Her influence is still around me, guiding me in difficulties, cheering me in sorrow

Written by on April 17, 2013 in BLOG, FAMILY - 24 Comments

CHWThis post is for Tara Lara’s Gallery. The theme this week is ‘Youth’.

This is my Great Grandfather, Clement Henderson Walter. He was born on the 28th of November 1885 and died in 1917 aged only 31.

I dug out an old file that my Scottish Grandfather, who is no longer with us, compiled.  I’ve always known that it’s there, brimming full of family history, but I’ve never sat down and read it. The file traces both my paternal Grandfather and my Grandmother’s family, in one case to 1722. It’s fascinating. There are four lines of family tree. Every person has a photo, a back story. Of the immediate family there is a wealth of first hand musings about each relative. One part of the file particularly resonates with me and that belongs to my Great Great Grandmother, Elsie, and her son my Great Grandfather, Clement.

My Great Great, Grandmother, Elsie (born 1860) was a prolific writer of short stories.  She wrote a book called ‘Recollections of an Old Street Lamp’ which told tales of the comings and goings of all the people in the street. There is a copy of the book in the file.  Sadly, she died at the age of 40, leaving two sons behind, Clement and Richard.  On his thirteenth birthday Clement wrote to a cousin “Greater loss than that there is none … I always loved her devotedly and more so when terrible and incurable illness came upon her … And she is gone and I was empty … but her influence is still around me, guiding me in difficulties, cheering me in sorrow”.

Clement worked on the Glasgow Herald, wrote poetry and was also a talented musician and artist.  He married my namesake, Laura, and in 1915, 4 months before the birth of his daughter, my Grandmother, he volunteered in the Battalion of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers.

CHW2On 9 April 1917 the 3rd Battle of Arras started and from the sewers and cellars of Arras where they had been hiding for three days, the three companies of 7/8 Battalion of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers sallied forth in an attack.  It is thought that this is where Clem received the wound that was to prove fatal.

Some considerable time later one of Clem’s comrades came to the home of my Great Grandmother, Laura, to tell her the circumstances.  Hit during the battle, Clem, with his hip shattered was laid in a shell hole for shelter until he could be picked up; when they came later there was no trace of him and he was never found.

My Grandfather, when compiling the vast family archives, wrote “Aged only 31, a man of talent with promise of better things to come, he shared the fate of thousands who like him went off with high hopes to a World War triggered off by the dynastic pride and vanity of emperors and the aftermath of which brought only misery to countless millions the whole world over.”

24 Comments on "Her influence is still around me, guiding me in difficulties, cheering me in sorrow"

  1. Catherine January 7, 2015 at 10:48 pm · Reply

    Hi, this is amazing! I have been doing my family history and have learned about clement as his mother elspeth was married to my great great grandad – James walter! He then went on to re marry when elspeth sadly died and had my great grandmother Edith, I have a photo of both of them if you would like to get in touch? I also have found out a little about his brother Richard if you don’t already know? Would be brilliant to hear from you! Thanks Catherine x

  2. Domestic Goddesque April 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm · Reply

    Golly- what an amazing piece of history to have in your hands….I wish I had memorabilia of this kind. And your Great Grandfather and I share a birthday.

  3. Kelly Wiffin April 18, 2013 at 9:12 am · Reply

    Amazing story and photos. It is so sad that so many lost their lives.

  4. Kelloggsville April 17, 2013 at 10:39 pm · Reply

    What a surprise to find this post in the gallery today, totally not what I would have expected and what a fascinating read.

    • Laura - AWNTYM? April 18, 2013 at 11:08 am · Reply

      It is totally different to my normal itterings, but I really enjoyed writing it. I may do some more over the coming months.

  5. Lous Lake Views April 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm · Reply

    What an amazing story and so wonderful for you to have that kind of in depth information about your ancestors, It’s becoming easier with the internet to find out names and dates for family trees but to actually have personal information like that must be awesome

    • Laura - AWNTYM? April 18, 2013 at 11:07 am · Reply

      It’s great that my Grandpa took the time to research the family tree and add little personal anecdotes about all the people he knew. It really makes a difference.

  6. Jaime Oliver April 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm · Reply

    What fantastic photos and that you know so much about your family tree! x

  7. Pops April 17, 2013 at 3:49 pm · Reply

    It is wonderful that my father, your grandfather’s, family history archive is now being read and appreciated by you. He would be pleased. You carry Clement’s writing skills and talent into the future.
    War is an immense tragedy. My grandfather planned to emigrate to join his brother in a publishing venture in Los Angeles until the war ended his dream. Of course we would not exist today if he had lived and followed his dream! Such is life.

    • Laura - AWNTYM? April 18, 2013 at 11:06 am · Reply

      I love that Grandpa took the time to research and write up the little personal anecdotes, they really bring the file to life. xxx

  8. playspotter April 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm · Reply

    Wow – what a story – I wish I knew more about my ancestors – fantastic!

    • Laura - AWNTYM? April 18, 2013 at 11:02 am · Reply

      I feel very lucky. It turns out some of my older relatives are continuing to do some research, so we should find out more.

  9. theminimesandme April 17, 2013 at 10:16 am · Reply

    It’s great you know so much about your family history, would be interesting to explore my own further too x

  10. Mother Goutte April 17, 2013 at 10:07 am · Reply

    What a rich family history. It’s great that your have all these informations, something to keep previously. xx

    • Laura - AWNTYM? April 18, 2013 at 11:00 am · Reply

      I’m looking forward to looking through again and finding another relative top blog about!

  11. Louise April 17, 2013 at 9:58 am · Reply

    Awh great post. I think the writing gene must be living on in you and your blog. xx

  12. Such a great story. I’m actually in the process of writing my Uncle’s WWII story. His letters are on my blog. So tragic and so hard not to see their journeys through the eyes of their mothers, once you’ve become one yourself. Great to read something about family history, since I’m always banging on about it!!!

    • Laura - AWNTYM? April 18, 2013 at 10:50 am · Reply

      I agree. I’ve had the file for a long time and not really taken much notice of it. But now, as a mother I look at all of these precious photos and memories through very different eyes.

  13. Anonymous April 17, 2013 at 9:18 am · Reply

    Oh my, so sad, so poignent. The comment from Clement is amazing, imagine a 13 year old having the maturity to write that? You know, you look like him, it’s quite uncanny.

    • Laura - AWNTYM? April 18, 2013 at 10:46 am · Reply

      I’m not sure who left this comment but I agree … I can’t imagine many 13 year olds writing something so poignant these days!

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