Daily Archives: February 19th, 2012

SOLDIERS, 1916

FRANK MASON AGED 4

I have already shown you a photograph of my maternal grandfather in his Flying Corps uniform in the First World War. Here a photo of my father, Frank Mason, in his First World War uniform. (I am not sure what his regiment was!) As you can see, the Great War was not a time of unremitting ordeal and gloom; there were opportunities to have some fun as well. Anyone who has read the Wipers Times will know what a flowering of good humour these difficult events of the war brought with them.

My father’s family lived in a small terraced house in Carlyle Road in Norwich, and he also had a sister (Olive) who was a couple of years older. I don’t know how they had room, but they also had two soldiers (and their bulldog) billeted with them.

These soldiers obviously took to young Frank in a big way, going to all the trouble that providing a miniature version of their uniform must have entailed, even if the sewing was done by Nannie. (Nannie was her grandchildren’s name for our paternal grandmother. To her peers she was known as Emily.)

The bulldog was also a great mate of my father’s. He was called Verney, named after their Commanding Officer. This fact worried little Frank, in case they were overheard speaking of Verney in disrespectful terms. “Sit, Verney,” or “Down, Verney” is no way to speak to you C.O.

The NCO in the picture was called Barry –what his surname was I don’t know. He was one of the two men billeted on my grandparents. To his chagrin, but also his good fortune, my grandfather was rated as medically unfit to serve in the forces, and continued to work as a crate-maker for Lawrence Scott throughout the war. As you may be able to see Barry has improved his moustache with a pen, making it an altogether more bristling affair; at least I assume it was him.

BARRY, FRANK & VERNEY

JOSEPH MASON

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