Title: Alfie's War - Prologue
by Heidi from Hampshire and Isle of Wight | in writing, fiction, novels
9th November 2009
"Wasnât the war still on?" Lucy asked, confused.
"Yes, but canât you see his left hand?"
Lucy looked carefully, before exclaiming, "Itâs in a sling!"
"Yes, he got hit by a bullet in Ypres. He was lucky to have still kept it. But he was sent home for a whileâ¦ a âBlightyâ wound, he and his friends used to call it. But his handwriting was never the same againâ¦"
"I heard about wounds like that, so bad that the Army had no choice but to send them back to England until they had fully recovered. Many soldiers shot themselves in the foot so they could escape from the trenches."
"They did, but they would be severely punished for it, court marshalled, some were even executed! And this," Rose continued, "was your great-grandfather when he went out to Ypres in 1914."
"Wow," Lucy exclaimed, "He doesnât look very old!"
"Do remember that he was under-age" Rose reminded Lucy, "He was nearly sixteen when he had that photograph taken. My mother took it everywhere whilst he was away fighting."
"I see" Lucy said, as she started to become rather thoughtful.
"Hold on," Rose said, putting the album down, I still have some of his things in the attic you might find useful for your research!"
"Wait a moment," Sarah said, "I ought to help you with it if you want to go up there!"
"Donât panic!" Rose said cheerfully, "Thereâs still life in these old bones yet Sarah!"
She went up the stairs, and returned a few minutes later with a large, battered and worn-out old suitcase. She put it on the coffee table and opened it carefully.
A terrible musky smell soon wafted around the little room. "Yes," Rose chuckled as she noticed Lucy and Sarah wrinkle their noses a bit, "It hasnât been opened since 1925," she continued, "But going through all this ought to really help."
Lucy lifted an old hat out of the suitcase and looked at it carefully.
"Thatâs a privateâs hat from 1914," Rose explained, "See this tin helmet?" she asked as she brought it out of the suitcase, "Father told me it saved his life on more than one occasion!"
Sarah looked at a bunch of old letters. "Ah, the letters he sent to my mother," Rose said, sighing, "He wouldnât let me read them when I was younger, but I ought to be able to see them now. Iâll read them later on."
Then Lucy found an old, thick notebook. On the front, it was titled, with the most untidy scrawl she had seen for a long time:
"Journal of Private Alfred McNeill, 13th Royal Sussex Regiment. August 1914-November 1918"
The first part of my latest story, although it doesn't start the way you would expect, it will make sense as the rest of the story is revealed