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Re-discovering my great grandfather, Reginald Trevor: Letters home from World War 1

Updated on February 5, 2012

Reginald Trevor

My great grandfather, Reginald Trevor
My great grandfather, Reginald Trevor


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My mother recently received a phone call from a long-lost relative to announce the discovery of a collection of letters and photographs that my great grandfather wrote to his mother during his time serving in World War One. The letters, yellowed and crumbling with age, arrived to us bound with a ribbon, after many years of lying silently in an attic all but forgotten.

As we gingerly opened each of these priceless links with our past, our eyes and hearts were opened and history suddenly became very real. Having studied the World Wars in high school, I knew something of what I could expect to find, but what I found instead, was love, stoicism and some surprisingly human traits in my great grandfather that made discovering him again a truly meaningful experience.

I scanned and transcribed the letters, compiled old family photographs and trawled through internet archives to gather everything I could about this man, Reginald Trevor. My pride in him and his willingness to sacrifice everything for his country, has grown during this past week as more and more details have emerged. His uncomplaining and resilient nature shines out through the letters and what is not written says so much more than what is - particularly in regards to the horrific experiences he must have lived through during his time in Gallipoli and the battle of Pozieres in the Somme valley in 1916.

Throughout this hub I will share some of the letters and photographs that reveal some of what my great grandfather experienced. I see so much of my Mother and my recently-lost grandfather, my darling Poppy, in Reginald Trevor. Knowing how much my great grandfather endured in World War One, and what a legacy he has left through his letters, hard work and sacrifice for my family and our country Australia, gives me courage to face my own comparatively small challenges. I am so proud of him and quite amazed that almost 100 years after these precious letters were written, I am able to rediscover a man who would otherwise have remained as he was to me, a young soldier, quietly gazing out from a photograph - unknown to my cousins and myself, and fondly remembered by those who knew him. I only wish these letters could have been found before my grandfather William Trevor lost the chance to read them...


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    • jonihnj profile image

      jonihnj 4 years ago from Metro New York

      This is fantastic! I can't wait to dive in and read the rest. My relative didn't quite fight in World War I, but took advantage of the opportunity to state the Irish Rebellion! You are so fortunate to have the original letters to draw from!

    • Rufus rambles profile image

      Rufus rambles 6 years ago from Australia

      @Keri Summers and @JamaGenie:

      Thanks for your comments. It is great that people outside the immediate family can enjoy these letters and learn something of our ancestors' pasts. My great grandfather was lucky to survive WW1 - and knowing that he went on to have 7 children and that because of his life I am here today - is very gratifying.

    • Rufus rambles profile image

      Rufus rambles 6 years ago from Australia

      @JamaGenee: Thanks so much for your feedback. I agree - it is great that we can share these letters with a wider audience than our families. I will enjoy reading your family letters. Thanks for the vote!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Rufus, years ago I set up a web site, the first of several, to share old family photos and letters so that relatives could just download and print off the ones they wanted. The response was (at best) underwhelming. Then along came blogs and more permanent sites such as Hubpages with a much wider audience on which to share family treasures. From posting the same photos and letters, I've been contacted by many heretofore unknown cousins who'd otherwise be "lost" forever.

      What a marvelous thing you are doing in your great-grandfather's memory! Even those who are absolutely no relationship to him can learn about life as a WWI soldier AND life in general from this treasure trove of letters. Thank you. Voted up and awesome! ;D

    • Rufus rambles profile image

      Rufus rambles 6 years ago from Australia

      @Keri Summers: Thanks very much for your comment. I am glad you have enjoyed looking into the window of history. All letters have now been scanned and transcribed and each of my hubs has a chronological list of all letters for your ease of navigations. Thanks again!

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 6 years ago from West of England

      This is such important stuff. Real History. I look forward to reading all of your great-grandfather's letters.

    • Rufus rambles profile image

      Rufus rambles 6 years ago from Australia

      @Peggy W:

      Thanks again for your interest in my hub. I love having the chance to see his original letters and hope that by creating this hub other people will be able to learn from his experiences and have an insight into what so many soldiers experienced in WW1.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a wonderful discovery! So glad that these letters from your great grandfather's time were preserved and that you can now learn more about him from reading them. It DOES bring history alive and more meaningful...especially since he is your blood relative. Welcome to HubPages!