Today, Armistice Day, 11 November 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War – the Great War.
I stood close to the War Memorial as the whole town fell silent at 11.00 this morning, silent for 2 minutes in remembrance of those who went through the hell of fighting in the Great War. And also remembering all those who died and all those who suffered at the hands of war, and those who still suffer now.
We will remember them.
We will also tell their stories – and I have a story to tell – that of my Grandparents.
Recently I became the custodian of a treasure trove of family letters, photographs and documents, many dating from the Great War, which had been kept in old cardboard boxes and hidden from sight for many, many years. Using this wealth of material, I intend to piece together a history of my Grandparents’ War.
My Grandfather volunteered for the 8th Border Regiment in 1913, fought in France and survived to be discharged from the army in 1919. My grandmother was a teacher who joined the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) during the war and nursed injured soldiers. They wrote to each other throughout the war – their correspondence started in 1913, and continued until 1919. At the start they were friends, I’m not sure they even had an ‘understanding’ at the outbreak of war, but their letters and my Grandfather’s infrequent periods of home leave kept them together, and they married on Boxing Day, 1917.
I haven’t read the letters yet. They were held to be secret and, other than my Grandparents, the only person who might have read them is my dear Uncle who, sadly, died not long ago. But he never told anyone what they contained, so I have no idea of what I will find. My intention is to use their letters and photos to tell their story as a series of blog posts, but there is a lot to read and research, and it will take time.
My Grandparents, Bertram Sanderson and Eveline Sanderson (nee Pearson), on their Wedding Day, 26 December, 2017.