Fun and friendship even in the trenches

Mildred on the Marne: Mildred Aldrich, Front-Line Witness 1914 to 1918, by David Slattery-Christy

Mildred on the Marne: Mildred Aldrich, Front-Line Witness 1914 to 1918, by David Slattery-Christy

0
Have your say

A Blackpool man is remembered in a new First World War book, written by a resort-based author.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the conflict and in his new book, Mildred on the Marne: Mildred Alrich, Front-line Witness 1914 – 1918, David Slattery-Christy, includes part of the story of Harold Greenwood, a gunner in the Lancashire Fusiliers.

Harold Greenwood, pictured leaning out of the train cab, to the left of the Mayoress

Harold Greenwood, pictured leaning out of the train cab, to the left of the Mayoress

Mr Greenwood – who lived in Fenton Road, Blackpool – started his working life as a tea boy, at Blackpool’s Central Station, eventually working his way up to driving the Royal Train for both King George V and Queen Mary and later for George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

His son, William Greenwood, in later years, bought part of the station after its 1964 closure and turned it into Tudor Bingo, until eventually it was demolished.

Mr Greenwood senior served in France, under the Fusiliers.

Mr Slattery-Christy said: “While undertaking research at Harvard University and at home, I came across a letter written to Harold from his friend in Antwerp, with whom he had celebrated Armistice Day in 1918.

“I included the letter, because it demonstrated how the initial euphoria of the war ending was quickly replaced with serious deprivation in Belgium – his friend saying he would love to come to Blackpool. It also alludes to Harold and his family suffering as a result of the flu pandemic, which swept Europe in the months after the war.”

In the letter, Frank de Vos, who had served with Mr Greenwood in France, writes: “Now my dear friends, excuse us for waiting so long before writing back to you all. Because we are in a difficult position, we haven’t our furniture back yet, and at present I have no work yet.

“We wish we could come to Blackpool, because we [are] feeling so funny, when we see our big city like Antwerp dead, we can’t describe our feelings, we are not a bit happy.

“Now dear friends, [remember] when the day of peace was settled, our Belgian soldiers with English friends and American soldiers together were singing, dancing and klikking [flirting] with our girls, and every house was [adorned] with flags, flowers and greenery.”

Mr Slattery-Christy, who lives in Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, said: “Frank’s letter to Harold clearly shows how the economic and infrastructure damage was taking its toll on the population and causing them much distress.

That said, the warm regard and camaraderie between the fighting soldiers endured even when demobilized.”

Mildred on the Marne, published by History Press UK, tells the story of 61-year-old Mildred Aldrich and her experiences of the Great War. It is out now and available through Amazon.

For more information, visit www.christyplays.com