Nelson great-grandad’s war diary published

Henry Chew book (S)
Henry Chew book (S)

After serving for years in the First World War, Nelson soldier Henry Chew wrote about his actions.

And now his great-grandson, Neil Jopson, has had a book published featuring the historic stories Sgt Chew recorded.

Henry was born in Nelson in 1896 and spent years in the Royal Scots during the Great War. He was wounded, survived and went on to live until 1973.

The book is called “Memories from the Front Line”.

Great-grandson Neil said: “He left Nelson in 1914 and joined the Royal Scots Regiment, fighting in North Africa in 1915/16 and France and Belgium in 1916/17.

“It was in 1917 he was wounded while manning his Lewis machine gun during an attack, and spent the remainder of the war as a training sergeant.”

Neil has also revealed: “After the war he returned to Nelson, married and had five children. He worked as a clerk at Nelson Town Hall and was also a regular at the Poultry Club, Nelson.”

The book is a joint effort between Henry and Neil and in it Neil makes it clear how he came across his great-grandad’s memories.

He said: “As a young boy I can remember sitting in bed at my grandparents’ house, reading the foolscap pages of ‘my great-grandad’s diary’. I never knew Harry Chew, but feel some sort of relationship has developed across time and death.”

He makes it clear he loved to sit reading the memoirs his relative had written and swore to get it published.

It is now published by SilverWood priced £7.99. Neil was originally from Burnley and is a schoolteacher, having worked in Australia and London.

Sgt Chew’s memoires recall his experience serving with the Royal Scots around Egypt and later battling against the Germans in France and Belgium.

He talks about seeing an aircraft for the first time, as well as series of battles but also recalls many fun occassions.

The book reveals he was injured in September, 1917, in battle. His gun burst and he ended up with an eye injury among others.

He explained: “Besides the splinter in my eye, I had a piece in my shoulder at the base of the neck, one had gone through my right arm at the elbow, but fortunately did not break the bone.

“Another had entered my right side, grazed the chest wall and out the back. I had another piece in my back lower down, and two in my right leg.”

But he was fortunate to survive and live a long time. He left the forces in January, 1919.