Sunday, July 02, 2006

For Jack Ben Ernest

For Jack, Ben, Ernest, Joe and Frank

As it is the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme I am blogging a scrap I wrote in memory of my uncles who fought in France in WW1

Leighton Manor
                                             Lancashire                                        June 30th   1915
Dearest Ned,

Papa showed me the letter you left for him this morning.  It has taken me all day to compose myself sufficiently to write to you so please forgive me if these pages are a little tear-stained.  

Papa explained to me that when the other lads in the village joined up,   you felt constrained to do the same in spite of the fact that you are not yet eighteen.  You asked him to keep the date of your birth a secret and I assure you he will do so.  You have always been big and strong even when we first met when we were twelve.  Do you remember?

I am sure the authorities won’t doubt your age and Papa and I agree that it is a very noble thing you are doing: to join the Accrington Friends fighting for King and Country in the war to end all wars.  I just wish we could have said goodbye but I understand that would have been too painful for both of us.

For the last five years we have seen each other every day and although I realise we come from different stations in life; you an under gardener and I the daughter of the lord of the manor, I believe that whatever happens, one day we will be together for ever.

Since dear Mama passed away Papa has come to realise how important it is to be near one’s loved ones.  That is why I was allowed to be educated at home.  I know he thinks well of you and I feel sure by the time this war is over the class system will not be so divisive and people will be judged on their character and not their bank balance.

I am sending you a flower – not one of your beloved roses but a simple bluebell which I picked from Ramsden Wood today.  When you see the gaudy poppies of Flanders (not to mention the Mademoiselles from Armentieres) I hope it will remind you of home.  You should smell the white garden this evening – it is intoxicating and the moonlight gives it an other- worldly feeling.  I look up at it and imagine you doing the same.  Are you thinking of us at home?

Now Ned I want you to put the Kibosh on the Kaiser and come home safely.  Do you remember our song ‘My true love has my heart.
And I have his.  I am singing it now my dearest one.
I pray we meet again before the leaves drop from the giant oaks.
All my love,

PS  Don’t worry about your mother I shall visit her regularly.





R. Sherman said...


I recently reread a book by Lyn McDonald about the Somme and the "Friends" battalions.

My grandfather went off to volunteer for WWI service but was turned away because he already had one daughter and my grandmother was poised to give birth to my dad, born April 29, 1917.

The EMBLOS's paternal grandfather joined the army in 1918 at age 16 but was left behind at the Kaserne because of his age. The train taking his company to the Western Front derailed and many were killed.

Great post, dear.


fjl said...




PI said...

Randall: that was a lucky escape for both grand-fathers. Life is such a lottery.

felicity: I'm not sure but I think I wrote it before I started blogging. If not it was done sub-conciously. It is a very pretty name.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

You're right, writing a letter takes you inside the heads and the times in a way nothing else can. It's a lovely way to commemorate your loved ones, Pat.

Z said...

Our little village (400 houses now, a good deal fewer then) lost 25 men to the Great War. The roll of honour is read out on Remembrance Sunday every year - it shocks you every time.

PI said...

Thank you Sam.

z: it must have been a heart-breaking time and still brings tears to our eyes today. The only crumb of comfort 'they shall not grow old...' I like to think of them - forever young.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Very touching.

PI said...

Thanks GG