RHYMES&REASONS

Observations, Thoughts and Reflections on 21st Century Life

Category: Love

Lusitania 101 – a Life before the Tragedy

029

 

On the 7th May 1915 the British liner RMS Lusitania, the fastest and most luxurious ship in the world at the time, was struck by a German torpedo off the coast of Ireland.  Of it’s 1962 passengers and crew only 764 survived – my great uncle and aunt were among them.  Their one year old son John was not.

An account of their trauma is taken from statements made by both  Mary and Elmore upon their eventual arrival in England.

“(Cyril) Elmore and Mary Anita Pells, travelling with their infant son John from Canada to England where Mr. Pells was to join his regiment, despaired of ever leaving the ship safely. At the time the torpedo struck  they were dining in the second class salon and returned to their E Deck cabin to retrieve John, and Elmore made a second trip below for lifebelts.  Not expecting to survive, they took seats together somewhere on one of the upper decks presumably on the port side, to wait for the end. When it came, they were pulled down deep with the ship, and in the torrent John was wrenched out of his father’s arms and lost. Elmore and Mary surfaced and were able to pull themselves atop an overturned lifeboat.”

Following a short period of recovery in London, Elmore joined his regiment as originally planned but after receiving a brief note telling of his safe arrival in France, Mary never heard from him again and he is documented as having been killed in action during the Battle of Aisne-Chemin des Dames on May 27th 1918.

The human element of this disaster, which has largely been lost among the controversial nature of the incident together with the passing of time, is now coming to light, re-surfacing along with the personal stories.  I have researched Elmore and Mary’s accounts with the benefit of the internet and personal family history.  However, I am also in possession of a wonderful photographic record of their lives in Canada prior to their fateful journey. The images long since faded, document a young couple in love.  Elmore met Canadian born Mary in the UK and following their engagement they emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia and and were married at North Lonsdale in April 1914.   Their son John was born in February 1915.   The images tell a story of a vibrant life together, socialising, fancy dress and tennis parties and picnics on the beach with friends.  Just one image remains of their infant son John.

007

011

 

015

033

It is their own record of their life together, each photograph carefully entered into the small album by their own hands, unaware of the tragedy which was shortly to unfold and change their lives forever.  Faces reach out from the faded images, ethereal and yet full of life, crossing the threshold of a time long since gone and reaching into the 21st century in an effort to be remembered.  A reminder that they lived life to the full during their short time together:  there was life before the Lustania and for Mary a life after but very much changed.

021

012

026

Through the remainder of the war Mary served as a nurse, and she was awarded a sum of $1089.15 for the loss of her personal property and Elmore’s medical expenses after her return to British Columbia.  For a time she lived in California, where she continued to study nursing, before returning for a third time to Canada, where the trail is lost in time.  However, somewhere along the way she maintained a connection to the Pells family – in 1936 she received a legacy from Elmore’s mother upon her death.

013

027

 

023

Elmore – ‘lost in action’- has no known grave but is remembered at The Soissons Memorial located in the Aisne département of France. The memorial lists 3,887 names of British soldiers who were killed in the area from May to August 1918 during the Spring Offensive.

And somewhere, somehow, this little album has found it’s way from Canada back to England, passed down my family and  following the recent death of my own father John, who was named after his young cousin, is now one of my most treasured possessions.

 

004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

In the Bleak Midwinter

010

Winter.

 The living foundation of us all.  The underlying heart, which continues to beat out it’s rhythm when all seems lost.

 The joyful, which in another season’s time would raise a smile, is met by the hard gaze of frozen ground that no nourishment or distraction can melt.  The beauty of the brown barren land is lost to us as we seek in vain the colour and warmth from a distant time.

Dormant.

We long to move on, to leave behind the chilling air which engulfs as fog and cloys our every thought.  We plough our way through the detritus at our feet, heavy with sodden tears.  And wearily we sigh as all we turn over is bleakness.  This internal airing of spinning thoughts, wringing them dry until they fall as fragile leaves at our feet, serves to relieve the burden we heavily bear.

Lost.

Temporarily in the lightness of an empty mind, unsure and wary of the way forward, impatiently we scuff the ground with our feet.  And there we catch a glimpse among the array of wintry browns, a tiny shoot of brightest green, tender, vulnerable and yet poised to unfurl.  A symbol of our inner desire conscious or not as it begins to once more stir, the manifestation of a living, hidden current which runs through.

Patience.

When all you see is fog across the land, or dust settled on a lost love’s rose, smile and be sure for the light is yet to be revealed.

Painting ‘Reflections Unfurled’ by Rebecca Pells

https://www.artfinder.com/product/reflections-unfurled/

Reflections Unfurled

017

I’m drawn to return to the place of my birth –

where I took my first guttural breath and found myself at last.

Dust settling in layers upon it’s first blush,

the fresh young shoots crushed, lay stunted by neglect,

devoid of the nutrient which first gave life.

I thought I’d found my Garden of Eden –

but arriving too soon, the ground unprepared and ploughed with furrows past.

Extremes of withholding drought and gushing flood,

the pendulum struck it’s final blow.

The way closed for now at least, I grow my own path

Beneath the dust an inner harvest toils

strengthening, strengthening, nourished by a place beyond thoughts,

a lixor of passion, reciprocal, replenishing.

Verdure anew with each season past.

A gentle breeze as particles stir, at first one spec then two, three.

Hurry not,  slowly to unfurl the green shoots once more,

carefully, tenderly as a butterfly cupped.

%d bloggers like this: