the friend online
27 April 2007

Patterdale earth - preview

Jill Segger reflects on what might have been

Patterdale is a picture-postcard village
  • Lying at the southern tip of Ullswater, it nestles below fells so steep and close they seem to rise from the rooftops
  • My grandfather described his birthplace as resembling 'a l'aal bun in a basin
  • ' Perhaps that image sustained him as he struggled for physical and mental survival on the killing fields of northern France ninety years ago

  • In 1914, Granddad was a young shepherd minding flocks in the shadow of Hellvelyn
  • On hearing that his country needed him, he cycled to Carlisle to enlist
  • By the eve of the Somme he was a sergeant – the natural rank of an intelligent working-class man in those times
  • So many junior officers fell in the days which followed that the young NCO with a Cumbrian accent and an elementary-school education received the King's Commission
  • He left the army with the rank of major, decorated for bravery under fire and held in high regard by the men from whose ranks he had risen

  • Jill Segger

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    Barbara Forbes & Marian H Wilbye
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