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.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Walter and May

Walter Wildgoose was introduced to his future wife May Bissell in 1913 by Walter's sister Annie. Here's how he described it in one of his letters:

My sister got married while I was in Aden, but I had never seen her very much, as she was in service in London. I had a surprise one day, though. She and her husband Charles Bissell paid me a visit in the barracks, and it was to find out how I had been getting on in all these years. They invited me to come and spend a weekend with them when possible and I said I would bear it in mind. They were living in Kew Foot Road, near the Richmond Rugby Ground. His family was a large one and they all lived in the Richmond area. I went to see them one weekend, but I noticed my sister seemed to be rather distant, but she “thawed out” before I returned. I think of myself as a “rolling stone.” My brother, who was in the Royal Sussex Regt, had completed his service and was now in Scotland, and he used to visit Charles and Annie when he had “leave.” It was another visit I paid them, when I was introduced to one of Charles’ sisters. Her name was May, and she was in domestic service in Kew Gardens. We formed a friendship, and I used to write to her from Portsmouth.

When Walter and May met, he was stationed in Portsmouth with the Lincolnshire Regiment, having returned from a tour of duty in Aden in November 1912. The courtship of Walter and May is a prime example of the social mores of the day. The two were almost never alone, and yet somehow an understanding grew between them. But I'll save that story for another time.
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posted by MaryB @ 2:55 PM  


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