All our yesterdays. An indulgence.

Firstly, apologies for the rant. I am working my way through the problems. It is amazing how a company can do an about-turn when they discover you know their chairman.

Secondly, for those who justifiably don’t want to read my family musings, here is todays image up front. Gaze, admire and exit if you feel so inclined.

Across the divide

Or perhaps I should call this “A BigMac solves all”. This was taken on the promenade in the local town.

Now, my indulgence if you will permit. I mentioned in passing a while ago that I had a pencil written letter from my grandfather to my father. I expressed an intent to transcribe it. Quite unusually for me I have done so. Here is what it says:

William Diamond Ward

Cardiff

Good Friday

My dear boy,

After the writing on the outside I’m sure you will be surprised & delighted to see mine on the inside. The fact that I am able to sit up & write you is ample proof to you that I am getting better. I feel much better too which is what counts although I can feel my legs getting weaker and my voice to some extent but that of course will come back when I am able to get about again. I asked Sister to allow me to get out just to go to the lav but she won’t even allow that yet. I, of course, won’t force the issue. I’m afraid it may be quite a while before I start work again and as to whether ladder work is safe for me I don’t know. I shall ask the Dr before I go out and do exactly what he advises. I suppose I’ll get a living somehow without risking my life to do it, it’ll be a bit unfortunate after all my expenditure etc but by what I can hear of it I’m lucky to be here at all, it touches me very much to learn how concerned about me. I didn’t know we had so many friends.  I see the screens are going to the beds at long intervals so I suppose I’ll get mine in due course. Thank you very much for your letter received this morning. I found it very interesting indeed. Thank you also for the one received earlier in the week. I don’t suppose I’ll be lucky enough to be home when you come next week. I may be home before you go back. I am not getting any medicine whatsoever here but they have used a thing for blood pressure and tell me that that condition is improving. Also they are using a queer looking affair, which I understand takes a photo of the blood stream also the oscillations. I’ll explain if I can when I see you, all the things Pendse barred me from eating they are giving me and they tell me the albumen is getting less which is the main thing. I could write more but dinner seems to be on the way & I want this to be ready for your Mother to have when she comes after dinner. I’m lucky to be here in a way over the holidays as we are allowed to have visitors on Good Friday & Easter Monday, which helps the time along. Will close now with my fondest love.

Yours affectionately,

Dad

PS will perhaps write next week.

And immediately, another family ‘document’:

Funeral notice. Grandad H.

I learn that my grandfather was hospitalized for 9 months during WW1. I believe his later and presumably terminal illness was related to kidney damage, possibly from inhaling gas. I also assume that he did not leave hospital as his letter had hoped he would. The fact that the letter has been preserved for so many years leads me to believe that it was his last to my father. Incidentally I do know that Pendse was the local doctor in Llanbradach and was around for many, many years. I even found this from the London gazette:

Dr. Pendse I presume.

My father was on H.M. Submarine Spiteful. The ever useful Wikipedia provides background on the sub. I always understood that my father was sent for at short notice but I do not know whether he arrived home on compassionate leave in time to say goodbye to his father. I always thought my grandfather was 53 when he died but the notice says 52. Well, I have just beaten that by a year or two.

I do know exactly when he was born as I have his birth certificate.

Birth certificate, Grandad H.

It looks in fine condition but is on thin paper and very fragile. 18th February 1894 – 117 going on 118 years ago. When WW1 broke out he would have been 20 and 23 when he was wounded. I knew he was a painter and decorator. Another of his grandchildren followed in his footsteps and my father was a dab hand at wallpapering. I barely know one end of a brush from the other.

I find it remarkable that with his health so poor he was still thinking that he would find a way of earning a living even if he had to give up ladder work. The power of positive thinking. Wounded in 1917, he would have married soon after and my father was born in 1921, almost on my grandfather’s 27th birthday. And then my father went to war as well. So I am the first generation in three not to have served his country. I had an uncle who was a PoW in Italy. Those were bad times. I doubt if my time in the Army Cadet Force qualifies me for call up today although at 14 I could strip a bren gun blindfold, was trained to fire a Lee Enfield and was allowed to throw grenades but only on a range. Roaming the streets of Hereford with live grenades strapped to your belt was very much discouraged. All this has been of limited use to me in my career but may yet come in useful if Occupy Hong Kong turns nasty and they migrate to Sai Kung.

I make light of this but only to deflect the sorrow I feel that my father and his father before him lived through such hard times.

My final thought is the value of a handwritten letter. An e mail from father to son would not survive, I am sure. And I am sure 64 years later there would be no grandson rifling through a hard drive looking for family history as I did our old grey suitcase. Maybe, just maybe you should get out a pen and write to the ones you love.

I hope you will forgive this indulgence.

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3 thoughts on “All our yesterdays. An indulgence.

  1. Great post. Thank you.
    My father also served on HMS Spiteful – & he was very interested to read your post! Do let me know your father’s name & I’ll ask my father if he remembers him.

    • Hi Lily and thank you for your comment. My father was James Symes Hardacre and he was a Petty Officer. He was from South Wales, a little village called Llanbradach. I hope your father remembers him.

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