The 11th Hour of the 11th Day, Etc

My grandfather ‘served’ in the First World War. His name was Robert Foster (I was named after him). Back then you could join the army at the age of 16. My grandfather Robert was 15 and lied about his age. He joined the Royal Artillery Regiment and took part in the battle of Verdun, which was one of the biggest slaughters of the First World War. During this totally senseless bloodbath my grandfather was near an exploding shell and was thrown up into a tree. By some miracle he survived (it’s a family trait) and after recovering in hospital he was sent back to the trenches. My grandfather Robert then refused an order from an officer (“over the top, boys!”). As punishment he was tied to a gun carriage and lashed. What saved my grandfather in that war was that he was gassed in the trenches, as were so many others, and he was evacuated back to Britain. My grandfather Robert died in 1947 from lung cancer…

Here’s a photo taken of my grandfather Robert, beside my grandmother Lil. This photo was probably taken sometime in the 1930s. You can probably see how frail my grandfather Robert looks. The medal he’s wearing is for being gassed in the trenches.

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