6 June 2010

Rapscallion

My grandfather, Wilfred aged eighteen/ nineteen
Regular visitors to this humble everyday blog may recall how I referred to my maternal blood grandfather as a "rapscallion". At least that is how "The News of the World" described him in a letter to my grandmother - the wife he abandoned around 1929, leaving her to raise two small children in an era when married couples tended to stick together through thick and thin.

Well I came across another letter. This was written to my mother in 1996 by her cousin Ralph. He refers to my real grandfather who I now realise was called Wilfred Henry Jackson. How the name "Albert" ever got in my head I'll never know. Anyways, it seems that Ralph maintained a distant relationship with his Uncle Wilfred through the passing of years...

"I have been watching those programmes on the TV dealing with the eighty year anniversary of of the Battle of the Somme. This brought back memories of the two photographs on the mantelpiece of your dad, Uncle Wilfred and Uncle Sidney in their army uniforms.

My granddad, your Uncle George, used to tell me who they were and how your dad won the Military Medal on the Somme. When you think of all the men killed in the 14/18 war, I think the family must have been very lucky to have two sons return home.

If you remember the last time I saw you I told you how Joan (wife) and I found your dad from his last known address. He was very, very pleased to see us and he proudly showed us his invitation to the Somme veterans reunion dinner. Anyway Doreen, I just thought I would let you know we were thinking of you.

We must see each other again in the not too distant future.

Love, Cousin Ralph xx"

To my knowledge, Mum never saw her father again in the many years that followed his departure - when she was just a little girl of eight. But seeing him as a young man in the pictures I unearthed today and recognising that he went to hell and back in the Somme, I would like to think that he was more than a mere "rapscallion" and if the departed can access the blogosphere from their after life, I would like to say to Wilfred Henry Jackson - "Hi! I'm Yorkshire Pudding, one of the grandchildren you never met. What are you having to drink?"
Great Uncle Sydney's wedding to the seated Nellie (1919?). Wilfred was the best
man standing on the far right.

5 comments:

  1. The photos you have put on your blog and the letter you found are items to be treasured. I commend you for making a record of family for your own children. I wish there were more of that sort of stuff in our own family.

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  2. Elizabeth11:33 am

    I think for a lot of soldiers it was terribly difficult to take up the reigns of family life again ... x

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  3. ELIZABETH You know...I was thinking that myself. It wasn't just trenchfoot, lost limbs, blindness, shell-shock, some men's hearts were broken forever. To move from mud and blood and screaming shells in a hellish battlefield to wage packets and babies in cots, horsehair sofas and Hovis must have been a transition that some returning soldiers were unable to make. Perhaps Wilfred was one of those so he may not have been a "rapscallion" after all but a man who was simply struggling to readjust.
    RHYMIE Thank you sir. If I might be so bold it was partly your own family blogposts and pictures that made me feel it would be okay to use this precious family material in my own blog.

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  4. I think I might also post some family photos and stories on my blog in due course.

    You have hit on the most frustrating part of family history. It is straightforward to find out 'who' and with a little digging you can add the 'when' and 'where'. The W we will probably never know is the 'why'.

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  5. How nice to get a different view of someone generally regarded as a 'black sheep'. It just shows that there is good and bad in most people and the appalling conditions and experiences that soldiers went through in the first World War had such a terrible impact on them, many of which just were not recognised or dealt with properly.

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