A sweetheart souvenir brooch of Hill 60, World War One. (Ieper, Ypres or 'Wipers' according to one's nationality and education.) Hill 60 was the repeated site of fierce savage and ultimately pointless battles. A slaughterhouse.
Given to my grandmother, born in 1901 she would have been no older than 18 when she received it. Just before she died, she gave it to me quietly and told me that I must never ever lose it, sell it or give it away. From this I know it was the only thing she ever really valued in her life. She never told me more. She was a working class woman from a poor background and we had a very strong bond.
It is a memento of someone who served on Hill 60, I know no more than that. She didn't marry him. Unknown if he lived or died, whether he was British or maybe Australian, if he was at Hell's Corner or if he just served and died. I don't know his name even. It was her secret and she never told. Let it be.
The sense of grief and pride in that lost generation is so real that it transcends the ages, and resonates down the years. The brooch tells me of the reticence of those who would have preferred to have lived their lives out in decent quiet anonymity.