Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A family treasure

This bag was issued in 1942, to a new, war time recruit. He was just another young man, leaving his family behind to do what he he believed to be his duty.  His name was Norman Nicholls, and he had recently started 'courting' a young lady by the name of Barbara, with lush auburn hair and a sparkling smile. He was gone from her for 4 and a half years, during which time they wrote each other many letters, which followed him across the world to India, where he spent most of his war.

Norman was my husband's uncle, the elder brother of his father, Ken.  Norman was a second father to Jeffery, and Barbara a second mother - not to say there was any clash with Jeffery's parents, they were a quartet of dear friends till death.  Norman and Barbara never had any children, which, in my opinion, was a tragedy, as they would have made great parents, but their niece (Jeffery's older sister, Pat) and nephew gained immeasurably. Norman, Ken and his wife, Phyllis, died several years ago, leaving Barbara alone of the 4 family who were such close friends.  From their reunion at the end of the war until shortly before Norman's death, this bag housed those wartime letters, which makes it, by association, a symbol of all those special, loving years together.

Shortly before his death, Norman decided he didn't want to risk these letters falling into the wrong hands, and burned them. Recently, Barbara, in her early 90s, has been attempting to make clearing her home easier for those whose job it will be when she, too, dies, and confided that she didn't know what to do with the kit bag. To cut a long story short, I was given custody of it when visited recently.

This responsibility is a great privilege, and I treasure the lifetime of love that this bag symbolises.  Thank you, Barbara, for your trust.