Not about birds at all.

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This blog is not about birds, nature conservation, politics or any of the usual subjects.

The lady picture above died 96 years ago today and was named Lucy Jane Saint. She was my mum’s aunt – although she died eight years before my mother was born.

My Great Aunt, known to her family as ‘Jinny’, was born at Pontypool, on 18 August 1895,  a daughter of Samuel and Lucy Saint of 4 Club Row, Tranch, Pontypool.  She was a former pupil of George Street Council School, Pontypool (as was my mother years later).

The 1911 Census refers to her father Samuel, being a ‘Colliery Timberman below ground’ and her mother, also named Lucy (who I do remember as she lived into her 90s and stayed with us at times when I was a child), was aged 38. Other family members listed were, sons, Alonzo (my mother’s father, my grandfather – how did a miner get a name like that?), Reginald Henry, Samuel Rowland and daughters Kate Allwyn and Irene May (both of whom were Great Aunts I do remember).

Lucy enlisted in the army in 1917 at Bristol (where years later my mother and father met and where I grew up) on 1 October 1917 and was posted to Christchurch, attached to the 5th Reserve Battalion, Royal Engineers.

Lucy, aged 23, served as Assistant Waitress 5558 in Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps during the First World War.

She was taken ill with influenza on 14 October 1918 and was admitted to The Royal Victoria Hospital, Boscombe where she died of pneumonia on 27th October. Her mother and other relations were at her bedside.

IMG_2695She was buried at Llanfihangel Pontymoel (St. Michael) Churchyard and that is where we headed this morning for a short memorial service and when my mother and a current pupil of George Street School placed a cross on the grave.

Lucy, having died ‘in Service’ during WW1 would have been entitled to her Grave being marked by a Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s formal Headstone; however, it appears her parents choose a ‘Family Memorial’ but the grave is still listed as a War Grave and is visited by the CWGC for maintenance and record purposes.

‘Lucy’s Grave lies in an area of the Churchyard that has proved difficult, with the limited resources we have, for us to maintain as we would like’ said Reverend Nicholas Taylor, Associate Priest ‘However, we are delighted that the CWGC have recently visited and created a pathway, through the overgrowth, to her memorial and we hope to enlist the support of community groups to keep it maintained in that way’.

The Mayor of Torfaen, Cllr. Amanda Owen, Torfaen’s MP Paul Murphy and veterans from the Royal Welsh Regimental Association, Torfaen Veterans Association along with Cwmbran and District Ex-Service Association attended a short graveside service conducted by the Rev Nicholas Taylor.  The Last Post and Reveille were played.

 

They shall not grow old , as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.’

 

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By the gates into Pontypool Park

I’m grateful to all involved for this touching service which meant a lot to my mother (and, because of that, to me).

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3 Replies to “Not about birds at all.”

  1. Mark, I am glad your mother was able to remember her aunt in this way. Unfortunately we have forgotten that the casualties of WW1 were vastly outnumbered by those who died in the 1918 Flu epidemic (almost 10 times as many).

    This life is about what we do and what we leave behind. In Lucy's lifetime it was about standing up for what the country believed was right, a lesson for all of us.
    Since then it has also included improving our life so that such epidemics are hopefully things of the past.

    Your website is mainly about birds but really they are only the lesson for all of us that what we do and what we leave behind remains important. Whilst this individual blog may not be specifically about 'the usual subjects', the principle behind why we should read it remains the same. Therefore keep up the good work and we all read it whatever you wish to say.

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  2. A touching story, thank you for sharing. Your Great Aunt sounds like a courageous and selfless young woman. Inspiring - and topical given Ebola and the continuing threats to peace around the world.

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