First World War

Centenary Commemorations and the story of Cpl. John Duesbury

4th August 2014

“I hope you will receive these few lines as I don’t expect anyone will come to take me away,… you will always have the consolation that I died quite happy doing my duty."
During the First World War commemorations on the 4th August at The Tank Museum, Corporal Duesbury’s story of courage and suffering touched the hearts of many.
On 13th September 1916, John Duesbury, of the 2nd Sherwoods, was part of an attack in the prelude to the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. After a heavy bombardment from the Germans he was severely injured and trapped in a shell hole.
'I am writing a few lines severely wounded. We have done well our battalion, advanced about ¾ of a mile. I am laid in a shell hole with two wounds in my hip and through my back. I cannot move or crawl. I have been here 24 hours and never seen a living soul. I hope you will receive these few lines as I don’t expect anyone will come to take me away, but you know I have done my duty out here for 1 year and 8 months and you will always have the consolation that I died quite happy doing my duty.'
'Must give my best of love to all the cousins who have been so kind to me the time I have been out here. And the best of love to Mother and Harry and all at home.'
Over four thousand people gathered at The Tank Museum to remember those who had fallen, including Corporal Duesbury who has no known grave.

august 4th old and new (ID 52743)A First World War battle re-enactment showed the type of warfare that men like John Duesbury would have encountered, including the Museum’s replica Mark IV tank, after which the crowd fell silent for a Remembrance Service led by the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset and an army chaplain.
Richard Smith, Director of The Tank Museum says, "The 4th August marked the start of four years of commemorations, when we as a Museum and as a nation will be looking back and ensuring that the actions of men and women, who lives were changed forever by the War, will be honoured."
(Right: Challenger II and Mark IV, old and new stand side-by-side)