Alfred's Story

24th June 2020

“We lost quite a few lads altogether, most on Hill 355”

Alfred Mason - Chelsea Pensioner
Alfred Mason, Durham Light Infantry (28 Commonwealth Brigade) remembers the conditions they were faced with during the conflict.

“[On arrival on the front line] we settled down and did virtually nothing, as there was nothing going on. Our next position was Hill 159, that’s the height in metres of the tallest mountain in that area. After that was 355, which was known as ‘Little Gibraltar’. That was a massive hill. You couldn’t go wandering about because of all the mines that were laid, either theirs or ours.

Unfortunately, we had two young 2nd Lieutenants killed who had only just arrived. They were being briefed by our officer when a mortar landed in the trench. It killed the two 2nd Lieutenants but never harmed the officer.

Everywhere you went you were on hills, because if you could hold the hills no one could get past you. So it was a matter of holding all the best hills in the area. You were normally awake all night on stand-to and in the day you did all your chores. We lost quite a few lads altogether, most on Hill 355.

In the summer it was hot. It went cold, absolute cold. It was minus 40 – you put on every bit of kit you’d got.”

Royal Hospital Chelsea Newsletter

Stay up to date with what's going on at The Royal Hospital by signing up for our e‑newsletter.

News

View the archive

Brompton Cemetery Seed Sowing
Sowing wildflowers in memory of past Chelsea Pensioners

On 6 May, Chelsea Pensioners and members of the Royal Hospital’s grounds team joined representatives from the Royal Parks, the Royal Parks Guild and the Friends of Brompton Cemetery to sow a patch of wildflower seeds in Brompton Cemetery as part of the Battlefields and Butterflies initiative.

Chelsea Pensioner Centenarians
100 years old and still going strong

Recent research backs up the anecdote that Chelsea Pensioners not only live considerably longer than their peers outside (by over five years, on average), but that their lifetimes once they come to the Royal Hospital are extending, year on year. This strongly suggests that the care and community here contribute to greater longevity – as well as improving quality of life. 

Twitter

Follow @RHChelsea