Tag Archives: 3000 posts

Post 3,000, and I Love my Job

The header photo is nearly all that remains of a young life. There are a few letters and army forms, but they don’t photograph well. It had barely got going when he volunteered for the army and it wasn’t destined to last long. He went to France in August 1915 and, as far as I can tell, spent the next 26 months there. He wrote a letter to his mother in August 1917. It’s not very interesting, these things seldom are after the passage of 100 years. It’s a letter from a son not wanting to mention anything that would get him censored or upset his mother. It ends with him saying that he is hoping to get home soon because of his toes. It didn’t quite work out like that.

People have often asked me over the years if it concerns me that I’m selling the remains of people’s lives. They often add that it’s a shame they can’t be left with the family or given to a museum.

Medals and Plaque – Great War

In reverse order – don’t give anything to a museum. Unless you have something of national importance it will be dropped into a box or a drawer and never seen again. This isn’t idle speculation, I know of many cases where it has been done. Museums are generally good, and should be encouraged, but they don’t need more stuff.

Left with the family? I know of one case where the recipient wasn’t even cold before the family had his medals down to the local antique shop. And where do people think the medals all come from? The family sells them. Sometimes recipients sell medals – they don’t necessarily represent the same thing to the recipient that they do to a collector. We bought these off the family. However, when you think about it, you would have to be over 106 to have known this man. When families sell us medals they are often two or three generations away and sometimes don’t even know where in the family the medals have come from.

And three, no, I don’t have a problem with it. I have given L/Cpl Louis Thornley a good write-up on eBay and have done something the army couldn’t do for him – I’ve spelt his name correctly. The army had him as Lewis Thornbey on their medal index cards, and they named his medals incorrectly. This is an echo of what happened to my great-grandfather – not only did they name his medals incorrectly but when they sent his widow the (correctly) named memorial scroll they spelt her name wrong on the address label.

On top of that, I have taken his documents and medals out of a tin where they have clearly been for many years and I have brought his story into the open. They will go to a collector who will value them for the sacrifice that Louis Thornley made, and who will bring his story back to life.

It’s something I’m able to do regularly at work, after family members have forgotten all about them. It’s not their fault, it’s just that time passes and life moves on. It’s a privilege to be able to ensure that people aren’t forgotten.

Louis Thornley’s Plaque and Scroll

On 12th October 1917 Louis Thornley, who had been with his unit through six major actions, lined up in the driving rain and muddy terrain on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.

It’s a battle that has become synonymous with the mud and slaughter picture of the Great War, and when it was finished the Allies had lost over 300,000 men, 42,000 of them have no known grave. Louis Thornley, who is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, is one of them.

Two week’s later, Mr and Mrs Thornley received an Army Form B 104, telling them that their son had been killed in action on the 12th. According to the Derby Evening Telegraph in January 1940, when they were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary, they had four sons who served in the war, the other three surviving.

Poppies in wheat field

Just Eight Posts Left

That’s right, I just have eight posts to go before my 3,000th. Or, as I’m writing this, I should, more accurately, say seven to go. It’s like the “sleeps” system of counting down to Christmas. Or even counting down to a Coronation. It is currently 11.00pm on Friday, so to say there is a day until the Coronation is not really true, or helpful. However, it is just one sleep until the Coronation. and though it stillĀ  isn’t very precise, it is accurate.

The other thing about posts is that anything can be a post. Even a single picture can be a post. I suppose a single word could be a post if I wanted. I know that a single line can be a poem, it’s called a monostich. I bought a book of monostich poems for my Kindle. They are very short and almost entirely rubbish. What was I thinking of? At the time, in a fit of enthusiasm after reading an article, I was thinking that one disjointed line could be a poem. I’m now not sure that, in general, it can. And even if it can, I’m not sure that it’s possible to maintain that quality through an entire collection.

It’s a bit like haiku. You can’t just put three lines together and call it a haiku, because there is a bit more to it than that. I’d define it as soul. The Japanese also have a word for it. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten it. They have so many words for things and my memory is going rapidly downhill. So, a haiku is three short lines and a little soul. Hard to explain, but easy to experience when you read a good one. Unfortunately, a lot of haiku aren’t that good. My best ones are merely good enough to scrape into a middling sort of magazine, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever written a decent haiku.

Just one more thought and I will go for tonight. I wrote a tanka prose a couple of months ago, which was accepted and published, though I did rework the tanka, as the editor thought it was perilously close to the sentimentality of a greetings card verse. I can’t remember how he put it, but the words “greetings card verse” were definitely part of it. I thought I was being profound.

The difference between a tanka and a greetings card verse is, as far as I can see, very small, apart from the fact you can get money for writing greetings cards.