Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Soldiers From The 48th Canadian Highlanders

Schuylkill County’s first man to come home wounded in World War one didn’t belong to an American unit. He was Robert G. Calder, of the 48th Canadian Highlanders 15th Battalion, Canadian Forces "THE RED WATCH". Calder resided at 504 East Arch St. in Pottsville.
Calder a native Scotchman went north to Canada in January 1916 and enlisted in the 48th Highlanders. After training in Canada for 7 months he shipped out for England and arrived in England in August. After a short time in England he shipped out for France in October. From October to March he saw action with the 48th Highlanders until he was wounded on March 2, 1917.
The Journal:
Arriving in Pottsville Calder got off of the train and hastened to his home on E. Arch Street. According to the Pottsville Miners Journal. Over his left eye socket Calder wore a patch. A shrapnel wound destroyed his optic nerve . He said the wound was received before Lens, on March 2, 1917.
Calder told the Journal the incident happened this way: I saw the shell explode just as plain as I see you; it was only thirty feet away from me. What were my sensations? Well they were strange. For maybe ten seconds I seemed to recall everything I had done all my life, then came a flash and a shock and it seemed to me as though my head was severed. Some men picked me up and took me to a hospital station. Beside the injury to my eye I was also wounded in the thigh. I was taken to a hospital and there what was left of the eye was removed. As I told the Journal in my letter the ship on which I came home on went on the rocks off Halifax and they took us off in life boats. I certainly have had an exciting time of it but I’d go back in a minute with our boys from the State if they would take me. It’s not so bad; tell the boys that and tell them we are all mighty glad to see get into the fight for that means it will be shorter.”
Calder has nothing but praise for the doctors and nurses and the manner in which he was treated. Because of his knowledge of military tactics he will likely be sent back to Europe to train green troops for the trenches.

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