Friday, 19 May 2017

A Very British Romance, part 14: The final chapter

Margaret brings us the last part in her tale of Connie and Angus.

Chateau of Gruyeres, taken by GGDELABAS, reused under Creative Commons license 4.0
Chateau of Gruyeres, taken by GGDELABAS, reused under Creative Commons license 4.0
Two months have passed, it is Sunday morning 20 May 1917, and Connie is still in Switzerland.

She is sitting ready for church but has time to write a few lines home.
'I sent you a postcard from Gruyere yesterday, we had a delightful picnic, it is about 1 ½ hours journey in the train up another valley. It is a beautiful place like an Italian village.'

They saw a Chateau with houses clustered all around, nuns going to church, and the famous Gruyere lace which Connie says is like Nottingham lace but she didn't buy any because it was too expensive. However, she will tell them more of these outings when she gets home.

'I must tell you my plans now. As you would see by one of my letters, I intended coming with a party of [prisoners’] wives leaving here on the 24th [May]. I was given permission by Colonel Picot to travel by the same train but of course had no claim on them, which I quite understood.

However, Mr. Nelson's Father (Mr. Nelson is the one-legged boy) came out about three weeks ago with a ‘party’ to Murren, and intends, if possible, to travel back with them on the 28th (if his papers get through in time). He came up here on Tuesday night with young Nelson (who is down in Montreux now) for our concert, and said he would be very glad to have my company on the return journey. Needless to say I jumped at it, so have written Captain Johnson at Murren to know if I may join them and am awaiting an answer.

Angus and I will leave here next Wednesday, stay one night at Montreux (to have a claw in my ring seen to), then go to Lausanne to the Consul there, then to Berne, and back to Lausanne where I expect we will pick up the wives. But as I have said before please do not get anxious about me, it is a business. Another time I could do it in much less time (if arrangements were not altered as they are every month). With luck I ought to be home about the weekend of the 2nd June.’

Connie says she has seen in The Times ‘Phil’s resignation of his Majority’. This is her brother, Philip, and Angus’ friend, an officer with 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. He was actually only holding the rank of Acting Major, which ended on 10 March 1917, however, two days prior to Connie writing her letter, he had been giving the rank again.

Connie signs off her last letter from Switzerland…
‘Your bairn Connie.
Constance Kirkup.’

Connie is leaving Angus behind, but with luck he may be one of the group of British internees who come home in December 1917. This is as far as we go for now.

Editor’s epilogue:
Hornsea Promenade, 1917, with thanks to East Yorkshire Archives
A massive thank you to Margaret for writing this Very British Romance for us. Angus’ letters from after this time have now been transcribed, but are not yet online. 

He was repatriated in December 1917, and spent some time with 5th (Reserve) Battalion, at a camp in Hornsea, East Yorkshire. It seems this was a camp for officers awaiting a posting. Under the terms of his return from Switzerland, Angus could not be posted to a zone of war. In May 1918, he gets a job in London with a department helping to develop a new gas mask. With another officer, his task is to find a more efficient and comfortable mouthpiece.

Angus and Connie got married on 16 October 1918 at St George’s Church, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne. A report appeared the next day in the Newcastle Journal, which included a detailed account of Connie’s outfit:

‘The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a gown of fine ivory crepe de chine, the skirt being stitched in an Arabesque design. The bodice and panels were embroidered in georgette over pink mousseline de soie, edged with ostrich feather ruching with a unique girdle of ivory beads and silk cord. The hat was of white manchon, the only trimming being a superb ostrich feather. A bouquet of white carnations and white heather and a gold pendant were the gifts of the bridegroom.’

The couple went on to have two children. Connie was living at The Mount House, Springwell, Gateshead, when she died on 25 January 1950, and Angus died less than two months later.

No comments:

Post a Comment