“If you have never had trench foot described to you, I will explain. Your feet swell to two to three times their normal size and go completely dead. You can stick a bayonet into them and not feel a thing. If you are lucky enough not to lose your feet and the swelling starts to go down, it is then that the most indescribable agony begins. I have heard men cry and scream with pain and many have had to have their feet and legs amputated. I was one of the lucky ones, but one more day in that trench and it may have been too late.”
British Soldier, Harry Roberts
John Linge was born in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire in 1885. He enlisted in Tonbridge on 30 August 1914 and his occupation was listed as that of Butcher. His enlistment papers provide no details of his family or his address. The CWGC site shows him as being the Foster Son of Mrs S Tye of 8 London Road, Riverhead. The 1881 census does show a Sarah Tye (wife of George Tye) who had a daughter Rose and a son George.
He entered the 6th Battalion RWKR in September 1914 and was posted to France on 1st June 1915.
On 1st January 1916 he was mentioned in despatches.
He was injured with a wound to his thigh in March 1916 and returned to England, entering the Royal Herbert Hospital on 23rd March 1916 and leaving there on 26th May 1916.
On 9th June 1916 there is a report in the local paper about him receiving £20 from Earl Amherst. The presentation was made in the Square after a church parade - the £20 having been subscribed by local residents in recognition of him being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. It was collected by the Parish Council and presented in the form of Exchequer Bonds. A large number of residents assembled to witness the presentation. It appears that he returned to duty in France on 20th July 1916. On 26th August 1916 he made an informal military Will leaving everything to "Mrs S Tye of London Road, Riverhead, Kent." At some stage prior to making his Will he transferred from the 6th Battalion to the 1st Battalion RWKR.
In the London Gazette dated 14th September 1916 it is recorded that:
"His Majesty the King is pleased to award the Military Medal to 518 Pte. J Linge R.W. Kent R."
The next information available is that concerning his death on 12th March 1917. The Battalion diary for 12th March 1917 shows the Battalion stationed at Gorre in the Pas de Calais. this was considered to be a relatively quiet sector at that time. It reads:
"A and B Corps each furnished a party of 1 officer and 50 men
for work in the front line system. Major Lynch [Whitby?] DSO
and some [illegible] baggage proceeded to Auchel to which place
the Battalion was shortly to move.
Casualties 1 man killed (sniped when with a working party)."
Whether that single casualty was John Linge is not known for certain but the CWGC site lists just one death on 12th March 1917 for his battalion and that is the death of John Linge. So it is possible if not likely that he is the casualty referred to. Subsequent correspondence regarding the return of effects was conducted between the War Office and Mrs Sarah Tye, Foster Mother to John Linge of 8 Church Row, Riverhead.