Roger Wells recalls his father Private Herbert Wells, the boy soldier from Chertsey who was wounded, taken prisoner, and spent the latter part of the Great War interned in a Swiss alpine resort. In telling his father’s wartime story, Roger shares photographs and other items from the family archive.
When Herbert Wells enlisted, he stated his age as 19 although he was only 16. In September 1915 during the Battle of Loos, Herbert was wounded and trapped in a shell hole for 48 hours, then captured as a prisoner of war and taken to Germany.
Herbert was transferred to Switzerland in 1916 where he was interned for the remainder of the war at the Palace Hotel in the Alpine town of Mürren. Internees were permitted to receive visitors and Herbert’s mother made the long journey to see him in July 1917. Herbert was finally repatriated in December 1918.
As Roger acknowledges, once in Switzerland his father had a relatively ‘good war’ compared to many of his contemporaries. Towards the end of the video, Roger talks about a family holiday in 1965 during which his father returned to Mürren after a period of almost 47 years.
Discover much more about Private Herbert Wells in the blog ‘Herbert Wells – The Chertsey boy soldier interned in the Swiss Alps’.
Story told by Roger Wells. Filmed and edited by Ian Lacey. All images courtesy of Roger Wells.