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.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

'Some Were Lucky' Arrives!

On Thursday an old soldier made my week, for this arrived through the post, Ken's much anticipated book. Produced in acknowledgement of the fact that his 1981 title, 'An It's Called A Tam O'Shanter', is rather difficult to obtain and rather expensive as a result, 'Some Were Lucky' tells Ken's wartime story once more, from enlistment to demobilisation.

This is a most welcome addition to the body of written work documenting the activities and achievements of the 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers and the 49th (West Riding) Division - The Polar Bears. The email associated with the book is stated above.

7th March 2016

Dear Adrian,

Well here it is at last - "Warts 'n all!". I do hope that you approve of the cover. Initially I asked my grandson, James, who worked in Graphic Design if he could do a suitable cover for what was initially to be a collection of A4 notes, stapled together & photocopied to pass a few around the family. James became interested in the project and offered to type it out to make it more presentable it wasn't until Steve saw your delightful lino cut and said "that's a perfect cover for your book" the ______ in this compact little publication.

So it has become a joint family project. I wrote the story, Steve chose the cover and James did all the hard work to get it published!

I told him I was quite pleased with what he'd done for a 21 year old to become a nationally registered book publisher is no mean achievement. Subsequently James has set up an email address so if you wish to use the email please do so and I shall get a copy of it within a day.

Best Wishes,


No comments:

Post a Comment