Saturday, 22 June 2013

Sepia Saturday - Remembered on Horseback

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

I could not match anything from my family history collection,  so have turned instead to  look at holiday photographs and Equestrian Statues, with the theme emerging of military men - and one women.   

Horse Statue, Hawick, unveiled in 1914.
Photograph by Lesley Fraser

I  live  in the Scottish Borders, a region often called "Scotland's Horse Country,  where riding is in the blood.   In the summer,  towns celebrate their history  with the annual common ridings.   In Hawick where I lived until recently,  it is both a symbolic riding of the town's boundaries, made in the past to safeguard burgh rights and also a commemoration of the callants, young lads of Hawick, who in 1514, raided a body of English troops at Hornshole by the river Teviot   and captured their flag - the "banner blue".   Hawick is gearing up to the 500th anniversary of this event  next year.
Above  is the Horse Monument unveiled in 1914, just before the outbreak of war.  Situated at the end of the High Street,  it is a popular meeting place and it can be confusing to newcomers to hear "I'll meet you at the Horse" - and left wondering is it a pub?   No - it is a potent symbol of the town's  heritage.
From a small Borders town to the  USA and statues of two  Presidents.  
George Washington Statue in the Public Gardens in Boston
George Washington (1722-1799) was the first President of the United States (1789-1797), commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the Convention that drafted the United States Constitution and was unanimously elected as President, serving two terms in office.
This statue was the first equestrian statue in Boston, unviled in 1869.  It  rises 38 feet in total.
 Statue of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) in Washington DC
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877) following his highly successful role as a Union general in the second half of the Civil War. 
His statue, dedicated in 1922 on the 100th anniversary of his birth, sits  below the west front of the US Capitol and  faces towards the Lincoln Memorial which honours Grant's wartime president.   

To Europe and more military men - and one woman.

Statue in London  of Richard I of England (1157-1199)  

Richard I,  son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, was known as Richard Cœur de Lion, or Richard the Lionheart, even before his accession, because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior.   Richard was  Christian commander during the Third Crusade, leading the campaign after the and scoring considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, although he did not reconquer Jerusalem. Returning overland he was captured and held prisoner until a large ransom was raised.  During his 10-year reign he spent only six months in England.

His statue,  unveiled in 1856,  stands outside the House of Parliament in Old Palace Yard.

Statue in Paris of Joan of Arc - Maid of Orleans  c.1412-1431  

Joan of Arc was born a peasant girl, but became a folk heroine of France and a saint. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years.   She was captured, put on trial] and was burned at the stake for heresy when she was  only 19 years old.

Her gilded bronze statue in Paris  was commissioned by the French government following the defeat of the country in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. 

 Statue in Vienna of Archduke Charles of Austria, Duke of Teschen (1771-1847)
Archduke Charles of Austria, the  third son of Emperor Leopald I,  achieved respect both as a commander and as a reformer of the Austrian army. He was considered one of Napoleon's most formidable opponents and defeated the French Emporer in 1809 at the Battle of Aspern.
This imposing equestrian statue was erected in 1860 in the Heidenplatz  (Heroes Square) in Imperial Vienna. 

Statue of Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904)
in Whitehall, London, opposite the War Office.
Prince George William, Frederick Charles, 2nd Duke of Cambridge,  was the grandson of King George III and cousin to Queen Victoria.  An army officer and Commander in Chief of the British Army, he served in the Crimean War.
His title, Duke of Cambridge, fell into extinction upon his death. It was not revived until 107 years later when  the Queen awarded the dukedom to Prince William on the occasion of his marriage to Kate Middleton in 2011.  
And back to real people on horseback - my daughter and granddaughter keeping the Borders riding tradition alive.

Trot over to this week's Sepia Saturday page HERE to see other horsy stories.

  Photograph of Horse Statue, Hawick by Lesley Fraser

All other photographs -
Copyright © 2013 · Susan and Neil  Donaldson. 
 All Rights Reserved


Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Woodland Walk in June

Spring/Summer  has at last come to us here in the Scottish Borders with a week of fine dry, sunny and warm (70F/22C) weather - ideal for a walk in the Cowdenknowes Woods near my home at Earlston in the Scottish Borders. 


June seems far too late for primroses which I would expect much earlier -
a sign of what  our spring was like!




Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Sepia Saturday - A Stretcher Bearer in the Field

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

This week's prompt shows the  kitchen of a hospital train in the First World War

"I had to assist the wounded at a dressing station and stuck to it for about 40 hours. It's blooming hard work being a stretcher bearer in the field."  

These were the words of my great uncle George Danson, written three weeks before he was killed on the Somme. 

One of the many embroidered cards sent from Flanders by her sons 
 to my widowed great grandmother, Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.  

George Danson was the youngest of eight sons (surviving infancy) of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.  Born in 1894, he was followed three years later by the birth of an only daughter Jennie.  The photographs and memorabilia here come from Jennie's collection.

George (above) was the favourite uncle of my mother and aunt,  and they had fond memories of him, perhaps because he was nearest to them in age and took on the role of the big brother. I can see why in the photograph of him above.  George worked on W.H. Smith bookstalls at different railway stations in Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

George joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1916 and I was lucky enough to trace his service record on  as many were destroyed  in the Second World War.  On his enlistment,  George's  medical report stated he was 5'3" tall,  weighed 109 lbs. (under 8 stone), with size  34 1/2 chest and he wore glasses - so a slight figure to be a stretcher bearer in the turmoil of war.

Also amongst the family papers were two letters written on  headed paper of the British Expeditionary Force.  A letter of 19th March 1916 to his eldest brother Robert said "I will tell you one thing it is no easy job the army life today and I am of the opinion as most of the chaps are here they won't be sorry when it is all over."

The second letter of 23rd August 1916 was to Frank, the brother nearest to him in age:

 "At present we are abut 8 miles behind the firing line. I had to assist the wounded at a dressing station and stuck to it for about 40 hours. It's blooming hard work being a stretcher bearer in the field. On Friday I was in a big bombardment and will say it was like a continual thunder and lightening going off. As I write there are blooming big guns going off abut 50 yards away every few minutes. Don't I wish that all of us could get home. Wouldn't that be great, lad, there's a good time coming and I hope we shall all be there to join in."

 Three weeks later, and a week after his 22nd birthday,  George was killed on 16th September 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, and buried in the Guards Cemetery, Les Boeufs, near Albert.

 A photograph, sent to his mother,  of George's grave.  
It conveys in a stark way the reality of war amid the mud and blood that George must have experienced - and contrasts with the pristine white
of the more lasting memorials that we recognise today.  
 I have written about George before on my blog but it is such a poignant tale, that  I make no apologies for telling it again.

Click HERE to find other contributions on  this week's theme.