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.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Meeting May

May Bissell, 1910 - 20 years old

Walter returned from Aden in November 1912 and settled back into military life in Portsmouth until August 1914 (and we all know what happened then). While back in England he reconnected with his little sister Annie, who had recently married Charles Bissell. Here's the story from Walter:

We stayed in Aden until 1912 November, when we were relieved and we returned to our old barracks in Portsmouth. The usual military training took place during 1913, and then again in 1914.

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.

So the Wildgooses and the Bissells ended up with a double connection: Annie and Charles, Walter and May.
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posted by MaryB @ 10:08 AM  


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