Lest we forget

On the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month we pause for a two-minute silence to remember and reflect on the lives of those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today.

From doing my family tree I have come across relatives of mine who fought in the First World War with very different outcomes on both my maternal and paternal sides of the family.

At a young age I knew about my great-grandfather Thomas Alfred Oakes on my father’s side because of my middle name Louvain, as it is a place in Belgium. My spelling is French but the Flemish spelling is Leuven. I recommend you to google it! My grandmother Thomas’ daughter was the first of this name as her father was not present at her birth in November 1914 as he had left for France to fight in the war.

Thomas Alfred Oakes was part a private in the 6th Cheshire regiment. He survived the war after being discharged in April 1916. Unfortunately I have no exact details on the discharging of his service as many records were burnt in a fire in the Second World War. Thomas went onto to have four more children with his wife. One died in infancy and the other three made it to adulthood. Thomas lived his life and died in 1937 in Stockport where he settled after being born in Scotland and moving around in his childhood due to his father’s occupation as a theatre musician and his name was also Thomas and an Englishman.

Looking onto my maternal side there are two stories in one family that have woe and happiness.

My cousin twice removed Tom Speak was born in Stockport, Cheshire and joined service for the First World War as part of the 13th Cheshire regiment. There is not much information on his service apart from the one major event that Tom was part of, the Battle of the Somme. At the age of 19 he died on the 7th July 1916. His body was never found. His name is on the Thiepval memorial in France.

His particular story of war was rather upsetting because of the horrific nature of that battle, but also his tender age with so much life left in him.

On the other hand Tom’s uncle John Markham also volunteered for service and ended up as a gunner in the Machine Gun Corps. This particular regiment is difficult to research. But from my family research I came across his military record. From this I found out that he was promoted up to a Corporal and travelled all over the place as part of his regiment. John was injured during his service and did make a full recovery. He did survive the war and lived his life till his death in 1944 in Stockport, Cheshire from where he was born.

The correlation of Uncle and Nephew both went to war with very different outcomes shows the perils of the war. Also a situation that happened in many families where two or more members went to fight for King and country and some never returned home.

On Armistice day we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. But for me I pay my respects to those who fought and were forever changed by the events they participated in. For that I know we all be forever grateful.



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