Friday, 2 May 2014

Military Memories 2 - Grandad's Overseas Service.

Military Memories: 31 Writing Prompts to Celebrate Your Military AncestorsMembers of GeneaBloggers are invited to commemorate their military ancestors during May 2014 by participating in  Military Memories: 31 writing prompts,  created by author Jennifer Holik. 

Today's theme - Overseas Service




Granddad was  William Danson (1885-1963), the fifth son   of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  He married Alice English in 1907. William  has featured in many a post on my blog, but here I am putting the emphasis on  the documents relating to his service in World War One.  

During the First World War,  Granddad fought at the Battle of  Passchendaele and won the Military Medal at Givenchy, with the postcards below kept in the shoebox of family memorabilia in a cupboard by the fire.   I have never seen the actual  medal as it went to his youngest daughter Peggy when she emigrated to Australia in 1949. 



Granddad served in the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.  and I wrote to the regimental museum at Lancaster Castle for more information .  I  was sent a copy of an extract from the Regimental War Diary, with my grandfather's name at the foot of the entry.



The citation (a poor typed copy) reads:
"For conspicuous gallantry in action at GIVENCHY on 9th April 1918,This N.C.O commanded a Lewis Gun section...He did good work with his gun during
the attack inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. 
When the other N.C.O. in command of the other Lewis Gun was wounded,
he took over the gun and controlled the fire of both teams"

 
9th April was five  days after Granddad's 33rd birthday,

A copy of William Danson's record card confirmed his address in Poulton, the date of his enlistment (18th July 1916) and occupation as livestock foreman (he worked in the local auction mart.)  It also brought the first knowledge that he had been wounded in action. 

Granddad was a taciturn country man at heart and like many of those who had experienced the horrors of the First World War, he would never talk about this time.  He lost two brothers in the war  - George and John. 

 But Granddad left a moving legacy of his war   in the many postcards he sent and brought back.  These remain my  family treasures and feature on many of my blog postings.  


The two photographs here illustrate something of the  camaraderie of war, with granddad arrowed in the image on the left.






This photograph on the right  intrigued me when I first saw it as a child. There was no Scottish connection that I knew of on my mother's side, so why was Granddad wearing a kilt and a tammie?   The story was that ihe became friendly with some Scottish soldiers, and as a laugh he had dressed up in one of their kilts, with a tammie, and had his photograph taken to send home.  It must have been taken in France as the reverse of the photograph  indicates it is a "Carte Postale" with space for "Correspondance" and "Addresse".  


Below are just ta few  examples of the beautiful embroidered cards Granddad sent to his family back home.  The messages, written in pencil,  were short and  prosaic  with a favourite comment to reassure his family back home -  "I am in the pink".   Not really I think, given the horror he must have witnessed. 





Alice with Edith, Kathleen (my mother), Harry
and baby Billy, c.1916.

 William and Alice, c.1916

William and Alice,  at my parent's wedding in 1938

In my postings, Remembrance has always been my theme for November, 
so these stories of military service have featured before on my blog. 
But I am pleased to take this different approach suggested by Jennifer
and am proud to join in this challenge.  

Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved



1 comment:

  1. Half the fun is just seeing all the great poses back in those days! You have lots of outstanding photos here, and interesting story line as well!

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