Sir, On Christmas Day 1914, my mother, who was 16, received a gift from her father – an autograph album, covered in dark green, soft leather with gilt-edged pages. As she gazed at the bare pages thinking of all the friends who would cover them with poems, jokes and signatures, she never dreamt that her family would look at her album 100 years later.
Her father was a captain in the merchant navy – a dangerous occupation in that terrible war, and her mother, my granny, kept an open house for soldiers of the Northumberland Fusiliers stationed in nearby barracks. There they could relax with a cup of tea and a chat by the cosy fire and, if I am not wrong, a bible reading and a prayer before going back to their bare quarters – I knew my granny!
Many of these young men, boys really, left entries in mum’s album –verses and paintings (not just drawings) showing such great skill and talent, I still marvel at their pictures.
And, here’s the really sad thought, none of those fine young men returned home from the war. What a waste of lives and talents – but they left a little part of themselves in this album. Is it any wonder we treasure it still, 100 years later.
Yours, Joan Jeavons c/o Ruth Thompson Lamlash