It was whilst he was with Viney & Co. that hostilities broke out in 1914 and he joined the third African Infantry as a private. (His badge was numbered 2571.) His battalion was sent to Egypt where they were expected to put down a Senussi uprising. When that was accomplished the battalion was sent to France, where he was wounded at about the time of the Delville Wood battle, in which he was involved. However, the wound was as a result of an accident and not through direct battle action and happened like this: someone had carelessly hung a bayonet from the tent pole and, whilst it was still dark, in response to an alarm, he ran out of the tent, causing the bayonet to pierce his right eye. The pain was excruciating. He was hospitalised but the army surgeons were unable to save his eye. He was then invalided back to South Africa. Although his mother was notified of this disaster and the need to operate, insufficient details were given and when she met him from the train she believed that he had been totally blinded. He was 'honourably discharged' on 22nd.July, 1917 and 'granted a disability pension following the loss of his right eye'.

The story he would tell regarding this disability pension was quite amusing and he always claimed it was the most valuable money, small as it was, being ten shillings a month, to come his way since it did not attract any tax. He would recount how many years after the Second World War (in about 1958) he received a letter from the Pension Office informing him that his pension was to be increased and in his reply expressing his thanks, he added: " how fortunate it is, Sir, that old soldiers never die".