John (Jack) Elkins - A Soldiers Tale

Wonded several times, promoted and demoted


    • Three photographs: Uncle Jack, five great-uncles, uncle Jack and unknown compatriot
    • Our Great Uncle Jack was one of seven brothers who all volunteered for the Army during The Great War. All survived service. Six of the brothers served overseas in France and the other, our grandfather, in the United Kingdom with the Territorial Army. Two of the brothers were wounded and one of these, Jack, returned suffering form shell-shock in addition to his physical wounds. John (Jack) Elkins was born in 1891 in Bermondsey, London, later moving before the war to Manwood Road, Crofton Park, south east London. He was employed, as a clerk, by The South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Co. Ltd. in High Street, Lewisham. Volunteering for the Army on 5th September 1914 at Holly Hedge House, Blackheath he subsequently joined the 20th Battalion of the London Regiment. He was in training until 9 March 1915, when he embarked for France as part of the first reinforcement of the Regiment, being encamped at the base depot at Harfleur in Haute Normadie. On 22 May he joined the rest of the Battalion and was posted to “A” Company “in the field”. Four months later he spent a few days in hospital with sores caused by lack of cleanliness and poor food. On 25 September 1915 he was “wounded in action” with shrapnel in his thigh. He was treated at a casualty clearing station and sent to a base hospital at St Omer, Pas de Calais. However, the wound or its consequences were severe and he was transferred to a hospital at Versailles. He appears to have recovered enough to return to duty by the middle of November at the base camp at Le Havre. (The injuries were severe enough for his record to have his next-of-kin noted upon it.) He returned to active service only to be wounded again at the end of May 1916. The record shows the cause to be “shell shock”. He was sent to a casualty clearing station and then Le Havre with what was termed “W” shock and stayed here until returned to his unit on 20 June 1916. On 12 July 1916 he was awarded 21 days Field Punishment No.1 by the Officer Commanding for “When on active service conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline”. (Field Punishment No1 was where a man was confined, usually in the open, for a number of hours a day in a position of danger, i.e. placed in harms’ way) We do not know what he had done to attract such punishment, but it was a serious offence that could easily have been related to his mental condition i.e.” shell shock”. At the end of October 1916 he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal and then to Corporal in March 1917. In June 1917 he reached the rank of Sergeant, but in early November reverted to the rank of Private “at his own request”. In March 1918 he was granted two weeks leave to home to Crofton Park, south London. He appears to serve then until the end of the war without incident and afterwards until he is admitted to St Luke’s War Hospital in Halifax for six weeks with a carbuncle on his neck caused by “impure food and water and irregular meals”. He was demobilised from the army on 11 April 1919 and returned to his job with the The South Metropolitan Electric Light and Power Co. Ltd.




  • Date:

    • 1919-04-11
    • 1914-09-05
  • Temporal:

    • 2013-11-21 16:27:13 UTC
  • Place/Time:

    • Western Front


  • Source:

    • User contributed content
  • Identifier:

    • 10030
  • Institution:

  • Provider:

  • Providing country:

  • First published in Europeana:

    • 2014-01-10
  • Last updated in Europeana:

    • 2016-07-27


  • Rights:

    • http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

References and relations


  • Place/Time:

    • Western Front

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