First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Life-changing experience, Sid. G Hedges

1919 Jan04 certificate of employment during the war: Regimental no. 543099. Rank Pte. Regt RAMC. Unit no30 Malta Coy. Regmnt; emp: General, Duty, Orderly 1915 Aug15-1919 Jan04. Trade or calling before Enlistement Draper Group 37 Code 500. Courses of instruction etc in Active Army Service: none. Mil qualifs FA 128962/19; 128799/19 Ref: A conscientious worker, but not physically capable of a great amount of work. Education good. Conduct satisfactory.

What next? A quote from his wife, Mary Hedges: "His war experience in Malta changed his whole outlook and so he refused to go back to the family [draper's] shop. Instead he continued violin lessons (he had been well taught by a soldier in Malta) in London in order to qualify and thereby to be able to earn a living while trying to make out as author." Pelham West wrote an article about him in 1945: "The foresight and will power displayed were remarkable in one so young. This youth, as he still was, took a room in a basement in Edgeware Rd and practised 16 hours a day on the violin, with the amazing result that at the end of only 15 months he won the musical diploma for which he had worked and which enabled him to teach for a living. All this time he was struggling with his pen as well. The Weekly Telegraph took one story, but, alas, 88 rejections followed. A few more successes were again out- balanced by 311 failures. ... At last the tide turned, and eventually he ceased teaching and supported himself entirely by writing…"

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