‘The brav­ery and sac­ri­fice is stag­ger­ing’

TV pre­sen­ter and his­to­rian Dan Snow shares his fam­ily con­nec­tion to the Great War.

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - 60 -

As a mil­i­tary his­to­rian, I’ve spent a lot of time re­search­ing the First World War with­out think­ing too much about my own fam­ily’s in­volve­ment. How­ever, my great grand­fa­ther, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Sir Thomas D’oyly Snow, played a vi­tal role in the war, lead­ing the 4th Divi­sion in the re­treat of Au­gust 1914 and com­mand­ing VII Corps on the first day on the Somme and at the Bat­tle of Cam­brai in Novem­ber 1917. He had a very dif­fi­cult time and lost many men. Like many of his fel­low sol­diers, he came home from war se­verely in­jured. He sus­tained a cracked pelvis af­ter his horse fell on him and spent much of his life in a wheel­chair as a re­sult. My work as an am­bas­sador for SSAFA, the Armed Forces char­ity, has made me re­ally con­sider the im­pact of war, not only on those fight­ing, but also for the fam­i­lies they leave be­hind. The char­ity was called upon at the out­break of the First World War to take care of the fam­i­lies of sol­diers who were serv­ing, and it con­tin­ues to pro­vide vi­tal sup­port to serv­ing and vet­eran fam­i­lies to­day. As a fa­ther my­self, learn­ing my own fam­ily’s his­tory has made me re­alise just how dif­fi­cult it must have been for Thomas to leave my great grand­mother, Char­lotte, and three chil­dren at home, and how hard she must have worked to hold the fam­ily to­gether. When he re­turned, she then had to cope with the af­ter­math; a hus­band who was phys­i­cally dis­abled, no doubt changed ir­re­versibly by the trauma of what he had wit­nessed. If there is any con­so­la­tion for my fam­ily, it’s that Thomas made it home from the Somme. Many men un­der his com­mand did not. The brav­ery and sac­ri­fice of my great grand­fa­ther and his men is stag­ger­ing. Even now, 100 years on, this is some­thing we should never for­get. ◆ To find out more about how you can fundraise, vol­un­teer or sup­port SSAFA, visit ssafa.org.uk/ world-war-100

Men in the trenches showed in­cred­i­ble brav­ery

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