Today would have been my dear mother’s 93rd birthday and it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the death of my great-uncle, who was killed at the age of 21 in Arras in France towards the end of World War I.
It seems that he had been back and forward to France to fight on more than occasion and this was to be his last trip. According to my grandmother (his sister) he was not well when he returned to the front and things were so bad that his mother (my great-grandmother) had to “iron out the lice from his kilt”. He was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
100 years seems a long time ago but, despite the fact that I had obviously not met “Willie”, as he was known, it seems more recent than that. I guess with all the ‘remembering’ of World War I in the last 4 years, it is to the forefront of all our memories. Funnily enough I woke up at dawn this morning and could not sleep, wondering what hell it must have been before ‘going over the top’, on what was to prove to be his last day on earth.
I have quite a few items relating to his youth and time in the army, all of which are moving. However the most notable are these. One is part of the postcard he sent to my great-grandmother (his mother) the previous year from France, one a photo of Willie and the other one of the items received ‘from the King’. All are extraordinary and heart-breaking…