My father Edwin Baylis didn’t go straight away into the war because of his work. He was in the police force you see, so he wasn’t in the fighting on the Western Front. But I’ve got cards from him from 1917, so he must have been in before that date. I know he was in Egypt and in India. I remember he used to send us lovely presents home – boxes all sewn up with linen – and there were lovely ornaments and things he used to send, some of them made of brass. I’ve kept them and cleaned them so much that they’ve worn really thin now. The ones in the picture here were sent for me. My sisters had vases of different sizes and my brother had two brass elephants.
I remember the day my father came back from the war. It was bonfire night he came home, so we had a big fire and fireworks that night. It was very exciting. We all hurried home from school that day because we knew he was coming, and our next-door neighbour came with us too. We opened the lobby door (our house went into a lobby, and then into the living room). Then we opened the living room door and we all stood in a row. He was sitting in an armchair by the fire. We all looked at him and we turned and ran out again! So then he came and fetched us in, one by one, and talked to us and it was all right.
My father was a very likeable man. He was tall, good looking, and he had a very nice nature. He also had a lovely singing voice and he used to get us all singing round the fire, singing in the evening. He lived till he was 96.