Opinion: Poignant stories of our soldiers

The Peace Parade in Market Square, Northampton, on July 19, 1919
The Peace Parade in Market Square, Northampton, on July 19, 1919

On Monday night I was reading through some of the soldiers’ stories featured in our First World War supplement inside this week’s paper.

As we approached the 100th anniversary of the hour when that war was declared the stories felt so poignant.

Bernard Vann was awarded the VC for the gallantry and leadership he displayed in battle on September 29, 1918.

A few days after the actions that earned him the VC he was killed by a sniper. He never had the chance to see his baby son as the boy was born after his father’s death.

Private George Smith enlisted in the Army in 1917 at the age of 19.

He was taken prisoner the following year and his diary tells of the cruelty and hardships and some kindnesses he experienced as a POW.

He was lucky enough to survive the war, writing in his diary that he just wanted to “enjoy the pleasures of dear old home once again”.

He died only 10 years later though, probably from the after-affects of being gassed during the conflict.

And Harry Higgs who looked so handsome in his uniform that the girls of Geddington were all a flutter when they saw him, spreading the word that “Harry Higgs is home!”

He died at Ypres, aged 19.

His sister-in-law Joan wrote to tell us about him saying “perhaps a very unpretentious story, no record of great valour but so typical of all the lovely young men of that time, with the promise of a bright successful future. Just slaughtered.”

They all deserve to be remembered. Every one.

Yvonne Martin, Deputy Editor