As today is Armistice Day I thought I’d like to share a relevant family story with you for my What’s The Story? post this week. This is a tale of two brothers from the First World War. I’m very proud to be related to both of them. I started to trace our family history when my parents decided to emigrate to Spain 9 years ago. Before that time I knew nothing about my father’s family (it turns out Dad knew hardly anything either!). My grandfather died when I was young, I do vaguely remember him, but he was already in a home at that stage.
This is my paternal Grandfather.
Granddad JE was 24 when he enlisted in 1914. He was a Postman in civvy street and served in the Postal Division of the Royal Engineers. We know that he witnessed the madness of the Somme and was present at Ypres. When I return to work I want to see what I can uncover (if anything still remains) of his personal service record, or his battalion. Dad said that his father wouldn’t talk of the war at all. I wonder whether he was responsible for passing letters from loved ones to the front line? That’s the romantic in me coming out! My brother has his 1914 Star medal handed out to those who saw service between August and November 1914 – he was in the thick of things from the start.
The only story that Dad know’s is that at some point my Granddad was sitting on a wagon loaded up with explosives when an enemy shell landed right in front of the wagon. It was a dud – it didn’t go off. If it had been live, I wouldn’t be here today to write this post.
Somehow, Granddad JE survived the terrors of the First World War and returned home to Surrey when the war finished in 1918. I don’t suppose he was the same man who had left 4 years earlier. He went on to be an ARP in the Second World War – he really was part of Dad’s Army!
This is my Great Uncle, my Granddad JE’s eldest brother.
My Great Uncle TW was much older than my Granddad, and was 36 when he enlisted in 1915. He was married with two small children and was also a Postman in the same area of Surrey and as my Granddad. He was also a part-time Fireman. Great Uncle TW served in the East Kent Regiment – I have no idea why! We believe (and one day I will find the truth) that he joined up in the summer of 1915, he was shipped over to France and was killed almost immediately in September that year. He took part in the Battle of Loos died at the beginning of that particular campaign. There is no proper grave for my Great Uncle TW, his name is shown on a remembrance wall at the Loos Memorial in France, along with 20,000 other service men who also have no known grave. How totally tragic is that. I have photo’s of the memorial and of my Great Uncle’s name on the wall, that a distant relative took and passed on to me. When Monkey is at school and is learning about World War One, I want to take his to France, so we can remember a brave man, who fought and died so we could be free today.
My Great Uncle TW is named on the town war memorial where he and my Granddad lived. I’ve been there myself, it was very moving to know that I am related to that man, and to know a little of his story. I’ve also found an archive photo of the unveiling ceremony held on 27th February 1922. There are crowds of people in the photograph. I’m sure my Granddad and all of his family were in that photograph, along with my Great Uncle’s widow and children.
This is my tale of two brothers, one who survived the war by some miracle and one who tragically didn’t. This is my What’s the Story? post for Armistice Day, my family, my way of remembering two very special men.