THE memoirs of a Nelson soldier who fought in the First World War has been published thanks to the efforts of his long-admiring great-grandson.
Neil Jopson’s fascination with history began when his grandparents let him read his great grandfather Henry Chew’s memoirs as a boy of ten.
The 31-year-old has now collected the manuscripts together into a book which is for sale on Amazon and Waterstones online.
The book, entitled Memories From The Front Line: An Ordinary Soldier’s Journal of the Great War, describes the horrors of battle seen through the eyes of a Nelson-born lad who was around 18 at the time.
When war broke out in 1914, Henry travelled to Edinburgh to join the Great Scots where it is thought he lied about his age in order to serve his country.
Once enlisted, he travelled to Egypt and to the Somme and fought in the hellish battles of France and Belgium, almost losing his life. Chew describes the rudimentary weapons that the army had access to at the time.
“The survivors who could not escape were all bayoneted, and this was the first time I used the ‘steel’. I had been seeing red all day and did not seem to realise that they were human beings who were being killed...it was like slaughtering sheep. There were no prisoners taken.”
Neil Jopson, a former pupil of St John the Bapitist Primary School in Burnley, now teaches in a primary school in South London, where he says his students are interested in the First World War.
He said: “Obviously lots of it is far too graphic to read out aloud to year-one pupils.
“But I did take it in to show them and they were really interested. With it being the 100 year anniversary, they are hearing a lot about it and have some really insightful questions.
“As a child, reading the memoirs was a way of getting to know my great grandfather and he was a hero in my eyes.
“I loved reading about what he’d been through, especially as I never got to meet him myself and his wife, Sissy, had dementia by the time I was born and couldn’t really tell us anything about him and their life together.
“Henry had tried to have it published in his lifetime and I just always felt like it deserved to be.”