Born two years after the first World War Kathleen’s memoir has very little focus on the adverse effects of war and how it has affected her family. However, being part of an army family, something Kathleen revelled, in allows a great insight into what it was like to be part of an army family following the Great War. Kathleen speaks frequently throughout her memoir of the benefits she enjoyed as being part of an army family she was able to travel the world, her parents experienced social mobility and she provides us with an insight into how well the army looked after their men and their families.
Within her memoir Kathleen touches on her father’s decision to join the army and the effect this had on her grandfather. Kathleen describes how her father’s brother had been ‘killed in the Boer war’ (p14) and how when her father made the decision to join the army he and his father were at ‘loggerheads’(p14). Grampie Flynn felt that when his son joined the army he was ‘adding insult to injury’ (p14) knowing the loss and upset war had already caused the family. Kathleen describes how her grandfather had ‘no time at all for soldiers, who had the reputation in those days of being drunkards and tearaways.’(p14) Myna Trustram, further reinforces the drunken reputation of soldiers as she discusses the effect marriage had on soldiers, ‘yet at the same time women were useful to do men’s washing and sewing and in their roles as wife and mother they were idealised as a steadying, humanising influence on the licentious, drunken soldiery.’ (p30) Trustram highlights that before the Great War soldiers were considered drunken reckless men and once the decision was made they could marry, women had a calming influence upon them.
Kathleen suggests that her grandfather shared a view of soldiers which was common place in society. Understandably as his last surviving son at the tender age of sixteen lies to join the army Kathleen’s grandfather’s negative view of the army is further intensified as he questions how his son could put him through this again.
Within her memoir Kathleen also discusses her brothers own experience within the army when he joined the Territorials and how in contrast to his own father this is something Kathleen’s father ‘always secretly wished’ (p72) for.
‘Vic had joined the Gunners, not, I think with any patriotic ideas of serving his country, but simply to get the riding, in the early thirties horses were still used. The unforeseen outcome of this was that a few years later he was mobilised and in France with the B.E.F the day after war was declared on Germany’ (p72).
Kathleen’s fathers enjoyment at his son joining the Territorial Army highlights his fondness of the military and army, following the Great War were many lives were lost and the consequences of war were truly felt, Kathleen’s father still felt that joining the army was a great decision to be made and was proud when his son joined.
It is interesting that within her memoir Kathleen discusses her father being in the army but neglects the role he would have played in the first world war, it is possible that Kathleen quite simply was not told about the role her father played in the Great War or that she felt it irrelevant to include in her memoir as her sole focus was her childhood.
Lindley, Kathleen M: ‘A time to be born’ Typescript. 98pp 1976, Brunel University Library.
Trustram, Myna: ‘Women of the regiment, marriage and the Victorian army’. Cambridge University Press, 1984
Taken from word press image gallery.