Thursday, 25 September 2014

World War One - Remembrances of My Family - Part Two

Last month, on the Commemoration of the beginning of WWI, I wrote this post about my Great Granddad and his time during that conflict. I now have some stories from my father's side of the family.

A few weeks back my mum chatted to my lovely Great Aunt Ruth, who lives across in Wales. She was able to give my mum some information about her parents during the war. Her father was my Dad's Grandfather, and they were very close. As a six year old child I remember seeing my dad cry for the first time when his grandfather passed away, many years ago now.

Her father was at the Battle of the Somme, as was my Great Uncle (on the other side of the family), who was sadly killed there (details in that previous post). He was a despatch rider, and was gassed and sent home to recuperate. The story goes that he lost his memory due to the explosion of a bomb that went off near him, and only knew who he was when thankfully another soldier recognised him at the hospital. I also remember my Dad telling us that he had written home at the time, and mentioned in the letter that he said that his trousers were ''too loose''. This was taken to mean in the family that he was in a hospital in Toulouse, but whether that is actually the truth, I cannot verify.

My Great Grandpa (Frederick Reginald Barnes) in Army Uniform

During the last couple of years, mum has been collating all the family photographs, and has been putting them into date order and into albums. This lady here is my aunt Ruth's mother, my Dad's Grandmother:-

Henrietta Barnes, my Great Grandma
Sadly she passed away in 1953 at the age of 55, so I never met her. But this photo shows her in a WWI era nursing uniform. According to Ruth she was a trainee nurse, who nursed my Great Grandfather when he was shipped home. And apparently my Great Grandfather saw this rather attractive nurse (and if she was anything like my Auntie Ruth, she would also have been very kind and gentle), and said to some other soldiers at the hospital where he was ''I am going to marry that nurse!''. They did go on to marry in 1919 (please excuse the mouse nibbles- what a shame!):-

My Great Grandparents at their Wedding 1919 - what a wonderful dress!
It has been great hearing and learning about these stories from my family's past, but it seems such a shame that it was not until the remembrances of WWI that I knew about them. I do remember my Great Grandfather. He was a kind man, but died when I was very little. He married again the year after his first wife died, and as my step Great Grandma (although we called her 'Aunty Kay') was much younger than him, I remember her well. We used to visit her as a family just before Christmas every year, and she did wonderful treasure hunts for us children, with clues all around her house. A sweet, very loving woman. I do miss her.

Naomi x