Steve and Father
The object I have inherited is a pocket bible, which came from my Father and on . . . or in it now, is a hole where a piece of shrapnel went in on the 20th of February 1945 and no doubt saved his life because it didn’t cut all the way through, otherwise I wouldn’t be here now.
The object came into my possession after my Father died in 2004. It was originally given to my sister, but I have a military interest and she passed it on to me.
I’ve chosen this object because of my own interest in military history, but the history of the object itself plays an important part in our family, and my own existence I suppose. Who would know that if it didn’t capture the piece of shrapnel, what would happen to my Father, and I am a post war child so . . . one doesn’t know.
It’s a bible, and ironically his Grandfather (my Great-Grandfather), was a vicar and so there are religious connotations there. But it’s a closed book now.
I can’t say I like it or dislike it, but being a bible, it’s almost the phrase, "God works in mysterious ways" comes to mind.
How would I describe my Father? How long have you got? A proud man, could be very cantankerous . . . hard, and could play the old soldier, if people understand that phrase. And it does sum him up. But he came through the great depression and the Second World War, so I could suppose forgive some of his foibles.
Valuing an object like this, you can’t put a monetary value on it. You can put a sentimental and emotional value on it and obviously it’s very close to my heart and looking at the object it was close to my Father’s heart in 1945.
I didn’t know I was going to get this. I didn’t know of its existence surprisingly enough. And that’s amazing when you consider, er I knew my Father for . . . fifty odd years before he died, and it was strange receiving it.
Think of my Father, the first thing that comes to mind . . . it’s moving really to think of him and he’s no longer with us. Yeah, it can be quite moving when you think of it and sometimes you don’t want to think of what the first word that comes into your mind.
I suppose I think the first thing that comes into my mind now is gratitude. Might be begrudgingly, but gratitude. Because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here. And if he hadn’t have served in the Second World War, who knows what would have been the outcome there.
I suppose my Father and I, we could fight like cats and dogs because we were very similar . . . in personality and outlook; proud and . . . almost arrogant. But that comes from a being confident, not being cocky. It was just you were confident in the way you presented yourself, and the old man, as I called him, was that type of person . . . I’m not getting like him, I believe, but who knows. I have that sort of similar outlook.
If I could say something to me Dad, I think . . . you’d expect me to say, "Thank you" but I would say, "Why?" and sit back and listen to the answer. And if he says, "What do you mean, why?" I’d say, "Well why did you do this, why did that happen?" There’s so many questions that have never ever been answered, yet some of the family history search, you glean from sources, even official sources like army records, are answering the
questions all these years on.
I’m not a religious person erm, I have a belief . . . did it influence my grieving process? Yeah I suppose it did because you always have something to fall back on and in times of war for instance, you know God is the first person that the soldier turns to, but after the war is ended, he probably isn’t. And I suppose that’s the same with families too. Ironically one of my close friends is a vicar, a lady vicar of the Church of England. And we speak occasionally but eh, at that time we just grieved . . . dare I say it, internally, in more ways than one.
A sensory element to a bible? Well people handle them don’t they? They swear on them, they consult them. Erm, a sensory element . . . yeah you can touch it, but it’s old. Now you consider it goes back probably just before the Second World War. Erm, a sensory element . . . it’s rough? It’s been in somebody’s pocket on the battle field and it’s been in a drawer and it’s now kept in a drawer. My own Granddaughter aged 9, she likes to, or wants to, or requests to, "Can I put me finger in the hole Granddad, where the shrapnel went through?" And I won’t let her, because it will damage it and I also think that . . . I understand what she’s trying to say, a child, but I find that a little bit spooky.
I have to be honest and say there are not too many happy memories. Now that might be awful, but the question’s been asked, I’m answering it . . . honestly. Erm . . . happy memories? I think, if you see a person smile that’s something. And I suppose I’m able to see that person smile, but he wasn’t that sort of guy, wasn’t that sort of man who would show his emotions . . . outwardly. Certainly not the happy emotions. I think it was because of the life he led and came though, but I know it sounds awful but I haven’t many happy memories.