Monday, 16 January 2017

A thank you ......... stories behind the book nu 24 to those that made the book possible

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book, Manchester Remembering 1914-18.*

The will of George Davison, 1918
I am looking again at the will of George Davison which he made in the March of 1918 just four months before his death on the Western Front.

It forms one of the many hitherto unseen documents from the Great War which are featured in the book Manchester Remembering 1914-18.

It is a moving a document no less because we know what awaited him but for me it also has a very personal link with that conflict.

George was born in Manchester and spent most of his life in the city but he was stationed in Woolwich and in the spring of 1918 was living just a few doors down from where I grew up in Well Hall in Eltham.

Not that I will be alone in finding such links.  In the course of writing the book I came across people who had discovered medals, letters and pictures of relatives they knew only as a name and others who could take me to where family members who participated in the war had lived and were buried.

Harold Moss, who died in 1916
And I suppose that is the point about the Great War for while it is now a century and more ago almost all of us will have a direct connection with the conflict.

In my case I can count seven close family members who served of which five of them I remember vividly and one of whom only died in 2001.

The book allowed me to share the memories and stories of many others, some like Bob Jones who could take me to the grave of his grandfather in Southern Cemetery and who died from flu while on leave in 1918 and Ken Fisher who talked of his grandmother whose first husband had been captured.

Along the way I was also privileged to share some very personal items, like the replica Cenotaph belonging to the grandfather of Nicola O’Neil and the diary of Harold Wild who was a conscientious objector.

And then there was the help from people who offered up research as well as their own treasured family items, and here I have to thank amongst others Tricia Leslie who tracked down the house George Davison was billeted in when he made that will and Liz Sykes of the Together Trust who provided a selection of photographs and letters from the Trust’s archives.

But the biggest thank you goes to David Harrop who provided the majority of the original source material and who not only offered up advice and encouragement but went out of his way to find fresh material.

So that is about it.

The first batch of books arrived from the publishers today weeks ahead of the publication date and now the preparations are being made for the book launch on February 18 at Central Ref leaving me only to reflect on what the book has meant to me.

Uppermost was a great respect for the heroism and determination of those who participated coupled with a greater understanding of what my own family will have experienced.

None of them ever spoke of the war and only through reading the letters, memoirs and official documents have I come close to what they encountered.

George Bradford Simpson, 1918
And it was that very personal set of discoveries that led me to include a photograph  of one of my uncles.  He wasn’t born in Manchester and he served in a Highland Regiment but after writing the book I have come to know a little bit more of what he did.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; the will of George Davison, March 1918, from the collection of David Harrop, Harold Moss courtesy of the Together Trust, and George Bradford Simpson, 1918 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

Manchester Remembering 1914-18 by Andrew Simpson ispublished by the History Press in February 2017

Order now from the History Press, or Chorlton Book Shop, 0161 881 6374

*A new book on Manchester and the Great War

No comments:

Post a Comment