Sgwarnog: In the Field

By sgwarnog


My Grandfather, or Gand as we knew him, was a motorcycle despatch rider in the Royal Flying Corps during WW1. I don't know much about where he served, or what he was involved in, but he brought back this mess plate, with the story that it had been pierced by a piece of shrapnel while he was eating. When my Dad was sorting through his Dad's effects, he passed this to me. I wasn't yet ten at the time, although I was deeply immersed in the lore of Biggles of 266 Squadron, and therefore had some early romanticised conception of the RFC.

The plate carries the date of the Third Battle of Ypres, mostly known now as Passchendaele. A battle with 570,000 casualties. Gand was attached to the 36th Kite Balloon Section of the RFC, and as a despatch rider would be tasked to take important messages between positions just behind the front line.

Armistice Day is a day to remember things like this, and a tangible artefact like this makes that act of remembrance more meaningful, and personal for me. Gand survived, but brothers of my other Grandad didn't - uncles that my Mum never got to. They're remembered among hundreds of others on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. And I should also mention my Grandma, who was driving ambulances at the age of 17, ferrying wounded and PoWs around the Midlands.

Another entry in an occasional series of @sgwarnog objects.

tin plate ~ pierced by shrapnel ~ remember this

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