In the history of Little Thetford, a name that must be remembered is Mr George “Mucker” Dewsbury, who was born in the 1890’s[1]. I know that he was a sergeant in the First World War. He was in charge of a Vickers Machine Gun. He was 25 old when the war was over.

I was only nine year old when Second World War ended and just knew George by seeing him around the village. Later I had to work with him for a few days. I was 17 years old, working on the straw stack at the back of a thrashing engine (no combines in those days). Very few were the total threshing machines consisting of an engine and a jack straw that provided the spent corn, barley, oat straw via the jack straw. I was working with George on this stack. We both had brand new pitch forks that were very rough on the hands. However George had a plan to remedy this! He put his hand into his jacket pocket and withdrew a round tin. He removed the lid and took out a round curl of tobacco that looked like an old boot lace. With a pocket knife he cut about three inches and to my astonishment popped it into his mouth a began to chew the twist of tobacco vigorously. After a few moments he said “boy” give me your pitch fork, which I did. He opened his mouth and spat the tobacco all down the pitch fork. He rubbed it into the grain, and the handle started to look like a polish bit of wood. George said that will do and your hands would not get blisters. True I never did get blisters.

As I told you he saw lots of active service in the First World War. He was blow up by a German Bomb, and received quite a lot of shrapnel wounds which he carried in his body for the rest of his life. In his later years he did experience a lot of pain from the shrapnel wounds. In his 70’s he was sent to the old Tower Hill hospital in Ely. A sister in charge of the ward asked him to spit into a bowl, George looked and laughed and said that would not hold a quarter of my spit. George made progress in the hospital and was discharged after a few day. He then spent his last year or two in the Three Horseshoes Public House with Charlie and Doll Ffitch.

Fred Haynes 2011

Editor: [1] Probably George Dewsbury (1887–1964)