Stories of the War

Written in response to: Start your story with the line ‘Back in my day…’... view prompt


Historical Fiction Sad

Back in Amelia's day, no tragic events ever took place.

She lived in a quiet, peaceful town in Berkshire, England, with no matter more pressing than arriving at school on time.

Now, though, in Amelia's old age, the War To End All Wars arrived in 1914, nearing the end of a hot, balmy summer, the warmest England had seen in a long while.

That dreadful day, the fourth of August, was the day England entered the Great War.

Many brave young people went off to war, including Amelia's own grandson, Andrew Russell.

She and all her family wept when he left for Ypres, France, waving and crying as Andrew's train departed the station.

They all knew there was a chance Andrew wouldn't make it back to Berkshire, but Amelia chose to look on the bright side of things.

After all, she could never divine what would transpire in the future.

So Amelia spent the long, cold winter of 1914 knitting.

That was all she did, apart from eating and sleeping. Knitting helped her take her mind off things, and she could just focus on the stitches going back and forth methodically.

Through the hole, around the needle, hook the yarn off, and repeat. It was soothing to Amelia, something normal in this world of hurt she was experiencing.

Another thing Amelia did to pass the time was to read the newspapers, coming in once a week with news from the battlefront. She also got letters, too, from Andrew, who tried to keep the true horror of war light for his grandmother. Otherwise, Amelia would worry herself sick over her grandson, and march over to Ypres and drag Andrew home by one ear.

He talked about the conditions, thanking Amelia for the warmth of the socks, mittens and cap she knit for him, made lighthearted jokes, things like that which he knew would make her laugh.

His grandmother's days were filled with sorrow, happiness and loneliness all at the same time, with Amelia cycling through many emotions every day her beloved grandson was fighting in the Great War.

Amelia was always impatiently waiting for Andrew's next letter, almost hopping with interest.

So when she checked the mailbox at the end of her quaint cottage's little lane-way and saw an envelope marked Amelia Russell with a French postage stamp, she made haste to quicken her pace into the house.

There, she slit open the letter with a butter knife, unfolded the dried mud-spattered parchment with shaky hands, anticipating interesting news from her grandson.

Andrew did not disappoint, his letter being chock-full of wonderful tidings, no talk of death and destruction in the slightest.

I do wish I was home, Grandmother, he wrote. Although I am doing well here in France, without even a scratch, I miss you and Mother and everyone else. I wish I could be with you, knitting by the fire together while talking ceaselessly. I miss you, Grandmother.

Amelia wiped a tear from her wrinkly cheek. She so dearly wished to tell Andrew, to his face, I miss you.

But she couldn't, as he was in France, fighting the war alongside his English and French comrades.

Andrew's letters became the light of Amelia's days, and she laughed and cried while reading the emotional sections of the letters, and relieved or anxious at others.

Amelia was slightly surprised that Andrew didn't run out of things to write about, but apparently he was a treasure trove of information, and a river running through his head that never went dry.

He wished to be an author when he was older, and Amelia agreed with his aspirations.

In her mind, she believed Andrew was extremely creative and intelligent, the perfect combination for an excellent author.

So Amelia supported his decision the entire way, and she would kiss his cheek and congratulate him at his graduation.

After two years of service, the next letter of Andrew's that Amelia received in the mail was one of much interest, for Andrew wrote that he was finally leaving the mud-hole of Ypres, headed for Vimy Ridge.

I have also been promoted to corporal, which means that I now have a small group of soldiers and two cannons under my command, Andrew explained in the letter.

Amelia was very proud of him, and said so in her reply.

A few weeks later, Amelia checked her mailbox and found a letter addressed to Amelia Russell, with a postage stamp upon which was, she believed, a photograph of Vimy Ridge.

Amelia eagerly opened it, but she didn't find correspondence from Andrew inside.

Mailed two weeks earlier, the letter was from Andrew's sergeant, expressing his sincerest regrets for the passing of Corporal Andrew Russell.

He had perished bravely in battle, cut down by machine fire. He fought well, and was buried alongside his comrades who had fallen.

As Amelia wept, she thought nothing worse could happen in her long, sorrowful lifetime. At least, it had not been sorrowful up until this point, this tragic turning point.

Her grandson, her favourite, beloved grandson, was gone. Never to knit in the rocking chair beside his grandmother again, never to kiss his mother or shake his father's hand.

He was gone. Forever.

Andrew Russell was never coming back.

When Amelia received the news of the end of the war, she was overjoyed.

But no ending could ever bring her grandson back. His ending had been sad and brutal, with his relatives left to mourn his youthful life.

So many young soldiers passed away during the Great War, too many to count. So many young, opportunistic lives, people who would have lived a wonderful, happy life, snuffed out in the blink of an eye. To be no more.

No ending could ever bring any of those unfortunate men and women back.

Amelia died of heart failure not long after the announcement of peace, suffering from the loss of her grandson, Andrew.

She could not bear it any longer, and passed away peacefully in her sleep, going up to heaven to join Andrew.

It was a wonderful blessing on God's part to have not let Amelia Russell live longer, for if she'd been on this Earth for the Second World War, she would not have survived.

At the time of Amelia's death, her newly-born grandson, Richard, was just a child, but he went to the Second War, and barely made it out with his life.

As it was, Richard lost a leg and two fingers from the shells, the dreaded shells.

The Russell family suffered much over those long, tumultuous years, but they came out of it alive and well.

Most of them.

They would never forget those lives lost, of not just their beloved Andrew, but of all the people who gave their lives to protect their country.


Every year, the people remember the soldiers who perished in the name of their country, on a day christened Remembrance Day.

No one has forgotten their legacies, the legacies of the soldiers.

The veterans, the soldiers who survived, are extraordinarily lucky to be alive and standing, and we give thanks every day that these brave souls stood for what was right and brought us peace.

Thank you, all of you, for remembering the soldiers.

November 13, 2021 02:05

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Great story. So unique and original, and perfect for this time of year. I like putting my emotions into writing, and I don't know if you do too but this story was perfect.


Serena Johnston
14:11 Nov 15, 2021

Thanks. Yes, I do tend to put my emotions in, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident. I'm going to start writing more holiday- or important day-themed stories, around those days of course. Glad you liked it.


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