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Do you have any personal connection to WW1?

 
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Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 12/14/2020 3:03:40 PM   
stockwellpete

 

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I do, through my grandfather (on my father's side). His name was Bert (Herbert) and he joined the Coldstream Guards as a private in October 1911, signing up for 3 years in the regiment, with a further 9 years in the reserves. He was part of the Expeditionary Force that went to France at the beginning of August 1914 and he would have taken part in all the early battles. He was a rifleman in the Signals section of the regiment. He was eventually very badly wounded at the battle of Neuve Chapelle on October 27 (the day that the village was captured by the Germans), and he was given a honourable discharge from the regiment a year later because his wounds prevented him from fighting again.

Before signing up for the army he had been a gardener in Longstock, Hampshire and by 1925 he was living on the smallholdings not far from Carshalton-on-the-Hill (where I grew up as a young lad). These smallholdings were part of Lloyd George's promise of "Homes Fit for Heroes". I do not know what he was doing between 1915 and 1925, apart from him getting married (to Ethel) and starting a family. My father (Clifford) was the youngest of 4 sons and he was born in 1929 and grew up on the smallholdings. The house he lived in is still there, although others have been demolished as market gardening there is no longer viable.

I only remember meeting my grandfather once, when I was about 5 or 6 years old, down at his allotment in Carshalton around 1960 or 61. He was coughing very badly and died not too long afterwards. In later years he had financial difficulties because he could no longer cope with the physical work on the smallholding and he was forced to sell his three war medals (the ones they all got) to raise some cash. Rather miraculously I managed to recover one of these, his Victory Medal, about 5 years ago after it had been sold at an auction to a chap in Exeter. I contacted him and he was happy to return it to our family. I have no idea where the other 2 medals are though. I managed to take the one medal up to Blackpool to show my father before he died in 2014. He was amazed to see it again after so long.

Do you have a WW1 story to share?
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RE: Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 12/15/2020 4:13:51 PM   
Zarevic

 

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Joined: 3/19/2018
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Nice post!! Thanks for sharing!

I love history wargames but I also try not to forget what these wars had of pain and suffering...
Great initiative!

I´m Spanish... so no personal stories around WWI.
In my case, as many others I guess, both grandfathers fought the Civil War... in different sides! one with Republican (he was farmer and trade unionist ina small village near Madrid) and the other one with Nacional side as he was a convinced falangist in a small town in Galicia).
Both survived the War... and both were retaliated (one of them obvoiusly for lose the war... the other one as many other falangists when Franco took absolute power!)

What a bloody but exciting 20th century!

(in reply to stockwellpete)
Post #: 2
RE: Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 12/15/2020 11:17:01 PM   
Mithrilotter

 

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My grandfather served in the US Army (American Expeditionary Force) from September 8, 1918 through June 9, 1919. He was in logistics in France and didn't see combat. My father fought in Korea in the 2nd Infantry Division.

(in reply to Zarevic)
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RE: Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 12/15/2020 11:30:52 PM   
mdsmall

 

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My grandfather served in the Canadian Corps on the Western Front for most of the war and took part in the 100 Hundred Days campaign in 1918. His nerves and his lungs never really recovered from the damage he suffered from serving in the trenches and he died at age 50. I also had two great uncles who had better wars - one served in France and Belgium from 1916 -18 and the other one was held back in Canada due to being under 18 when he enlisted, but was dispatched instead in late 1918 to Vladivostok as part of the Allied and Japanese intervention on behalf of the Whites in the Russian Civil War. We have letters from both great uncles which our family is in the process of depositing with the Canadian War Museum.

(in reply to Mithrilotter)
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RE: Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 12/16/2020 1:51:51 AM   
1775Cerberus

 

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My great-grandfather on my fathers side was one of the first Nazarene ministers in the American south. The small country church he helped buy still stands with his signature on the deed in the foyer of the church. This was 1912. In 1918 he had been granted two deferments because of being a minister and having two small children, but his request for a third was refused.

My grandmother remembered a neighbor letting him borrow the model T they owned to take his wife and two small children to stay with family in Nashville. The cold morning they set off under every blanket they owned' She remembers spitting snow the entire trip which took all day. (This is a trip that I can do today inside of an hour.) The evening twilight was turning to night as they entered downtown Nashville. My grandmother remembers vividly driving and being amazed at the electric lights as these were the first she had ever seen.

Because of the length of time that it had taken to make the trip my great-grandfather was unable to leave his family with relatives. Holding my grandmothers hand on one side and his wifes carrying my grandmothers little sister on the other they walked into the office that his notice told him to report to. My grandmother remembers a tall man with medals on his chest looking at the cold and snow covered band. He father told the man why he was there. the tall man replied looking them over, "Well go home. We received a telegram this afternoon that the war is over and I dont think they will need you anymore."

