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Remembrance Sunday

I was at St Peter’s Church in Hartshead, West Yorkshire, this year for a very special reason. Amongst the many names on the plaque commemorating the dead of WW1 is that of David Robert Davidson, a London workhouse boy sent up to Yorkshire to toil in the mines. His name, together with all those listed on the memorial inside the church, is read out each Remembrance Sunday before the two minutes’ silence.

Hartshead St Peters Church

In 1916, in that same little old church where Patrick Bronte once preached, David married the widow of a friend. She was much older than he, but David was determined to give her and three small children the security of his army pension, should he not survive.

Hartshead Church from Richard Burge cropped

He was killed in France a few months later, aged only 21, but my great-aunt and her daughters cherished his memory for the rest of their lives. Now I firmly believe that it’s up to my generation and those who follow to do the same.

Hartshead memorial detail from Richard Burge

The photographs below show David’s widow and step-daughters shortly before they emigrated to the USA in 1919 and years later, by which time they were living in California. I feel confident that he would have been very happy for them.

Auntie Cissie and girls prior to emigration

Auntie Cissie and girls in California

The following lines by A.E. Housman sum up better than I ever could the sacrifice of David and the thousands of other young men whose lives were cut short in that terrible war:

Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose, but young men think it is and we were young.

11 November, 2014 - Make the first comment on this story

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