Major Eric Archer Jackson
28th June 1880 – 20th December 1977
1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment
To a “Prison in Paradise”
A 1308 Day Journey of over 3000 miles as a Prisoner in The Great War
24th August 1914 – 24th March 1918
This is his a brief synopsis of his Story
Captain Jackson was wounded at Audregnies in Belgium and left for dead on the battlefield for nearly a day before being taken to the village hospital. After ‘recovering’ he was taken to Germany where he spent his pow days in 12 different camps some of them twice. He tried to escape on four occasions but was recaptured each time. On 16th December 1916 he was refused repatriation to Switzerland but was eventually accepted on 27 November 1917 and arrived in Murren on 9th December 1917. Along with fellow officers he was lodged at The Grand Palace Hotel. He spent the winter in Murren before being sent home arriving in London on 24th March 1918.
After the war Major Jackson worked a few years for the War Office before being invalided out. He enjoyed a colourful life of hunting, shooting and fishing in France and Corsica until WW2 and wrote a regular piece in ‘Horse and Hound’ under the pseudonym ‘Foxhunter abroad’. He died in 1977 age 96 the last surviving Officer of the original 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment.
Quote 1 – On the battlefield at Audregnies
‘Captain Jackson was wounded and lying on the ground with his sword in his hand. A large stone was brought, the blade was put across the stone, and a German officer jumped on it and broke it.’ Simpson goes on to say, ‘ Just as it was getting dark a German doctor with an orderly came along, bandaged his wounds, and covered him with straw. Next morning (Tuesday 25th) German ambulances passed nearby, but he could not make them hear, and he lay on the field until about 2pm, when some civilians found him and took him to hospital in Audregnies.’
Lt Matterson wrote after the surrender ‘I then went out to look for Jackson, who I heard was wounded, and found him, doing what I could for him. I got a doctor to him but I fear he died. I spent the most awful night of my life on the field, midst the dead and dying’.
Quote 2 – Third escape attempt from Fort Zorndorf, the Colditz of WW1
‘I had passed the inner ring of sentries and was caught in the ditch of the fort. While the escort was leading me back into the fort, although an under officer was holding both my arms, a soldier hit me over the head with his bayonet, causing a gash in the side of my head, others hitting me with the butts of their rifles.’ For punishment he was put in a damp cell underground for a week without bed or clothes other than the jacket and trousers he was wearing despite there being a foot of snow and temperatures of 10C. He spent a further 3 weeks in a damp underground ‘caponier’ as he describes it, and even after being allowed back into the fort spent a further 14 nights sleeping in that miserable place.
Quote 3 – Murren
In May 1917 a British clergyman Reverend R. Bulstrode was sent to Switzerland to help care for internees. After his visit to Mürren he called the camp “a prison in paradise”. Despite the stunning mountain views, many internees were suffering from boredom and the long term psychological effects of years spent as prisoners of the Germans. Many were confined to their billets by either their wounds or illness, or the snow.