Poverty in early Edwardian London | In Times Gone By…

Adelaide Springett was ashamed of her tattered boots and so took them off for her photograph, taken in 1901. The children who were photographed at the end of the Victorian and in the Edwardian eras…

Source: Poverty in early Edwardian London | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the death of a war hero | In Times Gone By…

Only hours after being awarded the French Légion d’honneur, British Lieutenant Reginald Warneford was killed in an aeroplane crash on the 17th of June, 1915. A 1919 painting depicting the moment th…

Source: On this day: the death of a war hero | In Times Gone By…

D-Day | In Times Gone By…

This image – from the 6th of June, 1944 – shows British troops taking part in the iconic Normandy landings of the Second World War. Some 156 000 troops from more than a dozen nations to…

Source: D-Day | In Times Gone By…

On this day: a nuclear disaster in the USSR | In Times Gone By…

This is the first picture taken of the destroyed nuclear reactor in Chernobyl (Chornobyl in Ukrainian), Ukraine. 27th April, 1986. Taken from a helicopter flying over to assess the damage, the imag…

Source: On this day: a nuclear disaster in the USSR | In Times Gone By…

N.B. I’m not currently responding to comments or visiting blogs because of ill-health but I much appreciate your support.

On this day: a king for Albania | In Times Gone By…

Otto Witte – a German circus performer – claimed he was crowned King of Albania on the 13th of August, 1913. When Albania broke free of the Ottoman Empire and Serbian occupation, a Musl…

Source: On this day: a king for Albania | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the annexation of Latvia | In Times Gone By…

The Soviet Union annexed Latvia on the 5th of August, 1940, forcing them to join the USSR. Germany was the only Western nation to recognise the annexation.

Source: On this day: the annexation of Latvia | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the world’s first motor racing contest | In Times Gone By…

The world’s first motorsport contest took place on the 22nd of July, 1894 from Paris to Rouen, France. First, a selection event was held in which sixty-nine cars participated. The main 127 ki…

Source: On this day: the world’s first motor racing contest | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the death of Kate Sheppard | In Times Gone By…

In 1905

In 1905 Kate Sheppard, New Zealand’s most famous suffragette, died on the 13th of July, 1934. Born to Scottish parents in England in 1847, Sheppard moved to New Zealand in 1869. She became a …

Source: On this day: the death of Kate Sheppard | In Times Gone By…

On this day: the world’s first cruise ship | In Times Gone By…

The Prinzessin Victoria Luise, recognised as the world’s first cruise ship, was launched on the 29th of June, 1900. Her maiden voyage came on the 5th of January the following year, travelling from …

Source: On this day: the world’s first cruise ship | In Times Gone By…

On this day: a prisoner of war | In Times Gone By…

Treatment of prisoners of war in the United States during the Civil War was often harsh, with prisons on both sides overcrowded, and with very few resources available. Food was scarce and thousands…

Source: On this day: a prisoner of war | In Times Gone By…

On this day: Dublin in ruins

These photographs of Dublin were taken on the 11th of May, 1916. They show ruins in Dublin after the Easter Rising of 24-29 April. The Easter Rising was a rebellion against British rule in Ireland.…

Source: On this day: Dublin in ruins

On this day: the executions of Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci | In Times Gone By…

Italy’s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and Clara Petacci, his mistress, were executed by partisans in the northern Italian village of Giulino di Mezzegra on the 28th of April, 1945. Belie…

Source: On this day: the executions of Benito Mussolini and Clara Petacci | In Times Gone By…

Native American couple, Situwuka and Katkwachsnea in 1912

Source: Native American couple, Situwuka and Katkwachsnea in 1912

Boxing Day | In Times Gone By…

Gathering honey on Boxing Day in Queensland, Australia in 1925.

Source: Boxing Day | In Times Gone By…

Great Uncle Norman: ‘shot by a single sniper’

‘Five foot ten of a beautiful young Englishman under French soil. Never a joke, never a look, never a word more to add to my store of memories. The book is shut up forever and as the years pass I shall remember less and less, till he becomes a vague personality; a stereotyped photograph.’

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Norman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Poor Norman.

Such a commonplace death.  Shot by a single sniper. Youngest child, only son.  Three sisters and a father left to grieve along with so many other fathers, mothers, sisters, wives, brothers, children.

“Poor Norman,” said my grandmother Joyce in the 1950s, and turned away so that her youngest son changed the subject.  Was she still, so many, many years later, too saddened by her brother’s death to talk or had he, for her, become nothing but a stereotyped photograph about whom she felt unable to talk?

A stereotyped photograph.  I have two in my possession, both of Norman in Army uniform. The round, boyish face of inexperience looks at me in the one [above]: a bland, almost formal, expression gives way to a makeshift confidence on closer inspection and, with arms folded, suggests a reluctance to be photographed.

In the other [below], he leans against a pillar with engaging insouciance; a cigarette holder, the ash about to drop, rests between sturdy fingers.  Three or four years, maybe less, separate the pictures. The poise in the latter cannot mask the face of a man who has experienced the muck and the noise, the unutterable panic and horror of trench warfare.

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

Captain Noman Austin Taylor © Sarah Vernon

‘He was hit at four o’clock on the morning of 24th March 1918,’ wrote Joyce the following year.  ‘I felt that icy hand on my heart which I shall never now feel again.’   When I first read my grandmother’s words, I took her to mean that only her brother’s death could produce such an icy hand.  I look at the words now and see only that she felt her heart would never feel anything again.  Perhaps that is why she turned away from her son.

We will remember them.

Captain Norman Austin Taylor 1895-1918

@ALBerridge I thought you might enjoy this post about my great-uncle during #WWI http://t.co/p8CYYU8nRz

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

@FirstNightArt That’s beautifully written and very moving. No high drama, just the reality of human loss in a war. Great post – thank you.

— Louise Berridge (@ALBerridge) May 15, 2014

@ALBerridge I’m so glad you like it.

— First Night Design (@FirstNightArt) May 15, 2014

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

Originally posted on First Night Design.