Inches from non-existence: William Andrews' Helmet
Helmet belonging to William Andrews
William Paul Andrews was my father. He received a military cross medal from from George V on 25/4/1917. He volunteered in Scotland in 1915 and was made an officer immediately. The helmet I brought has a piece missing, where Wiliam was hit with shrapnel. A quarter inch in either direction and me and my son Vincent would not be here. At the end of the war, my father was delighted to be offered a commission in the "regular" (peace-time) army; this was a considerable compliment, as only a fraction of those who had served were kept on. It was also a secure livelihood in a Britain where the prospects for returning soldiers were bleak. With the cheering prospect of a military career ahead of him, my father awaited his posting. When it turned out to be Ireland, he was pleased - until it became clear that he was being sent in order to suppress the unrest which had continued since the 1916 Rising, and would become the War of Independence. My father said it was impossible for him to undertake to fight against his own people; he could not accept the posting. It was pointed out to him that as a soldier he was obliged to obey orders; refusal to obey an order was treason, punishable as such; he had to go. He replied that he would resign. This was true patriotism (to Ireland!) as it was not a public gesture that would attract recognition, much less admiration. In the upshot his resignation was accepted. He returned to Ireland where he was out of work for some considerable period, perhaps 18 months. He went back for the Second World War where he was injured for 10 days from shrapnel. He suffered from pleurisy and died. William was awarded a bronze star medal for the US in WWII.