Tagged: IRVING

Old Family Photographs

What a great treasure old family photographs are!

Thankfully my Dad is still around to help me identify his Grandparents in the first photograph below, though when you look closely it seems obvious that the young girl on the right in the first one and the silver-haired woman on the right in the third one is one and the same person – my Great Aunt Muriel.

Also noticeable is the ‘RETTIE nose’ shared by my Great Grandfather and his son – and also my Dad and me too!

My Great Grandfather George RETTIE with his wife Elizabeth Findlay SMITH and their youngest child Muriel circa 1932

George RETTIE and his wife Charlotte Leeder IRVING

My Grandfather George RETTIE (seated) and his wife Charlotte Leeder IRVING (also seated), on their Wedding Day in 1929

From left to right: My Grandmother Charlotte Leeder IRVING, her husband George RETTIE, and his youngest sister Muriel RETTIE, at their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1979

Like Father Like Son

Well, I certainly hit the mother lode with this ‘IRVING’ folder. As well as the postcard and photo of my Great-Grandfather Hugh IRVING, I also found an envelope stuffed with primary sources – birth, marriage and death certificates (some of them originals). Seems my Dad was in correspondence with his second cousin Evelyn IRVING and his cousin Lizbeth HAY re the IRVING family tree.

Will take me a while to enter it all into my genealogy software of choice (MacFamilyTree), but I can already see that Frederick IRVING had a son called Hugh (after his Grandfather) and that he too joined the Forces, but this time in World War II.

In the envelope is a testimonial from his unit commander:

TESTIMONIAL
14363857 Serjeant IRVING, HUGH.
MILITARY CHARACTER-EXEMPLARY.

Joined this unit in August 1944 and has since served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. A first class and dependable soldier in every way who has had an excellent record since being with the unit.

He has been employed as a fitter and through hard work has worked his way to his present rank.  He is honest, sober, clean and a first class organiser, and has shown great initiative in handling men.  Is intelligent and a good sport, and should be a great asset to any future employer.

[Signed] (FD PILE) Major, Comd 1st Royal Tank Regiment.
BAOR [British Army of the Rhine]    September 1946.

I’m sure his Dad, and his two Uncles who all died in World War I, would have been proud.

Postcard from the Trenches

Oh boy, this is going to be hard to convey how emotional I feel right now…

One of my previous posts concerned the five IRVING brothers – none of whom survived the Great War.

Well, I was just going through the box of family history research that my Dad gave me recently. He had traced the direct line of RETTIE ancestors back to 1678 (before the internet, with many hours trawling through microfiche I bet). The box is full of his hand-drawn charts, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, hand-written notes, etc. There was a separate folder labelled ‘IRVING’ which I hadn’t looked into before now.

And inside I found something more precious than any medal…

Postcard from Hugh IRVING to his daughter Charlotte (front)

Postcard from Hugh IRVING to his daughter Charlotte (front)

Postcard from Hugh IRVING to his daughter Charlotte (back)

Postcard from Hugh IRVING to his daughter Charlotte (back)

Dear Lottie.
Can you find me out in this Photo. This is the place w[h]ere we were digging trenches. 
I am away at the back with my hat the wrong way.
Are you still getting on well at school and behaving yourself.
Are you still going [for] Grannies messages.
From Dada with love and kisses. x x x x x

Lottie is Charlotte, my Nana (my paternal Grandmother) and this postcard is written by her Dad, Private Hugh IRVING of the Scots Guards, killed 19th June 1917, Flanders.

I also found a picture titled ‘Sgt E.H. Trinder’s Squad, Scots Guards, November 1915’. I presume my Great-Grandfather is somewhere – this time with his hat the right way round!

Sgt Trinder's Squad, Scots Guards, Nov 1915

Sgt Trinder’s Squad, Scots Guards, Nov 1915


I shall treasure these items forever and endeavour to find out more about Corsham trenches, the photographer(?) Spackman and Sgt Trinder.

Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood

My last few posts have concentrated on the RETTIE line of my family tree, specifically the brothers of my Dad’s paternal Grandfather George RETTIE.  This post concerns my Dad’s maternal Grandfather Hugh IRVING.

I knew Hugh was my Great-Grandfather a number of years ago, as I visited his grave in Belgium in 2001.  So too did my son Bryan last year, on a school History trip to Flanders’ fields.

What I didn’t know until the other night was the devastating affect of the Great War on his family – on top of already great sadness at the early deaths of two other brothers…

My previous post re John RETTIE had made me aware of the War Graves Photographic Project, a partner site to the CWGC. I thought I would see how their picture of Hugh IRVING’s grave compared to my own and duly typed his name into the Search facility. What I didn’t expect was an entry coming up for Edinburgh Eastern Cemetery!

I could see it was a memorial inscription for the whole family, so duly ordered an email copy of the photograph (costs are suggested donation of £3.50 for email copy and £5.50 for hard copy).

The email arrived promptly the next day with the photo of the headstone:

IRVING family headstone, Edinburgh Eastern Cemetery

IRVING family headstone, Edinburgh Eastern Cemetery. Courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project.

Erected by Hugh & Charlotte Irving in loving memory of their sons.
JOHN died 13th January 1895, aged 18.
WILLIAM died 30th July 1909, aged 18.
HUGH killed 19th June 1917, aged 36.
CHARLES killed 13th July 1917, aged 29.
FREDERICK killed 20th October 1918, aged 37.
Also the above
HUGH IRVING died 18th August 1928, aged 77
and his beloved wife
CHARLOTTE LEEDER died 6th September 1928, aged 78.

Hugh IRVING was a Blacksmith and before the Great War, he and his wife Charlotte had lost their sons John and William (both Apprentice Boilermakers) to illness – Tuberculosis and Appendicitis respectively – at the tender age of 18.

If that wasn’t bad enough, imagine the grief when, within a month of each other, two more sons are killed in battle and, a year later, the fifth and final son is killed in France? Truly incomprehensible…

The three brothers killed in action had all joined separate units – Hugh the Scots Guards, Charles the Highland Light Infantry and Frederick the Royal Scots Fusiliers. If this was an attempt to spread out to avoid them all being unlucky enough to be in the same place at the wrong time, it proved a futile tactic.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
‘For the Fallen’, Laurence Binyon, 1914.

Headstone of Hugh IRVING, Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

Headstone of Hugh IRVING, Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Headstone of Charles IRVING, Coxyde Military Cemetery, Koksijde, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

Headstone of Charles IRVING, Coxyde Military Cemetery, Koksijde, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project.

Headstone of Frederick IRVING, Willems Communal Cemetery, Nord, France.

Headstone of Frederick IRVING, Willems Communal Cemetery, Nord, France. Courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project.