My grandfather, Herbert Randolph Elvin, or Bert as he was known, passed away in December 1972, aged 73. I had only just turned 13, and I cannot remember him ever discussing anything to do with the Great War. Maybe he thought because of my young age I would not be interested; perhaps he was right, as I cannot remember being that interested in the First World War during my early teens. Perhaps he was so traumatised by what he saw that he wanted to forget.
However what I do remember is that on his mantelpiece in his living room he had an A1 size photograph of himself sat astride a horse. I think I never questioned why he was on a horse and it was not until much later in my life, when I had traced his army service record, that things became clearer.
Bert was born on 1 March 1899 at 31 Warham Street, Lambeth, the only surviving child of Charles Benjamin and Caroline Elvin (nee Plummer); he did have a sister, who died at a young age. Family life did not to go well for Bert. In 1906 his father died; his mother remarried in 1908 (to a William Piddock) only to pass away just over a year later, leaving young Bert to be brought up by his stepfather. Until I started doing my family tree in my late teens I didn’t know any of this information, as my grandfather never talked about it and certainly did not volunteer it to my own father. Continue reading »