The following incident may serve to illustrate the often-expressed unselfishness of the soldier, and his anxiety to do what he can for a comrade in trouble.
Among the wounded who came down from Spion Kop was a private, a native of Lancashire, who had been shot in the thigh. The thigh-bone was broken, and the fracture had been much disturbed by the journey to the hospital. The man was given a bedstead in one of the marquees; the limb was adjusted temporarily, and he was told to keep very quiet and not to move off his back. Next morning, however, he was found lying upon his face, with his limb out of position and his splints, as he himself confessed, "all anyhow." He was remonstrated with, but excused himself by saying, "But you see, doctor, I am such a restless man."
The limb was more elaborately adjusted, and everything was left in excellent position. Next morning, however, the restless man was found lying on the floor of the marquee, and in his bed was a man who had been shot through the chest. The marquee was crowded and the number of beds were few, and those who could not be accommodated on beds had to lie on stretchers on the ground. The man who was shot in the chest had come in in the night, and had been placed on the only available stretcher. The restless man proceeded to explain that the newcomer seemed worse off than he was, and that he thought the man would be easier on the bed, so he had induced the orderlies to effect the change. The man who was shot in the chest died suddenly, and in due course the restless man was back in his own bed once more.
It was not, however, for long, for on another morning visit the Lancashire lad was found on the floor again, and again beamed forth an explanation that one of the wounded on the ground, who had come in late, seemed to be very bad, and so he had changed over. The present occupant of the bed was in a few days moved down to the base, and the restless man was in his own bed again. But not many days elapsed before he discovered among the fresh arrivals an old chum, who longed to lie on a bed, and thus the good-hearted North-countryman found himself once more on the floor.
The moving of a man with a broken thigh from a bed to the ground and back again means not only such disordering of splints and bandages, but much pain to the patient and no little danger to the damaged limb. So this generous lad was talked to seriously, and with a faintly veiled sternness was forbidden to give up his bed again on any pretence. In the little attempt he made to excuse himself he returned once more to his original joke and said, with a broad grin: "But you see, doctor, I am such a restless man."