The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Walter and May, Part II

Walter was injured outside Ypres in late April, 1915, and sent to Clopton War Hospital near Stratford to recuperate. After he recovered he was sent to Grimsby to the reserve unit until it could be determined where he would go from there (he ended up in the newly-formed Machine Gun Corps). Here's how Walter remembered the marriage decision-making process. You have to admire May's gumption!

Later on, I had a letter from May, asking me what was my intentions regarding her future, as she wanted to know how she was situated. I was quite perplexed, and I sought the advice from one of our older soldiers who was a married man, and he simply told me that I had been courting long enough (by letter) and I had to decide upon marriage. This was quite a “shocker.” I found May to be a very nice young lady, domesticated, in service with some titled people, so I wrote and told her I would put up the Banns in Weelsby Parish Church. The date of the wedding was from the 9th October 1915.
I went to a jewelers in Grimsby with a comrade of mine to choose the ring according to a ring card which May had sent me. I bought the ring. I was granted four days leave. I went to London Earls Court, as there where May was staying with her sister and her husband Doc. The next afternoon, I was speaking to Violet, I was rather shy on these matters, and I was rather anxious to find out if the ring was suitable. Violet took the ring to May who was in another room, and to my horror, the ring was much too small. May came out, and we hurried out to go over to Richmond to buy another ring. May chose a nice one, and it was quite a relief. This obstacle had been removed.
The wedding took place the next day, and all May’s relations and her friends were to be there. I didn’t have anyone of my side, I was a proper “lone wolf.” A soldier friend came to the wedding to be my best man. Taffy Roberts. There was a nice church service in St. Johns Church in Kew Road, and I was thrilled with all the people who attended and they came to the reception held in May’s mother’s boarding house. Of course, I was in khaki uniform, I was confused among all those people. I sought refuge in the garden to be quiet, but May’s father and her brothers sought me out, and made me at home. I have never been used to such “high jinks” before. I never smoked or drank those days.
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posted by MaryB @ 12:50 PM  


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