Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Wartime Britain.


 

After finding out that my new novel is set before and during the Great War, I received a (quite heavy) parcel in the post from my cousin. (Thanks Brian!)

 It sounds wrong to say I was delighted, considering the circumstances, however, I certainly was very proud when I opened the box and found this bronze memorial plaque (pictured). Over a million of these were issued after World War 1, to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire servicemen who were killed as a result of the war.

 This particular plaque, also called  'Dead Man's Penny' because of the similarity - although a lot bigger - to the penny coin, was presented to my nan after the death of her younger brother, Michael Hughes, who was killed when his Royal Naval ship Anchusa was blown up off the coast of Ireland, just four months before the end of the war. What is also sad is that Michael died with his brother, James, who was also serving on the ship - so a double blow for nan when James' wife informed her.

I can only imagine the sorrow, and the pride, she felt when she saw their names carved in bronze surrounded by the words; 'He died for freedom and honour'... So touching.

 Still on the wartime theme, I have also been reading a lot - lovely!

 Especially books about the Home Front and the years immediately after WW2.

The post war years, and the tribulations of women in those austere days, fascinate me. The war years were certainly hard, and dangerous, but so too the immediate aftermath, methinks. Rationing was a continuing problem, people still had to make do and mend, because everything was needed for the export drive. Finding accommodation was dire, because so many homes had been destroyed or damaged.

 Newly-married couples had nowhere to go except Ma's front room. (My own parents lived in a neighbours parlour until they could find a house, and that was in the fifties - some time after the end of the war!) Even the well-to-do were feeling the pinch, with high taxation and huge crumbling houses in need of repair after six long years of conflict. Not to mention the homecoming of the troops, when both men and women had changed so much.

Must dash, I feel a story coming on...

Toodle-oo for now

Sheila :)