Twelfth November 1920
Yesterday was your funeral, although it was more of a ceremony. You won’t know what to think of a small girl who you probably don’t know writing to you, except we could know each other. Mother says your body was found in France or Belgium after the Great War and was never identified. No one knows who you are and that’s a reason why you got such a big send off. On the 7th November, 4 unidentified soldiers were brought to a French chapel called Saint Pol Sur Ternoise and one was chosen for a proper burial at Westminster Abbey (that was you). As I said, we could know each other. You could be the man who owns the Fox and Hound, or the man who cleans the bakery on Tuesdays. You could be anyone.
On the day of your funeral, thousands of people gathered to remember you, your coffin was pulled by horses in a carriage to Westminster Abbey. Among those people were one thousand widows who had not only lost their husbands, but all their sons too. I would know as my mother was one of them. I hate to think of my father and three brothers in some muddy grave in France, Mother nearly had a heart attack when all four telegrams came through at once. I wasn’t particularly close to any of them, but Mother was distraught. She didn’t eat or sleep for days, just drank tea and, when the milk ran out, she took it black. I didn’t know what to do but Aunt Margaret heard and came around and now she is staying with us. Aunt Margaret says Mother needs time to heal. I’m not quite sure what she meant as Mother has no cuts or bruises. I don’t think she loves me anymore though. She never gives me hugs or tells me stories at bedtime. Mother is religious and wanted four holy gospels for sons. Matthew, the eldest, then Mark and Luke. The plan was for a fourth son, John, but instead they got me. The boys picked on me and Father often looked disapprovingly at me, but Mother sometimes pulled me onto her lap for a cuddle. I secretly thought life for just Mother and me would be peaceful when the boys were at war, but I never thought that they’d never come home.
Aunt Margaret wasn’t sure whether we should go out for your procession, but Mother insisted and said it was God’s will for us to go and remember all the brave men who were lost. The carriage you rode in was very fancy, and the King himself came and put a strange but beautiful circle of flowers on your coffin. I wonder, did you have family? They could have been in the crowd with me. What job did you do? I think you were very brave going to war, to a foreign land, possibly by yourself. At least my brothers had each other.
The King’s School, Chester