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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Sepia Saturday: A Loving Couple - My Grandparents

Each week, Sepia Saturday, provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

No question what the theme is for this week - Valentines. 

This lovely embroidered card was in the shoebox of memorabilia in my grandfather's house, along with the many World War One cards he had sent home from the battlefields.  There is nothing to indicate when this card was sent.   
 William and Alice, c.1916

Grandad (William Danson) married Alice English in 1907 and they had five children.  I never knew my grandmother as she died in 1945.  Unfortunately her early life is shrouded in mystery, as my mother and aunt hardly ever mentioned it.    I sensed this reluctance and never asked the right questions at the right time.

So Alice remains my family history major brick wall.   The marriage certificate gave  her father's name as Henry English, painter (deceased) and her age 22,  meaning  she must have been born c.1884.  I had to wait for the 1911 census to get some confirmation of her birthplace and that gave Bolton, Lancashire.  But I have still been unable to trace a birth certificate.

The cards below have featured before before on my blog, but they fit this week's theme so well I had to show them again.   They were sent back home from France by my grandfather.    He was a taciturn labourer, working as a cattle man in the local auction mart, when he enlisted in the army in 1916.  The pencilled messages on the reverse of the cards are very prosaic, compared with the loving sentiment on the cards themselves

[7 February 1918]  Dear Alice, received your letter allright.  I have landed back at the Butt and am in the pink.  I have had a letter from Jennie and am glad you have word of Tom.  You loving husband, Billy xxx.  

 [28th April 1918]   Dear Alice - just a line to let you know I am in the pink.  and hope you are all well at home........Your loving Billy, XXXX  

The Danson family - Edith, Peggy, my grandparents William and Alice, son Harry   and Kathleen (my mother), with youngest son Billy missing. Taken c.1940. 

William and Alice on the occasion of my parent's wedding in 1938. 

 Click HERE to see  romantic notions from other Sepia Saturday bloggers. 

Copyright © 2015 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved 


  1. I love the clothes in these old photos. You can usually recognize which era they belong to. But I'm wondering when in the future people look back on family (not fashion) photos, what will be he defining style for women's clothing. Probably some sort of mess - anything goes !

  2. Bill clerly like that expression 'in the pink'! Good that he made it back home again, 'in the pink' no doubt.

  3. Sue, I find your grandparents, William and Alice quite intriguing. Mystery, romance, dashihg young man in uniform & a winsome lass --- and they aged beautifully well and still intriguing. Add lovely valentines --- makes a great post.

  4. What a pity you can’t find out more about Alice. I expect that whatever was making them reluctant to talk about her background was more to do with the times they were living in. These days, whatever it was, probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at all. Lovely embroidered cards for an obviously much-loved lady.

  5. Your grandfather had such a large happy smile, but your grandmother - in the photos, anyway - seemed rather reserved. All the girls in the family photo were certainly smiling hugely, however, so the reservations about Alice must not have been too bad?

  6. The embroidered cards are so charming. I'm glad Billy was always in the pink -- I need to remember to use that expression sometimes.

  7. That first photo is just wonderful.
    I can only begin to imagine your intrigue about your grandmother as I am curious why your mother and Aunty never spoke about her.

  8. What a blessing to have your Grandfather's cards and letters from when he served in the war. I enjoyed viewing your photos. The one of them both with him in uniform is a charming one.

    I can identify with your sensitivity to your mother's reluctance to discuss certain things around others. I, too, regret not asking the right questions at the right time. Good luck finding more about Alice.

  9. At least you have a lot of pictures of your grandmother.

  10. I expect that French shops did a good business selling sentimental postcards to soldiers during the war. The embroidered flower has extra class though because of the craftwork.

  11. Love the 1916 & 1938 shots -- wonderful to see them grow older together!

  12. I immediately thought that perhaps "in the pink" was a code that the couple had between them, meaning much more personal emotions...though perhaps not. That last postcard does have a French postcard flavor of a man being undressed, and the woman only slightly dressed. Keep working on your genealogy...it's sometimes just enough to know the streets that someone lived on or the city, so you have a sense of where they were at a certain time.

  13. Thank you to everyone for such lovely comments. "In the pink" was, I think, a popular phrase of the time and not any indication of a personal code.


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