1939

She did not weep,
nothing so soft or poetic,
my grandmother sobbed long and hard
remembering war-crippled brothers, war dead father.
She had nursed soldiers, married one,
spent recent years in dread.
A few words on the Wireless,
a husband mustering with his gun,
and the nightmare returns.

As a child, thirty years later,
I saw hunger in her old eyes
a longing for security from fear
that she never lost.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

For Ethel Maude Wellsted Brown (known as Maude), orphaned by the Boer War, Pharmacist during the 1918 Flu pandemic, wife and mother to Airmen and Airwomen. My beloved maternal Grandmother who married a poor boy from Malta and, despite the attitudes of the time, danced with black GI’s in Wiltshire  as they waited to fight in D-Day and the liberation of Europe.

The photo is of her and her children in the mid-1930’s. The little girl in white grew up to be my mother. The three larger children were all in the RAF or WAAF in World War 2. They and their father came through the war unscathed.

According to my mother (who was eleven at the time), Maude sobbed for hours after the declaration of war was broadcast in September 1939..

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4 thoughts on “1939

  1. Kim, this is an incredible story. Thank you for sharing so much about your family. The poem, the photo, the extra info, tell the whole story of WWII. In their eyes (fear,) in their perseverance (determination,) in their courage (hope,) in their actions (justice.) So much is said about your grandmother sobbing for hours after the declaration of war. She knew what that meant. I hope Maud found peace and joy in her later years. She must have been so proud of her granddaughter, the poet.

    Liked by 1 person

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