5 August 2014

100

Dad as a young teacher after service in World War Two
It was on August 5th 1914 that Great Britain woke up to the news that we had declared war upon Germany and its allies. The newspapers were full of it and it was anticipated in many quarters that the war would be over by Christmas. No one anticipated that the western world was about to be plunged into such a dark episode in its history nor that so many young lives would be shattered. It was to be the end of innocence.

And that same day, August 5th 1914, a newly born baby announced himself to the world in the back bedroom of a humble brick house - next to a small dairy in the village of Norton, Yorkshire. It was my father, Philip and soon his own father - also called Philip would be marching off to war with the rest - to fight for king and country, leaving my grandmother Margaret to raise her new child. This is the birthday card that my grandfather sent to his baby son one year later in August 1915:-
On the reverse he wrote - "For little Philip - wishing him many happy returns on his birthday. With love and kisses from his Daddy". Just like my maternal grandfather Wilfred, my dad's father returned from World War One. No names carved on monuments. They survived - albeit changed by the horrors they had witnessed. That's something many people don't appreciate - the majority of men did return, they were not blown apart on the fields of Flanders or the Somme. They came home.

But let me get back to my father - Philip. If he had lived he would have been one hundred years old today but he died in 1979 from a massive heart attack. He was a good man - a pillar of the community in the village where I was born and raised. He could do many things - played cricket and rugby, played the piano, painted pictures and ceilings, gardened, repaired, counselled, encouraged and was headmaster of our village school for twenty five years.

It might seem bizarre but I think of him every day and have done since I last saw him alive in his hospital bed in Hull - thirty five years ago. I still miss him and though I am sure there's no after life, I want to wish my dad a happy hundredth birthday. Many happy returns Dad "with love and kisses" from his third son.
Photo I took of Mum and  Dad back
in 1964 when I was eleven

33 comments:

  1. Thank you, it is a lovely remembrance.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Reamus.

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  2. Yes, lovely. Fancy being born on that day. Happy 100th Dad!

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  3. A very touching post, YP. It's wonderful that you still have that birthday card!
    My grandfather would have been 100 this year in May.
    My grandmother was born in 1915. Her father fought in WWI and survived - until he was shot by a sniper when he was already on his way home in 1918 and the war had actually ended.
    The end of innocence? Was there ever such a thing with humankind?

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    1. A metaphorical innocence - yes. Before television. Before the atomic bomb. Before the internet. Before the cannon ball. Before cities. Before Eve took the apple.
      What an awful tale re. your great grandfather - on his way home after the madness created by politicians, business magnates and leaders.

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  4. I seem to be following Meike from blog to blog this morning and agreeing with her. The only period of history that I have ever had a particular interest in was the age of Nelson and the sea but the campaigns at sea and on land at that time were horrendous too. In fact I seem to recall (for your American readers that about 23,000 soldiers died on one day at Antietam (sp?) and at the battle of Cannae (I always remember that because of the Glasgow saying ' cannae nay do that') between the Carthaginians and the Romans the death toll was Carthaginians 10,000; Romans 50,000. Innocence? Read the Old Testament! Man's inhumanity to man knows no bounds.

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    1. "The end of innocence" is a much-used phrase in relation to World War One. It has been used by historians and writers of fiction and drama. All who use this label are, I assume, very aware of previous warfare and historical loss of life. When we pick away at features of WWI - first use of aircraft in war, mustard gas, media awareness, the legacy of the war poets, trench warfare, psychological legacy, tanks, women in munitions factories we might see the reasons behind this label. Besides, I was writing about my dad.

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    2. I'm sorry YP. I lost sight of the purpose of your post in my general detestation of war and man's inhumanity to man.

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    3. No need to apologise Graham. We are on the same side.

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  5. Nicely observed and re breed YP

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    1. I do so hate the automatic checker.... Re breed should have been observed!

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    2. I will be happy to re-breed John. Just send a minibus load of Trelawnyd maidens over to Sheffield.

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  6. And the terrible shame of it, is that if he had had that heart problem today medical science might well have saved him from such an early death. Such a shame he was too young !

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    1. In this sense I am jealous of you Helen. You have had your parents such a long time - like friends of ours who are in their sixties and yet all four parents are still thriving. It's not easy being an orphan.

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  7. What a lovely tribute to your father YP and a nice thing to remember in place of the memories of WW1. I listened to the moving account if the memorial service from Westminster Abbey this morning on the way yo work and it is difficult to not be moved. Many individual stories. Pop over and read Adullaman's account that he wrote for the Braintree Museum. He has spent many months researching lost soldiers. Adullamite.blogspot.com

    On a different note, my Dad died in 1978 from a heart attack, so I feel your loss for that significant person in your life.

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    1. P.S. love the birthday card and the photo you took at 11

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    2. I am taking your advice and going to Adulamite right now. Thanks for dropping by Carol. We have something significant in common that has affected our lives - we both lost our fathers when they were too young.

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  8. My father died when I was thirty. It didn't seem fair then and it still doesn't; he was a gentle man and a gentleman. How is it the evil sods always seem to go on for ever?
    A moving tribute and written from the heart.

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  9. Wonderful post, YP. I see both your Dad and your Mum in you. The birthday card is a treasure.

    I lost my mother at 16 (she was 47) and my dad at 25 (he was 60), yet I think of them both every day too. Orphans are more plentiful than people imagine.

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    1. Yes Robert, I remember your posts - particularly about your mother. We orphans need to stick together for we are as vulnerable as Oliver Twist. More please!

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  10. I can't imagine not believing in an afterlife. I will be very disappointed if there isn't one. You might think I am nuts but I very often smell my late mother-in-law's perfume when something significant happens in our lives (bloody 'orrible Estee Lauder Youth Dew!). I am sure our loved ones are somewhere nearby. I can't imagine just being "switched off" and then....nothing.

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    1. Sorry Mollykins. It is my firm belief that the only afterlife is in the memories of those we leave behind. Now where can I get some of this "Youth Dew"? I wanna bathe in it so that I will stay young forever and not have to worry about any afterlife.

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    2. The smell of it will probably kill you!

      The spooky thing is, it took us 2 years to sell my mother-in-law's house and on the day of completion, we went to the house for a final check and as soon as I opened the door, the smell of Youth Dew was SO strong it nearly knocked me out. Roger (Roberto) couldn't smell a thing.

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    3. Disturbing - even if it was in your mind, it was, I am sure, just as real as if the whole world could smell it. Instead of the "Youth Dew" bath I think I'll go for ass's milk instead. Do they sell it at Tesco?

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    4. Oh no Molly, this might be me! I love Youth Dew !

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    5. Hi Helsie, I have never liked it - it is so strong and pungent.

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    6. That sounds like a good advertising slogan for perfume - "Strong and pungent...the most favoured aroma for Australian ladies"

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  11. A lovely remembrance post of your father, YP.

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    1. Thank you Jenny. See - you're so lucky - you have still got your dad.

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  12. Hi YP, changing the subject - sorry-, there's a possibility that we may well be in Sheffield centre one day (very) soon - if you fancy meeting us for a coffee/tea, send me a mail and we can check our agendas "in private"! I'll risk putting my email address here and hope your readers don't start spamming me the moment I hit "publish"...
    briansilvia@hotmail.com

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  13. A wonderful, emotive tribute, Yorkie. Thank you. :)

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