OLIVE BEDWORTH of West Bromwich has already supplied us with one of her family's Great War stories (see our We Will Remember Them special publication) but here is another, which tells of happier times at the very end of the conflict in 1918.
Olive's father William was a West Bromwich lad who fought with the Lancashire Fusiliers. In the summer of 1918, when the Germans' last throw of the dice, their Spring Offensive, had proved a failure, hopes were building that an Allied victory was within reach. Then Olive's father was injured in action, and his parents received a letter from his comrades. Olive still has the letter, and we can only imagine what must have gone through the minds of William's parents when they began to read it ...
"July 26 1918
"Dear Mr and Mrs Gallimore,
"On behalf of your Son and a Personal Friend of his I write these few lines to let you know that your son Sgt Gallimore as had to go in hospital with a slight wound he was wounded with shrapnel from a bursting shell.
"But he was in good spirits while being taken out of the trenches. I am sorry to say that he will be missed very much by all his company and by his platoon and officers because he was a good man for Duty and we all hope to God that he will soon be all right again and among all his comrades from his platton.
"Sgt Sharples, 15531 17th Batt. Lanc Fusiliers, B.E.F., France."
Olive told us more about her father's injuries.
"The wound was in his lower leg," she explained. The shrapnel went right through his calf and out the other side, just behind his shin bone. He always said the hole it left looked like a pig's face."
He was injured, but he had survived, things could have been much worse. And with the war won by the time he had recovered, William and his sweetheart Emma could now go ahead and plan their wedding. They chose Christmas 1918 as their time to tie the knot. William's brother Jim, who was still out on the continent when the fighting stopped on November 11, wrote to Emma just six days later to tell her that he hoped to be back for the wedding, and that he was in good health. Jim wrote:
"November 17, 1918,
"Dear Emma, I now take the pleasure of writing these few lines to you hoping you are in the best of health as it leaves me at present in the pink.
"Never better in my life, we are in some good places to sleep and we are having some jolly fine food but the only thing is cigs.
"Well Emma I don't know how to thank you for those you have sent they came in very handy at the time as I hadn't a smoke at the time they have been twelve days coming so they have been a long time.
"Well Emma I was sorry at the time I sent those silk cards to Mother and did not send you one. My money wasn't much and it took me all my time to get those after buying my cigs for a week but never mind I will see you get one.
"Dear Emma I hope you will have a good time of it Xmas. I shall have a good try to my word if I could get home by then I would but still I am glad that things out here have altered I dare say it won't be long before I shall be at home once more to look how things are looking.
"I will bet my Mother is getting anxious now, when I do get back I will look after her better than I ever did although she never grumbled she has been a good Mother to us all. I don't know what me and Brother Will would have done without her so tell her to cheer up when you go down.
"Well Emma I hope you and Will will keep at peace terms and you will get on well together. I wish you both the Best of Wishes. Well I will close my letter thanking you once again for cigs wishing you and all at home the Best of Luck."
Olive told us: "He was a nice man Uncle Jim. But I don't know whether he managed to get home for the wedding!"