What she must have went through........

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What she must have went through........

Post by SEXY MAMA on Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:19 am

The mother who lost five sons: On Armistice Day, the heartbreaking story of the biggest loss by a British family in the Great War
By ANNABEL VENNING
Last updated at 10:25 AM on 11th November 2011


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The moment Amy Beechey saw the envelope with a French postmark she feared the worst. Sent from a military hospital in Rouen, dated December 29, 1917, it brought the news she had been dreading.

Her son, 36-year-old Rifleman Leonard Beechey, wounded and gassed at the battle of Cambrai a month earlier, had died of his wounds. Tetanus set in and the doctors could do nothing to save him.

He would, the chaplain told his mother, be buried in Rouen, far from the Lincolnshire countryside where he and his seven brothers had grown up, together with five sisters (a sixth sister had died aged five).


Barnard Beechey was the first of the brothers to be killed after the battle of Loos in Septmber 1915. Bar's death was followed by the loss of Frank, right, after a shrapnel wound at the Somme in November 1916

Up and down Britain mothers were receiving similar letters and telegrams containing news that shattered their lives, destroying the hopes and dreams they had harboured for the boys they had loved and nursed through childhood.

But few mothers had to bear such a loss as often as Mrs Beechey. For this was not the first devastating letter she had received. She had already lost four sons to the war.

Leonard was the fifth. The fifth son who had written reassuring letters to his mother from the front and to whom she had sent parcels of pork pies, warm socks and letters full of hope and love. The fifth son for whose deliverance she had prayed, each time clinging to the hope that the latest, terrible loss would be her last.


Harold, left, had dreamed of having a farm but was the third to die following a shell blast at Arras in April 1917. Char, right,  was fourth after being hit in the chest by a bullet while fighting the Germans in Tanzania in October the same year

Once again her life had been cruelly shattered by the arrival of a brown envelope at 14 Avondale Street, her terrace house in Lincoln.

Of her eight sons, she had three left: one had been crippled by the war, another was serving in the Balkans, while her eighth and youngest  was already training to be an officer.

In the week we commemorate all those who have lost their lives in war, the story of the Beechey family has a particular resonance. Only one other British family is known to have lost five sons in World War I, but little is known of them, beyond a couple of letters. 

The Beecheys, however, were conscientious correspondents. All eight sons wrote frequently to their mother and sisters. The daughter of their youngest sister Edith (known as ‘Edie’), Josephine Warren, kept all the 300 or so letters. The bundle includes the brief, impersonal Army missives that began: ‘It is my painful duty to inform you . . .’


Leonard was the last of the brothers to die after being wounded at the battle of Cambrai on November 30, 1917

Author Michael Walsh wrote the brothers’ story using the letters and now Mrs Warren has donated the collection to the Lincolnshire county archive. The archivists have put several on the internet for the public to view, and hope to eventually make the entire collection available online.

It will give people an insight, not only into the extraordinary loss of one family, but the vast human toll behind the terrible statistics of World War I — in which nine million were killed and many more injured.

While it is a story of sadness and suffering, it is also a remarkable testimony to love, loyalty and courage. Amy and her husband, the Rev William Thomas Beechey — nearly 20 years her senior — had brought up their 13 children in a spacious rectory in Friesthorpe, Lincolnshire.

It was a happy home, but when William died in May 1912, aged 76, his family had to leave the rectory and move into the modest house in Lincoln. By 1914, only Mrs Beechey’s five daughters and youngest son, Samuel, remained at home. 

Barnard, known as Bar, her first-born, had become a schoolteacher. A bright boy, he had failed to fulfil his early promise, probably as a result of alcoholism. When war with Germany was declared in August 1914, Bar was 37 and jobless. He immediately enlisted as a private.

Char, a year younger, was a respected maths master. Kindly, reliable and his mother’s rock, he was in no hurry to join the young men swamping army recruiting offices in an outburst of patriotic fervour. Nor was Leonard, the third brother, a mild, studious railway clerk.

The next brother down, Chris, had worked as a clerk alongside Len but tired of office life — and in 1910 emigrated to Western Australia.

He was followed two years later by Harold, the sixth brother. Together they bought a homestead in the dusty outback. But their efforts were blighted by a drought that decimated their crops.

When war was declared, patriotism and the prospect of regular pay prompted both brothers to join the Australian Imperial Force, Harold as a private and Chris as a sergeant, though he was transferred to the medical corps after he injured his back.


Source The Daily Mail

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Re: What she must have went through........

Post by Guest on Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:33 am

We dont know how lucky we are do we, not having to send our children of to war.


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Re: What she must have went through........

Post by SEXY MAMA on Fri Nov 11, 2011 11:34 am

Nems Again wrote:We dont know how lucky we are do we, not having to send our children of to war.

Exactly.
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Re: What she must have went through........

Post by Guest on Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:42 pm

Nems Again wrote:We dont know how lucky we are do we, not having to send our children of to war.



That, Nems, sums it up in a nutshell. Have been listening to Jeremy Vine of the radio this week. He has been doing interviews with Mothers or grandmoths who have lost children in Iran and Afghanistan and been playing the favourite music of the boys who died, it really does bring it home.

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