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CLEVEDON'S OWN - The Great War 1914 to 1918 can be order by writing to:

"Clevedon Civic Society Sales, 33 Tennyson Avenue, Clevedon, BS21 7UJ"

using our postal order form, enclosing a cheque made payable to Clevedon Civic Society.

NOTE: Please add the sum of £3.00 to your order to cover postage and packaging.

Registered Charity No: 263374  -  Founded in 1970

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CLEVEDON'S OWN - The Great War 1914 to 1918

Paperback, 112 pages -

Published June 2004

Includes separate Roll of Honour

Editor: Rob Campbell

Priced at £9.95

The loss of life in the First World War was felt by every family in Great Britain - That much is true and its devastating effect on the generations that followed has been tolerably constant. I have two relatives listed on the War Memorial in Glastonbury and another in Midsomer Norton. So why then should 2014 be any different to all the other 100 years, just because this year is the Centenary? Already the Newspapers, TV, Radio are featuring programmes to remind us yet again of the conflagration, when in truth none is ‘absolutely’ necessary because we do remember them.

The outpouring of individual family sorrow has been never ending since its beginning. Tales are passed by word of mouth from generation to generation and collectively via local history and the millions of names on memorials.

Excellent books like Clevedon’s Own by Rob Campbell have been produced in various forms ever since. Rob’s is the story of a war as it affected our town. Other towns have done the same. Midsomer Norton has a book entitled ‘No Thankful Village’ and displays somewhat in anger the reaction of a Town ‘not thankful’ that it lost and had maimed so many of its ‘best and most promising men of their generation’.

Since World War 2 we have had a generation that has been allowed to thrive and to grow old. Have they – we - through hindsight and wisdom, done better, prevented war and disharmony? I think not. Yet it was for that reason - to end all wars – that men flocked to recruiting offices (in both world wars) to allow us to survive. (Or has our generation been allowed to grow old because of fear of the bomb!)

This book does a great service to this town in revealing through dedicated research, the response to what was perceived as “a great danger to civilisation”.

Each member of the population had a story to tell, both civilian and service and thankfully the editor, Rob Campbell, has gleaned rich colour from dusty dialect prose, poetry, anecdotes and heavily posed photographs. Men and women offering all to the conflict. The trench horrors of 1914 to 1918 cannot be appreciated by any one of us unless having been totally involved in brutal conflict. What do we make of the expressions: ‘hand to hand’ - ’lying where they fell’ - ‘the smell was enough to turn a man green’ as recounted by Private

Frank May in a letter to his parents. You would have to live the horrors to really understand. I would beg that even then, they didn’t understand; the horrors being too much to bear. An uncle gassed but survived, an arm or leg or both lost here and there and a face needing restructuring with primitive surgery.

As a child in WW2, living in Herbert Road, there were ladies, neighbours, living there, respectfully called Miss X and Miss Y all in their 40s and 50s. Each had lost a boyfriend or more formally a fiancé to the conflict. Post war, the lack of eligible men committed them to a permanent, unfulfilled loneliness. Each had a picture of their loved one on their mantle piece, a reminder of a life of promise cut short, whilst still in this world.

Let’s not celebrate 100 years of passing history. Let’s just be thankful that most of us have been able to live off the fruits bequeathed to us over time, through so many sacrifices.

Paul Kite

Paul is a retired Flight Sergeant who saw 31 years of service as an RAF Ground Crew.