I never actually asked him because he died when I was four, but I have found out quite a bit, as it happens. Today would have been his birthday if he'd lived to a record-breaking age, so it's a good day to remember him.
The picture on the right is the grandpa I remember, although more cheerful - he always looked grumpy in pictures, I have no idea why. He always wore a collarless shirt and a waistcoat, and he always had a tiny little stub of a pencil in the pocket. I would say 'draw funny man' and he'd take out the pencil and draw little clown pictures for me.
He was born and died in Govan, and like many men there he worked in the Glasgow shipyards; when he married my grandmother in 1917 the marriage certificate showed his occupation - iron driller - and the ship that he was serving on, HMS Emperor of India. I had known that he was in the Royal Navy, but when I found his service record I was surprised to find that he seemed to have only joined the navy in August 1917. If I had looked closely I would have noticed that the marriage certificate, dated four months earlier, gave the name of his ship.
|TNA Ref: ADM 188/1073/315|
|TNA Ref: ADM 339/1|
|TNA Ref: ADM 337/27/7|
He was the fourth of thirteen children, and his three elder brothers were also of an age to serve in the First World War. I have found no trace of the two eldest brothers serving in any of the armed forces, but the third one, George, served in the Highland Light Infantry and was killed towards the end of the war, in August 1918.