You might recall that one of my interests is genealogy and researching my family tree. I shared the mystery regarding my maternal grandmother’s family. I will now share a tragedy that took place in my paternal line.
My grandfather’s brother served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during WW1, serving some time in Egypt. Within his line of duty, he treated casualties from both sides. It is difficult to comprehend the atrocities he would have encountered and been forced to deal with on a daily basis. He became friends with one of his German patients, who out of gratitude gave him his field binoculars.
During WW2 whilst carrying out his duties as a member of the home guard he was shot in the face with blanks which blinded him for a time. In 1942 he shot his wife before shooting himself; my aunt still remembers the day the news came to the rest of the family. There was an inquest which concluded that his being shot in the face had caused blood clots which led to the actions he took.
Unlike his brother, my grandfather didn’t serve in WW1 although he did try to join the Navy on two occasions. On the first occasion he did join up and received the ‘King’s shilling’ only to be told by his mother to take it back. The second time he tried to join up his boss persuaded him against it. He was in a reserved occupation and therefore not obliged to sign up and take part in the conflict.
Some years ago the German field binoculars were passed on to me along with a pair of my grandfather’s binoculars. The binoculars that belonged to my great uncle are a poignant reminder of the futility of war and the consequences of power and greed but most importantly they remind me of man’s humanity to his fellow men.
When I went to get the binoculars out of the cupboard to take the photograph to go with this post I got both pairs of binoculars out and it was only then that I realised that the second pair were English Army issue from WW1 and that they must have belonged to my great uncle before my grandfather.