A Family at War


Richard Sawtell


August 4th 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. Hardly any British family can have escaped some involvement in that trauma and ours is no exception. Seven men and two women from the various branches of the family saw action of different kinds in that war. But their story is scattered about in the family history. I thought it of interest to bring them all together as an example of the contribution made by one family. There were of course many that were more distinguished, won more medals or lost more members. But our story is I guess fairly typical and as such is worth telling.

World War I is rich in memoirs, histories, letters, and diaries. But sadly although between them they must have sent hundreds of letters home nothing has survived. Like all their contemporaries none of them ever wanted to talk of their wartime experiences. All that survives are the bare facts, reminiscences of a few amusing moments, and a family memory or two.

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