Local poet Lady Wise discovered photographs and medals from my late grandfather who served in World War One at the age of 14 in the attic
She tells the story of her ‘Papa hero’ in a poem entitled ‘A Box of High Life’.
Where did I find this new found mystery treasure as I was tidying up one weekend at my leisure? An old cigar box made from silk-smooth plywood adorned with a delicate fleur-de-lis brass hook.
The box and its contents had been fast asleep in the dark for at least fifty years untouched by a light spark. Nestled gently within a box within a box within a yellow ochre coloured suitcase. My late grandfather’s memories and medals had assuredly been entangled in a dry, safe place.
Torrential rain was falling outside and visibility was close to zero. Perhaps conditions similar to those experienced during both world wars by my ‘Papa hero’. As he had trudged and endured unimaginable challenging complications. Known only to him on his soul journey of adventure with trepidation.
As rain and hail poured down on the attic roof with an incessant rhythmic drip. It felt like I was opening a Pandora’s box about one gentleman’s British Army trip I never planned to stay long up there. Somehow time stood still and I had the situation covered. It was time to look inside this box at the treasure trove of medals newly discovered.
In celebration of one hundred years of toil, heroism and freedom I was touching medals received in honour of fighting for one’s kingdom. The history of these delicate, colourful ribbons attached to silver discs for victories earned and battle scars amidst comrades in arms so dearly missed.
“Fall In” – answer now in your country’s hour of need’ was the plea for wartime volunteers. In 1914, this small, professional soldiery accepted both underage and overage men regardless of their years.
If you exist, then please enlist and get on to the team. The British Army needs you to raise this nation’s self-esteem.
At the innocent age of fourteen having lied about his age, my Papa had voluntarily enlisted out of duty and care. In France and Belgium he had been trained on the prevailing conditions of trench warfare.Among the growing mass citizen army detailed attack practice was carried out in both small and large formations. Tactics and technologies of the war were very quickly developed which were seen as necessary innovations.
My Papa had always smoked his pipe using Condor Ready Rubbed. With scars of old war memories forever mindful like a bathtub after being constantly scrubbed. I often watched him take out his tobacco from the cellophane pouch and pack it into his well-worn pipe before striking it alight. And puff, puff, puffing it contentedly with an expression of putting the world to right.
Each time I visited my Papa at his home he hugged me in a warm embrace. Walked me in silence up the thirteen stairs to his attic office with a stern face. We sat down at his wooden desk as he faithfully and quietly reached for a tin. To show me his carefully preserved World War 1 digestive ration biscuit therein.
I would fondly gaze into my Papa’s eyes and often held the ‘concrete’ biscuit in my hand. Forever grateful that he’d survived two World Wars that I would never truly understand. Now it is time for us to know that in the remembrance comes the light. And the awareness of the test of energy between darkness and light without the need to fight.
In this important time of planetary shift we are headed for peace on earth. For those now being born they know this is ‘a given’ from birth. Deep in your sacred heart you too know that the light quotient is winning. Finally, we are destined on planet earth for a peace-filled new beginning.
While I am unable to give a personal account of the course of my Papa’s events. I do know that the trauma and pain of war no longer make for common sense. Sharing our wisdom and living in peace, let’s bring countries together in celebration. With the expectation that warring will cease, we could form an Alliance of Nations?
By Lady Wise