A Mr. Cole wrote down his reminiscences of his childhood in Kenilworth and Warwickshire, around the time of the First World War. His recollections of the war offer an insight into those times.
The war drags on
The War drags on. A boy or girl come to school looking troubled, they’ve had bad news. I well remember a boy just breaking down and sobbing one morning when the Teacher spoke sharply to him. His Mother had heard that morning of her husband’s death at the front.
The anxieties of the War clouded our young lives. Of the two Wars, I think the first was much the harder to live through. All one heard from ones soldier relative was often carried on a “field card”. We knew not where they were beyond somewhere in France. The card was printed and the soldier crossed out the phrases not applicable; and in those days France was far away. Forgive me if I seem to dwell on this subject over much.
The Dublin Fusiliers come to Kenilworth
I think, yes I am sure, that it was this year 1916 [actually 1915] that the Dublin Fusiliers came to Kenilworth. They were billeted all over the town. We saw them leave for Gallipoli with the Mule drawn Kitchens and Wagons.
So very few survived the War of that Battalion, all men of military age were called up as conscripts. Only pretty severe disability or work of national importance was enough to get a man exemption. My father was found to be almost completely deaf in one ear and his work as a printer did enable him to get exemption month by month. He worked terribly long hours, 8 till 9:30 at night for weeks at a time. And printers were still at pre-war rates of pay, as were many others, till the war was nearly over. Not everyone was a Munition worker.