Friday, 15 January 2010

Sepia Saturday: Great Uncle Bill

This is my great uncle, William George Gregory (Bill).

Born on 7th April, 1917, he featured in a number of stories told by my grandfather, Bill’s older brother. For instance, as children, they were warned to keep away from the river that ran near their home. However, boys will be boys, and whilst larking about on the bank, one day, Bill slipped into the fast flowing current. My grandfather jumped in and saved him from going under for the third time.

Soaked to the skin, they walked home and sheepishly confessed to their mother. They both received double punishment for playing near the water and for ruining their clothes.

On another occasion, grandfather used his penknife to cut Bill’s boot laces, after a hot cinder managed to drop inside his pair of handed down boots that were two sizes too big for him.

In this photograph, Bill would have been in his mid-twenties. It was taken sometime during the Second World War, hence the army uniform.

He was a lively character and my mother recalls how she looked forward to his visits, when he was on leave. Apparently, he loved nothing more than to tease my grandmother. “Hey Hilda, have you heard the latest?” he’d chirp. Grandmother would stop whatever she was doing, anticipating a juicy piece of gossip. When he had her full attention, he’d follow up with, “Dreadful news, two men found dead in a matchbox!” It worked every time.

I can’t remember ever meeting Bill myself, which is a pity because I think I would have liked him.

On 4th December, 1963, he suffered a massive heart attack, aged 46.

The night before his death, a curious thing happened. My grandmother went upstairs to her bedroom for some reason or other. When she entered the room, she was confronted by a sight that stayed with her for the rest of her days. A floating, shimmering form, suspended from ceiling to floor. She described it as being like a giant, silvery spider’s web. When she switched on the light, it vanished. Just a few hours later, a policeman knocked the door with the news that Bill had died suddenly at home.

For more Sepia Saturday participants, click here.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges 


  1. I've got goose-flesh now, Martin! That was quite an experience.
    What a shame he died at such a young age. He sounds like a genial fellow with a good sense of humour (although I must be thick as two planks, as they say because I don't get the joke).
    My dad was in the British Army for 11 years. Happen they crossed paths at some point.

  2. Oh, thanks for sharing this! He sounds like he was a delightful person. last ghostly visit to the ones he loved. :)

  3. What an interesting visitation -- the silvery spiderweb!

  4. I love your sepia pieces. Lovely ghostly finish to this one. I've heard so many of these incidents it would be difficult not to believe in them.

  5. He Got On The Web Before We Did! A Lovely Insight Into A Interesting Man.

  6. A sad story, especially that your great uncle passed away so young. It's clear that he and your grandmother had a bond, hence his visit before passing on.

    I'm really enjoying your Sepia Saturdays, Martin. Thank you.


  7. I love these tales of 'last goodbyes',and it's nice to think of his spirit as silvery strands of light - beautiuful image to remember.

  8. Very interesting story and picture! It appears your uncle was stationed someplace warm - but not a bit pleasant.
    Thank you for stopping by today- see you next Sepia Saturday!

  9. What an amazing story. Not the dead men found in the matchbox, but the silvery apparition seen by your grandmother! Fascinating stuff. Sad, though, he died so young.

  10. Great story. I love the way in which these old photographs bring such stories to the surface.

  11. Kat

    Yes, it is a bit spooky isn't it? When my grandmother told us of what she'd seen, all those years ago, we were on the edge of our seats. Our daughter, though, would never go upstairs in that house without someone to accompany her.


    He was, by all accounts, a very nice man. My mother still speaks of him with affection.


    My grandmother had a keen interest in the paranormal, and took such things very seriously. I inherited several of her books that deal with thought forces and the works of Prentice Mulford.


    Like you, I think it would be foolish to dismiss that which we don't really understand as nonsense. I can be quite sceptical about things sometimes, but having had my own unexplained experiences, I keep a very open mind.


    Thank you. I do wish I had known him.


    Yes, 46 years of age does seem young doesn't it? Thankfully, he lived a happy life with a good attitude.


    I agree. And there's so much we don't know, which is what makes life so interesting.


    Yes, Bill was stationed in the Middle East for a time. I imagine he would have had some lively tales to tell about that.


    The two men found dead in a matchbox still makes me smile today. Probably because I can imagine the expression of exasperation on my grandmother's face.


    Your idea has unlocked a treasure trove of personal memories and interesting stories. I'm so glad it's the success it deserves to be.

  12. thank you. you had me, with your grandmother, going right up those stairs.

    ...wonderful honoring of bill.

    thank you for your tenderness.

  13. rebecca

    Such kind comments are very much appreciated. Thank you for visiting Square Sunshine. You're very welcome.

  14. Great story. I am trying to visit all the sepia Saturday's but we are a large group. Nice blog.

  15. L. D. Burgus

    I'm pleased you enjoyed the story of my great uncle Bill. The list of Sepia Saturday participants is growing by the week. Thank you for your kind comments.

  16. What fabulous stories -- an ethereal vision and hot cinders in boots two sizes too big. Sepia Saturdays offer such an great forum for sharing stories.

  17. Meri

    Glad you liked the post. You are so right, Sepia Saturdays are proving to be a real hit.

    Thank you for dropping by. You're most welcome.


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