Thursday, 19 September 2019

Will Sidney's War - Postcards from the Front

Hello again everyone

If you have followed Will Sidney's WW1 story you will know that he was a bit of a collector of postcards, lots of which he sent to his wartime sweetheart, and later wife, Ethel.

I have tried to include as many of the postcards as I can within the posts that make up Will's overall story, but I still have a fair number that I haven't been able to date. On some Will has written on the back, but nothing that really helps with when they would have been bought or sent, and some it is clear where they are from but not how this necessarily fits into Will's story.

Saying this I still wanted to share them with you as they are still part of Will's WW1 journey, so apologies if they seem a bit randon, but here we go ...

This first group are clearly part of a set, referred to on the back as either 'Regimental Colours', seemingly bought from Boots Cash Chemists ...
... or 'Crests & Colours' designed and printed in Lightcliffe, York ...
Will had six of these postcards and we have no way of knowing where he obtained his collection from ...



These next three postcards are all depicting scenes from Ostende in Belgium. There is no direct mention of Will travelling through Ostend within his diaries, but it is quite possible that he would have done on one of his postings abroad ...


On 28 October 1917 the Battalion war diary states that instructions were received to recall all men from leave, courses etc. On 29 October Will writes, in his own personal war diary, that rumours were going round of the Battalion moving to either Egypt or Salonica. As it happened the battalion ended up moving on to Italy, so I am unsure as to why this postcard would have been in Will's things ...
From a browse of Google it would appear that the tower showing in the postcard is The White Tower of Thessaloniki in Greece, where, during WW1 a large Allied expeditionary force established a base for operations against pro-German Bulgaria.

The next postcard is another from Courtrai, a town in Belgium. The Battle of Courtrai (also known as the Second Battle of Belgium was one of a series of offensives in northern France and southern Belgium that took place in late September and October 1918.

Again there is no mention of Courtrai that I could find in any of Will's diaries and in October 1918 Will was actually in hospital in Turin, so, other than he may have passed through the town at some point and not mentioned it, I can see no explanation as to why Will would have the postcard ...
This next photo is of a statue outside a church somewhere in Belgium, I have been unable to identify any further than that ...
This next postcard appears to have possibly been issued free with a publication of the time, though there is no indicate that this was ever sent ...

From the printing on the reverse it appears that these next two cards were both printed in Germany. I have absolutely no idea how they have made their way into Will's collection ...
Why Will would have had this postcard of Gertie Millar in his collection is unclear ... perhaps he was a fan.

Gertrude "Gertie" Ward, Countess of Dudley (21 February 1879 – 25 April 1952) was an English actress and singer of the early 20th century, known for her performances in Edwardian musical comedies under her maiden name, Gertie Millar.

Beginning her career at age 13, Millar was a prominent star of musical comedies for two decades. She was one of the most prominent West End theatre performers of the early 20th century, starring in such long-running hits as The Toreador (1901), The Orchid (1903) The Spring Chicken (1905), The New Aladdin (1906) The Girls of Gottenberg (1907), Our Miss Gibbs (1909), The Quaker Girl (1910), Gipsy Love (1912), The Dancing Mistress (1912), The Marriage Market (1913) and A Country Girl (1914).
Will makes it quite clear on the reverse of this next postcard that this is where he spent lots of time bathing, though I have trawled through his diary entries, whilst in Italy, and can find no mention of Verona at all ...

This next card appears to be one that Will would have sent to Ethel at some point. I have no idea of when or where from ...

This is the very last postcard in Will's WW1 collection. It is unclear when it was sent, though it is addressed to Mrs WP Sidney, so must have been after they were married in November 1918 ... it appears to be postmarked Sunderland, but I can't decipher the date ...

So that's it then ... the very last of Will's WW1 postcard collection. I do hope you've enjoyed them. I know that I've shared a fair number of cards that Will sent Ethel across the course of my previous posts but I do still have a few left to show you, so hopefully I will be back soon with these 😀

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Monday, 16 September 2019

Will Sidney's War - Images from WW1

Hi there everyone

This post has certainly been a long time coming ... I last wrote about William Preston Sidney in November 2018 ... It was 22 June 1919 and Will had finally been demobilised from the British Army.

Will had certainly paid his dues, having volunteered for the Territorial Force in February 1913, being mobilised in Doncaster on 4 August 1914, serving three postings abroad to France, Belgium and Italy and spending months on end in hospital. There is no doubt though that Will was one of the lucky ones, having made it through such an epic journey where so many others had fallen.

If you are new to Will's story and want to find out more, you can find all of my previous posts, right back from before the start of WW1 here.

I do plan to share what little we know of Will's life after the war, but before I do that I want to share the last bits and pieces that were included with Will's things ... starting with this group of photographs, which I haven't been able to fit within his overall story ...

You can find Will just to the right of middle in this first photograph. He is wearing a white shirt and waistcoast and is holding what appears to be a grooming brush. You can just see a horse behind the group of men. From this I am assuming that that this would have been taken early in the war, when Will was still a Shoeing Smith in the Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons. It could have been taken on Salisbury Plain, whilst Will was waiting for his first posting ... the tents do look very similar to another photo we have that confirms this, by the date on the back, or it could just as easily have been taken during his first posting ...

