Death Do Us Part: A Letter From The Trenches

I read this moving letter, with a moving conclusion, on a FB post for Valentine’s Day. It is taken from the Imperial War Museum.

A letter from the trenches. 1917

Private Albert Ford wrote to his wife, Edith, on a scrap piece of paper before going ‘over the top’.

“My darling if this should ever reach you it will be a sure sign that I am gone under and what will become of you and the chicks I do not know but there is one above that will see to you and not let you starve,” he wrote.

“You have been the best of wives and I loved you deeply, how much you will never know.

“Dear heart, do think sometimes of me in the future when your grief has worn a bit, and the older children, I know won’t forget me, and speak sometimes of me to the younger ones…

“Dearest, if the chance should come your way for you are young and good looking and should a good man give you an offer it would please me to think you would take it, not to grieve too much for me…

“I should not have left you thus bringing suffering and poverty on a loving wife and children for which in time I hope you will forgive me.

“So dear heart I will bid you all farewell hoping to meet you in the time to come if there is a hereafter. Know that my last thoughts were of you in the dugout or on the fire step my thoughts went out to you, the only one I ever loved, the one that made a man of me.”

Albert was killed in action on 26 October 1917. His last letter was treasured by Edith until her death. She never remarried and as she lay dying in February 1956 she said she could see Albert in the corner of her bedroom.

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However Slight

From my poetry blog

Coronets For Ghosts

However Slight

however slight

the unconvincing smile;

frozen lilt of a tongue

and an Irish grave

turn away

tomorrow’s spoilers

for today’s surprises

I wake; you sleep,

there is a bite

to the breeze

stirring broken glass,

however slight

©AndrewJamesMurray

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To Dolores, From Limerick, With Love

I can’t believe it’s a year since I posted about the sudden death of Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries. This first anniversary was marked today by the release of the song All Over Now, which comes from the album In The End, an album for which Dolores had recorded final demo-stage vocals for. The three surviving band members honoured Dolores with the finishing of the album, confirming it will be the group’s final one.

Another honouring was this video that I found online. Dolores was from Limerick, in Ireland, and Limerick artists of every genre came together to record a version of the Cranberries song When You’re Gone. It’s a diverse and moving tribute from her fellow hometown musicians.

The sofa features in the video as a reference to one that appeared on several Cranberries’ album covers.

I decided to also include the original Cranberries video at the bottom of the post, the initial inspiration. It was played at the end of the singer’s funeral last year.

R.I.P Dolores.

In Greece; Forever England

Since City Jackdaw has been flying, I think I’ve probably made a Remebrance Sunday post every year. Except yesterday.

As usual we spent the day, which coincided with the Armistice Centennial, by visiting the memorial on which the names of past family members are listed. It’s this personal connection that gives context to the wider impact of that war.

As I didn’t post yesterday, I will share this photograph today: it’s from when I visited the grave of my Gt Grandfather, Timothy O’Sullivan, in 2007, ninety years to the day since he died. He is buried in Thessaloniki. A plot that is forever England.

R.I.P

Blue Sunday

I took my lad to watch Manchester City today. Talk about a lucky mascot: the last time I took him we won 7-2. Today’s result was a 6-1 win. I think I will hire him out.

Before the kick off both sets of players and supporters honoured the life of the Leicester owner tragically killed with four others in the recent helicopter crash. Some things transcend football.

Cemetery Of The Forgotten

This is the time of year when the act of remembering seems to take precedent, whatever your persuasion. From a pagan perspective there was Halloween/Samhain yesterday. For those of a Christian mind today is All Saints Day, followed by tomorrow’s All Souls Day. Even if you don’t wear either of these labels, Remembrance Sunday is also almost upon us.

Maybe it’s when we see see the seasonal decay of the world around us, combined with the shortened hours of daylight, that we instinctively turn inward, thinking about our own mortality and of the roots from which we have sprung.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Yesterday, my daughter and I visited an old cemetery in Harpurhey, Manchester. It’s one of those old cemeteries where it seems burials no longer take place, and to see flowers placed upon a grave is a rare thing indeed.

It’s a cemetery of the forgotten, a cemetery where the dead who reside there have nobody left in the world who can enshrine them in remembrance.

There, among the mouldering rows was a particular grave that we were seeking out. A grave that held the remains of ten people that had connections to us both. Ancestors of four generations.

I remember the first time that I stood on this spot with my father. I asked him who the John Murray was that was listed on the headstone, curious as this man was the one who shared my surname and went the furthest back in time.

“I’m not sure,” my Dad replied. “I think he was an uncle of your Granddad’s.”

Once I began my family history research I soon discovered that this man was actually my Dad’s grandfather.

How easily things become forgotten. Lost.

Not long after that day I began my search, born of curiosity and an undefinable sense of belonging. Of the ten people listed on that headstone, three of them I had known in life. Seven, (possibly eight), I now have photographs of.

Mindful of both the responsibility I have acquired and of the passing years, yesterday I brought my eleven year old daughter with me to Harpurhey. The next generation. To her I will eventually pass the baton.


I have since learnt the stories of each of my listed ancestors, of the lives, struggles and triumphs unheralded by these simple dates and names.

Their stories I have recorded, and tell to my children.  In this way I keep these people alive.

In regard to my blog, these stories are for another time. For now, I list the people here.
May they be forever remembered.
Charles Hewitt 1847-1884

Amelia Hewitt (née Wolfenden) 1847-1901

John Murray 1862-1926

Kate Amelia Murray 1903-1926

Frank Murray 1912-1928

Kate Ann Murray (née Hewitt) 1872-1939

Frank Murray 1950-1954

Millicent Murray 1899-1989

Margaret Murray 1914-1990

Fred Murray 1915-1992