Born 3 January 1897. Died in World War I
I never knew my uncle Harold. He died maybe twenty years before I was born, but I knew him indirectly from my mother: he had been her favourite brother.
Every 11 November my mother would take me, as a small boy, to the remembrance ceremony at the cenotaph across the town fields from where we lived in Doncaster, Yorkshire. My earliest memory would be from when I was 4 or 5 years old. I was a fidgety kid and it was really difficult for me to stand still and keep quiet for the whole two minutes of the silence. But I remember I really liked the bugle call.
I had no idea at the time why we went to the ceremony, but years later I realised that my mother was still mourning the loss of her brother Harold.
My mother, who was ten years younger than Harold, told me how he would carry her around on his shoulders.
During World War 1 three older brothers volunteered for duty (one in RAMC, two put into coal mining which was designated an essential service).
When Harold became old enough to serve, he volunteered at a local Yorkshire regiment but failed his medical on the basis that being required to wear glasses made him ineligible. Undaunted he took the train to Edinburgh and enlisted in one of the Scottish regiments – they had no proscription on needing spectacles.
The family was obviously proud of him, and the studio photograph of him in regimental dress kit shows it. After training, he was shipped to the Continent and killed.
About the time I emigrated to Canada, my mother and both young sisters went on a holiday to Edinburgh. They climbed up the steep road to the castle and apparently on an impulse my mother asked to see the Book of Remembrance. One sister reported to me that our mother broke down and cried at seeing Harold's name among the dead. This would be about 50 years after he died.
When my mother's effects were being dispersed I volunteered to take the two photographs of Harold which she had saved. By that time the larger one had been taken out of its frame and could have been thrown away. They were all that remained of his existence.