(in reply to mdsmall)
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RE: Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 12/16/2020 4:56:06 AM   
MVP7

 

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Due to its tricky political situation the then Grand Duchy of Finland of Imperial Russia wasn't directly involved in the WW1 itself (and what little involvement the Finnish had was mostly against Russia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%A4ger_Movement). After the revolution left Russia in Bolshevik control, Finland declared independence and shortly after fought a messy civil war between the local Whites and Reds in 1918 (which also saw Russian and German involvement).

My great-grandfather served as a guard on a White prison camp during the civil war. I never met him but my grandmother told me he had nightmares for the rest of his life so you can imagine things weren't pretty for the Red prisoners. Other than that I'm not aware of any of my relatives being involved in the civil war but then again, it was and remains an unpopular subject in Finland so even if some others were involved it's not a given that those stories would have been passed down in the family. Just last week I was browsing the internet to see if there might be some museum that might want the great-grandfather's guard blackjack but it turns out there's still no dedicated museum or even large permanent display for the civil war.

< Message edited by MVP7 -- 12/16/2020 6:00:13 AM >

(in reply to 1775Cerberus)
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RE: Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 12/16/2020 9:08:30 AM   
stockwellpete

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Zarevic

Nice post!! Thanks for sharing!

I love history wargames but I also try not to forget what these wars had of pain and suffering...
Great initiative!

I´m Spanish... so no personal stories around WWI.
In my case, as many others I guess, both grandfathers fought the Civil War... in different sides! one with Republican (he was farmer and trade unionist ina small village near Madrid) and the other one with Nacional side as he was a convinced falangist in a small town in Galicia).
Both survived the War... and both were retaliated (one of them obvoiusly for lose the war... the other one as many other falangists when Franco took absolute power!)

What a bloody but exciting 20th century!


Thanks for your reply.

Actually, on my mother's side of the family we have Spanish connections. Their name was De Caleon and they were in diplomatic service to the Spanish king around 1900, I believe. The story goes that they fled Spain when the anarchists started their campaign of assassinations. First they went to Bavaria, which is a very Catholic part of Germany and then they came to Fulham in London. This was all before 1914. They never went back to Spain.

I think they were quite upper class as a family, I am not sure if it is correct to call them nobility or aristocracy, but there is a link between the De Caleons and the Bonham-Carter's, who were definitely British nobility. Herbert Asquith (known as "Squiffy") was also linked to the Bonham-Carter's (through his daughter Violet) and he was British PM when WW1 started. I remember my mother telling me that the De Caleon's were very unhappy when my grandmother Winifred started dating Leonard, my grandfather. They felt he was not suitable because he was a working class chap, a gasfitter by trade, who fought in the tanks in Europe after D-Day in WW2.

It is quite hard to research all this because a lot of the records were held by the church in Spain. Because it mainly supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War, a lot of the records were lost when Republicans burnt out the churches.

Edit: the actress Helena Bonham-Carter is the great granddaughter of Asquith and has links to the De Caleon family.

"Helena Bonham Carter was born in Golders Green, London. Her mother, Elena (née Propper de Callejón), is a psychotherapist. Her father, Raymond Bonham Carter, was a merchant banker, and served as the alternative UK director representing the Bank of England at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. during the 1960s. He came from a famous British political family, being the son of English Liberal politician Sir Maurice Bonham Carter and renowned politician and orator Violet Bonham Carter, whose father was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, H. H. Asquith (serving 1908–1916). Helena Bonham Carter's maternal grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, was a Spanish Catholic whose father had been Jewish. Eduardo Propper de Callejón served as a diplomat and former Minister-Counsellor at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C."

https://www.geni.com/people/Helena-Bonham-Carter-CBE/6000000010880136940


< Message edited by stockwellpete -- 12/23/2020 11:40:14 AM >

(in reply to Zarevic)
Post #: 7
RE: Do you have any personal connection to WW1? - 1/20/2021 10:18:38 AM   
shri

 

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Joined: 7/20/2017
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I have a distant connection to it. My paternal grandfather's uncle (father's oldest brother and then sole breadwinner to a large family) was employed by the then British govt as a clerk in the supplies department (pre war), when war started he got mobilised in the logistics and due to being good at his job became a Lieutenant sometime in 1915. He was then sent to Mesopotamia with the mostly Indian troops there. They landed at Basra or Kuwait and marched up towards Baghdad, unfortunately got cut off and surrounded at Kut-Al-Ahmra and were marched then onwards 100s of miles in scorching heat to PoW camps. We do not know what happened next, whether he died in action or starved to death in some Turkish camp or what exactly. Very few men came back and we lost track.
The family got a small token amount when war ended as compensation.

Edit: There was some Georgian era medal with the family which is how i learnt this factoid in my childhood, unfortunately it is long gone somewhere.

< Message edited by shri -- 1/20/2021 10:20:48 AM >

(in reply to stockwellpete)
Post #: 8
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