My Grandfather’s Scrapbooks – WWI Demobilization

Unravelled was originally inspired by my grandfather’s WWI experiences. Many iterations later, the story bears little resemblance to truth. I have held to the fact that he served with the army of occupation after the war ended and have used a few items from his scrapbooks to lend authenticity to the story.

The Canadian government took months to send its soldiers home. During that time many men were housed in camps located in various parts of Britain. Eventually, soldiers received official notice of their departure along with a note from the King. Grandpa kept his note and two other slips of paper, one showed his berth and room number, another his deck and compartment. Men returned as they went, squeezed like sardines into space meant for much smaller numbers.

Did he think of these as souvenirs? Did they call to mind the horror every time he looked at them? I’ll never know; I can only imagine.

My imagination has my character, Edward Jamieson, return home in April, 1919 full of grief and anger.

Edward held the blue card in his hand, reading it again and again. It’s really over, he thought. I’m going home. What part of me have I left behind? He thought of his family who would be overjoyed to see him again, his mother would shower him with kisses, his father’s arm would be around his shoulder, eyes moist with unspoken emotion. They won’t know me. How could they? I’m not the boy they said goodbye to.

He thought about his little room on the third floor of their house. Sanctuary of the past, signs of boyhood on the walls. Could he go back? Ridiculous question, he had nowhere else to go.

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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5 Responses

  1. Framed on the wall across from me now is my husband’s grandfather’s honorable discharge certificate from the U.S. Army after WWI. It is dated July 10, 1919. So many stories . . . .

  2. War diaries are invaluable things aren’t they? I have been reading a few for research for The Grey Silk Purse and they are (along with photographs) for me the closest thing to a time machine.

      1. That’s good! The title was inspired by an ad Lost: a grey silk handbag.(I think purse sounds better)….with mention of two cafes I’m still trying to trace. The ad was October 1922. My novel is set in 1920. Having lots of fun with the research.

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