The intentions to document this information are long standing in that they go back some two decades to the early/mid 1990’s, just a few years before the subject of this site, James Kitchener Heath passed away.

As is the case in so many families in which a generation experienced war and all its traumas, certain aspects of service are known, but all too often the details are sketchy and disjointed. Add into this mix the passage of time and the result is invariably a collection of stories and fragments of memories accompanied by a handful of fragile and faded documents (if you are lucky) that represent the sum of information relating to the most extraordinary period in a soldier’s life. This was certainly the case in our family..... and it’s not much to go on.

In February 1995, my Father and I struggled to put together a potted service history to be read by the cleric presiding over my Grandfather’s funeral. At this point I decided to take steps to fill in some of the gaps as best I could.... sadly now without the benefit of first hand testimony.

A well known turn of phrase, ‘written on the back of a fag packet’ is defined by the Collins on-Line dictionary as something ‘composed or formed quickly and without detailed analysis or research’. As far as first hand source material for this history is concerned, no better a description could be made. The details gleaned from my Grandfather in brief (and often emotional) discussions in the 1990’s are summarised as a list of place names written in an old man’s shaky handwriting on the back of a standard envelope! (this will feature later). On the upside, a standard envelope is approximately twice the size of a cigarette packet, which immediately doubles the amount of information to work with!

By my own admission, this site is a little self-indulgent, being of primary interest to myself, my mother, my children and a handful of relatives still living in Staffordshire. In addition, it may be that the information presented here will be read by others outside of the family who have a passing interest in military or family history.

I would welcome any comments/suggestions or dare I say it relevant information to contact me.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Grave Disorder Tackled

This weeks Bank Holiday gave the family an opportunity to travel to my home town of Burgess Hill in West Sussex for a bit of sea air in Brighton and to spend some time with the parents/grandparents.

In addition, with a very personal trip looming this week to trace the steps of my grandfather in Normandy, I thought that this would be a great moment to show my children the final resting place of their great grandparents in the graveyard of St Andrews Church, also in Burgess Hill. This would also be the time to offer some much needed TLC to the memorial stone.

Starting at 11.30 on Sunday morning to the accompaniment of the church organ winding up another Sunday service, myself, Gunta, Rudi, Ramona and my Dad set to the task of reversing nature's recolonisation of the plot in order to give my grandparents a visible name once more.

Here's the before:

With the attention of scissors, trowel, water, bleach, scrubbing brush, black paint and a few bags of gravel over a 4 hour period I think that we put them back on the map!

I did my best with the task of filling in the rather weathered lettering, but any thoughts of a career change into monumental masonry may be somewhat premature.

The involvement of our children in the overall effort to make this plot once more presentable would I am sure have been highly appreciated by my grandparents, who sadly never had the opportunity to meet the next generation. Part of the lettering was also completed by Ramona which was a nice touch.

Apologies here are due to my grandparent's nearest neighbour, Stella Willis (mother of my friend) for kneeling on her stone in order to paint the tricky bits.... I am sure that she would not have minded.

And after......

No comments:

Post a Comment