I think that this second photo would have been taken at around the same time ... again the only clue is that Will would appear to still be acting as a Shoeing Smith ... this time Will is smack bang in the centre, in between the two chaps wearing caps ...
This next picture shoes Will in action actually shoeing a horse ...
It would seem that this photo was sent to his sweetheart, Ethel, as Will has written on the reverse ...
In this next photo we can see from the horseshoe badge on Will's right arm that he was still with the QOYD. He stayed with the Dragoons until January 1917, when he transferred to the 8th Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment ...
Again ... it would seem that this was another photo that was either sent or given to Ethel, with Will's best love ...
These next photos get a little more confusing. I assumed they must have been taken after October 1917 as Will has marked the reverse of one as 'Cpl Sidney' and his diary confirms that he became a Corporal after displaying 'gallantry in the field' in October 1917 ...
The writing on the reverse of this photo made it quite intriguing. I couldn't decide whether Sgt Major Tate was really being awarded the DCM or whether it was a bit of a spoof, as it appears that a feather duster is being held above the shoulder of the chap on the left ...
This next photo is of the same situation but this time you can vaguely see the hand made poster behind, which seems to indicate that the award may have had something to do with Sgt Major Tate's disposition... though sadly I can't read the detail. It's also difficult to say for certain whether Will is in the photo, though he does seem to indicate that he is from what he's written on the back ...
Having seen that Will seems to have referred to himself as 'The Jolliboy' I've had a dig back through some other bits and pieces and found this ...
So ... now everything is crystal clear. These photos must have been taken in September 1918, when Will was in the 29 Stationary Hospital in Italy. You can see the list of 'characters' about half way down includes Sgt Major Harry Tate and Pte Jolliboy ... duly played by our very own Cpl Sidney.

I can't tell you how pleased I was to finally be able to work out what these photos were actually of and when and where they were taken ... mystery solved and Sgt Major Tate was definitely not really being awarded the DMC ... not on this occasion anyway ... and we think that the small chap with the weird hairstyle is definitely our Will.

I have had no such luck with this next picture. Will is definitely on the left, but I can see no clues as to where or when it would have been taken ...
There are just three more war time photos that I have found ... none of them appear to be Will and we have no real way of knowing for sure who any of them are or when they were taken. We do know that two of Will's brothers, Charlie and Herbert were definitely in the army, so two of the men could quite possibly be them ...
Charlie also served with the York & Lancasters, whilst Herbert was in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI).

As well as these photographs I still have a number of cards and postcards to share, before moving on to Will's life after the war. Hopefully I will be able to share these with you soon.

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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Joy in the Everyday Ordinary - September, 1-10

Hi there everyone 😀

Well, it's September ... and that means autumn in my book 🍁🍂🍁🍂

Time to break out the soup maker and the slow cooker, light the candles and get cosy ... or very hyggley.

Time to start filling up the calendar with autumn catch ups before the Christmas season comes and making the most of every dry day trying to do as much in the garden before the weather really turns and we put it to bed for the winter.

Time to look at the goals and objectives that we had at the beginning of the year and to see what we can do to tick a few more off the list before we roll over into a new year, with new goals and objectives.

We've lots happening this month but for now, here's what we've been up to so far ...
Day 1 - The first day of a new month and a new season and we took advantage of being up early and having given the privet its final trim of the year before deciding to head out for the rest of the day to Wightwick Manor, which was a real treat and started me off on a love affair with the very inspirational William Morris 😀
Day 2 - Monday, and Martin's last week at work for a while, and I took a break from my Monday morning chores for a quick walk up to Aldi to see if I could find any autumn hanging basket bits for our urn ... after seeing some that Jackie had bought yesterday. They look a little lacklustre but I am hopeful of breathing new life into them.
Day 3 - I had a walk into town to meet mum for a mooch and made another new purchase for the garden. Having seen so many phlox on all of our summer garden visits I will be really pleased to be able to see it in my own garden.
Day 4 - This came in the post today ... isn't it just fabulous? It's destined to be used to make gift cards and I can't wait to get started.
Day 5 - I had the most fabulous day out with Jackie and Rachel visiting the Emma Bridgewater factory. It's lovely being able to spend some real quality time together ... lots more to come about this trip very soon 😀
Day 6 - I was delighted to save this lot from going to landfill today. I'd been saving them to send off to Terracycle but was really pleased to find a local collection point, which also helps a local primary school raise funds ... definitely a win win!
Day 7 - I went to my local craft group this morning. It's always a lovely morning filled with chat, crafting, a sneaky piece of cake and lots of bits and pieces finding new homes. This morning I came back with a bag full of voile which is destined to be made up into reusable produce bags.
Day 8 - After a very nice breakfast catch up with Jo & Steve, who we haven't seen for far too long, we found this fab buy in a local charity shop, which we just had to buy for a little someone's birthday which is coming up very soon.
Day 9 - It was a wet old Monday and we spent most of the day indoors catching up on chores. We did get to have just a little wander outside though and these asters that I planted from seed in the spring are still looking fabulous ... so colourful.
Day 10 - Today was glorious and we spent pretty much all of it out back doing the last tidy up for a while. The plan had been to empty all of the remaining summer pots but there is still so much colour in some of them that we ended up putting all the best bits into the urn for a fresh burst of colour for just a little longer.

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