Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919, on the first anniversary of the Armistice. Even then, who believed that it would 'end all wars'?
During the 'First War' (as it is known in my family), some of my great uncles were at school. Their eldest brother was in battle in France, and the next eldest, my grandfather, was working on the land. My great uncles attended various village schools in rural Lincolnshire. My family still has some of their school books, which is where these illustrations originate. I think they are special and possibly unique.
|Hedley , 4th August 1915|
All my great uncles and the family before them worked on the land as largely unskilled farm labourers. None of them had the opportunity for higher education or to develop their artistic skills.
The artisitic endeavours must have been 'set pieces' for school because many of the same subjects appear over the years in these three great uncles' notebooks. Even so, they are beautiful:
|Jack 19th November 1915|
I think that Percy's were the most beautiful drawings, and it his notebooks I have the most of. He was the eldest of the four brothers still at school (I have no notebooks of the youngest Stanely, who would have been barely at primary school when the War broke out). Percy would have been 12 or 13, a most impressionable age, in the early years of the War. Here are his doodles:
|Percy , from the 1914 notebook, his mark 10/10 and VG (very good?)|
|Percy 1914 notebook|
I can picture him, squashed into his school desk, licking his pencil stub and agonising over the scale and straight-edge. Not so different to the doodles I remember school chums doing 50 years later, with the addition perhaps of Batman and rockets.
In the small parish churches of rural Lincolnshire the Honour Rolls of the fallen often show three, four or more men lost on the battlefields in France and Belgium bearing the same family name: brothers and cousins and uncles and fathers. It is hard for us here in the bright shiny future to imagine their loss and sacrifice, the denuded farms, the plundered families. So many names.
|Percy, aged 12 years, chalk on paper, 1914|