Arthur gill (b.1887): War and Memory

“Whether it was a sense of patriotism or not, I wouldn’t like to say but I do know we lads bought as many of these badges as we could afford, and strutted around like peacocks wearing them around on our jackets.” (38)

war and memories

Although Arthur served in WW1, his first memories were actually of the Boar war, this childhood memory of himself and his friends buying war badges to pin onto their jackets were very telling of the times he lived. The romanticising of war to impressionable young children was widespread in that era. And although Arthur’s memories were pleasant, one couldn’t help but detect a level irony in Arthur’s words.

“How different was war in these days when everyone is involved, when destruction fell from the skies.”

Arthur’s memoir was filled with war time memories, most of his memories were from when he served in North Coates, manning a canteen. Due to Arthur’s emotional breakdown, he was assigned to North Cotes to work in the soliders canteen.

army eating

Although Arthur has both pleasant and unpleasant memories from war, none were the horrific memories we associate with wartime memoirs and stories. Fortunately for Arthur his experience in the army passed in without injury or trauma, allowing his memoir to remain upbeat and positive, just as Arthur was himself.

“Looking back and recalling old memories has given me a great deal of pleasure. I have had my ups and downs, but far more “ups than the downs”. Although I have had two periods in hospital, one in St James hospital (1956) and one at Chapel Allerton Hospital (1965), I enjoy reasonably good health. I enjoy and appreciate the beauties of nature. I love a good landscape, trees, grass, flowers and cloud effects. Whenever I walk into the country I still see something that gives me pleasure. I can still see the making of a lovely picture in old buildings, Abbeys etc.   I still think there is a lot to live for.” (150)

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