the explosion after I threw myself to the ground, and that it was something like sniper fire that got me some time later.
But my instinct says that I was indeed blown to kingdom come that night.  A grisly prospect.  I’d take a clean shot to the heart with a Mauser over that any day.  If we look on our dead bodies as our souls depart, then I’d rather not see something that looks like bully beef.  I don’t remember that, but perhaps only because it was too horrible to remember.  I feel like I’m blocked from a lot of the worst memories and I probably always will be because they’re hidden behind two layers of amnesia now (amnesia from trauma and amnesia from multiple rebirths in the interim).
I just want to know what happened.  Old Jack’s still there, in the corner of my memory waiting for an answer.  I don’t need to be blocked any more.  I can take the truth.  I already know I didn’t survive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s