Whilst searching the Southend Standard for the obituaries of the Hadleigh and Thundersley WW1 fallen, I discovered the following story of Rifleman J.Pasfield who survived and came home to his family.
Rifleman J.Pasfield, 11th Kings Royal Rifles has returned to his home, Church Cottage, Hadleigh, after a year’s captivity in Germany. Taken prisoner on the Cambrai front on Nov 21st, Pasfield after a few weeks found himself in Munster, Westphalia where he was inoculated four times and also vaccinated. For some months he was employed on railway sidings and was moved on several occasions.
Latterly he had been held at Fresnes near the border of Belgium where he was engaged in gardening. Whilst there he was moderately comfortable and was well treated by the German guard.
After the signing of the armistice he and his companions were given their freedom and set out for Brussels. By covering about 25 kilometres a day they reached the capital in three days and were in time to see King Albert’s triumphal entry.
From Brussels they were taken to Calais and thence to Dover. Asked as to the cruelties practised on prisoners, Pasfield stated that he had seen men knocked down by rifle butts and kicked for unsatisfactory work, which in many cases was due to the man’s unsuitability for that particular task.
Although he looks very well, Pasfield admitted that the diet was not equal to pig’s food. At 5.30am the prisoners were given coffee without sugar or milk: at 4pm cabbage soup, which sometimes contained horseflesh: and at night the daily ration of a quarter of a black loaf.
Rifleman Pasfield has served since February 1915 and has been wounded. He has a wife and six children. He has greatly appreciated the “Standard” which he received regularly for a long time.
(According to the 1901 census, Rifleman Joseph Pasfield was born at Tottenham in 1882 and was lodging with the Tilbrook family in Hadleigh. He was working as a general labourer. Later that year he married Rose, the daughter of the house.
By 1911 Joseph and Rose had moved to 1,Church Cottage, High Street, Hadleigh along with their first four children, Ethel aged nine, Joseph seven, Edith five and two year old William. Four years later Joseph was fighting in France.)
Editors note: See David Guy’s comment on “High St blaze 1933” is he referring to the same cottage and family?