The first photograph in the collage for week one is this picture of my maternal Grandfather, George Butcher (1908 – 1974).
I have had this photograph a very long time. As I writing this post, I pondered on where this photograph was taken. I am sure this was taken in the garden at Manor Farm Guildford, where my Grandfather’s parents (Charles and Annie Prudence Butcher nee Harris) lived. It was probably taken for his proud parents.
Also living at Manor Farm was my Grandfather’s eldest sister Rose and her husband, and my Grandfather’s brothers Arthur and Harry with their families. Where my Grandfather’s other brother, Percy was living I can not be sure.
The family had been living at Manor Farm Guildford since 1930 having moved from Wanborough via Worplesdon.
My Grandparents married in Guildford on 3rd November 1939 and in 1940 they moved into the home that I grew up in and remained with my family until 1996.
My Grandfather, although he had worked at what we called The Manor, also worked at a farm in Hurtmore with his sister, Ellen and her husband Ted. For whatever reason, my Grandfather was working at Unigate Dairies in Guildford in 1940 and he volunteered to join the army.
My Grandmother always said she was furious – at this point that had been married no more than a year. Despite being furious my Grandmother was very proud that her George did not take the easy option and return to the farm. He did his duty, proudly and returned home to his wife.
Although I like this photograph, it is not my favourite. That is what I am showing you now (right). This photograph sat on my Grandmother’s dressing table and represented a part of her life and their marriage when fear must have been in abundant supply. Would my Grandmother become a victim of war circumstance and a war widow? Thankfully no, my Grandfather did return home and I don’t know if he was a changed man. I never thought to ask, and now I never can.
The back of this photo reveals no photographer details, it simply says “Your loved one, George X”.
In contrast to the first photograph, taken on home turf, this was taken in a hot climate – the shorts, the hat and we know from items within the family and my Grandfather’s pay book and military record that he served in Sierra Leone for over 2 years.
I have long been fascinated with his military service. I was lucky enough to inherit his medals which I had professionally framed and they live on my landing. Every time I pass by and walk up and down the many stairs this house have, I see them.
When I inherited them, they were still in the box they had been posted in, still wrapped in the little greaseproof paper bags they were issued in. They had, to my knowledge never been taken out of the bags or box and definitely never worn. My Grandfather had never wanted the medal, to him they were an acknowledgement of doing his duty.
I have also inherited his military pay book which I have scanned and can be seen here at George’s War, a blog dedicated to exploring that military time in my Grandfather’s life, and are also located at Flickr
I also called for his service record which is next on my list to scan and digitise. I so wish that I could understand the emotions he felt when he helped, with so many others to liberate Europe.
I am immensely proud that he held fast to his principles, a value which lives on in other generations.