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What Life Is All About Part 2 - Articles Surfing
Granddad married my grandmother, Bella, and raised a family of 4. Their children names were, Jack, Tom, (my Father), Hilda and Betty. They were a very happy family, and I'm given to understand they were never rich, and at times did not have enough to eat due to the small wages earned at the pits. My Uncle and Aunts were very close to each other, and they loved each and every one of us kids, they were nice people. My Uncle Jack went down the pit the same time as my Father. My Aunt Hilda married and became a Spiritualist. She became quite involved in the community, My Aunt Betty went to London and got small parts acting on the stage.
I am getting ahead of myself. When Granddad was young and working down the pits, the miners were not paid at all well. In those days there were no unions to help out. It is now said the Unions today, cause too much trouble with their strikes and what have you. However, in Granddad's day, the only way the workers could get anything done to raise wages and better their working conditions was, to collectively go to management and put their grievances to them. Invariably the pit owners turned a deaf ear to their requests, and told them to get back to work or be fired. Also in those days, there was no such thing as safety precautions down the pits, the owners just did not care what happened down there, as long as the coal came to the surface. Working down the pit at that time, was very dangerous. In order to get changes, and make conditions better, the workers had to protect themselves as well as they could. They would beg and plead with the owners to give them better working conditions and wages, but they, the owners would refuse and continue to take their profits and to hell with the workers. It wasn't just the owners of mines who badly treated their workers, factory workers and others were all treated the same way. Workers, back then, did not have a lot of benefits at all.
It is no wonder in later times the unions got a foothold, and became the strength they are today, for in the 1920's all workers were treated as second rate citizens. There are many stories about how the workers suffered, before, and after the first World War of 1914 to 1918.
When Grandfather reached the age of 27, war was declared. Germany had decided they wanted to rule more of Europe and proceeded to invade adjoining countries. History will tell of other reasons for the war. It still boiled down to the fact they wanted more of Europe. England and France would have none of this, and declared war on Germany. Like many other young men in England and France, volunteering was the only honorable thing to do. Grandfather, with very little training, left home for the trenches in France.
He had to leave his children and go to the front knowing very little of what war was all about. Germany had to be stopped as soon as possible. The song the soldiers sang as they went to the front was'
The Tommies, as the English soldiers were called, really believed that it was just a matter of them showing up to fight, and the Germans would run. Little did they guess how hard the next 4 years would be.
In those days, horses were used to pull the wagons and cannons through the mud up to the front-line. They would be under gunfire whenever they did this work. Granddad said the screams of injured soldiers and horses at the front still remained with him those many years later.
Unlike, World War 2, the war was fought mostly in the trenches. One side would launch an attack and win a few yards, then the other would reverse the procedure and win the few yards back. In the meantime, the soldiers were dying in that 'no mans land' between the two sets of trenches. Because of snipers who would kill anyone venturing out to help the wounded or to collect the bodies, many of the dead were just left to rot. Granddad said the rats would come out in droves to eat the bodies soldiers.. He said it was terrible to see buddies of his, lie there, for he could do nothing to help them.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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