This is the story of my grandfather's army service during the First World War and my research in compiling the information.
When I was born in 1962 he was living at 34 Elaine Avenue, Marton, Blackpool with my grandmother. I remember him as an old man with very thick glasses who seemed to smoke his pipe continuously and tell us stories about the war. All I remember now is that he said he was a gunner who was gassed and invalided out.
He died on 11th August 1976 (my grandmother having died in 1971) aged 83 and so my greatest chance of understanding what he went through during those four years has disappeared. He left behind his medals (1914 - 15 Star, British and Victory), his Princess Mary's Christmas box, discharge certificate, character certificate, soldier's small book, Silver War Badge, a few items from his uniform and three pictures of himself in uniform.
From my mother I know he was born on 27th April 1893 at 10 Grape Street, Keighley, Yorkshire the son of a stoker at a gas works. His mother and father both died when he was a child and so he was sent to the local workhouse. When he reached working age (12 or 13) his married sister, Mary Harvey, who lived at 12 Union Street, Rawtenstall, Lancashire took him out of the workhouse. In 1914, when war broke out, he was still living with his sister and was working in Rawtenstall as a dyers' labourer at a felt works known locally as Dick O' Debbs. After his death very little was known of his war service. My mother remembered that he spoke of Ypres and once got into trouble for tearing up his horse's blanket to clean something. My uncle remembers that he spoke of sailing to Salonika and that he had a horse called Nelly. When he used to visit us he made friends with one of my mother's friends and used to see her often. She remembers that he spoke of the war but all she can now remember is that he said "...when the infantry went over the top, the ones that came back were shot...", and it was something that he could never forget.