Friday, June 29

Ephemeral That Makes Up A Life And Is Easy Forgotten

Sketch or drawing of 1914 World War I

I was remembering my mother this week as her birthday was on June 23rd. I have a case of documents that my mum collected, things that were important to her. Just bits of papers, ephemeral and worthless to anyone else. But many told a story.

The drawing 'Lest We Forget' above was by a friend of hers back in 1932 and 'we' did forget. Below is a letter from The War Organisation informing my mum's sister, Ella, that her fiancé was presumed to have been killed in action in the 1939-45 war. There was no counselling back then. You received a letter and got on with your life. For Ella this meant never having another boyfriend or marriage.

Some of the scans of the documents aren't too clear because of their age but, if interested, click on any photo for larger versions.

Letter from War Office showing presumed killed in action from World War II

My mother's brother was perhaps lucky, as the letter below shows, he didn't have to go to war. He had employment necessary to the 'war effort'.

Letter of deferment of active duty for World War II

If we travel back to before the two world wars life wasn't easy. Many children died young or were still born. The next document is relevant to one of the children my grandmother lost - a 'still born male child'. Having a wonderful, healthy young grandson I find this quite heartbreaking.

Death of a still born child from 1912

But my grandmother was strong in spirit and she lived to nearly 104. On her one hundredth birthday she had a telegram from Queen Elizabeth II. I remember she was quite disappointed in what she received. I think she thought the Queen could have put a bit more effort into it!

100th birthday telegram from Queen Elizabeth II

My grandmother's husband died way before I was born and all my mum got as notification was a telegram. Back then, of course, there weren't many phones and a telegram was the quickest alternative communication.

Telegram from 1940

Amongst the literally hundreds of letters, receipts, death certificates and so on I noticed the following National Savings card belonging to my grandmother from the 1920s. The symbol they used at the time was the Swastika. People wouldn't have realised back then what significance the symbol would have in later years.

Swastika on National Savings Card from 1920s

Looking back through all of the bits and pieces it makes me appreciate how very lucky we are today in comparison. We have much to be thankful for, despite what we see and read in the media.

Further Reading:
Hitler And His Divining Rod For Dark Forces
67 Years After The D-Day Landings They Meet By Coincidence
The World War 2 Fractured Skull Coincidence

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  1. I sense sadness in your post today. I'm lucky my parents are both with me. Interesting images Mike and I agree that we have much to be thankful for. We always want more though, don't we?

    1. Thanks Suzie. As the years tick by I still miss my mum and dad.

  2. Fascinating foray through your family's pasts, Mike. My parents are both gone and 7 years ago, 12 years ago. I still miss them.

    1. I think I'll always miss my parents.

  3. Were people stronger back then? Seems so as they had much tougher lives.

    Now so many have "syndrome's" from war but back then people were just surviving. You didn't have time to grieve with the great depression in the States and WWI and then WWII.

    My grandmother seemed like such a hard, no nonsense woman. I wondered why she was so tough when I was a child. Come to find out, she had husbands and her own children die when she was young. It wasn't out of the ordinary to lose young children in those days.

    This makes me wonder what chemical in the brain tuns off the grieving or depression? If researchers studied people from era's gone by, they might be able to pinpoint what took place in the brains of early generations that kept people functioning.

    Like the OP said, there was no counselling, you just moved on.

    Scott McMan

  4. I really enjoy history. Miss my parents dearly.
    I was thinking, maybe HRH could have signed with a large "Q", or maybe not?