WW1 Centenary: The brothers who served at home and abroad

Lucy Davies with her father's WW1 medals.
Lucy Davies with her father's WW1 medals.
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Farmworker brothers Eddie and Alfred Hazlewood both saw service in World War One but in very different circumstances.

Eddie went off to the Western Front with the Suffolk Regiment’s 8th Battalion, which was formed in Bury St Edmunds a month after war broke out and went to France in July 1915 where it stayed until disbanded in February 1918.

Orderly Alfred Hazelwood

Orderly Alfred Hazelwood

Alfred became a Royal Army Medical Corps ambulance driver at Ampton Hall near Ixworth, which had been taken over as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

Eddie’s daughter Lucy Davies, 81, has mementoes at her Bury St Edmunds home of both men’s service. They include her father’s Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal, as well as mentions in dispatches, suggesting he had a very active war.

“He was on the Somme [1916],” she said. “He spoke about the dreadful sights he saw but I was still a child and didn’t understand. When I grew up I did.”

Having survived the worst of the Western Front battlefields, he returned to life on the farm but in World War 2 was a lieutenant with the Home Guard’s Saxham Platoon.

Eddie Hazlewood MM

Eddie Hazlewood MM

“People today think the Home Guard was a joke, but it wasn’t then,” Lucy recalls. “They used to work so hard, going out at night on parades and looking for parachutists after working all day.

“I had known him to say that had it not been for me — I was four when my mother died — he would have gone back into the forces.”

That means having to care for her may have stopped him being sent to France again in 1940. Eddie died in about 1962.

Lucy only just remembers her Uncle Alfred.

“I was 10 when he died,” she said. “He was a nice, calm man who used to work on the farm.

“He didn’t talk about it, I was ponly a child so he wouldn’t has talked to me about wounded men.”

But he kept a leather bound book with notes of what soldiers were admitted with and sketches and remarks from soldiers, which Lucy still treasures.

The entries range from simple remarks about the where on the front someone was injured and what they were admitted with, to elaborate drawings of cap badges, including a beautifully drawn full-page picture of an Argyl and Sutherland Highlanders’ badge.

There were also cartoons of hospital staff and national characters, poetry, songs and messages of gratitude for the care they received.

The conditions in the trenches are indicated by the number of men admitted with frost bitten feet in the hard winter of 1914.

Lucy said: “He used to have to pick up the injured from Bury St Edmunds station and take them to Ampton House.”

Her collection also includes pictures of Alfred with other orderlies at the house and one of him with the ambulance.

Both brothers were in the Red Cross in civilian life and won cups in connection with first aid in the Wickhambrook area.