Lest We Forget

Report on our meeting held on 6th November 2017

At their latest meeting, Augustinians were entertained by Clive and Kath Richardson with amazing stories from World War One. Their talk was called, “Lest We Forget”. Here are just some of the stories covered.

In the first story Thomas Hughes wrote a letter to his wife on his way to France, put it in a bottle, and threw it into the sea.  He was killed in action just two weeks later.  The bottle floated around for 85 years until recovered by a fisherman. The press publicized the story and Thomas’s aging daughter Emily living in New Zealand heard the story and collected the letter.

Clive showed one of the brass tins which were sent to all servicemen following an appeal by Princess Mary. The contents of the tins were different for smokers and non-smokers. The contents for Indian soldiers included spices. There was excitement when a parcel of 640 tins never sent was found and was auctioned.  Imagine the disappointment when all were found to be empty. It turns out during the war they were shipped to France before being filled.

There was a lot of anti-German feeling during World War One and this resulted in a lot of name changing. German Shepherd dogs became Alsatians, German Measles became the Belgian Flush, and even the royal family changed their name from Saxe Coburg (from Prince Albert) to Windsor.

Animals from horses to pigeons played a big part in the war. Clive and Kath’s stories included brave pigeon Cher Ami, and a dog with no tail called Stubby who after the war was promoted to sergeant. Parrots were stationed at the Eifel Tower as they could hear approaching aircraft before the spotters could.

At the beginning of the war all were keen to enlist.  One 9 year old boy wrote a pleading letter to Lord Kitchener claiming to be very good with a revolver. Sidney Lewis was just twelve when he managed to enlist. His mother complained and he was returned from the front.  Later, when the horrors of war became all too apparent, people tried to avoid conscription by claiming to have jobs important to the war effort. A tripe dresser and a bathing hut renter tried but failed to pass this test.

People were relieved when their love ones returned safely home. The Calpin family was lucky.  All ten sons returned. Locally, Catwick is a “doubly thankful” village. All who left for World Wars One and Two returned home.

The Prior Bro Garry Sunley asked Bro Rick Hudson to give the vote of thanks.  Bro Rick thanked the speakers for telling such a range stories from the personal to the amazing in such an entertaining way.