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Wednesday 13 February 2008

'Once we were young...'

As I dig around, researching these Lakeland memorials I am sometimes confronted with their purpose in a very immediate way.

Before Christmas I was privileged to receive a couple of communications from the late Canon Gervaise Markham of Morland, near Penrith. During the last war he was a padre with the Eighth Army in North Africa, Italy and Northwest Europe. It was good to receive his encouragement with my endeavours, but comments he made about burying many friends was a salutory reminder of why memorials exist. They are about real people - sons and brothers, fathers & husbands, sisters and daughters.

A couple of years ago I came across this battered postcard tucked away in a box, long forgotten in a damp cellar. It shows a group of Furness & Cartmel Territorials of the 1/4th Bn, Kings Own Royal Lancasters at Denbigh camp in August 1913, just a year before the outbreak of war. Most of these these guys are so young and yet, within a few years, some would be dead, others maimed in body & mind.

The same box produced the photo below. An associated bit of writing describes them as the Furness 'Old' Contemptables at Ulverston Drill Hall on Wednesday September 27, 1978 for a Diamond Jubilee celebration of the events of 1918. A bit of doggerel accompanies it,

No thought of Glory to be won
There was this duty to be done
And they did it
'Bless them All'

The youngest of these men would be about 78. Many wear the '14-15 star, so were probably 1/4 Kings Own men, some wear WW2 medals showing a life of service. One or two may well be on the earlier picture. Such is the stuff of history.

I have no name for any of these old soldiers. Do you?

1 comment:

anthony said...

I'm doing some research into the 1/4th Kings Own between 1908-1919. If you can e-mail me a scan of the old picture, I can see if it's possible to identify any of the men-bit of a long shot but worth a try. It might be that one of them has turned up in one or two pictures I have or later in the local press during the War. If they are from the Barrow area, the men may have been in reserved occupations during the war and been recalled to their civilian occupations not long after the declaration of the war.
Great site by the way-keep up the good work!