Today I am remembering my great uncle Bertie.
My great grandmother's first child, Albert (Bertie) Hodges was born on 18th December 1898. In adolescence he was diagnosed with a nervous complaint (St. Vitus Dance) which necessitated my great grandmother taking him regularly to a specialist London hospital for treatment.
As a young man for some relief to his nervousness he became a heavy cigarette smoker, particularly when feeling self-conscious, for example whenever being photographed.
In 1915, when World War 1 was in its second year, Bertie at 17 and still underage for military service, volunteered for the army in company with other village friends. He was enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. During basic training he was awarded a certificate for swimming 100 yards in the sea on July 1915.
However in November of that year my grandmother sent a copy of his birth certificate to the regiment revealing his true age and to his frustration he was sent home. To pass the time until he was 18, together with a friend, he ‘marked time’ by keeping chickens to occupy themselves and then re-enlisted in 1916 to cavalry squadron in the Fourth Army . Within 9 months he was dead.
My great grandmother had a nervous breakdown and never recovered.