“The man may leave the battlefield, but the battlefield will never leave him.”
My great-grandfather Thomas Alfred Oakes was born in the Isle of Bute on 13th August 1887 to Thomas Oakes, a musician and Elizabeth.
At a young age he moved around a lot due to his father’s occupation of a musician from Wigan in 1891, to South Blyth in 1901. Eventually Thomas Alfred Oakes settled in a town called Stockport in Cheshire. The 1911 census saw Thomas as a single man and settled as a painter and decorator
In 1908 he signed up to the 6th Cheshire Regiment and was a private, but also a drummer. For me I found it nice to see he was a drummer as the musicality of his father passed on, his father also Thomas was a theatre musicians by trade. In 1913 Thomas married my great-grandmother Edith at Saint Elisabeth’s church in Stockport.
August 1914, the war began later known as the Great War. As Thomas was already attested to the Cheshire regiment he had an obligation to King and country. That day came on 10th November 1914 when he act of war started, when he was dispatched to France. Three days later on 13th November my grandmother was born.
As far as my own knowledge goes, 6th Cheshire’s were involved with the Christmas Truce of that year. My knowledge of his whereabouts are not great and I have since ordered a history book to help my knowledge on my great grandfather’s war story.
He was discharged on 7th April 1916 due to a time of expiration, probably due to him being with the regiment since 1908. With that he got to see his daughter Edith, as well as have a son who died as an infant and three more children after that, two boys and a girl.
The war had ended, many lives were lost and there was peace.
Peace for all nations came, but not necessarily for the individuals who had fought and survived. For they may not have given their lives, but their souls and health had been tainted and changed by the war. This was confirmed when I obtained a copy of the death certificate of Thomas Alfred Oakes and the reasons to why he died. The cause of death was a diverse or problems related to the heart that were in conjunction with the hardships of the active service between 1914-1916.
Just because he survived like many others, his health was damaged and he suffered like they are all did, those who fought and those at home who lost loved ones. I know he died but it was where, how and knowing why he died did upset me because I had grown a connection with a man who I never met. It may seem silly but doing your family history you do grow connections to these people. They are flesh and bone not just names and numbers.