I have lived for over half of the last 100 years, and have had grandfathers and other family members who fought in WWI. The following pictures and comments commemorate all those who participated in, or fell, during WWI, and for other family members, of each generation thereafter, who fought in wars and conflicts. This blog is not only for my family, but all the other families who will share a moment of remembrance with me today.
The lead shot above, and the bread, were found in the Crawford’s Hero Box when we cleared my Great Aunts house just after she died. It was in a trunk full of memorabilia and WWI photos. To give some idea of the size of the shot the long piece is about 6 cms long, and the round piece a little bigger than a 50pence coin.
This photo was taken on 29.7.1917 at Herstenmoor POW camp near Soltau, Hannover. One of these men is the father of my Great Aunt Nellie. I believe he’s the one on the front row in the middle.
This photo was also taken in Germany on 2.4.1918. Do not know any of them but was recovered from my Great Aunt’s trunk.
This photo might be of the graveyard at the POW camp at Herstenmoor in Germany where prisoners were buried. On them are carved names, but I cannot make all of them out, even from the original photo. One I have managed to recover with the use of a magnifying glass. It’s the first cross in the picture and it says, ‘5640 Sgt. L. C. Rumley. 1st East Kents. Died of wounds received in action’.
Members of a POW hut at Herstenmoor. On the back of the photo are the names: Goolsby, Glossop, Clayton, Noel, Harrison, Rothway, Foster, Craven, Mason, Garside, Warton, Gunston, Turner, Ebbage? Webster, Brown, Pattrell, Smith, Kirk, Wallace, Barwell, Graft and Walker. The man, Barwell, in the front row, in the middle sitting cross-legged, is the father of my Great Aunt.
Concert Party/pantomime at Herstenmoor POW camp.
Postcards of the surrounding area of Herstenmoor POW camp, Soltau, Nr Hannover which were sent to England.
This card was sent 2.2.1918 from Harry Barwell at POW camp Herstenmoor to the O. C. Depot of the 16th West Yorks Infantry Regiment requesting verification of his rank by asking for a certificate and statement of his account. It is not clear as to why.
As you can see this is Barwell’s army wallet. Inside I found this postal order for 2 shillings made out to Private Harry Wright. Is it possible they were good friends and Harry was shot and the lead in the above picture was taken from his body before he died, therefore, the postal order couldn’t be cashed?
Both these delicately embroidered cards were sent from France to Edith, Harry Barwell’s wife at the beginning of WWI, before he was taken a POW.
These pictures were found in my Great Aunts trunk. I don’t think they are of her husband, my Great Uncle Sid, as he was in Burma during WWII. I have a photograph of him in uniform with the rest of the men, but cannot lay my hands on it at present. We shall never know who the diver is or what he was blasting out of the water. But I do remember being told by a family member that Nellie was once engaged to a Naval man who was killed during WWII. I wonder if this is him? She met and married my Great Uncle Sid after the war when he came back from Burma.
The following are the words of the above ex-serviceman.
“I am an ex-soldier who fought for Queen and Country and proud of it. When I joined the RAF at 19 I was doing something I always wanted to do. I had a great time learning my trade as an avionics engineer; passing with flying colours. But I wanted more out of forces life; something was missing, and I was always up for doing anything dangerous – just ask my Mum. So, I applied for a unit that was wanting top physical and mental performance; a unit that had a world-wide reputation of being the best. I trained hard and passed. We were forever joking and had many a laugh, even though circumstances sometimes had us pissing, shitting, wanking into a bag which you then had to carry in your webbing/Bergen until the exercise/mission was over. And if I was ever caught I was Trooper 1234567 A.N. Other, of the Royal Yoemanry (Territorial Army). I remember my sergeant saying to me once during the 1st Gulf War, ‘laughing is something you can always do’. He said this just before he killed the enemy with one clean shot to the head. Laughing and joking was how we dealt with things. I am a soldier through and through and it’s been about 22 years since the 1st Gulf War: I don’t want the memories, but I get them anyway: memories of legging it across the desert, tripping over burnt, shot, mutilated bodies, then reaching the Basra Highway to find more dead, burnt, shot soldiers and civilians. I deal with the memories, and in the past have tried to drown them in booze: not the ideal way to deal with things though. Below is a photo of my 13 year old son – perhaps the next generation of soldiers. One day he may be following in my footsteps, and if that is what he wants to do then I will not discourage him. The ties that bind us ex-soldiers together remain with us all our lives. I shall always remember them. “