While serving in the First World War in the 9th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at Gallipoli, Alexander Balcombe Murphy was wounded. He came upon a cousin in Eqypt - Dame Mabel Brookes. She wrote an interesting account of this meeting in her book, Memoirs.
“Later I was drawn into a tangle of circumstances over another cousin who had joined a Sussex regiment, he being in England at the outbreak of war. Arriving back from an afternoon’s visiting, a message waited from a British hospital in Alexandria, No. 29. Could I communicate immediately with the C.O.? This I did to discover Alec had arrived with a new batch from, Suvla, badly wounded in the arm and an amputation was deemed necessary. He refused to allow it and gave my name as next of kind. Would I come down? I did, taking a night train and arriving about 12 o’clock to find a harassed Dr Watkins waiting. Alec’s arm had been badly shot up. It was imperative to amputate. I went into the ward where three Australians lay, one not conscious, another with his eye removed, and Alex showing a high temperature and a determined look. ‘I shall shoot myself if they remove my arm,’ he announced flatly. The doctor said there was a faint chance of his recovery if the wound was irrigated but it would be agony and the chances problematical since no antibiotics were then known. It was up to me. I walked up and down the corridor and discussed the situation, a grim one, for I knew Alex and was not in any doubt that his threat would be carried out. A country man who lived for horses and stock, one arm would be a daily agony and reproach. Dr Watkins almost washed his hands of the crazy Australians when I told him not to amputate, to irrigate as he said, and to give anaesthetics during the process. ‘But I can’t do that all the time,’ he protested. ‘Then let him suffer,’ I told him hard-heartedly. ‘He will stand it.’ When I went back to the ward and told Alec of the decision he, an undemonstrative man, held my hand and clung to it for a while, while the officer with the ruined eye, considering me a determined woman, begged me to try and get him kept in the East for he was due to go home invalided the following week. Dr Watkins shrugged his shoulders and saw me to the train in the early morning and I wondered if I had sanctioned Alec’s death. Never had the dawn appeared so beautiful, the Pyramids so close, nor the little morning breeze so pure. I had made a decision for good or ill and rested on it. It was what Alex wanted and what I considered a fair risk. Irrigation had proven successful in the Cairo hospitals and with Alec’s temperament he would stand the pain – better than a suicide.
Later Alec returned home, one arm a little shorter, but well. He went to the Mayo Clinic in the U.S.A. and had a graft of kangaroo sinew that rendered his mobility almost unaffected.” p76-77
Alec’s injuries did prohibit him from carrying out heavy work on the farm. However, he had the great fortune to be assisted by Sam Sherlock, a third-generation member of the Sherlock family to work at the Briars.