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Over The Top Arthur Guy Empey


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The wound in my face had almost healed and I was a horrible-looking sight--the left cheek twisted into a knot, the eye pulled down, and my mouth pointing in a north by northwest direction. I was very down-hearted and could imagine myself during the rest of my life being shunned by all on account of the repulsive scar.

Dr. Frost arranged for me to go to the Cambridge Military Hospital at Aldershot for a special operation to try and make the scar presentable.

I arrived at the hospital and got an awful shock. The food was poor and the discipline abnormally strict. No patient was allowed to sit on his bed, and smoking was permitted only at certain designated hours. The face specialist did nothing for me except to look at the wound. I made application for a transfer back to Paignton, offering to pay my transportation. This offer was accepted, and after two weeks' absence, once again I arrived in Munsey Ward, all hope gone.

The next day after my return, Dr. Frost stopped at my bed and said: "Well, Empey, if you want me to try and see what I can do with that scar, I'll do it, but you are taking an awful chance."

I answered: "Well, Doctor, Steve Brodie took a chance; he hails from New York and so do I."

Two days after the undertaker squad carried me to the operating room or "pictures," as we called them because of the funny films we see under ether, and the operation was performed. It was a wonderful piece of surgery, and a marvelous success. From now on that doctor can have my shirt.

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More than once some poor soldier has been brought into the ward in a dying condition, resulting from loss of blood and exhaustion caused by his long journey from the trenches. After an examination the doctor announces that the only thing that will save him is a transfusion of blood. Where is the blood to come from? He does not have to wait long for an answer,--several Tommies immediately volunteer their blood for their mate. Three or four are accepted; a blood test is made, and next day the transfusion takes place and there is another pale face in the ward.

Whenever bone is needed for some special operation, there are always men willing to give some,--a leg if necessary to save some mangled mate from being crippled for life. More than one man will go through life with another man's blood running through his veins, or a piece of his rib or his shinbone in his own anatomy. Sometimes he never even knows the name of his benefactor.

The spirit of sacrifice is wonderful.

For all the suffering caused this war is a blessing to England--it has made new men of her sons; has welded all classes into one glorious whole.

And I can't help saying that the doctors, sisters, and nurses in the English hospitals, are angels on earth. I love them all and can never repay the care and kindness shown to me. For the rest of my life the Red Cross will be to me the symbol of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

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Over The Top
Arthur Guy Empey

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