Vincent Jervis was working as clerk in a Dargaville law firm when he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in February 1916.
Promoted to the acting rank of corporal, Jervis left New Zealand as part of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in May, landing in France in August of that year.
By 1918, Jervis had survived the New Zealand Division’s major engagements at Messines and Passchendaele.
The war had taken a toll on him, however, and his health began to deteriorate. Between March and June of 1918, Jervis was in and out of hospital with trench fever and other ailments. After rejoining his unit, he received a further promotion to sergeant, following the death of another experienced non-commissioned officer.
In late August 1918, the British Third Army, along with the New Zealand Division, launched an attack towards the town of Bapaume. After two days of frenetic fighting, they began to surround Bapaume. The Germans resisted fiercely as Jervis and his fellow New Zealanders fought their way around the outskirts of the town, under constant fire.
As Jervis was moving up towards Bapaume, a German artillery shell landed near him.
"While waiting in the sunken road I got wounded, a shell landed on the other side about three yards away, and hit about five of us, one being killed. I did not know at first I was hit, I got up and ran into a chalk quarry and then noticed that my left wrist and right leg were bleeding.
I was uncertain at first whether to go out or not as they did not hurt but after a few minutes my leg began to ache a bit so I decided to go out."
Clearly wounded, but unsure of how badly, Jervis gathered the energy to go and get himself medical attention.
"After taking what gear I wanted out of haversack I went for my life out. Fritz was dropping shells round promiscuously and I was ducking and diving continuously. I got back to our cookers without finding a dressing station and I got my German revolver off Tick and took it with me. Found a dressing station in the sunken road this side of big railway line and from there got a ride to the Third Field Ambulance in Achiet le Petit."
Fairly pleased to have received a nice ‘Blighty’ wound, Jarvis was evacuated soon after, and spent the next six weeks recuperating from his wounds in hospitals in England.
Just as he was preparing for a return to the front, the war ended.
At a camp for soldiers awaiting demobilisation, Jervis observed how the frustration of soldiers, tired of military life, could quickly escalate into violence and vandalism.
"About 10 pm some of us were playing cards in the hut when we heard shouting and shortly after a couple of chaps came in the hut for volunteers for the riot.
At the same time some drunk idiots started throwing stones through the windows. That ‘tore it’, we were all in sympathy with their grievances but did not believe in going round breaking things.
A few chaps went out with them and they moved on breaking more windows and pulling chaps out of bed."
Jervis left the United Kingdom and arrived back in New Zealand in March 1919.
He died in 1972, aged 76.