A 100 year old blood-stained fabric armband worn by Private Frank Pye has been discovered with his wartime diaries capturing life in the 1/1 East Lancashire Field Ambulance during the war. 

Hansons Auctioneers uncovered the military collection which includes a scarce copy of trench magazine 'The Pannier', wartime Christmas cards, military documents, photos and a poem by Frank for his brother-in-law, 2nd Lt Reginald Smallwood of the 5th Battalion Cheshire Regiment who was killed in action in 1917. It reads:

‘Brother of mine, I’m sad at heart,
Though proud to think you played your part
Far from your home you fought so well,
And bravely fighting, nobly fell
Here in fair France vale you lie
But souls like yours, they never die
in God’s fair mansions they go to reign
In God I trust shall meet you again’

Head of Hansons Militaria, Matt Crowson said: “It’s a fascinating and poignant collection. It really brings home the brutality of war, particularly Frank’s Army Medical Service stretcher-bearer’s armband. The cotton is soiled with dirt and splashed with blood from the trenches more than 100 years ago, a grisly testament to the horrors witnessed.

Frank, who was born in 1882 in Royston, Yorkshire, enlisted with the 1/1 East Lancs Field Ambulance on April 7, 1913, aged 31. He arrived as part of the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division in Egypt on September 28, 1914, and served initially as a cook. Later he became a stretcher bearer.

The division was sent to Egypt in order to defend the Suez Canal from the Turkish troops that were stationed in Palestine. Units from the Division began to move to the Canal Zone in October 1914.