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Post Deafness: Fate of the Artilleryman
Created by John Eipper on 04/14/17 6:52 AM

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Deafness: Fate of the Artilleryman (John Heelan, -UK, 04/14/17 6:52 am)

John E asked me, "Did your father sacrifice his hearing to the Royal Artillery? This was the fate of most artillerymen."

No--his hearing was probably saved by his being seconded to Infantry units at various stages in WWII to act as "spotters" for artillery bombardments. However, one of my university friends was an ex-Lt Commander (Guns) Royal Navy, whose inevitable deafness forced him to sit in the front row for all lectures.

He put me in my place once when we were travelling by coach somewhere and the coach door kept springing open. I ribbed him, saying that he should fix it as I thought all sailors automatically carried a knife and a piece of string in their pockets at all times. Upon which, he produced a piece of string and a penknife and secured the coach door. As Punch punchlines at the end of its jokes often commented, "Collapse of stout party!" It was true in this case!

JE comments: Col. Robert Gibbs of the US First Field Artillery wrote that he has a hearing aid to prove it. The artilleryman's disease, Bob quips, is known as "gunnereia."

I would think a Navy gunner would be at an even greater risk of hearing loss, with the enclosed spaces and all that metal for the sound to bounce around.


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