Regular blogonaughts of these pages will hopefully remember the pilgrimage trip that we made last April to the Somme Battlefield in Northern France, in order to trace the footsteps of my two Grandfathers.
As I explained at the time, it was my attempt at making sense of some of what they were both involved in nearly 100 years ago and the sequence of posts hopefully gave you all an insight into what I found.
Now here we are, just over a year later and a number of things have fallen into place for me about those dark, far off, days. Further research has uncovered couple of snippets;
Grandfather William was awarded a “Wound Stripe,” after stopping a piece of shrapnel with his head whilst in action near Nieuport in 1917! The stripe was a metal badge worn vertically on the left uniform sleeve and signified that the wearer had been wounded in combat. The British Army started awarding them in 1916 but stopped after the end of WW1. Some were also issued after D-day in 1944, but were discontinued after 1946. The fact that William was awarded the stripe is a detail that no-one in the family appears to have been aware of, up until now! I have managed to obtain a genuine, but unissued, WW1 wound stripe that I am going to mount along side his medals and insignia; one day it can pass to one of his Great granddaughters, my nieces, if they ever show any interest. If not then the collection can be sold in aid of veterans charities.
Searches in the Public Records for Grandfather Charles have also been interesting. I found out that he and his unit of the Royal Field Artillery is recorded as “Entering Theatre, France,” on the 12th May 1915.
Now that got me thinking. . . That’s exactly 100 years ago next Tuesday!
I haven’t been able to find out where Charles first “Entered Theatre,” but you can bet it was probably at one of the French Channel Ports. I can just imagine the scene as men, equipment and horses were all being unloaded from a ship. The more I have thought about it, the more I feel that I just have to be in France next Tuesday; nowhere specific, just in France 100 years on.
I shared my feelings with my oldest friend, known in these pages as “Vifferman,” he gets it and is going to ride with me again. It’ll be cool.
We are going to pop over on the night ferry to Roscoff, have a little ride around, then go pay our respects to some guys from another conflict that never made it home, then we’ll come back. I’ll tell you all about that in another post, be great if you ride with us.
Until then, gotta dash and polish Harley for a special day out!
Catch you all soon.
PS Serious stuff this, so no Rock n’Roll.
Don’t stop searching Dookes, you will be amazed what persistence brings.