Today, of all days, is one to remember those who fought in two world wars. My grandfather, Joseph Whitehead, was a despatch rider in the First World War - taking messages by motorbike from one part of the front-line to another and between the front-line and command posts some way behind. This photo from 1914 shows a group of 'DRs', as they were known, in training - my grandfather is standing on the extreme right.
I now have the print - and a photograph of my grandfather, in his corporal's uniform, at his wedding to Ethel Brooksbank on 17th April 1917.
Joseph and Ethel had three sons - all played a part in the Second World War: one in the air force, another in the navy and the third in the medical corps.
My father's twin brother, Bernard - he's on the right below, my father is on the left - enlisted in the Royal Navy and became a Midshipman and later a Sub-Lieutenant. He was a submarine detection officer and was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for the sinking of two submarines in the Bristol Channel. He served in the Channel at D-Day and also in the Arctic convoys.
My father's older brother, Donald, was a Quaker and a conscientious objector. He joined the Royal Artillery Medical Corps and served in North Africa and Italy.
All four Whiteheads, I am thankful to say, survived the wars in which they served. But it's important to remember and reflect upon all those who didn't return home - all the civilians who lost their lives - and all the suffering that war unleashed.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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