November 11, 1918 – the armistice that ended the fighting of World War I (WWI). Ceasefire effective at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. 100 years ago . . .
This morning I read an account of how the “Unknown Warrior” came about in England. On November 11, 1920 a chosen unidentified soldier was taken to Westminster Abbey. The next year 1921, another was taken to the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
My grandfather, Mark Hedger (my Papa) fought in WWI. As a child I was told stories, many of which spurred my interest in genealogy and my family tree. Recently I discovered his military record. As often happens with family stories, I had a little trepidation as to what I would read. Happily enough, it was pretty on point.
When my Papa finished school, he won a scholarship to a Church of England seminary to become a minister. Unfortunately, because his father could not afford to help him pay for his supplies and clothing he could not go. Instead he trained as a leather-makers apprentice. In 1917 this became a useful skill as he entered the Army. At first with the cavalry, working on the saddles and bridles. When they stopped using the horses he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corp. where he worked on the planes, repairing the biplanes with piano wire.
My Papa died when I was very young, so I have few memories of him. But what I do have are of a quiet and gentle man. He ran a sweet shop, and wasn’t that a profession to constantly see a smile on a child’s face.
Last week I was spending a rainy fall afternoon sitting on the couch knitting and looking for something to watch. I ran across a YouTube video “Tell Them of Us: The Knitters.” The women in the video were sharing their experiences making period costumes for the production “Tell Them of Us”. They knitted some beautiful old patterns, and it had been such a wonderful experience for them. It peaked my interest in seeing the costumes in action. I found the production was a series on YouTube. To be honest at first I found it a little “local theater” like. But I was interested in the story, so continued to watch. I then realized that the style of acting was more to reality of the time and the story. These are the memories of a Lincolnshire family with two boys off to war.
Right now, there are parts 1-6 uploaded. They chose to wait for part 7 to air on November 11th, the 100th anniversary. They even asked viewers what we would like – to see part of the episode now, and the rest then, or all of it then. The consensus was exactly the way I felt, let’s wait. We know that William Crowder lives as it is his story, and there is even a video of his grandson talking about him. I wanted to write about this in hopes that more people will watch the series and get a real look at what it was like then.
My mother was born in England in 1926. She lived through World War II, and I know a lot of her stories. We watch other’s stories being brought to life by film makers. But for some reason a lesson cannot be learned, as the fighting still continues . . .
(My mother in 1944)