Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. As you are here, here is a bit about me and I hope you’ll stick around to read subsequent ramblings along the way.
I came to have an interest in the Great War in much the same way as a lot of other people; it evolved from a general interest in history and a few family tales. The family stories were more to do with the Second World War, my parents having been children of the London Blitz. Curiosity and reading about those times led to retracing a backwards path and it was only after I had started visiting First World War battlefields in France and Flanders that I discovered a family connection. But then, having relatives who fought in the Great War is not an unusual circumstance. However, even beforehand I had been intrigued by my mum remembering her father’s dislike of Germany prior to the outbreak of WW2.
My maternal grandfather was the third youngest (born in 1900) of nine siblings and had three brothers that served in the Great War, plus the oldest male sibling for whom I have not been able to trace any military service. Two brothers survived the war, one of whom was was wounded and awarded a Silver War Badge. The third was killed in the Ypres Salient on 1st October 1917. Hence Grandad E’s antipathy towards Germany, which kicked in when a second war beckoned. More of that another time.
In 2000, as a mature student, I graduated from the Open University, BA (Hons) Upper Second (I don’t get to say that too often!) and it was in my final year of study that I really got interested in the Great War. My final module was called War, Peace and Social Change: Europe 1900-1955. As a consequence, I made my first visit to the old Western Front and have been visiting every year since. I have also made several trips to Turkey for Battle of Gallipoli and Macedonia for Battle of Salonika.
During one of my early visits to Ypres I became friends with an Irishman from Limerick living in London and the stories he told me fired an enthusiasm in the Irish contribution to the Great War. At this time, although my mum was still alive, I did not know about my great uncles. It is a theme often heard amongst people of a certain age that they regret not taking an interest in their family history until it is too late – or too little too late.
Since that first visit my focus has largely been on the Irish participation in the Great War, more of which another time, but of late I have been researching my London born great uncles who served with northern regiments. In 2013 I published a biography of a Great War participant and there will be another publication in 2021. Great time to start a blog, then, eh!
In 2018 I briefly contributed social media posts to the Western Front Association and since just after lockdown in Spring 2020 I have been doing so for the newly formed Great War Group.
I’m not new to blogging because over the past six years I have written over 100 (published on another WordPress site) mostly relating to a war of words I (and many others) have had with several government bodies – my local council and two non—departmental government agencies. Some attritional skirmishing still takes place because the scope for critical scrutiny increases rather than decreases. Nevertheless, lil-ol-me accepted long ago that the forces of government agencies will always win against individuals.
It’s time to move on and push that negativity as far away as possible and start blogging about the Great War. Some people might find the concept strange, of blogging about war as a positive activity, but those who know, know! Yes, there are so many negative epithets that can be applied to the subject, but at the heart of the events of 1914-1918 were ordinary people, most of whom were decent human beings trying to lead their possible best lives in the circumstances. Remembering and recording how their endeavours were so crudely disrupted must be a positive endeavour, in my opinion.
Carole Hope, 2nd November 2020