As a boy I was raised on stories of my gradfathers exploits during the Great War of 1914/18. He would sit and talk to me for hours in the front room of our little house at 17/16th Avenue, North Hull Estate and I could never get enough. When my grandmother went to the shops I would take the chance to get him alone, I would lay on the settee and he would tell me tales of his mates and what he saw and did, when my grandmother returned home laiden with bags of shopping it would be dark and no lights had been turned on, I would be still in postition on the settee and he was still holding court. "Right that's enough" she would say, the lights were turned on and the session ended. But I knew there would be other oportunities in the future and I looked forward to them.
He died in Hull Royal Infirmary in 1968 and, like so many others, left no written record of his time as a soldier, he was just glad to have survived and I recall him telling me how he gave his medals to the kids to play with in the 1920s. In the 1980s I decided to look into this area of his life but all I had to go on was my own memories of our conversations years before and what my grandmother, who was still alive at that time, could recall. She knew he was in the 11th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment and had been wounded at a place called Oppy Wood in 1917. None of this meant anything to me at the time so I wrote away to the Army Records Office which was at Droitwich at that time. His record was found because of his unusual sur-name of Weasenham and after a few weeks I received an A4 sheet with only dates on it and I could not figure out what these meant, it was this bare outline of his service that was to launch me into a career as a military/social historian.
I eventually found that my grandfather had served in the Tradesman's Battalion of the Hull Pals (2nd Hull), later to be the 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, though I never heard him refer to his unit as the Pals. When I looked at their history the dates on the A4 sheet made sense and I began a long and exciting journey that is still going on today.
© 2015 Barrie Barnes