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  • Wendy Percival

Loss of a loving father

The Prime Minister spoke this week about the current Coronavirus situation being the biggest crisis in a generation which made me think about the horrors our ancestors would have had to live through in their lifetimes – world wars, economic depression, industrial accidents, plague and other pandemics, as well as their own personal losses.


The latter thought reminded me of the sad story of Alfred Joseph Saunders, my husband’s maternal grandfather.



My husband never met his grandfather, as he died many years before my husband was born. Alfred was born in Fulham in 1884 and was a joiner. The relationship between him and his daughter was very close, as was clear from the many postcards we have in the family archive (two of them shown below), which Alfred sent home from France during WWI.



The cards mainly depict children, often holding flowers, and all express messages of affection from a loving father to his daughter and only child, such as this one:

"My darling little girl, I hope you are keeping well also that you will have a happy Xmas. I suppose you will have all your little friends into tea. With love & kisses, from Dada xxxxxxxx"



As well as those sent during the First World War, there are two other postcards, dated August 1929, both posted in the UK, from Patching in West Sussex. One shows the Music Pavilion, Worthing, the other (below) is of Patching Pond showing the pub, The Horse and Groom (now, spookily, renamed The World’s End – about which I’m making no comment!)



One of the messages reads: I arrived all right, Bus into Patching (8.30) You can get a bus to anywhere from Patching. Love Dad. Added almost as an afterthought at the top of the postcard were the words Keeping fine.


But was he? And did his trip have anything to do with what would happen three weeks later? Did he visit the south coast for health reasons?


Sadly, on 29th August 1929, Alfred died of pulmonary tuberculosis aged only 45, leaving behind a very broken-hearted daughter.


The only consolation, perhaps, was that he had returned to the family home in Fulham by then, and died with his loving wife and daughter at his bedside.


Take care all, in these uncertain times. Stay safe!




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