Friday, 17 January 2014

Sepia Saturday: Tom's war

 So, it's 100 years since the outbreak of the first world war. This is a picture of my grandfather Tom. I would guess from this he was around 13 years old. He was born in 1899, so this would perhaps have been taken in 1912 or 1913, just before the outbreak of the war.

 
Fortunately for us he would have been too young to be conscripted in the first or second wave but  he was not immune to the wave of jingoistic patriotism that made young boys feel they were cowardly if they did not do their bit. From what I remember of the story he was keen to join up as soon as he could but somehow chose or was guided in the direction of the Navy rather than the Army.. another stroke of good fortune as it turned out. Like a lot of young boys he lied on his application and at the age of 15 or 16 spent two years on board ship as a communications officer. I like to think that somehow it was realised that he was just a child dressed up in uniform and someone tried to make sure that he was assigned  to roles where he was less likely to get killed. That's what I would have done if I had been there.
 
I don't really know how much this experience affected him except that he always loved the sea and  eventually retired to live near Portsmouth. He came back from sea after the war, and although he had known my grandmother as a childhood friend they didn't marry for another 8 years.
 
 



9 comments:

Bob Scotney said...

The 'great' war was to be endured by many boys who lied about their age. Good to see that Tom return from the Navy.

La Nightingail said...

Young boys still lie about their age to try to enlist. Fortunately they have to show proof of age in several different forms now which usually takes care of that.

Deb Gould said...

And another survivor! So glad your grandfather made it through!

Postcardy said...

I had a grandfather that was in the Navy at a young age in the early 1900s. That was before WWI.

ScotSue said...

It is hard now to imagine that such young boys experienced war. Good to hear that her survived the horrors.

luvlinens said...

Glad to hear he made it home well.

Little Nell said...

So many young lads lied about their age to get in the services. My mother’s father did exactly the same. I’m glad Tom survived and that he had an abiding love for the sea thereafter; it could have been so different.

TICKLEBEAR said...

A nice thought to believe someone was watching over him.

Wendy said...

We all owe a lot to those children who lied about their age, and the other children who didn't. Tom and my grandfather were born the same year.