Guest blogger – David Youngson shares his memoire “If only”

David has been researching World War One for over thirty years and is more than happy for people to contact him should they require information regarding relatives.



The anniversary of the events of World War One,  childhood memories of mine have come into focus.

 As a young boy I went shopping with my Granny, in the main street there sat a pavement artist.  I was fascinated to look at his work but also very curious as to why he had no legs.


Once a week a couple used to visit my Grandparents to play whist. The lady was extremely kind and always brought some sweets for me, the man was well built with a great sense of humour and when he laughed his face turned red and often bouts of coughing ensued.

 At the Grammar school there was a Form Master who taught English and was very severe with errant youths sparing no one from the cane, he had an artificial left leg. A Chemistry Master was easily distracted and told stories about his war time experiences. Our Headmaster had a scarred left cheek and a glass eye, which distracted you from his kindly smiling and understanding face.   As the pieces came together in later years I realised just how much I had missed. They had all served in the First World War.

 The pavement artist lost his legs on the Somme. I visited the kindly lady after the death of her husband, she confessed that they had always regarded me as the son they never had, he had been gassed during the First World War. The stern and bitter Form Master with the artificial leg and the Headmaster had also served in the conflict,  all of them had subsequently married and were childless.

Each had an individual story to tell but like their fallen comrades they were silent. As I continue my research I sometimes pause and say to myself, “If Only…..”


Revd David T. Youngson