Sunday, 16 November 2014

World War 1 Memories

Oil on Board, 10 x 15 inches

With all the excellent documentaries and docu-dramas on the telly about the First World War, I thought it would be apropos to post this painting I did way back in the '80's. I set up the still-life with two postcards sent to my nana from my grandad during WW1, together with his war medals. The sepia photograph shows my grandad in his army uniform, and my nana together, Harry and Elizabeth Hutchings.

This was really a labour of love, painting such intricate details in oils, especially the stamp and the writing on the postcard, which reads "Dear Lizzie, This will give you an idea of what our huts are like, of course you can see it is me. With love, Harry" and at the top "I have sent one to Sally", my nana's sister. Just a tiny snapshot of 'normal' life from that very abnormal time.
I know little about my grandad's WW1 experiences, only that he was 30 when he enlisted, and was listed as missing in 1917, but returned home in 1918 and was completely loused up, in the true sense of the word, and when my Uncle Arthur, two years old at the time and having not seen him before, said "what's that" on seeing his father.

It's only now, with my grandad long dead, that I would love to have talked to him at length about his Great War experiences. Like most of the lucky soldiers who lived to tell the tale, he never did speak of it, and being from that austere time, he took his memories to his grave. If only he had written it down. As a boy of course, I had no interest in what he did, but now, as an adult, with the awareness of mortality, I would dearly love to know exactly what he went through in the hell of the trenches. Using the BBC's iwonder link, I hope to find out something of where he went, but nothing will ever come close to hearing the words from my grandad's mouth. A lost memory.

Here's a pencil drawing I did of him back in 1982, from a photograph taken not long before he died.
 Harry Hutchings, born 1884


  1. Dear Peter!... I have long admired your wonderful landscape paintings and visit your site often. However... it wasn't until this post that I felt it necessary to comment upon a painting!

    All are incredibly... no masterfully executed... but your personal renderings this morning reach so much further beyond the simple beauty of the physical. They both reach deeply into the soul of the viewer. They did mine!

    Together they record a "universal"... a shared moment in the lives of so many... in so many parts of the world. Your words are equally expressive and weave so beautifully in the textures and details that you have loving created.

    What a beautiful and lasting tribute to your Grandparents. Thank you for sharing!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

    1. Thank you very much Bruce, you're very kind! Very pleased that my work affected you so. Harry was just one pawn who survived that terrible war, but hopefully will speak for all the other poor sods who didn't make it.

  2. An inspiring tribute

    Easton on the Hill

    1. Only just seen your comment Louise - thank you!

  3. Touching tribute to your grandfather. As I work on my family's genealogy I also regret missed opportunities. Your painting is a lovely way to honor his memory. Dawn Stebleton

    1. Thank you Dawn - only just seen your comment. Yes, when they're gone, their voice is silent...


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