Harry Bennett – June Allsop’s Father & Vic Allsop’s Grandfather
My father Harry Bennett was born in the little village of North Wheatley, near Retford, Nottinghamshire in 1893. Before the war he worked with horses on a farm.
He was recruited into the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, originally the Sherwood Foresters, on 10th December 1915 and was posted to France on 11th April 1917; he was a trench runner at the Battle of the Somme. In November 1917 he noticed he had sustained a hernia, which he put down to the rough conditions in the trench. He was put onto light duties but on 21st March 1918 he was wounded in action when a shell fragment entered his left upper arm. Father was shipped back to England to Rock Ferry Military Hospital for treatment but when he recovered from this injury he had to return to hospital shortly afterwards to have his hernia repaired.
He served with honour but a combination of the hernia and the shrapnel wound left him unfit for further service and he was honourably discharged from the army, having been declared medically unfit, on 16th January 1919.He was one of three who returned home from his regiment. As with most soldiers he never talked about the war. I suppose as an athletic young man he was very rarely out of the line of direct fire.
After the war father settled down in the village he had been born in, buying a lovely Victorian house called “The Laurels”. After he married my mother he bought some agricultural land away from the house on Wood Lane, and started growing corn and potatoes, ploughing with the two horses he had also bought, Bonny and Violet, which makes me think that was a great love in his life. Later he specialised in growing strawberries, and was the first to do so, now the village is renowned for strawberry growing. I can remember him hoeing potatoes by hand, walking up and down the rows all day long; this would have been in the mid 40’s, probably about 1948. Eventually he progressed to a Fordson tractor but he never liked mechanisation, and I know driving a car was not his favourite thing. He much preferred his bicycle; he biked the one and a half miles to the fields every day.
He could stack sheaves of corn on a corn stack with precision, and woe betide a workman if he did it wrong, then the thrashing machine would come and thrash the corn. He could carry an 18 stone bag of corn on his back up the Granary steps, how times have changed, Health and Safety would go into melt down today! He smoked like a trooper, hardly ever had one out of his mouth, he was teetotal, and loved plain food, roast beef, apple pie, and bread and jam, or should I say jam and bread. We always killed a pig at Christmas, and his two sisters came to help my mother make pork pies and sausages.
He died in Retford Hospital, aged eighty nine on 23rd December 1982. The piece of shrapnel that wounded him in 1918 remained in his forearm for the rest of his life. As children my brother and I could see and feel the shape of the four inch long straw-thickness piece of shrapnel and play with it. It is a strange thought when I think about it today.
|The original exhibition display: Harry Bennett|