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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Military Memories 1 - My Family Who Served

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

Today's theme - The Home Front. Describe your family’s experience during the war. Who did they send to war and when? 

Ten members of my immediate family served in war - 
as portrayed in this collage

My grandfather William Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  and four of his brothers (George, John, Frank and Tom)  served in World War One.  

What must it have been like for their  widowed mother, Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe worrying about the fate of her soldier sons?  

George died on the Somme in 1916  nine months after he enlisted and just two weeks after his 22nd birthday. A year later John died in army camp in training without having served abroad.   His wife had died of TB at the age of 21, so their daughter Annie was now an orphan and made her home with  her grandmother Maria. 

Their only  sister Jennie  recalled a time during the war when she was working in Poulton Post Office  and a War  Office telegram arrived for her mother.  Fearing the worst, she was allowed to run home with it.  To much relief it was news of Frank as wounded but recovering in hospital in Malta.  Of Tom I know very little.  

Alice with Edith, Kathleen,
Harry & baby Billy c.1916

When my grandfather went in war in 1916,  he left behind his  wife Alice  and four children - Edith, Kathleen (my mother), Harry and baby Billy.  He fought at the mud bath that was Passendaele and was awarded the Military Medal for his actions at Givenchy - something he would never talk about.  But amongst my family treasures are many postcards that he sent home to his family   

Dear Edith  I hope you like this card.
.  I am in the pink,  Look after mother and baby.
From your Dad. 
Harry and Billy above both fought.  Harry in the army that was evacuated at Dunkirk in 1940, and Billy in the navy.  Their younger sister Peggy (left), born in 1922 served in the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), with a note In the family photograph album that she was  in a Barrage Balloon Squadron in Hull, Yorkshire - the only woman in my family to be in the armed services.  

it is thanks to the  accounts that my father,  John Weston,  wrote, together with letters to my mother, that I have such a picture of his war service in Intelligence, landing in Normandy just after D Day, entering Paris, experiencing the Battle of  the Bulge in the winter of 1944 and  seeing VE Day in Germany, before being sent to the Far East

His brother Charles Weston had a harrowing time, as a Japanese POW.  

I look forward to paying tribute to my military ancestors over the coming month. 

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

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