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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

From Dinapore to Lucknow to Khartoum

After baby Cyril died in September 1924, Walter, May, and young Douglas moved one more time:

Poor May, she has had some hardships! We left Dinapore to go to Lucknow in November 1924, and we had to get settled down once more in new surroundings. Everyone had the same experience. A soldier’s life!

Douglas was now nearly five years of age and he was beginning to understand me more, as he had never seen me before. May used to attend the “Old Tyme” Practice dances, and she used to perm the ladies’ hair for them, as she had the proper equipment. I did not go in for that sort of pastime. I looked after Doug in the quarters, and my dog, Dan, a lovely spaniel.

(I have omitted some items of 1926:) During the Monsoon season, the married families used to go up in the Hills. In our case it was Ranikhet in the Kumoan Hills. Our regiment were stationed in Chaubattia and it was there that my son Ronald Leslie was born 24 June 1926. Doug was his nursemaid as he wheeled him all over the place. Douglas would be six years old now. They were two good children, and there was one particular toy I would not buy him was a drum. I used to go wild listening to other children’s drums. They drove me mad.

We stayed in Lucknow until November 1928, when the regiment was notified that it would be going to Khartoum. This gave everyone time to dispose of most of their possessions, as this would be above the allowance to be taken on ship or train. My chief worry was Dan. I wanted to find a good home for him which I was successful in doing so. Our Medical Officer offered to have him so off Dan went quite happy and it was a great relief. We entrained for Bombay and then on the troopship called the Devonshire. When it arrived at Port Sudan, the regiment disembarked and after a few hours rest, we got on the train to take us to Khartoum. The married families were taken to England, all parted again from their husbands. May was lucky to be able to get a nice flat in North Sheen.

So Walter and May separated one last time during his military career - he to Khartoum to finish out his army time and she and the boys to England to await his return.
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posted by MaryB @ 8:55 PM  


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