Emeric Harry Stearn; Private, 68th Field Ambulance, RAMC and 11th Worcestershire Regiment.

Malaria was rife around Lake Doiran and Emeric Stearn, like these men, would take a daily dose of quinine.
(IWM Q32160)

Emeric was born on 21st February 1889 in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, the son of Harry and Mary (née Winneill). On October 10th 1910, Emeric started work at St Audry’s Hospital as an attendant: it was here that he was to meet his future wife, Ida Utting. When war was declared, Emeric continued to work at St Audry’s until 27th July 1915 when he and five other members of staff enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). On 6th September 1915, Emeric was posted to France with the 68th Field Ambulance. Only days before, he had returned to Melton where he married Ida in St Andrew’s Church on 28th August.

Emeric’s time in France was to be short, no sooner had they landed then they were sent to Marseilles, where Emeric and three other St Audry’s attendants embarked for the Balkans as the part of the vanguard of the 22nd Division. After landing at Salonika, the 68th Field Ambulance were posted to support the joint Franco-British force sent to assist the Serbian army in Kosovo. During fighting on the 8th December 1915, however, they were forced back by the Bulgarian army over the Greek border. At this point, the Bulgarian army stopped their advance as they were forbidden to enter Greek territory due to the German’s attempts to persuade Greece to join the war on their side.

During 1916, the 22nd Division were based in the Lake Doiran area where conditions were poor, particularly as the marshland was rife with malaria-carrying mosquitos. On 5th July 1917, Emeric was evacuated to the 31st Casualty Clearing Station and then on to the main hospital in Salonika. After two weeks in hospital, Emeric was discharged to the No.5 Convalescent Depot, where he stayed for the next three months. At the end of October 1917, Emeric was fit enough to resume his duties in the RAMC and was added to the strength of the 48th General Hospital in Salonika.

In February 1918, Emeric attended a medical board and was classified “A” in fitness and was sent to the No.2 Base Training Camp before being compulsorily transferred to the Worcestershire Regiment, joining 11th Battalion on 13th April that year. He was not to go to the front line with them though, as he was almost immediately back in hospital suffering once more from malaria. Emeric returned to his battalion on 10th August 1918 only to be granted home leave to Britain. On 17th August 1918, Emeric and a group of twenty-four other men boarded a train from Salonika to the port of Itea, where he embarked for home. Once his leave was over, it was back to Salonika for Emeric, but on the 29th September, while he was on board ship, the Armistice of Salonika was signed and the fighting there was over.

Emeric returned to home on 13th March 1919 and was demobilised on 25th April. Three days later, he was back at work at St Audry’s Hospital and living at 14 Upper Melton Terrace. For his war service, Emeric received the 1915 Star and the British War and Victory Medals.

In 1939, Emeric and Ida and their daughter, Alice, were still at Upper Melton Terrace and he was working at St Audry’s. Ida died in 1958 and Emeric in 1972.