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..