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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Mystery of George's #WW1 wound

A photograph of my great-uncle Tom Diggory, my gran's older brother, always stood proudly on my gran's mantelpiece.

Tom had been wounded in WW1 and the photograph (see left) showed him dressed in his "hospital" or "convalescent blues", the clothes he wore while recovering from the injury he sustained during the Gallipoli campaign. Tom's sad story (recounted in a previous blog post, Remembering - Two of my WW1 ancestors) was known by all the family.

However, what wasn't generally known was that Tom's brother, George, had also been wounded. A discovery I made only recently after deciphering a page of George's military records on Ancestry.

The odd thing about the page, though, was that the notes were in "mirror writing" as though the scan had picked up what was written on the reverse of the page.

With the assistance of a few canny genealogy enthusiasts through one of the family history Facebook groups, we worked out that George had suffered a gunshot wound to his leg.


But, given that I'd never heard of George's injury before, I began to wonder whether the information I'd read had been not about George at all, but about someone else, whose details had leached through the paper from the other side.

There did seem to be something typed in the section titled "wounded" but (as you can see from the image on the right) it had been all but obliterated by the aforementioned handwritten account showing through from behind.

This week, with Remembrance Sunday nearly upon us, I decided to see if I could solve this mystery by finding out more about George, who'd served with the Lincolnshire regiment.

Searching for more evidence

On the Forces War Records website I found confirmation that he had definitely been wounded. His records note that George was "entitled to wear a wound stripe."

I'd not heard of a wound stripe before, but I learned that it was a piece of gold braid which was stitched length-ways on the left arm of a soldier's uniform to indicate that he had been wounded during the campaign (see left).

The army order, first issued in July 1916, stated that, ‘wounded’ refers only to those officers and soldiers whose names have appeared, or may hereafter appear, in the Casualty Lists as ‘wounded’. It made clear that (unsurprisingly!), "Accidental or self-inflicted wounds or injuries do not qualify."

Sadly, I don't have a picture of George in his uniform - with or without his wound stripe - but I do have a lovely photo of him with his wife Ethel and their family, taken around 1927.

George Diggory with his wife, Ethel (nee Price), and family circa 1927


Special Offer for Remembrance Weekend - you can research how war affected your ancestors for FREE on Find My Past from 8th-11th November 2019.


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