Friday, 10 June 2011

Sepia Saturday: A Pub, Postcard, and a Private called Frederick

Fifteen years on from my father-in-law's death, Mags and I uncovered a box of his assorted documents and personal effects, in a cluttered cupboard. Along with identity cards, apprenticeship papers and various invoices, was a postcard, tucked into a rather ragged envelope. On the front, a fairly plain photograph of a Hampshire pub, the New Inn, Hounsdown. It's still there and, after a spell as The Red Deer, it trades under its original name these days.


Given that my father-in-law grew up in Hounsdown, it seemed reasonable to assume that he had held on to this as a kind of keepsake. Only when I turned the card over, did I feel the weight of personal history associated with it.


It had been sent to a twentysomething soldier, serving in the 11th Hampshire Regiment. The 'F' in Dear F was Frederick Maidment, the first husband of Mags' grandmother, Bertha. The message had a simple familiarity to it, 'Dear F received letter safe. Hope you well. I am sending pc, I hope you will like it. Hope to see you on Saturday. Love B.' The two of them had been married since 1909, and had two small children, Reginald and Ivy. Now Frederick was caught up in one of the most catastrophic episodes in history, World War One.

Young Bertha's writing is full of hope. No one will know how many prayers she offered up, but we might accurately guess how many sleepless nights and dreaded days she endured.

The card was most likely sent to Frederick when he was training, ahead of playing his part for King and country in France and Flanders. I couldn't say with any certainty.


What is certain, is that Frederick survived the horrors until 28th March, 1918. He fell in France, aged 29 years.


A decade after Bertha had married her beloved Frederick, she married again, in 1919. She married Frederick's younger brother, George. Bertha had two more children, Albert (my father-in-law) and Maurice (who sadly passed away, only last month).

If you're interested, you can read a little more about Bertha and the brothers, HERE. And, I posted a short piece about Albert, HERE.

18 comments:

  1. What a nice keepsake to find. You can sometimes find interesting messages on the backs of postcards.

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  2. An interesting piece of family history from one postcard.

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  3. Poor Bertha! I’m glad she found happiness with George. I used to live and teach in Salisbury and the name Maidment came up again and again; a Hampshire/Witshire name I think.

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  4. How neat that you have so much documentation here. I enjoyed reading about your family.

    Take care,

    Kathy M.

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  5. That puts a lump in one's throat... Poor old Frederick, happily married for nine years only to be slaughtered on a foreign field. We have WW1 casualties in my own family, it makes me angry to think of the waste of their lives even though it was nearly a hundred years ago. Good to hear Bertha remarried to Frederick's brother, but my heart goes out to Frederick. Great postcard too!

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  6. Last year I was going through my Aunt's family archive and discovered numerous postcards, photos and other memorabilia. I seem to be the only one in the family who has a clue who these people were, and I have written notes similar to yours above, trying to pull their stories together for whoever might be interested in the future.

    It was a very moving experience.

    Thank you for this story.

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  7. That Pub Must Have Looked Like A Vision Of Heaven To Him...........

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  8. It put a lump in my throat too - in fact I'm almost tearful. How sad it its that bright young men the world over fall in the field of battle.

    I find it heartwarming that Bertha married Frederick's younger brother and that Frederick lives on, through time, in your grandchildren.

    I have no old photographs or postcards, no chance of looking back and seeing my ancestry in pictures. It saddens me a little.

    Anna :o]

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  9. What a touching story. I visited Ypres this year, which was completely destroyed during WWI.

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  10. What a fascinating story, Martin. The more I learn about that time, the more I realise how much we owe to that generation.

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  11. And so they live on.

    Young men, and young women, are still dying for King and country and many Berthas and Berts still grieve. Somewhere there will always be a war, for whatever reason.

    It breaks my heart.

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  12. I love postcard finds like this. The poignant part for me is the large space reserved for remarks with the single word - dead. Thanks for the story.

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  13. Old letters and postcards really bring the past to life.

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  14. What a story... so tragic what war does to people, and yet this shows that love will conquer all. I'm sure Frederick would have been happy for them. (And imagine, from George's perspective, having your nephews and nieces become your stepchildren!) It's wonderful that you came across this postcard, and thank you for the other posts as well.

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  15. Thank, everyone. I'm sure Bertha had a very happy marriage to George, but there would always have been a corner of her heart for her first love, Frederick.

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  16. Such a sad story! Will wars never end???
    It sounds like this story had a partially happy ending.
    Barbara

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  17. A very touching story. I wonder if the date on that postmark is legible?

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  18. There's something really beautiful about the back of this card. The handwriting is interesting, the message at a different angle, and the lovely old stamp. It's really very nice.

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