One instance of the indomitable pluck of the British soldier deserves special notice. A private in the King’s Royal Rifles, of the name of Goodman, was brought from Spion Kop to No. 4 Field Hospital in an ambulance with many others. He was in a lamentable plight when he arrived. He had been lying on the hill all night. He had not had his clothes off for six days. Rations had been scanty, and he had been sleeping in the open since he left the camp. He had been struck in the face by a fragment of shell, which had carried away his right eye, the right upper jaw, the corresponding part of the cheek and mouth, and had left a hideous cavity, at the bottom of which his tongue was exposed. The rest of his face was streaked with blood, which was now dried and black - so black that it looked as if tar had been poured on his head and had streamed down his cheek and neck. Eight hours had been occupied on the journey to the hospital, and eight hours is considered to be long even for a railway journey in a Pullman car.
He was unable to speak, and as soon as he was settled in a tent he made signs that he wanted to write. A little memorandum book and a pencil were handed to him, and it was supposed that his inquiry would be as to whether he would die - what chance he had? Could he have something to drink? Could anything be done for his pain? After going through the form of wetting his pencil at what had once been a mouth, he simply wrote: "Did we win?" No one had the heart to tell him the truth.
His memorandum-book - which is in my possession - was used by him while he remained speechless in the hospital, and certain of the notes he made in it, and which are here appended, speak for themselves:
"I haven’t done bleeding yet."
"I’ve got it this time. I think my right eye is gone, and I can hardly swallow."
"There are no teeth in front."
"It aches a lot."
"I’m lying the wrong way for my wound."
"I found the trenches."
"I’ve had all the officers over to see me."
"He is pleased, the doctor."
"Did my haversack come with me? If it did, there is some tobacco in it. You can give it to them that smoke."
Poor Goodman, he had no mouth to smoke with himself. I am glad to say he reached England, is in good health, and is as cheery as ever.